The family of the New Jersey makeup artist who went missing three months ago will be forever grateful to the two teens who found her body on Sunday while walking to work.
“Those boys were her angels,” a tearful Ed Parze said at a press conference Monday announcing that the remains of his daughter, Stephanie Parze, had finally been found. “Stephanie is coming home at last.”
Stephanie’s parents last heard from their daughter on Oct. 30 when she wrote them on Snapchat after a girl’s night out with her family.
Her parents reported her missing when she failed to show up for work. They found her phone and keys at her house in Freehold.
They immediately launched a massive search effort to find her, with the help of an army of volunteers dubbed “Steph’s Angels.”
Their search came to a sad end on Sunday, when the two teens happened upon the 25-year-old’s body in a wooded area of Old Bridge, New Jersey, where searchers had looked earlier.
Jeremy Carlos Perez and Eric Rodriguez were on their way to work at the Grand Marquis catering hall on Sunday afternoon when they found Stephanie’s remains along Route 9 in Old Bridge, NJ.com reports.
It is with great sadness we announce that Stephanie Parze’s remains were recovered yesterday in Old Bridge. The ME confirmed her identity this morning. MCPO will hold a brief press conference later today. Thanks to @MCProsecutor and @oldbridgepd for great teamwork on this matter.— Monmouth Prosecutor (@MonCoProsecutor) January 27, 2020
“I’m happy they finally know what happened and we could help put an end to their nightmare,” Perez, an 18-year-old senior at Perth Amboy High School, told NJ.com.
“I’m glad the family got closure.”
The teens found her body when they parked in a lot of a baseball field across Route 9 because the catering hall’s parking lot was full, NJ.com reports.
As they walked toward the catering hall, they saw what they thought was a mannequin behind a guardrail, Perez told NJ.com.
“I took a closer lean in to try to see what it was. That’s when I realized,” Perez said.
Rodriguez told Perez to call the police, who questioned the teens about their grim finding.
For Ed Parze, their discovery brought answers to his family.
“Two angels found her, if you think about it,” he told reporters Monday, NJ.com reports. “Why were they there? Two angels were put there for a purpose.”
Stephanie will be laid to rest Friday following a morning funeral service at Saint Rose of Lima, in Freehold Borough.
Along with the discovery came the revelation that Stephanie’s on-again-off-again boyfriend, John Ozbilgen, 29, had confessed to murdering her in a suicide note before taking his own life.
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With Stephanie’s tearful parents standing next to him at Monday’s news conference, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said, “Today we announce that now-deceased John Ozbilgen is responsible for the homicide of Stephanie Parze.”
A person of interest in Stephanie’s disappearance, Ozbilgen died by suicide on Nov. 22 in the garage of his parents’ home in Freehold.
He was found dead shortly after being released from jail, where he’d been held for 11 days after being arrested on unrelated child pornography charges.
If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.