Stephanie Parze Murder: What Happened to John Ozbilgen?

Image Credit: Michelle/Find a Grave

In the episode titled ‘Hashtag Halloween Horror’ of Investigation Discovery’s ‘Deadly Influence: The Social Media Murders,’ the viewers are provided with most of the intricate details about the disappearance and murder case of Stephanie Parze. For the New Jersey native, the Halloween week of 2019 turned into something really horrific and nightmarish when she disappeared, only to be found dead several months later. As the episode also consists of exclusive interviews with Stephanie’s family and friends, the viewers also get an idea about the impact her death left on them and the community.

Stephanie Parze Believed Her House Was Haunted

On February 19, 1994, Stephanie Nicole Parze came into the life of Sharlene and Edward “Ed” Parze as a little bundle of joy. Born and brought up in Freehold Township, New Jersey, she was pretty close to her three sisters, Brianna, Karissa, and Hailey, and reserved a special place in her heart for her dog, Jasmine. In her free time, she used to play hockey and softball and go bowling and shopping with her friends. However, she believed her calling was becoming a special effects makeup artist as she had a special talent for that. Given her love for children, she also worked as a nanny.

Thanks to her makeup artist skills, Stephanie had been building an influential social media presence before her unfortunate demise. Although she was finding quick success in her online world, little did she know that her offline world would soon turn into a nightmare. With Halloween 2019 approaching, the budding social media influencer opened up about her New Jersey house seeming spooky to her family. She even claimed that it was haunted or possessed as she had seen a handprint on the bathroom mirror, just like in horror movies. After a few days, her parakeet also died inside its cage.

Stephanie Parze Went Missing For Months Before Found Dead

In light of all these weird incidents at her home, Stephanie’s mother and sisters took her to an appointment with a medium on October 30, 2019. Upon returning, she reportedly headed out for a drive around 10 pm the same night. Sometime later, she sent her mother a Snapchat, informing her that she was on the way home, which turned out to be the last time her family ever heard from her. Concerned about her well-being, the missing woman’s family realized something was definitely wrong when she did not show up to her nanny job the following morning.

Without wasting any time, Stephanie’s family, friends, and other members of the community began searching for the missing young woman alongside the authorities. Almost three months after she disappeared, a couple of teenagers walking alongside Route 9 in Old Bridge, New Jersey, found a body in a wooded area on the side of the road and informed the authorities about the same. Upon examining the body, they confirmed it to be of 25-year-old Stephanie. However, the cause of her death could not be determined.

John Ozbilgen Was Arrested For Unrelated Charges

As the police dug deeper into the homicide, they learned that Stephanie Parze had accused John Ozbilgen of assaulting her only three months into their relationship. Despite the assaults, the latter still managed to remain her partner and in her life. Stephanie was not the first woman to accuse him of assault. While one of her exes claimed that he used to choke her until she was unconscious regularly, another had reportedly filed a number of domestic violence complaints against him. However, as they spent more time together, she allegedly began fearing opposing him and became distant from her family.

When she realized her position, she gathered the courage and filed a domestic violence complaint against him on September 23, 2019. Learning all these things about John, the investigators listed him as a person of interest. While they were inspecting his phone in hopes of finding clues about Stephanie, they found some suspicious text messages sent to the victim’s phone the night before she vanished. Not only that but what really landed him in trouble with the law was when they came across ten images of young girls and babies being abused on his phone. Thus, on November 8, 2019, he was taken into custody for the possession of child pornography.

John Ozbilgen Sealed His Fate Before He Could Be Charged With Murder

After spending 11 days behind bars, John Ozbilgen was released from prison on bail. But only three days after his release, on November 22, he wrote a suicide note and died by suicide in the garage of his parents’ house. On the suicide note left by John, detectives claimed that they found a reaffirmation of his hand in the murder of Stephanie. He had also written that he had had enough of the world and “this was the only choice.” The letter turned out to be a significant piece of evidence as John had also written that whatever his parents heard in the news was entirely true, except for the child pornography charges.

As a matter of fact, it had taken the authorities quite a few months before they could gather enough evidence against John and arrest him. However, by the time they made a case against him, he was already dead. To defend their child, his parents argued that their son resorted to suicide due to the alleged false child pornography charges against him. As of writing, it has been reported that everything he knew about Stephanie’s disappearance and eventual murder died with him. However, several months later, additional developments were made in the case as the detectives believed John had confessed to his mother and father before, and possibly, there were texts between him and his parents after the murder that were allegedly deleted by the parents.

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