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Missing NJ woman likely was choked to death, man’s ex-girlfriend says

Stephanie Parze and John Ozbilgen (via Facebook)
Stephanie Parze and John Ozbilgen (via Facebook)

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP — A missing township woman was likely strangled by her sometime-boyfriend who had a fetish for choking women and a penchant for violence, the dead man’s ex-girlfriend said in an interview.

As the search continues for 25-year-old Stephanie Parze, the ex-girlfriend believes that the “sick” and violent man who was romantically linked to both women is to blame for her demise and disappearance.

John Ozbilgen, 29, was considered a person of interest in Parze’s disappearance before he hanged himself last month.

Ozbilgen was never charged with Parze’s case but he was arrested after investigators searching for his girlfriend found images of child sexual abuse on his cellphone.

In an interview with the Asbury Park Press, another of Ozbilgen’s victims and girlfriends said he would routinely choke her until she passed out, both during consensual sexual encounters and after heated arguments.

Stephanie Parze t shirt
Stephanie Parze t shirt (Freehold Twp)
John Ozbilgen at his detention hearing
John Ozbilgen at his detention hearing (Pool photo by Thomas P. Costello, Asbury Park Press)

The woman, who the newspaper does not name, said she filed a domestic violence complaint against Ozbilgen in June. A criminal complaint from Freehold Township Municipal Court accused Ozbilgen of “pulling her hair and dragging her by her hair causing minor injury and pain/discomfort.” The complaint was later withdrawn. The Staten Island woman told the Press that she gave up pressing charges because she had difficulty making court appearances in Freehold Township.

Ozbilgen also faced other domestic violence complaints. In September, he was accused of hitting a woman’s hand, “causing injury to her thumb and thumbnail,” and hitting the woman in the side of the head with the back of his hand. That victim has been identified in several published reports as Parze.

Stephanie Parze went missing on Oct. 30 after a night out with relatives in New Brunswick. Police were called the next day when her family could not reach her by phone. Parze left behind her car, phone, purse, and shoes that she wore that night.

Stephanie Parze and John Ozbilgen (via Facebook)
Stephanie Parze and John Ozbilgen (via Facebook)
John Ozbilgen and Stephanie Parze in a photo she shared on Facebook in August.
John Ozbilgen and Stephanie Parze in a photo she shared on Facebook in August.

After Ozbigen’s child porn arrest, prosecutors tried to keep him locked up by suggesting that he was a danger because he had sent Parze angry text messages before her disappearance.

His attorney denied Ozbilgen’s involvement in child pornography or in Parze’s disappearance.

Parze’s parents have declined to comment about their daughter’s relationship with Ozbilgen.

In the Asbury Park Press report, the ex-girlfriend said she spoke with Ozbilgen after Parze was first reported missing and again after he was arrested.

She told the reporter that shortly after Parze’s disappearance, she noticed a deep scratch on Ozbilgen’s neck. She said she has been cooperating with police investigators.

“I cried because I just knew John had to be behind it,” she is quoted as saying. “He was very scary and rude. Very selfish and violent […] He used girls for sex. He would lie to them for sex. Women were worthless to him beyond sex.”

Ed Parze addresses volunteers before a search
Ed Parze addresses volunteers before a search (Katie Elko)

Authorities in New York and New Jersey have conducted numerous searches in Monmouth County and near Ozbilgen’s haunts in Staten Island.

Parze’s family have conducted their own independent search parties. Another Staten Island search will be done Saturday morning at the 302-acre Wolfe’s Pond Park near Tottenville High School and the Raritan Bay, and at Long Pond Park near Paige Avenue. A search is also scheduled for Sunday at a location to be determined in Freehold Township or Colts Neck.

Parze’s family is still hoping that Parze will be found alive.

Earlier this week, her father wrote on Facebook about wondering whether she is “up in heaven with God and all of people who love her so” or still “living in HELL ON EARTH, praying to be found, fighting to stay alive.”

“All of the bodies of water, abandon[ed] structures you never noticed before, now call out to you. She could be anywhere,” Ed Parze wrote.

Parze told New Jersey 101.5 that the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office hasn’t shared much about what they have found.

“They’re getting a lot back from the labs. We know they’re working out there because I see what they’re doing they don’t tell you what they’re doing,” Parze said in an interview.

An entrance to Wolfe's Pond Park in Staten Island, where a search for Stephanie Parze was conducted. (Google Maps)
An entrance to Wolfe’s Pond Park in Staten Island, where a search for Stephanie Parze was conducted. (Google Maps)

A spokesman for the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office said that their search and investigation continues.

“Our office remains in close contact with the Parze family. In addition to the massive investigative efforts being undertaken by numerous law enforcement agencies that we cannot disclose at this time, we fully support the family and the volunteers in their recent and ongoing search efforts,” the office said Thursday. “We encourage the public to remain vigilant and report anything that may assist law enforcement in locating Stephanie.

Dan Alexander contributed to this report.

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Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email sergio.bichao@townsquaremedia.com.

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