Person of Interest in Stephanie Parze’s Disappearance Has Died by Suicide, Prosecutors Say

New Jersey man John Ozbilgen, a defendant in a child pornography case who was also a person of interest in the disappearance of ex-girlfriend Stephanie Parze, was found dead at his home Friday morning, prosecutors say. Authorities said Ozbilgen died by suicide.

Before they announced it was a suicide, authorities said they did not consider this a “suspicious” death.

Ozbilgen was charged with allegedly possessing sexual images depicting children. Authorities also considered him a person of interest in the October 30 disappearance of his ex-girlfriend Stephanie Parze, 25. In a bid to keep him locked up during his child porn case, prosecutors said he sent her angry messages the night before she disappeared, and that he was also charged with allegedly attacking her in September. The state didn’t get their way, however. Ozbilgen was released.

“My client, John Ozbilgen, was discovered by his parents, Joe and Cindy Ozbilgen, this morning deceased in their residence. John Ozbilgen took his own life,” the defendant’s attorney Robert Honecker said in a statement obtained by Law&Crime. “His family is emotionally distraught and heartbroken. He was facing a charge of child pornography which he strongly denied and maintained his innocence. He was released from custody on that charge and returned home.”

Honecker noted that prosecutors viewed Ozbilgen as a person of interest in Parze’s disappearance.

“However, at the time of his death, no charges relating to her disappearance were filed against John Ozbilgen,” he said.

Investigators are still looking for Parze. From the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office:

Anyone with any information or who has had contact with Ms. Parze is urged to contact Detective Shawn Murphy of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-431-7160 ext. 7032, or Detective Daniel Valentine of the Freehold Township Police at 732-462-7908.

Anyone wishing to remain anonymous, but who has information about a crime can contact Monmouth County Crime Stoppers confidential telephone tip-line by calling 1-800-671-4400; can text “MONMOUTH” plus their tip to 274637; or, they can email a tip via the website at www.monmouthcountycrimestoppers.com.

[Image of Parze via Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office]

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