Stephanie Parze’s ex admitted killing her in suicide note, prosecutor says
FREEHOLD BOROUGH — Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said Monday that Stephanie Parze's ex-boyfriend, John Ozbilgen was the only person responsible for her death — a revelation that came less than a day after her body was found in a wooded area along Route 9 in Old Bridge.
It was the first time the prosecutor's office publicly cast the blame on Ozbilgen, long considered a person of interest in Parze's disappearance. Ozbilgen hanged himself in November while facing charges of child pornography, and as his alleged violent past came with both Parze and another woman came to light, but was never charged in Parze's disappearance itself.
Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said Ozbilgen, 29, wrote in a suicide note he'd "had enough and could not do life in prison."
Ozbilgen warned his parents in the note that what they "would hear on the news would be true" except for the child porn charges, according to Gramiccioni.
He wrote that he had dug himself a deep hole and believed that taking his own life was his only choice, according to Gramiccioni.
"Sadly, however, in that note he never disclosed where he disposed of Stephanie's remains," Gramiccioni said.
A spokesperson for his office told New Jersey 101.5 the Parze family was informed of the note as prosecutor's learned about it.
The Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office confirmed on Monday the Middlesex County Medical Examiner identified the body found in a wooded area off Route 9 behind the Grand Marquis wedding venue on Sunday was that of Parze, a Freehold Township resident missing since the end of October.
"No one else is responsible for her death. That responsibility belongs to John Ozbilgen, and John Ozbilgen alone," Gramiccioni said. He said a cause and manner of death has not yet been determined by the medical examiner.
He described Parze's relationship to Ozbilgen as "on and off."
Stephanie's body was found by two teens, ages 17 and 18, walking along Route 9 on Sunday afternoon, according to acting Middlesex County Prosecutor Christopher L.C. Kuberiet. The area is still being searched for additional evidence, according to Kuberiet, who would not reveal how far into the wooded area Stephanie's body was found.
Gramiccioni said that the investigation was both a missing persons and a homicide investigation.
Gramiccioni said that investigators executed 50 search warrants in 10 locations in Monmouth, Middlesex and Ocean counties and Staten Island. Investigators searched Ozbilgen's home five times.
Stephanie's father, Edward Parze, led a number of searches on his own in hopes of finding his daughter alive or evidence of where she might be.
Parze said his family and friends are "devastated," and that their lives will never be the same.
"Stephanie is coming home at last where she belongs, and I'm thankful for the efforts by thousands of people," Edward Parze said. He called those who helped with the searches "Stephanie's Angels," including the two teens who found his daughter's body.
"We can never thank you enough," a tearful Parze said.
Parze said his family will create the Stephanie Parze Foundation to bring awareness to battered women and missing people.
Stephanie Parze went missing on Oct. 30 after a night out with family at a New Brunswick show. Stephanie Parze's car, phone, purse and the shoes that she wore that night were left at her late grandmother's home, where she was living with pets.
There had been no sign of her since and no arrests were made in correction with her disappearance.
Prior to Ozbilgen's death, during a search of the Freehold Township home he shared with his parents, investigators found images of child pornography on his cell phone and took him into custody, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office. Ozbilgen was charged with possession of child pornography and released from custody by a judge on Nov. 19.
During the hearing, prosecutors revealed that Ozbilgen had sent Stephanie Parze a number of "angry texts" in the days before she vanished. But he was never charged in connection with her disappearance.
Ozbilgen was also facing charges of domestic violence. In September, Ozbilgen was accused of hitting a woman's hand, "causing injury to her thumb and thumbnail," and hitting the side of her head with the back of his hand. That victim has been identified in some press reports as Parze.
In June, a different woman accused Ozbilgen of "pulling her hair and dragging her by her hair causing minor injury and pain/discomfort." That charge was later dismissed.
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