Many people knew Paige Birgfeld to be a superwoman. She was a great businesswoman, a lovable friend, and a doting mother all in one. This woman was adored by her friends in their small Colorado town, which is why everyone started to worry when she failed to come home after several days of no contact. For some reason, no one could get in touch with her. Did the kind and sweet mother just run off and abandon her family? It did not seem likely at all… but no one knew that she had been hiding a double life the entire time.
Meet Paige Birgfeld
Paige Birgfeld led a fairly comfortable life in the Colorado town of Grand Junction. To outsiders, she was a hard-working woman and the perfect mother. In the lovely city she got to call home, she was beloved by everyone. She lived peacefully with her three kids, although everyone also knew that she got a divorce from Rob, her former husband who reportedly had violent tendencies. Despite this problem, Paige was able to pick herself up and keep everything together. What no one knew was that she had a big secret.
After The Divorce
After she and Rob got divorced, she had to find a way to pay the bills and raise the children without any help from him. Paige refused to simply scrape by, so it was a good thing that she was so industrious. Like all mothers out there, she wanted to provide her children as comfortable a life as possible. To achieve her goal, she dipped her toes in different fields, most of them unrelated. Among other things, she sold nursing slings and cooking supplies, ran dance studios for children, and managed a couple of businesses. At one point, she decided it was time to give love another try.
Paige had actually been married before she and Rob tied the knot. Before him, she was wed to her high school sweetheart, a man by the name of Howard Ron Biegler. Unfortunately, the marriage did not last, and they ended up divorcing. However, the two remained close friends even after their divorce and the one between her and Rob. When she and her second husband called it quits, the former lovers decided to give it another shot. Now that they were both single, it looked like a good time as any to get together and enjoy their second “first date”.
A Special Reunion
Both of them wanted the first date and reunion to be even more special than your regular date night. They did not want to watch a movie or go to a restaurant. Instead, they cooked up a plan to have a picnic somewhere scenic. They agreed to meet in Eagle, Co., a two-hour drive from her place in Grand Junction. Regardless of the distance, they knew it was the perfect place to reconnect after spending so many years apart. Was second the time going to be the charm?
A Wonderful Picnic
They picked a date right in the middle of the summer: June 28, 2007. The heat enveloped them as they enjoyed the picnic and rekindled their union. Page was 34 years old at the time and drove down 120 miles to go on the special date with her first husband. As nighttime drew closer, the date winded down and she prepared to go home. The sky was starting to get dark, and she still had a long way before she got home. They then exchanged goodbyes and she hopped in her car to head back to Grand Junction.
Heading Back Home
Paige drove off and hoped to get home in time to see her kids off to bed. Even though the long summer days were ahead of them, dusk arrived quickly. Howard even called her to check that she did not have any problems, and she told him everything was fine. As a matter of fact, she told him she was already near. Meanwhile, her kids were anxiously waiting for her arrival in Grand Junction. Although they were accompanied by a nanny, they started to get worried when she was still nowhere to be found hour after hour.
Playing The Waiting Game
Even though it was 11 PM, her car was still not in their driveway, so the kids felt even more concerned. When she talked to Howard at 9 PM, she said she was almost there. This behavior was highly unusual for her since she would at least check in if she was going to be away for a while. Her daughter wanted answers, so she dialed her mother’s phone number. It went to voicemail, and the young girl left a long message for her mother in the hopes that they will hear back from her.
Still Not Home
The date happened on a Thursday, but she was still nowhere to be found on Saturday. She did not make it home, and something was clearly wrong here. At that point, Howard also left her numerous panicked messages. Her other ex-husband, who has since moved to Pennsylvania, also tried to reach out to Paige. When their efforts went to waste, the only choice was to report her as missing. Jess, her eight-year-old daughter, urged their babysitter decided it was time to contact the authorities. This was the moment that would set off the unraveling of her secret.
Surely A Crime
Frank, Paige’s father, did not know what to say when he got the call from the police. When they told him that she was missing, he was confident in the fact that his daughter was not someone who would skip town. Something more sinister must have happened. Frank and Suzanne Birgfeld then drove all the way from Denver to look after the children and to help look for Paige. When he talked to the authorities, he told the police officers that they were definitely “dealing with a crime.” After all, Paige was not going to simply run off and disappear.
With that said, the police then started to investigate this curious case. They had no idea why such a loving mother would simply disappear all of a sudden. This did not make any sense from what they knew about Paige Birgfeld. They knew it was serious since there was no way she would leave her three kids behind without telling anyone. Her brother Craig even relocated his family from Seattle to care for his niece and nephews. Jess, Taft, and Kohl all waited to hear back from her.
Nearby Parking Lot
In the days that followed, there were no important updates about her whereabouts. They launched searches to no avail, and the police had yet to find any clue about where she went on June 28. However, they made a horrible find in a parking lot merely three miles away from Paige Birgfeld’s home on July 1, 2007. On that night, they found a red Ford Focus burning in the empty parking space. This was the victim’s car, the very same one she drove when she went to meet up with Howard. It was the first breakthrough in the case, but what did it mean?
What They Found
The police went through the burnt car with the expectation that they would find her body there. However, what they discovered there only confused them even more. They did not find Paige there, and it looks like many of her possessions disappeared as well. The investigators were very wrong if they thought the burning car would reveal everything there was to know about the case. By then, they confirmed she was missing. Sadly, the fire in the parking lot made them feel more hopeless about determining her whereabouts.
Clues Among The Ashes
The police officers searched the vehicle thoroughly as they clung to the hope that they would find a clue or two in there. Even though her phone and purse were not in there, they still managed to dig up several illuminating clues. The most helpful thing they obtained was the planner where Paige detailed her schedule in the next couple of days. This discovery would end up confusing them for a little while, although it at least helped them determine where she went and was planning to go.
Something Strange About It
They could tell that she kept the planner to organize her appointments and plans in the future. It also let them know who she was planning to meet. This was what caught the attention of the police, and they browsed her planner even more carefully. For something that survived a fire, the planner looked very intact. However, there was something that made it suspect – the last four pages of the book had been torn out! Whoever planted it did not want the officers to know of her plans on those particular days.
Too Far Back
After they analyzed the things they found in the car, they started to focus on the state of the vehicle itself. Even though the car was in a bad condition thanks to the fire, they noticed something odd about the driver’s side. The driver’s seat was located much too far from the steering wheel and even extended as far as it could go in the back. It goes without saying that Paige, or anyone else for that matter, would not have been able to drive like this. There was a good chance they moved it back for extra room. Was there anyone with Paige when she was driving home?
Expanding The Search Area
Although the police were glad that there was now something they could work with, it did not change the fact that they still had no idea where Paige was. They hoped she was okay, but time was not on their side. The search was proving to be a long and tiring challenge, but they still hoped they could rescue her. Police eventually realized that they should not restrict the search to Grand Junction. This led them to expand their efforts to the entire Mesa County, which is a green area that offered lots of hiding places.
The Terrible Terrain
The terrain in Mesa County made it harder than it should. The far-reaching valley shadows and the sun-bathed canyons might make for excellent photos, but it is a different story altogether when it comes to searching through them. The Birgfeld family wanted to locate Paige and bring her home as soon as possible. The search began under the scorching heat of the summer sun. Aside from the police search crew, they also brought in dogs to sniff out clues and divers to look in the depths of the river.
The Gunnison River
The Gunnison River was one of the first locations they went through after they expanded the search mission. The river is a very unpredictable environment, perhaps even more so than the desert that surrounds it. Winding through the canyons, the river was craggy and swift. Could she have fallen in and drowned right after? The authorities also brought out trained tracking dogs to look around in the hopes of getting some leads. Unfortunately, neither the dogs and divers found anything. It was starting to look bleak, but no one was about to give up on Paige.
Looking For Paige
It was a good thing that the police could rely on many people as the search continued. The Birgfeld family had the support of 100 volunteers who crossed the desert to look for Paige. They had no idea if their efforts would bear fruit, but they would have been glad to help shed some light on the situation. Across Highway 50, they found small items they knew belonged to her. The search mission volunteers retrieved her video store card, her checkbook, and the kids’ medical cards. Did Paige throw these items out of her car as she was driving?
The search mission had been winding down, yet the police only found small clues that did not explain a lot about the disappearance. For the police, the next thing to do was to look at her phone records since she had been on her phone while driving home. Her two ex-husbands were already ruled out as suspects in the case, although they found a number that did not belong to anyone they knew. Paige called the mystery number right before she disappeared. In the hopes of solving the disappearance, the authorities looked deeper into it and found out something the victim had been hiding the whole time.
Exposing Her Secret
When the police tried to call the mystery number, they thought they would get something out of it since that was the last person she was in touch with. They had no idea they were about to learn a disturbing secret about the hard-working mother. Apparently, Paige Birgfeld had been living a double life the entire time she was living in Grand Junction with her beautiful children. She did a good job of keeping it on the down-low, though it was hard to do that when it interfered with her everyday life… which it did on the night she disappeared.
Busy With Work
Howard had no idea that Paige was using every single free second to conduct a business transaction while they were out on their picnic. As they were trying to give their relationship another shot, she was also busy conducting business on the phone. Authorities were able to track down the unknown number she had been calling to someone called “Jim”. What made everything more confusing was the fact that this man did not know the victim as Paige. To him, she was Carrie. Why did she use a fake name?
A Man Called Jim
Why did Paige adopt some sort of alter ego and introduce herself to him as Carrie? Perhaps it is even more pertinent to ask just what she had to do with someone like Jim. They did not know it at the time but they just unearthed a part of her life that no one else knew about. They eventually learned that he had contacted the victim a couple of times on the date of her disappearance. While her phone records should have made it possible to track him down, what it did was to make things more difficult.
A Burner Phone
The police did not have the easiest time looking for this man because he had been getting in touch with her using a prepaid phone. As such, the number could not be linked back to him via credit card or real name. Despite this, they were able to find out that the phone was bought from a Walmart on June 26, merely days before he started to call Paige. What made it even more interesting is the fact that Paige was the only one he contacted using the phone. They exchanged five calls over the course of several days before it eventually died. Police started to investigate the true identity of this person of interest.
His True Identity
After doing some investigative work, the authorities were able to find out that Jim had also been using a fake name. He was none other than one Lester Jones. Aside from this, he worked right across from the parking lot where they discovered Paige’s burning car. The more they learned about this man, the more they started to feel suspicious about his ties to the case. Of course, there was one burning question in their mind: How were the two of them involved? Each piece of evidence took them in a new direction.
Time For An Interrogation
They took Lester Jones in for questioning and started to treat him as if he were a suspect. Apparently, this was not the first time he got in trouble with the law. The truth was that he already served jail time in the past for various crimes like attempted kidnapping and sexual assault. What was the connection between Paige and this man? They wanted to hear about it from Lester Jones himself. It was a long and disturbing experience for the detective on the case, but they hoped that it would lead to some answers.
What They Found There
The officers decided to raid his place of employment, which was an R.V. shop. They discovered the own secret life he lived as “Jim”. They found meticulous lists about escorts in the office, which detailed their personalities, appearances, and even bra sizes. Meanwhile, they also found a condom, men’s toupees, and Viagra in a toolbox. There was also a gas canister in there, though he failed to explain what it was doing there. As they investigated this new person of interest, they found out the secret of the missing woman. No one could have expected that this wholesome mother was not who she said she was. It was amazing that she was able to keep it hidden from her loved ones.
Denying It All
Even though a lot of the evidence pointed toward Lester Jones, he maintained his innocence and claimed they were barking at the wrong tree. He denied everything they threw at him. Even though the evidence was telling, they did not solid evidence to link him to the disappearance of Paige Birgfeld. At that point, it seemed like she simply vanished into thin air. No one knew whether she was alive or dead as they could not determine her location nor find a suspect in the case. However, they soon discovered something that linked Lester and Paige.
No one could believe that Paige had been hiding such a big secret the whole time. It came as a complete shock that this sweet and lovely woman had been working as an escort the whole time. Her odd phone calls about her business called Models Inc. only had a single employee by the name of Carrie. Everything fell into place now. This was the reason she frequently went out at night after putting her kids to bed. They always had someone to look after them, though they did not question her strange behavior. Among other things, they thought it was not worth it because she probably had nothing to hide.
The Shocking Truth
The authorities were able to find the escort ads for Paige or, to be more accurate, “Carrie”. It displayed an attractive red-haired woman posing for a photo. The posts said that customers could pay for different services from Carrie, which included stripping and nude pictures. Her family could not believe he had been living like this the whole time. Her parents and her siblings could not make sense of this new development. However, they knew that Paige took this job, not for personal enjoyment, but because she wanted to give her children a good life. After all, there was nothing she loved more than her kids.
Even though they had a lot of questions about this unbelievable development, they took comfort in the fact that Paige had good reasons to do it. She only wanted to give her kids the best quality of life after the divorce ordeal. Aside from that, she had plenty of debt she needed to pay off. She must have been under a lot of stress after the second divorce as she had to be the single provider for all her kids. That was how this woman found herself in a sketchy profession that would pay the bills and more.
Unusual Hiking Experience
In the spring of 2012, a hiker had been out enjoying the natural beauty of Wells Gulch, which was 40 minutes away from Grand Junction. By then, it had been five years since the disappearance of Paige Birgfeld. While crossing the dry riverbed, the hiker suddenly spotted a human skull! After taking it in for further examination, there was another grisly discovery in the form of duct tape around the mouth. The rest of the remains were discovered half-buried not far away. It belonged to no one but Paige herself. They could not tell how she died, although it clearly looked like she did not go down without a fight.
What He Deserved
Lester Jones got arrested in 2014. In court, he had to face the entire Birgfeld family, including Jess, Paige’s eldest child. He was on trial in August 2016, although it ended in a mistrial as the jury did not come to an agreement regarding the verdict. After two months, he was put on trial once more and received a life sentence with no parole. The charges were for killing Paige, hiding the body, and setting her car on fire. He is now behind bars, though this did not mark the end of the family’s grief.
In one interview, Frank Birgfeld talked about being unable to come to terms with the death of his daughter. Her three children reside with their dad and live a long way away from the place of her disappearance and death. When Paige’s sister Callie was interviewed, she talked about what Jess said: “Do you know what happened to my mom? Do you know where she is?” She did not know how to respond to the young girl, but what she ended up saying was a great way to comfort the poor girl: “Wherever she is, she wants to be with you right now.”