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Investigator Grilled About Missing Evidence In Paige Birgfeld Trial

By Matt Kroschel

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (CBS4)– The lead investigator in the Paige Birgfeld murder case took the stand on Wednesday where he had to explain some missing evidence.

Mesa County Sheriff’s Office investigator Jim Hebenstreit took the stand on Wednesday.

Mesa County Sheriff's Office investigator Jim Hebenstreit (credit: CBS)

Mesa County Sheriff’s Office investigator Jim Hebenstreit (credit: CBS)

CBS4 was the only Denver news station inside the courtroom as Lester Jones’ defense team spent hours trying to paint a picture of a mishandled investigation in the murder of a single mother of three in Grand Junction.

Lester Jones in court on Thursday (credit: CBS)

Lester Jones in court on Thursday (credit: CBS)

State Deputy Public Defender Kara Smith concentrated on the fact that several witness interviews, conducted early in the investigation, cannot be located or were never documented in the case records.

Jones was arrested in November 2014 for the June 2007 murder of Birgfeld.

Authorities allege he killed Birgfeld, dumped her body and torched her car. He has been charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and arson.

Lester Jones & Paige Birgfeld (credit: Mesa Co. Sheriff/CBS)

Lester Jones & Paige Birgfeld (credit: Mesa Co. Sheriff/CBS)

Medical professionals have testified earlier in the trial that they couldn’t tell for sure how Birgfeld died. Her skeletal remains were found in 2012, in a dry creek bed in neighboring Delta County county.

Investigators say Birgfeld, twice divorced and living in Grand Junction about 200 miles west of Denver, led a double life as a paid escort with many unsavory clients.

Jones was arrested after detectives questioned — and ruled out — at least eight other men, including Birgfeld’s former husband and several other clients. Witnesses said one of those clients had an “arsenal of guns and a pile of cocaine.”

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

The defense has presented five other men they claim could have killed Birgfeld.

Prosecutors admit their case lacks physical evidence but say the evidence they do have against Jones is very strong and that all other potential suspects have been ruled out.

Closing arguments in the murder trial are expected on Friday.

Matt Kroschel covers news throughout Colorado working from the CBS4 Mountain Newsroom. Send story ideas to mrkroschel@cbs.com and connect with him on Twitter @Matt_Kroschel.

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