The parents of a New Jersey stock broker who killed himself while under suspicion of murdering his girlfriend allegedly deleted text messages in which he confessed to the killing.
It’s been nearly one year since Stephanie Parze’s startling disappearance and death in Freehold, and her parents are still coming to grips with the tragedy.
‘Now we just have a hole,’ Sharlene Parze the victim’s mother, told New York Post.
‘It’s all you ever think about, your mind never shuts off — reliving what she was thinking when it was happening, trying to see her face, not being able to hold her, kiss her or hug her ever again.’
Stephanie was last seen around 10pm on October 30, 2019, after spending a girls’ night out with her mother and sister in New Brunswick.
The New York Post reports the parents of John Ozbilgen (left) may have deleted text messages that contained a confession to murdering Stephanie Parze (right)
Stephanie (pictured) was last seen after spending a girls’ night out with her mother and sister at Stress Factory. Her cell phone containing abusive messages from Ozbilgen was found in a couch
Her on-again, off-again boyfriend, John Ozbilgen, was named the main person of interest in her disappearance as police unearthed mounting evidence.
Ozbilgen, 29, had been charged with assaulting Parze and a second woman in 2019.
‘The minute we couldn’t find her, I said, “Where is he?” Edward Parze, Stephanie’s father, told The Post. ‘Those were the first words out of my mouth.’
Ozbilgen told authorities that he spent the night with Stephanie on October 30, but she had been alive when he left the next morning.
With police closing in on the murder accusations, and revelations that he had child pornography on his cell phone, he killed himself in November 2019.
He left behind two suicide notes that hinted at the murder, but never revealed details of the alleged killing or the whereabouts of her body.
‘I dug myself in a deep hole. This is the only choice,’ he wrote. Ozbilgen’s parents discovered him hanged in their basement and have repeatedly declared their son’s innocence.
John Ozbilgen, 29, (left) killed himself less than a month after Stephanie Parze, 25, (right) went missing on October 30
But according to the Parze’s – and Monmouth County prosecutors – his parents may have withheld an alleged confession from Ozbilgen.
‘How can they defend their son when they know he committed this crime? Man up, do the right thing,’ Edward Parze, Stephanie’s father, told The Post.
‘No matter what they find, it will not bring Stephanie back. It will give us more of an understanding, if they do know anything. I hate to think this happened, and they covered it up.’
A law enforcement source told The Post that prosecutors ‘believe there were texts between them [Ozbilgen and his parents] after he killed her. They believe he confessed to his parents early on.’
Hakan and Cynthia Ozbilgen are the subjects of an evidence-tampering investigation, The Post reports. Prosecutors reportedly considered hindering prosecution and obstruction charges.
Authorities reportedly suspect the Ozbilgens could have deleted potentially key text messages exchanged with their son just after Stephanie’s disappearance.
Authorities also think the parent’s withheld one of the suicide notes John wrote. They’ve also refused to hand over their cell phone passwords so their devices can be reviewed.
Hakan Ozbilgen admitted to The Post that he withheld the passwords from authorities, who he blames for his son’s death.
Hakan Ozbilgen: ‘The reason why my son took his life is not because he did something to this poor girl, it’s because he was charged with child pornography. He couldn’t handle it’
‘The reason why my son took his life is not because he did something to this poor girl, it’s because he was charged with child pornography. He couldn’t handle it,’ said Hakan.
‘I’m so angry at them, that’s why I’m talking like this.’
Authorities discovered 10 disturbing images of child pornography on John’s cell phone while they were reviewing the device for evidence on Parze.
He was arrested on November 8, 2019, and spent 11 days in jail as the media frenzy surrounding the case grew. Three days after his release, his parents found him hanged in their basement.
Hakan told The Post that he believes the child pornography charges were false and simply meant to pressure John.
‘This is why I can’t stand the prosecutor. They would leave him in the [cell], nine days by himself, and then every morning they would have a female guard go in and she would say, “John, do you see how many charges they got against you today?”‘ he said.
‘They were using this female officer, and what they really wanted him to do was they wanted him to go like insane on her . . . so they could say he has some kind of bias against women, and it’s not true. It’s not true.’
‘You guys are the murderers,’ Hakan continued, referring to the prosecutors. ‘My son had nothing to do with her disappearance. Prosecutors lied through their teeth.’
John Ozbilgen (right) admitted he saw Stephanie Parze (left) the night she vanished, but told police she was alive when he left the next morning
Hakan reportedly dismissed some of the investigations more incriminating evidence, including the suicide notes and 10 profanity-laden text messages John sent Stephanie the night she vanished.
In one instance, John told Stephanie that ‘she always has to make their relationship suck’ and called her a ‘f***ing c**t.’
Hakan alleged that his son was upset because Stephanie ‘was involved with five or six other guys.’
‘There are a couple things I know that I won’t say, because I don’t want to make her look bad. She’s not here, my son is not here.’
Hakan asserted that his son was a good person and did not mistreat women.
‘My son dated a lot of girls. … There would be a lot more girls out there saying something about him. My son was 6’ 4, he was gorgeous, he had brown hair, green eyes, when I walked in the mall with him, girls would turn around and stare at him. He was a beautiful kid,’ he told The Post.
But on of John’s former girlfriends told the Asbury Park Press that he would choke her during sex and arguments until she’d sometimes pass out.
Prosecutors, per The Post’s source, believe Stephanie could have died during ‘rough sex’ with John.
‘His parents were well aware of his battering of women and his need for rough sex, and so when he got himself in trouble, he would just go to his parents to get him out of jail,’ the source said.
‘It would make sense if he killed her in the middle of rough sex. It would make sense he called his father and said he killed her.’
The investigation into the Ozbilgens has continued, Monmouth County assistant prosecutor Caitlin Sidley told the Asbury Park Press last month.