Stephanie Parze’s father wishes he could have done more — now he will
Edward Parze regrets not following his instincts.
"I'm telling everyone that I know that as a father you have to go with your gut," he said Tuesday in an interview, recalling the time he first met his daughter's boyfriend.
"I didn't like this guy the first day I met him. I only met him for a couple minutes. When you get that feeling you have to go with that feeling. Things escalated rapidly. I don't want to say I blame myself, but I blame myself."
Investigators have said that 25-year-old Stephanie Parze died at the hands of John Ozbilgen, who took his own life in his parents' home on Nov. 22 after he was arrested on child porn possession charges. Never charged in the Parze case, the 29-year-old stockbroker was eyed as a person of interest in the disappearance of the young Freehold Borough woman, who was last seen by loved ones on Oct. 30.
On her 26th birthday, the Parze family will announce the the creation of a foundation named after her to help bring awareness to domestic violence and missing persons. The announcement will coincide with a Light Up The Night For Stephanie Walk.
“We figure we are celebrating her life. What better day to do it than on her birthday. We can also honor her with the foundation," Parze told New Jersey 101.5.
The walk steps off at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Freehold Borough Hall on West Main Street and will make its way to the Monmouth County Hall of Records. Participants are asked to wear purple, Stephanie's favorite color.
Intervention: Missed opportunities
Edward Parze said the foundation is still in its beginning stages and he is still talking to agencies to find out what gaps the foundation can fill.
"It's going to take while to get it going. Once it gets going it will be one of the places that people definitely turn to for help. Nobody gets turned away," Parze said.
Parze hopes to focus on intervention and getting domestic violence victims to separate from the cause of abuse. It's something that Parze said he couldn't help his daughter with.
"The violence escalated at such a rapid pace that there was really no normal time of intervention. And then she went from zero to 100 and the relationship ended in a month. Once I found out she was being assaulted, trying to get in there and get her away from him was like trying to pull teeth," Parze said.
Parze said that his daughter was in a cycle where something would happen, Ozbilgen would apologize or do something "good" that would "build them back up" only to get knocked down again.
"It gets worse every time as it goes along," Parze said.
A night before her family last saw her, Ozbilgen had sent Stephanie angry tests, prosecutors said after his arrest.
Ozbilgen was accused in September of smacking a woman — identified by some news reports as Stephanie – and hurting her thumb and nail. The ex who was quoted in the Press story said she also filed charges against him in June after he dragged her by her hair but she later dropped the case because she couldn’t make court appearances.
"This went from a simple assault to a murder. It's usually not that way but it does happen that way and unfortunately it happened that way this time," Parze said.
Parze said that the foundation may also establish a scholarship, possibly in areas of interest to Stephanie: art and softball.
“We’re never going to let her die. That’s the purpose of the foundation. Through the foundation she’s going to live," he said. She’s not going to die in vain. I believe she’s going to be helping more people than you can imagine.”
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