- Associated Press - Monday, January 27, 2020

OLD BRIDGE, N.J. (AP) - Authorities identified remains found in central New Jersey as those of a woman who disappeared from her home last fall, and investigators said Monday that a suicide note left by her ex-boyfriend supported their suspicions that he killed her.

The remains of Stephanie Parze, 25, of Freehold, were found Sunday afternoon in Old Bridge by two teenagers who were walking south along Route 9, the Monmouth County and Middlesex County prosecutor’s offices announced.

Parze’s family and friends had conducted extensive searches throughout the region since she went missing. Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said Monday that investigators believe Parze was killed late on Oct. 30 or early on Oct. 31.

Her ex-boyfriend John Ozbilgen, 29, of Freehold, had been identified as a person of interest in Parze’s disappearance. Ozbilgen was arrested on a child pornography charge after images were found on his phone as authorities investigated Parze’s disappearance.

Ozbilgen was found dead in his home a few days later, and his death was ruled a suicide. He was never charged in connection with Parze’s disappearance, but Gramiccioni said Monday that a 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.

In the note to his parents, Ozbilgen “said he had enough and that he could not do life in prison” and that what his parents would hear in the news “was true except for the charges of child pornography,” Gramiccioni said. Ozbilgen also wrote that he had “dug himself a deep hole” and that “this was the only choice,” the prosecutor added.

Parze was last seen leaving her parents’ home in Freehold after a night out with relatives in New Brunswick. Parze drove back to her late grandmother’s nearby home in Freehold, but then failed to show up for a nanny job the next day. Relatives who went there found her car and phone, but there was no sign of forced entry.

Her father, Ed Parze, thanked investigators for going “way beyond the call of duty” and said the family planned to start a foundation to bring attention to the issue of domestic violence.

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