Crime and Courts
Chief investigative reporter Jonathan Dienst on crime, corruption and terrorism.

Person of Interest in Stephanie Parze Disappearance Released From Custody in Separate Child Pornography Case

Stephanie Parze has been missing since October; John Ozbilgen was in custody on other charges

What to Know

  • A person of interest in a New Jersey woman's disappearance has been released from custody on separate child pornography charges
  • Stephanie Parze called the police in June and in September to report her boyfriend John Ozbilgen had abused her, sources said
  • Parze said she was going to end the relationship and feared future attacks; she vanished Oct. 30 following a night out in New Brunswick

The ex-boyfriend of a missing New Jersey woman, who has been in custody on unrelated child pornography charges, was ordered released by a Monmouth County Superior Court judge on Tuesday.

During their months-long relationship, Stephanie Parze accused former boyfriend John Ozbilgen of abuse, sources have previously told News 4. Ozbilgen, who authorities consider a person of interest in Parze's Oct. 30 disappearance, was arrested on the pornography charges on Nov. 8. 

If convicted of the charge, Ozbilgen, 29, faces up to five years in prison. But a Monmouth County Superior Court judge on Tuesday said the single charge he faces was not enough to keep him detained until trial. 

Judge Paul Escandon told Ozbilgen that he must report by phone or in person once a week, must not drink or have a firearm, and must stay off the internet during this time.

His attorney, Robert Honecker, said his client was relieved he was being released and maintains his innocence on the pornography charge.

As for Ozbilgen being a person of interest in the disappearance of Parze, Honecker said “Allegations have to be substantiated in a court of law, not in public opinion.”

Parze, 25, vanished without a trace after joining her family for a night out in New Brunswick on Oct. 30, parents Sharlene and Ed previously told News 4. She kissed her mother goodbye after dropping them off at their place that night and headed for her home about 10 miles away, where she lives alone with her dog. She hasn’t been heard from since that night.

The search for the missing woman has taken investigators from the Monmouth County prosecutor’s office to Long Pond Park in Staten Island, only a few miles from where Ozbilgen used to live. Amid that search, the abuse accusations resurfaced. 

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