New Jersey

‘Hardest Days of Our Lives': Funeral Held for NJ Woman Missing for Nearly 4 Months

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What to Know

  • Stephanie Parze's family members said one final goodbye on Friday to the 25-year-old who police say was killed by her ex-boyfriend
  • Her funeral took place at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Rose of Lima R.C. Church in Freehold, New Jersey
  • The young woman's remains were discovered last week along the side of a New Jersey highway

In what have been the "hardest days" in the lives of Stephanie Parze's family members, they said one final goodbye on Friday to the 25-year-old woman who police say was killed by her ex-boyfriend. That man later took his own life.

Months after Parze went missing on the night before Halloween, her body was found on Sunday, in a wooded area off Route 9 in Old Bridge, New Jersey. Authorities say Parze's ex-boyfriend, John Ozbilgen, was responsible for her death.

Her funeral took place 10 a.m. Friday at St. Rose Of Lima R.C. Church in Freehold.

Ahead of her wake on Thursday, Parze's father wrote an emotional message on Facebook, saying how hard everyone in the family was working to arrange a beautiful service for her.

"Your Angel's continue to come through helping us prepare for what will be, no doubt, the hardest days of our lives. I can't imagine how we are going to get through this," Ed Parze wrote.

"You are so loved baby girl. You will live in everyone's hearts forever and ever. We will make sure your legacy lives on as you help so many others through your story," he continued.

The only person of interest in the case of missing Freehold woman Stephanie Parze was found dead Friday in an apparent suicide. NBC New York’s Brian Thompson reports.

The family says they plan to start a foundation in Parze's name to advocate for victims of domestic violence. During their relationship, Parze accused Ozbilgen of abuse, filing a complaint for assault back in September, sources tell NBC New York.

The manner and cause of Parze's death have yet to be determined by the medical examiner's office.

In a press conference Monday, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni, who was joined by Parze's parents, said that at the time of Parze's disappearance the department launched what essentially were two different investigations: "one a missing person's investigation and the other, while not announced publicly at the time, a homicide investigation." He went on to say that Parze's parents knew about the investigations.

Gramiccioni said that during the investigation "over 50 search warrants" were executed "in 10 different locations across the region" and "canvassed hundreds of acres of land in Monmouth, Middlesex and Ocean counties as well as in Staten Island all in the search for Stephanie Parze, based on evidence we have gathered during our investigation."

Parze vanished on Oct. 30, 2019, after dropping her parents off at their house following a family night out.

Stephanie Parze, a 25-year-old makeup artist and nanny, vanished five days ago and her parents say it not like her to just disappear. Her car is still in her driveway where she lives alone, clothes and shoes from the last night she was seen inside with the lights on and her dog left alone. NBC New York’s Brian Thompson reports.

Her car was still in the driveway, along with her phone, at her home in Freehold Township, roughly 25 minutes from where the body was found in Old Bridge.

In late November, Ozbilgen was found dead by suicide in his home days after he was released from jail in an unrelated child pornography case. Grammiccioni said his death and items discovered from his home confirmed investigators' suspicion that Ozbilgen had a hand in Parze's death.

Prosecutors said a note Ozbilgen left for his parents apparently stated he had enough and couldn't do life in prison. The note also told his parents that what they would hear in the news was true, except for the accusation of child pornography. Ozbilgen also wrote that he had "dug himself a deep hole" and that "this was the only choice," the prosecutor added.

The note, according to prosecutors, did not disclose the location of Parze's remains. Gramiccioni said the note confirmed the findings of investigators who had "accumulated a great deal of evidence that indicated he was responsible for her killing" and were working toward charging him.

"His suicide obviously cut that short," Gramiccioni said.

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