Colorado Mother’s Double Life Destroys Her Family
To outsiders, Paige Birgfeld was a true superwoman. She was the perfect doting mother, a lovable friend, and a smart businesswoman, beloved by all in her small Colorado town. That’s why the world seemed to come to a halt when one day she suddenly failed to come home for days. All contact with her was lost.
Why would this kind, sweet mother seemingly abandon her family like this? As it turns out, the reason for it all was hiding beneath her sunny exterior, where she hid a double life.
1. The Perfect Mom
Paige Birgfeld lived a comfortable life in the small town of Grand Junction, Colorado. To all appearances, she was the spitting image of a perfect mother and hard-working woman. She was beloved by all in the picturesque city where she lived, nestled in the Grand Valley.
She and her three children lived a peaceful life, although she had recently gone through a divorce from her husband Rob, who had allegedly been violent with her. Paige picked up the pieces and kept everything together. However, everyone has their secrets.
2. Her Life After Divorce
After Paige and her husband Rob divorced, she was forced to figure out how to get by and raise three kids without the extra income her husband provided. She refused to just scrape by, so she got industrious. Her goal was to give her beloved children the most comfortable life possible.
Paige dabbled in various fields, many unrelated, in an attempt to patch together a good living. Her endeavors involved everything from selling nursing slings, cooking supplies and running a cluster of dance studios for kids. She managed several businesses until finally deciding to try her hand at love again.
3. A Love Rekindled
Rob was not Paige’s first husband. Before him, she was married to a man she had dated in high school, Howard Ron Biegler. Despite being high school sweethearts, their marriage ultimately did not last. That was not the end of their connection, though.
After the divorce and even once Paige remarried, they still remained in touch and stayed friends. After getting divorced from her second husband, Paige and Howard’s correspondences started turning romantic once again. It seemed a good time to meet up and have another “first date.”
4. The Reunion
The two wanted their reunion and first date in years to be something more special than a typical date night. No restaurant and a movie here. They came up with a romantic plan for a picnic at the most scenic spot possible.
They decided to meet in Eagle, Co., which was a two-hour drive from Paige’s home in Grand Junction. No matter the distance, that would be the spot they planned to reconnect for the first time in many years. Would they fall in love once again?
5. A Lovely Picnic
It was June 28, 2007, smack in the middle of summer. The Colorado heat surrounded the couple as they picnicked together and rekindled their love. Paige, who was 34 years at the time, had driven 120 miles to reconnect with her ex-husband for a special date.
As the evening approached, their date was winding down and Paige prepared to head home. It was getting dark, and she knew she had a long ride ahead of her. They couple said their goodbyes and then she began the drive back home to Grand Junction.
6. The Ride Home
Paige set off, hoping to arrive back home early enough to see her children before they went to bed. Despite the long days of summer, dusk came quickly. Howard called her to make sure her drive was going well and she said it was. In fact, she said that she was almost home.
Back in Grand Junction, her children anxiously awaited their mother’s arrival, knowing that it would be well after dark by the time she got home. They had a nanny with them but soon one hour turned into more and more. Where was she?
7. The Waiting Game
By 11:00 PM, Paige was still not in the driveway and her children grew more and more concerned. When she spoke with Howard and said she was almost home, it was only 9:00 PM. This was not like their mother, to simply be gone for so long without at least checking in.
In need of some sort of answer, her daughter called her mother’s cellphone, only to reach voicemail. She left a long, distressing message for her mother, in a desperate attempt to get some sort of confirmation that everything was alright.
8. Something’s Very Wrong
Paige had gone on her date on a Thursday, but by Saturday, she was still not home. It became clear that something was very wrong. At this point, Howard had also left countless frantic messages. Even her second ex-husband Rob, now residing in Pennsylvania, reached out desperately to make contact with his ex-wife.
There was no choice but to report the mother as missing. Urged on by Paige’s eight-year-old daughter Jess, the babysitter watching the children finally made a call to police. With that, those closest to Paige were forced to confront a dreadful reality.
9. Dealing With a Crime
Paige’s father Frank did not know how to react when he received word via phone from police that his daughter was missing. He did, however, know that she was not the type of person to just run off and disappear. Something much more insidious had happened.
Frank and Suzanne Birgfeld made the trip over from Denver in order to take care of the kids as well as to help look for their daughter. When Frank met with police, he told them with certainty that they were “dealing with a crime.” Paige wouldn’t choose to do something like this.
10. Would Paige Abandon her Family?
With that, police got to work investigating the baffling case. How could this loving mother just vanish into thin air? It did not make sense that Paige would abandon her three lovely children and fail to make contact with anyone.
It was clear that this case was serious. Paige’s brother Craig even moved himself and his family from Seattle to take care of Paige’s children: eight-year-old Jess, six-year old Taft, and three-year-old Kohl. They were all waiting to hear back from their mother again.
11. Mystery in the Parking Lot
The following days brought no promising updates concerning Paige’s wherabouts, despite frantic searches everywhere. Police couldn’t even find the smallest clue to tell them where Paige went the night of June 28. Then, on July 1, 2007, police made a terrifying discovery in a parking lot only three miles away from Paige’s home.
That night, a red Ford Focus was found burning in an empty parking lot. It belonged to Paige and was the car she was driving when she went on her date with Howard. This would prove to be the first step in getting answers.
12. Inside the Car
The police searched the burnt car, expecting to possibly find Paige’s body inside. What they found, however, simply confused them and deepened the case. Paige was nowhere to found in or near the vehicle and many of her belongings were gone as well.
If investigators had thought this burning car would have finally brought answers as to her whereabouts, they were certainly wrong. By this point, she was confirmed missing and unfortunately, the fire seemed to burn away any hope that she would quickly be found.
13. Clues in the Ashes
Police searched the car, desperate to find anything salvageable that might reveal some clue as to what happened to Paige. They turned up more than a few illuminating clues even though her purse and phone were missing.
One of the most telling? A planner in which Paige carefully wrote out her schedule for the next several days. The state of the planner raised a couple eyebrows for a startling reason and helped them figure out where she had been and where she intended to go.
14. The Mystery of the Planner
Paige’s planner was clearly meant to organize what she would be doing over the next several days — and with whom she would be meeting. The latter is what piqued the police’s interest and they decided to browse through this planner more intensively.
For surviving a fire, the planner was impressively intact, except for one glaring detail: Somebody had torn out the last four pages. It was as though they did not want police to know with whom Paige was supposed to meet on those days.
15. The Strange Seat
After analyzing the sparse contents of the car, police devoted their attention to the state of the car itself. Although the vehicle was in bad shape because of the fire, there was one big thing amiss inside, particular on the driver’s side.
The driver’s seat was situated far from the steering wheel, as far as it could go, reaching the back seats. Paige would not have been able to drive safely with the seat in such a position. It was clearly moved back to make more room. Maybe Paige hadn’t been alone as she drove home?
16. Lots of Places to Hide
While the police were pleased to at last have some substantial evidence to work with, the fact remained: Paige was still out there and it was not known if she was okay. Maybe if they found her soon enough, they could save her?
The search proved to be long and grueling. Police realized they could no longer limit their efforts to only the small town of Grand Junction. Search efforts were then expanded to include the entirety of Mesa County, an area filled with nature and lots of places to hide.
17. The Treacherous Terrain
Mesa County’s terrain can be treacherous. While its sun-bathed canyons and the far-reaching valley shadows make for great pictures, trying to locate someone there is not exactly easy. But Paige’s family had their hopes set high that she would quickly be found and come back home.
The search began underneath the unrelenting summer sun. In addition to a police search crew, dogs were brought in to hopefully find clues. Police also hired a team of divers to search the vast river. Their goal was simple: find Paige as soon as possible.
18. To the Gunnison River
The Gunnison River was among the first places search crews looked for Paige after expanding the search. This river is no more predictable than the desert landscape surrounding it. Swift and craggy, it winds through the canyons. Maybe she had fallen in and drowned?
Divers went to work to look for any sort of clue in the waters. Police also sent well-trained tracking dogs in its direction, in the hope that they would find some leads. Sadly, both the divers and dog’s didn’t find any clues. Even so, nobody was ready to relent just yet.
19. Everyone Looking For Paige
Fortunately, the police were not alone in their seemingly endless search. The Birgfelds had a robust search party of 100 people who hiked across the desert to find Paige. They did not know what they would find, but any answers were welcome at this point, no matter how unpleasant.
Found littered across Highway 50 were small items that belonged to Paige. Members of the search crew found her checkbook, her children’s medical cards and a video store card with her name printed on it. Still, the question remained: Why would Paige have thrown these things out along the road?
20. Strange Phone Calls
As the search wound down, police were left only with small clues but no idea how they could link together and explain Paige’s disappearance. Next, police turned to search Paige’s phone records since she was using her phone during the drive home.
Both of Paige’s ex-husbands had already been ruled out as suspects, but one mysterious number remained unknown. Paige had called that number just before her disappearance. Desperate to further the investigation, police delved into the records and uncovered something that nobody was meant to know about.
21. A Secret Starts to Come Out
When police contacted the mysterious last number she called, they expected another clue that would point them to an answer. Instead, they exposed a dark secret about this sweet mother. Nobody would have expected this.
It turned out that while Paige was taking care of her beautiful family and living a relatively peaceful life in Grand Junction, she was also living a double life. Though she tried to keep it hidden, the secret sometimes overlapped into her personal life, as it did the very night of her disappearance.
22. Business Calls
Little did Howard know, while he and Paige were having their picnic and hoping to re-ignite their relationship once again, she was also using every free second to work out a business transaction of sorts over the phone with a mysterious person.
Police soon tracked the mysterious phone number that Paige had called to a man named “Jim.” To make matters even more perplexing, Jim did not know Paige as Paige. He only knew her as Carrie. Why was she using a fake name and calling strange people?
23. Who is Jim?
Why would she have taken on an alter ego of sorts and call herself Carrie? Even more puzzling, what business did Paige have with this strange man named Jim? Police now had to work out a completely new facet of Paige’s life that was absolutely perplexing.
They soon learned that Jim had called Paige several times on the day she went missing, and twice just a couple of days prior. It was unclear why this man would be contacting Paige so much. The phone records should have easily led police to Jim, but it became only more difficult.
24. The Decoy Phone
Finding Jim became something of a challenge because he had been contacting Paige via a prepaid phone, so it was not linked to any credit card or even a real name. Nonetheless, after this detour, officers learned that the phone had been purchased on June 26th at a local Walmart, just days before Jim began calling Paige.
As it turned out, she was the only person Jim contacted with the phone. A total of five calls were made over several days, until the phone eventually went dead. Soon, police went to work to uncover Jim’s true identity.
25. The Real Jim
With some careful investigative work, police eventually learned that Jim was not named Jim at all. His real name was actually Lester Jones. Furthermore, his place of employment was situated right across from the parking lot in which Paige’s car was found burning.
The more that police learned about Lester Jones, the more they became uneasy about him. The huge question still remained: Why were Jim and Paige calling each other at all? Every new bit of evidence seemed to bring about huge twists.
26. The Real Jim
Police brought in Lester for questioning and began to investigate him like a suspect. However, this was not his first brush with the law. In fact, he had served time in jail for crimes ranging from sexual assault to an attempted kidnapping. Why would a sweet woman like Paige be in contact such an unsavory character?
Now it was time to interrogate Lester Jones. The process was long and unsettling for the detective in charge, but there was hope that now they would get some solid answers on exactly what happened to Paige.
27. Strange Items in Lester’s Office
Police raided Lester’s place of work, an R.V. shop. There, they uncovered the gritty secret life of “Jim.” In his office, he kept meticulous lists about various escorts: details about their appearances, their personalities, even their bra sizes. In a tool box, he also had a condom, viagra and men’s toupees. Next to his desk sat a single gas cannister. He couldn’t explain why it was there.
As the police investigated the new suspect further, they also finally uncovered Paige’s huge secret. Nobody expected this from her, who to all appearances was the perfect, wholesome mother. It was a secret that she managed to hide from family, friends, and everyone who knew her.
28. In the Interrogation Room
Even with so much evidence pointing toward him, Jones maintained that he was innocent and that they had the wrong man. He denied everything that tied him to Paige. Alas, while so much evidence was pointed against him, the police did not have any solid evidence that could unquestionably link him to Paige’s disappearance.
Paige seemed to have just disappeared into thin air and, whether dead or alive, she was nowhere to be found and there were no definite suspects anymore. Soon, however, they would discover Paige’s secret that linked her to Lester.
29. The Real Paige
Everyone was shocked when they found out that underneath the Paige’s wholesome facade as a simple, sweet woman, she was making her money as an escort. Her strange phone calls were regarding the business she ran called Models Inc., in which she was the sole employee named Carrie.
It all made sense now. Paige would frequently disappear into the night after her children had been put to bed. A babysitter was always there to watch them and was used to her employer’s strange hours. Nobody asked questions about where she was going because why would she have anything to hide?
30. The Truth About Carrie
Police managed to find some of Paige’s escort ads for “Carrie”. They showed an attractive redhead posing for a camera. According to the posts, customers were able to pay for an array of services from Carrie, ranging from nude pictures to stripping.
Paige’s family was stunned to learn about her secret life. Her parents processed the news as her siblings tried to make sense of it all. One thing they did determine, however, was that Paige likely did not take on this job for the enjoyment. They were convinced it was all done to provide for her children. She loved them more than anything.
31. Why She Did It
While her family could not definitely answer all the questions that this discovery left, they were certain that Paige’s intentions were pure. She wanted nothing more than to provide the best quality of life for her children following the divorce. At the same time, she shouldered a lot of debt.
The stress mounted after her second divorce, when Paige was left as the sole caretaker of her three children. Thus, Paige’s industrious attitude led her to a profession she knew would pay the bills, even if it meant putting herself in harm’s way.
32. The Unsuspecting Hiker
It was the spring of 2012, five years after Paige vanished, when a hiker was out enjoying the scenic beauty of Wells Gulch, a 40-minute drive from Grand Junction. As the hiker crossed a dry riverbed, suddenly a skull was spotted, which clearly belonged to a human. Once the skull was properly taken in for examination, another grisly discovery was made: duct tape was around the mouth.
The rest of her remains were found semi-buried nearby. It was quickly determined that they were Paige’s. While it was not determined exactly how she died, from the looks of her remains, one thing became clear: she had put up a fight.
33. Lester’s Fate
In 2014, Lester Jones was arrested. In court, he faced the Birgfeld family and Paige’s oldest daughter, Jess. The first time he went up for trial was in August 2016, but a mistrial was ruled after the jury could not agree on a verdict.
Two months later, though, he faced trial once more and was given a life sentence with no chance of parole. His charges were for murdering Paige, hiding her body and torching her car. Nowadays, Lester remains behind bars, but that does not mean the Birgfeld family has gotten over the tragic ordeal.
34. Still Missing Paige
Frank Birgfeld confided with one interviewer that he still has not completely come to terms with his daughter’s death. Today, her children reside with their father and now live far away from the place where their mother had been killed.
In one interview, Paige’s sister Callie revealed a touching question that Paige’s daughter asked during the investigation: “Do you know what happened to my mom? Do you now where she is?” Callie had no answer for the poor girl, so she told her niece the most comforting thing she could: “Wherever she is, she wants to be with you right now.”