Body found in New Jersey woods confirmed to be missing woman Stephanie Parze

OLD BRIDGE, New Jersey (WABC) -- A body found in a wooded area of New Jersey was confirmed to be that of a missing woman who hadn't been seen since October.

Stephanie Parze's body was discovered in Old Bridge on Sunday by two teenage boys walking along Route 9, near where searchers had been looking since she disappeared.

An autopsy confirmed her identity Monday morning.

Officials held a press conference on Monday to announce that Stephanie Parze's body had been recovered

Parze's heartbroken family attended the press conference and thanked the searchers and officials who took part in the efforts to find her.

"It goes without saying that our family is devastated," dad Ed Parze said. "Our friends, our family, our community, and our lives will never be the same. But Stephanie is coming home at last, where she belongs.''

Parze was last seen October 30 after she dropped her family off at their house before heading home.

John Ozbilgen, her 29-year-old on-again, off-again boyfriend, was considered a person of interest before dying by suicide.

Police had evidence that Ozbilgen had contact with Parze the night she disappeared, and he was held for 11 days on unrelated child pornography charges uncovered during the investigation before a judge released him on bail.

Prosecutors said 10 images of babies and young girls showed those children being abused and tortured by adult men, and that those images were discovered on the unemployed stockbroker's phone by detectives looking into Parze's disappearance.

"We further learned that there was a pending domestic violence case from September 23, 2019, involving Ms. Parze, in which the defendant was alleged to have struck Stephanie Parze in the head and threatened her before she took off running down the street," Assistant Prosecutor Caitlyn Sidley said. "Detectives learned that this defendant was texting and Facebook messaging Stephanie Parze the night before her disappearance."

In November, Ozbilgen's body was found in his house on Kings Mountain Road in Freehold. The medical examiner determined the cause and manner of death to be suicide by hanging.

The prosecutor announced Monday that Ozbilgen was responsible for Parze's death. Among items recovered from his home was a note to his parents that read, what they "heard in the news was true," except for the charges of child pornography.

He did not write where Parze's remains might have been placed, and officials say they could not release that information until they had found her body.

"We had concluded and confirmed that he was responsible for her death, but the note reaffirmed it," Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said.

Her cause of death will be determined by the medical examiner.

Ed Parze added that he and his wife plan to start the Stephanie Parze Foundation to draw attention to abused women and missing persons cases.

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