Stephanie Parze was last seen October 30 after she dropped her family off at their house before heading home. Her 29-year-old on-again, off-again boyfriend John Ozbilgen was considered a person of interest before his death.
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.
"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's heartbroken family attended the press conference and thanked the searchers and officials who took part in the efforts to find her.
Officials held a press conference on Monday to announce that Stephanie Parze's body had been recovered
The wake for Parze is being held from 3 p.m.-8 p.m. at the Saint Rose of Lima Chapel in Freehold. Her funeral is set for Friday morning.
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.
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.
Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said Monday that investigators believe Parze was killed late on Oct. 30 or early on Oct. 31, and that Ozbilgen was responsible. 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.
"We had concluded and confirmed that he was responsible for her death, but the note reaffirmed it," Gramiccioni said.
Ozbilgen's family disputed that claim though, releasing the following statement:
"We are very sorry for her family and we hope they can find peace through this nightmare. We don't truly know what happened to Stephanie, but what we do know is 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."
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.
* More New Jersey news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
* Follow us on YouTube