-- Mom Had a Double Life, Disappears One Day and Leaves Family Broken

 At first glance, she was the dream woman. Paige Birgfeld had it all. As a friend, she was endearing. As a mother, she was ideal. As a businesswoman, she was cunning. In the humble Colorado town that was her home, people adored her. But suddenly, Paige was gone.

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It was like the world had stopped still. No one could get in touch with her. Where could such a model resident have disappeared to? But reality often hides behind the ideal. In truth, there was so much more to Paige Birgfeld than people could ever have realized.

An Ideal Mother

To all eyes, Paige Birgfeld was an ideal mother. People found her friendly and diligent. Her life in the humble town of Grand Junction, Colorado, was a peaceful one. In this scenic town, cradled by the Grand Valley, people from all over cherished her.

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She had recently divorced her husband Rob. Rumors state that he had been abusive. Even so, Paige rose from the ashes of her marriage. She spent her days raising her three children. Still, no one was perfect. Everyone had something to hide.

Her Life after the Divorce

When she and Rob split up, Paige had to find ways to survive. For one, she had to take care of her three children without financial support from her husband. Getting by was not an option for her. She looked high and low for ways to make money. Paige wanted her children to have a good life.

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She tried out for several professions. Most had little to no connection with each other. Among these, she tried to sell cooking supplies and nursing slings. She even ran some dance studios for children. Paige went through several enterprises before she chose to give love another chance.

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An Old Love Made New

Before Rob, Paige had another husband. His name was Howard Ron Biegler, and he was Paige’s high school sweetheart. Still, their union would not endure. She and Howard would, in time, go their separate ways.

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But they would remain good friends and stay in contact with each other—even after she married Rob. Then, Paige divorced Rob, and the two old flames exchanged passionate words once more. It signaled a chance for them to meet up and try again.

Lovers Reunited

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It was to be their first date in years. Paige and Howard wanted it to be extraordinary. No corny clichés, like movies or fine dining. They chose to have a wonderful picnic surrounded by a breathtaking view.

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There was a place in Eagle, Colorado. By car, it was two hours away from Paige’s place in Grand Junction. But it didn’t matter how far it was. Time and distance would not get in the way of their romance. Will the two hearts again beat as one?

Summer Picnic

It was the summer of June 28, 2007. Paige and Howard were in the middle of the hot weather, having a fun picnic. Heedless of the Colorado summer, the two renewed their love.

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The night was fast approaching. As their date came to a close, Paige got herself ready to leave. There was a long road ahead of her. Each bade the other good-bye, and Paige started on her way back to Grand Junction.

Coming Home

Paige wanted to get home before her children went to sleep. It was summer, which meant the days were long. But twilight reared its head—much quicker than Paige expected. Howard had given her a call to ask how the drive was going. She said it went well. She was almost home.

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Back home, her children worriedly waited for her. They knew their mother would be home long after dark had come and gone, so their nanny waited with them. But an hour passed. And then another. The clock kept ticking. Where could their mother have gone?

The Long Wait

It was 11:00 PM, but Paige was still not home. Her children got more apprehensive as the hours went by. Howard’s call with her was on 9:00 PM. Back then, she told him she was almost home. This was not like her. Whenever she was away for a long time, she always checked in.

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Hoping to calm herself, Paige’s daughter tried calling on her cellphone—to no avail. With worry deep in her heart, she left a message on her mother’s voice mail. She hoped to hear news from her mother, a sign that all was well.

A Bad Sign

Paige had vanished on Thursday, the day she went on a date with Howard. It was now Saturday. Yet there was no trace of her. By now, Howard had left her several messages. The longer she was gone, the more agitated he became. Rob, who now lived in Pennsylvania, had also made urgent attempts to contact her.

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By then, they had no other option except to file a missing person’s report. Jess, Paige’s eight-year-old daughter, had asked her nanny to contact the police. At this point, Paige’s loved ones must come to terms with a frightening possibility.

The Possibility of a Crime

Frank Birgfeld, Paige’s father, had heard of his daughter’s disappearance from the police. At first, Frank was not sure what to think. What he was sure of, though, was that Paige was not a person who’d run away without telling anyone. Sinister things were afoot.

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Frank and his wife, Suzanne, traveled all the way from Denver to Grand Junction. Someone had to take care of their grandchildren. At the same time, they wanted to help search for their daughter. Frank talked to the police, assuring them that they were “dealing with a crime.” It was not like Paige to do this.

Would She Leave Her Family Behind?

Police went on to investigate. The case had them puzzled. Reports suggested that Paige was a devoted mother. That meant she would never leave her children behind. There was no way she would disappear without a word.

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It was plain to all that this was a difficult case. Craig, Paige’s brother, had moved in from Seattle to look after her children: Kohl, Taft, and Jess. All three waited to hear from their mother. 

A Clue Found on the Parking Lot

Days followed with no news on where Paige was. Police continued to search, but could find no hint of where she might have gone. Paige had disappeared on June 28, and on July 1, 2007, the officers made a breakthrough on the case. What they uncovered was nothing short of harrowing.

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They had discovered a red Ford Focus in an abandoned parking lot. The car was on fire, but it was confirmed. This was the same car Paige drove the last time anyone had heard from her. Finally, there was a clue. The police were one step closer to solving the mystery.

What They Found Inside

Once they put out the fire, the officers looked inside the car. They assumed that Paige’s body would be there. But what they saw confounded them. The plot thickened. They could find neither Paige nor the majority of her things.

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Police on scene had been looking forward to updating Paige’s loved ones. But their hopes were dashed. By now, it was clear that she was missing, and most clues on where and why were now in ashes.

Salvaged Hints

Paige’s phone and bag were not in the car. But investigators remained steadfast in their search. Finally, they found some evidence that could shed more light on the mystery.

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One of the most potent pieces they found was a planner. In it, Paige outlined her calendar for the next few days. The planner itself drew the attention of the officers. It gave them an idea of where she went and where she planned to go.

What the Planner Hid

It was a structured planner. Paige made sure to outline her routine for the coming days. But that was not all. Her planner also outlined the people she was to meet. Seeing this, the police started paying attention. It was clear that they had to run a fine-toothed comb over the planner.

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Despite the fire, the planner was in pristine condition. Except for its last four pages. It was clear that someone tore them out, hoping to stop the police in their tracks.

An Unusual Seat

Once they had gone through what few items they could find, the officers looked over the condition of the car. Due to the fire, the whole vehicle was a mess. But there was something peculiar about the driver’s seat.

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The seat was pushed back, far away from the steering wheel. There was no way someone could drive well in that condition. Someone had pushed it back to make more space. Was Paige with someone on the way home?

Hiding Places

At long last, the investigators had found some telling clues on Paige’s disappearance. But one thing had not changed. She was out there somewhere, but was she all right? Would they get there in time to rescue her?

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It was a long search, one that proved arduous. Investigators were now sure of one thing. They had to search not only in Grand Junction but also in the whole Mesa County. It was a place of bountiful flora and fauna, with countless hiding places.

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Challenging Conditions

The terrain of Mesa Country was replete with challenging conditions. It was a scenic spot for shooting films or taking pictures. But its lush landscape meant searching for someone would be problematic. Still, Paige’s loved ones believed the search would be swift, and she would soon return.

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Search efforts commenced in the middle of summer. The search party employed dogs to hasten the procedure. Likewise, they brought in divers to scour the massive river depths. They had one aim in mind, and that was to locate Paige as early as they could.

The River

Search efforts intensified. The team first probed the Gunnison River. Yet, it proved no less challenging than the desert around it. It was a harsh river, rushing through the valley. Was it possible that she stumbled into its depths?

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They sent both divers and dogs to scour the rivers, to no avail. Clues to Paige’s location continued to elude them. Despite this, they kept a steady pace on the search.

Volunteers for the Search

But the police were not the only ones searching for Paige. The Birgfelds organized their own search party. Numbering 100 members, they raked the wide desert to find her. They were not sure what they would uncover. Still, anything would prove far better than knowing nothing at all.

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As they scrubbed Highway 50, they found several items owned by Paige. Among these were her children’s health cards, her checkbook, and a membership card for a video store. But this raised one more question: Why scatter all these items on the highway?

An Unknown Phone Number

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Search and rescue efforts began to hit a snag. By then, officers on scene had only uncovered scattered clues. They were not sure how to fit the pieces together. Undeterred, they now began to look into Paige’s phone register.

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First, the police eliminated both of her ex-husbands from the suspect list. This left one phone number in her call records. It was the last number she called before she vanished. In search of a breakthrough in the case, they began to dissect Paige’s phone records. What they found was a secret far from what anyone expected.

A Dire Secret Revealed

Investigators called the unknown number on Paige’s phone. At first, they hoped to discover more clues that would lead them to her. Nobody could have prepared for what they would uncover. It was a secret that would cast shadows upon the ideal image of a dutiful mother.

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Paige had a tranquil life at Grand Junction. By all accounts, she seemed devoted to her role as the quintessential mother. But underneath it all, she lived another, more sinister, life. She tried to keep it under wraps. But secrets have a way of creeping into one’s private life—a fact made clear by her disappearance.
 

Another Business

At the time, Howard had thought his date with Paige was going well. But at the same time, Paige made use of each spare moment to arrange some kind of business meeting over the phone.

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Investigators had pinpointed the last number that Paige had called. It belonged to a man named Jim. But here was where things became strange. Jim did not recognize the name “Paige”. The name he knew her by was “Carrie”. Paige had used an assumed name for her calls with Jim. The question was, why?

Jim

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So why would Paige use a different name? What’s more, what kind of business required her to meet in secret with Jim? Investigators needed to find out more about her disappearance. Now they had to uncover the mystery of Paige’s secret life.

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Follow up inquiries found that Jim left several calls on Paige’s phone. Most of these calls were on the day she disappeared. He also called her twice two days before then. At the time, no one knew why Jim would make so many calls on Paige’s phone. Under normal circumstances, it would have been easy to track down Jim. But things were never as simple as they seem.

Jim’s Misdirection

Jim’s whereabouts were hard to track down. This was because he had called Paige on a prepaid phone, which meant there was no name or credit card to tie it to. But in time, police found out that a Walmart branch had sold the phone on June 26. That was mere days before Jim’s number appeared on Paige’s phone.

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The officers learned that Paige was Jim’s only contact on the phone. For several days, Jim left five calls to Paige’s phone. Then the phone died out. Investigators began to ferret out the truth about Jim.

Who Jim Was

After much inquiry, investigators were quick to discover who Jim was. In fact, Jim was not even named “Jim”. His actual name was Lester Jones. What’s more, he worked near the parking lot where they found the remains of Paige’s car.

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As police uncovered details about Lester’s life, they tagged him as suspicious. This left them with one more question: How did Paige and Jim know each other? It seemed that the more evidence that appeared, the more the mystery deepened.

The Ugly Truth about Lester

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Investigators took Lester in to question him. They found that this was not his first rodeo. In reality, he had been in jail for many crimes. This included attempted kidnapping and sexual assault. It did not make sense. Paige was a model resident. Why would she call an ex-con like Lester?

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Interrogations were underway for Lester Jones. It was a drawn out, grueling procedure for the investigator in charge of the case. But now they had a real chance to know where Paige was, and what happened to her.

Lester’s Secret Stash

To learn more, officers went to raid the R.V. shop where Lester worked. This was where they found more details on his hidden life as “Jim”. It was there that Lester hid files on different escorts. These files outlined their looks and dispositions. He even went so far to document their bust sizes. Hidden in a tool box was a curious set of paraphernalia: men’s wigs, condoms, and Viagra. Near his desk, they found a gas container. Lester could offer no explanation to its purpose.

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As investigation on Lester deepened, police also found out the secret Paige had hoped to keep. It was a secret that would shatter her pristine, maternal image. This went far beyond what her loved ones could have assumed. 

Interrogating Lester

Police piled evidence upon evidence in front of him. But Lester Jones protested his innocence. He argued that they took the wrong person. He rejected any connections made between him and Paige. It was unfortunate. No matter how much evidence they had, it was all circumstantial. None could point Lester as the sole reason for the disappearance of Paige.

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It was like Paige had just vanished. No one knew if she was still alive. No one knew where to find her. They could find no other suspects. But all was not lost. In time, investigators would find the true link between Lester and Paige.

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The Truth about Paige

Despite her image as an ordinary but charming woman, Paige was so much more. To the surprise of all, she earned money by providing escort services. Her baffling calls referred to a business called Models, Inc. Here, she worked as its sole employee, using the alias “Carrie”.

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Now the pieces began to fit in place. Often, Paige would head out after tucking her children to bed. Paige had hired a nanny, who was familiar with her hours. No one had reason to suspect her secret. After all, why would anyone suspect such a pillar to the community?

All about Carrie

Officers on the case uncovered several escort ad postings under the name of “Carrie”. These posts outlined services customers can avail of. Its scope went from nude photos to live stripping.

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Upon discovery, Paige’s loved ones were speechless. Both her parents and her siblings found it hard to cope with the news. But they were sure of one thing: Paige did not enjoy her work. They believed she loved her children above all. She would have gone through anything for them.

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Her Reasons for Doing It

Her family had no definite answers to her secret. But knowing her, she had her reasons. Her divorce had left her drowning in debt. Likewise, she wished her children to have a bright future.

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After divorcing Rob, the stress piled on. On her own, Paige had to fend for her three children. But she could find a lot of ways to make money. She worked to make ends meet, heedless of the risks.

Hiker Makes a Grisly Discovery

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It was five years after the disappearance of Paige Birgfeld. On the spring of 2012, a hiker trekked on the landscape of Wells Gulch. The panoramic nature trail was a mere 40 minutes away from Grand Junction. The hiker discovered a human skull while passing through a dried up riverbed. They brought the skull in for an autopsy. Here, they found a shocking revelation: the skull had its mouth duct-taped.

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They discovered the body close to where the skull was. A further autopsy found that the remains were of Paige. No one was certain how she died. But one thing was certain: Paige did not go down without a fight.

What Happened to Lester

It was 2014. Seven years after Paige’s disappearance, police had finally caught up to Lester Jones. Lester faced off against Paige’s loved ones in court. Among them was her oldest daughter, Jess. His first trial happened in August 2016. But the jury quibbled over the verdict, with the court ruling a mistrial.

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But another trial was set after two months. Here, they found him guilty for the murder of Paige Birgfeld. The court sentenced him to lifelong incarceration, with no possibility of parole. He continues to suffer for his crime. But the scars inflicted on the Birgfelds ran deep.

Missing Paige

Frank Birgfeld admitted on an interview that he had not yet accepted the death of his daughter. Paige’s children now live with their father, miles away from where their mother died.

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Meanwhile, Paige’s sister Callie shared something that happened while the investigation was underway. Back then, Paige’s daughter had asked Callie, “Do you know what happened to my mom? Do you know where she is?” Callie was at a loss for answers. Still, she gave her niece what comfort she could. She answered, “Wherever she is, she wants to be with you right now.”

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