The remains of a missing New Jersey nanny have been found, and prosecutors say her now dead ex-boyfriend admitted to being responsible for her death in his suicide note.
Stephanie Parze, 25, vanished from her home in Freehold Township, New Jersey on Oct. 30. Since then, investigators searched areas of Staten Island known to her ex-boyfriend John Ozbilgen, 29, but after months of searching her body was finally found Sunday in Parze’s home state of New Jersey.
“It is with great sadness we announce that Stephanie Parze’s remains were recovered yesterday in Old Bridge,” the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office said in a Monday tweet. Investigators found her in a wooded area, NBC New York reports.
“This is a finding we had suspected since early November but only recently confirmed with further analysis of evidence that we had seized during our investigation,” Gramiccioni said. “The finding was confirmed, as well, soon after Ozbilgen’s committed suicide on Nov. 22, 2019.”
Ozbilgen left behind a suicide note for his parents which stated “he had had enough and that he could not do life in prison,” Gramiccioni said. He admitted that “what his parents would hear in the news was true except for charges of child pornography” and he “acknowledged he had dug himself a deep hole.”
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.
Gramiccioni clarified Monday that investigators also quickly realized, though it was not publicly acknowledged, that Parze's disappearance was also a homicide investigation.
Toward the end of his suicide note, Ozbilgen claimed his death was “the only choice.” He never disclosed in the note what he did with Parze’s remains, Gramiccioni noted.
Investigators executed 50 search warrants at 10 different locations, and Ozbilgen’s house was searched five times before the body of Parze was found. Her exact cause of death has not been determined.
Parze’s parents, Ed and Sharlene, were present at Monday’s presser, where they thanked the community and investigators for their help and support.
“Of course, this is a completely somber day for us,” Ed Parze said, adding this his daughter is “coming home at last, where she belongs.”
He said his family plans to create a Stephanie Parze Foundation to bring awareness to “battered women and missing people.”
While Parze and Ozbilgen reportedly only dated for a few months, anonymous police sources told NBC New York that Parze called police twice on Ozbilgen to report alleged abuse. The first 911 call came in June, when Parze accused Ozbilgen of grabbing her by her face and pulling her hair, an allegation which was later dismissed, according to those sources.
Then, in September, five weeks before vanishing, Parze called 911 again to claim that her boyfriend backhanded her in the head and hit her hand, according to NBC New York. In both incidents, the violence allegedly came after Parze tried to end the relationship; police said that Parze feared being attacked in the future.
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