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Mourners lined up to pay their respects to a New Jersey nanny whose remains were found earlier this week and whom authorities say was murdered by her former boyfriend months ago.
Stephanie Parze, 25, vanished from her home in Freehold Township on Oct. 30. Her body was found Sunday in a wooded area of Old Bridge. At a press conference held Monday, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said that her ex-boyfriend John Ozbilgen, 29, is responsible for Parze’s death. Ozbilgen took his own life in November while under investigation.
Mourners lined up to say goodbye to Parze at her wake at St. Rose of Lima Chapel in Freehold Thursday, NJ.com reports. One mourner, family friend Kristine O’Donnell, told NJ.com, "She was a nice girl who went above and beyond for people.”
Parze’s funeral was held Friday morning at a St. Rose of Lima Chapel church.
Ahead of the services, Parze’s father Ed Parze posted on Facebook that his family was preparing for “the hardest days of our lives. I can't imagine how we are going to get through this.”
Parze’s obituary stated that she loved children and loved working as a nanny.
“She loved softball, hockey, the NY Yankees, bowling, shopping (especially for shoes) and had a special talent as a special effects makeup artist,” the obit read. “She always put everyone else first.”
Two teens discovered her body over the weekend as they were walking to work, according to NJ.com. They initially thought they had spotted a mannequin. The discovery not only allowed Parze's family to put her to rest but it prompted officials to announce that Ozbilgen was responsible for killing her. Gramiccioni suggested Monday that Ozbilgen had left behind a suicide note that acknowledged his guilt.
Ozbilgen's parents, however, said in a statement obtained by Oxygen.com that "John never said that he hurt Stephanie to us or in the note he left us. We believe he is innocent, but all the pressure from the false child pornography charges and the constant searches and relentlessness caused him to take his own life."
Following Parze’s disapparence, Ozbilgen was arrested at his home in Freehold Township on child pornography allegations unrelated to the disappearance of Parze. He was charged with endangering the welfare of a child and possession of child pornography, according to a statement from prosecutors. He was also immediately eyed as a person of interest in Parze’s vanishing.
“You are so loved, baby girl,” Ed Parze told his daughter in his pre-services post. “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.”
The family is planning a candlelight vigil for Feb. 19, Parze’s 26th birthday. Ed also announced during Monday’s news conference that his family plans to create a foundation in his daughter's name to bring awareness to “battered women and missing people.”
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