1 year since Stephanie Parze went missing — 2 events planned
FREEHOLD BOROUGH — Domestic Violence Awareness Month in 2020 also marks one year since a young Freehold Township woman was last seen by her family, and was presumably killed by her ex-boyfriend.
Twice in October, the family of Stephanie Parze is hosting events aimed at supporting a new foundation in her name, and supporting other families dealing with domestic violence, sexual abuse and missing loved ones.
"We've made a commitment to not only keep my daughter's name alive, but to not let her death be in vain," Ed Parze, the victim's father, told Townsquare Media News.
Stephanie Parze, 25 years old at the time, was last seen by loved ones on Oct. 30, 2019. In January, following months' worth of search attempts, her remains were spotted by a pair of teenagers near Route 9 in Old Bridge. The Monmouth Prosecutor's Office determined Stephanie Parze's ex-boyfriend John Ozbilgen, who killed himself at his parents' home in November, was the only person responsible for her death.
"If we help one person out there, that's one person that's not going to end up like my daughter," Ed Parze said.
The foundation's inaugural golf outing is scheduled for Oct. 19, and a 5k Color Butterfly Run/Walk is scheduled for Oct. 24, to benefit the Stephanie Nicole Parze Foundation, through participation and sponsorship fees. Ed Parze said the events will spread awareness to two different demographics.
The foundation is expected to have a total of about 70 volunteers by the end of October. Funds raised by the events, Ed Parze said, will help the foundation launch its website, train members and set up "response teams," among other moves.
"We start our advocacy training October 6, and we'll start being able to get out there and start helping the actual victims pretty soon," Ed Parze said.
Ed Parze said it's "extremely hard" knowing the anniversary of her disappearance and death is approaching — to him, "it feels like it was yesterday."
"We keep her in our thoughts, and we're doing all of this for her," he said.