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

Ex-Boyfriend, Person of Interest in Missing New Jersey Woman Case Found Dead by Suicide: Sources

Stephanie Parze has been missing since October; John Ozbilgen had been in custody on an unrelated charge until earlier this week

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What to Know

  • A person of interest in a New Jersey woman's disappearance has been found dead by suicide at his home, law enforcement sources said
  • Stephanie Parze vanished Halloween Eve after dropping her parents off at their home following a family night out in New Brunswick
  • No one has seen her since; the lights were on in her home and her car was in the driveway, but there was no sign of the young NJ woman

The ex-boyfriend of a missing New Jersey woman, who was recently named a person of interest in her disappearance, has been found dead by suicide in his home, law enforcement sources with knowledge of the case told News 4.

John Ozbilgen apparently killed himself in his Freehold Township home overnight, the sources said, days after Monmouth County prosecutors classified him as a person of interest in the disappearance of Stephanie Parze.

Parze vanished after dropping her parents off at their house following a family night out on Halloween Eve. She hasn't been seen since, though searches have led authorities across multiple states and counties. 

Ozbilgen died just days after he was ordered released from jail in connection with an unrelated child pornography case. It was the day of that hearing, when the judge ordered him released, that prosecutors for the first time called him a person of interest in the case of Parze, who had dated him for months.  

During their relationship, Parze accused Ozbilgen of abuse, sources have previously told News 4. He was arrested on the child porn charge Nov. 8, but the judge ruled Tuesday the single charge was not enough to detain until trial. 

Ozbilgen's attorney, Robert Honecker, told News 4 Friday that the man's family was emotionally distraught and heartbroken. He says he met with Ozbilgen Thursday night at his law office and that the man "adamantly denied having anything to do" with the child pornography charge and "strongly mantained his innocence." Honecker, who declined to say whether Ozbilgen had left a note, said the two did not talk about Stephanie Parze. 

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. A lawyer for the Parze family, Rick Incremona, tells News 4 police were still searching Ozbilgen's home Friday and family cellphone records.

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