Watch celebration of life of homicide victim Stephanie Parze
A celebration to honor a young woman who authorities believe was killed by her boyfriend will be held 7 p.m. Friday on YouTube.
The event celebrates what would have been Stephanie Parze's 27th birthday.
Parze was the young Freehold woman who, in 2019, investigators say was killed by her boyfriend who had a history of domestic violence charges. He was never brought to justice because he hanged himself while he was out on bail for unrelated child porn charges.
Last year's "Light up the Night" event was held in person with more than a thousand people walking Main Street in Freehold. There was live music and entertainment.
While there won't be a walk, Ed Parze said there will still be montages of his daughter's life and songs. He said Stephanie's closest friends and mother will speak while the choir from Freehold Township High School will perform.
Parze said the hour-long event features a surprise ending.
The online event is not a fundraiser but is more of a celebration of Stephanie's life to keep her name out there.
He feels that the more people who know his daughter's story, the more people can be helped. He said he's received phone calls from people who have been in similar situations. If it wasn't for Stephanie's story, they would still be in trouble and were able to get out terrible situations. Hearing these stories makes Parze feel good.
In October 2019, Stephanie Parze disappeared after returning to her grandmother's house in Freehold following a family outing. Her body was found January 27, 2020, along Route 9 southbound near The Grand Marquis in Old Bridge by two venue employees walking to work.
Months before the gruesome discovery, Stephanie's ex-boyfriend, John Ozibilgen hanged himself while facing charges of child pornography as his violent past with both Parze and another woman came to light.
Ozbilgen left behind a suicide note in which he wrote, "most of the stuff you will hear is true" except for the child porn. The note neither confirmed nor denied his role in Parze's killing. While his parents have maintained his innocence, Monmouth County Prosecutor Chris Gramiccioni has insisted that "no one else is responsible for her death." However, authorities never got the chance to charge Ozbilgen with Parze's disappearance or death.
Last year, Stephanie's dad started The Stephanie Nicole Parze Foundation for domestic violence and missing persons support. Parze said it has grown to over 80 members. He said foundation was created to prevent and help families cope with situations like Stephanie's. Several events are being planned this year to benefit the foundation including the second annual golf outing in June and The Butterfly Run in October for Domestic Violence Awareness Week.
"The Light Up the Night" celebration will be streamed on YouTube at https://youtube.com/watch?v=ALsXIUkZdZk
It's also linked to YouTube through Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheStephanieNicoleParzeFoundation
You can join the link at 6:45pm.