GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (CBS4)– Investigators have detailed what they believe to the be the final days leading up to Paige Birgfeld’s death in 2007.
The single mother of three went missing seven years ago. The 34-year-old’s remains were found two years ago by a hiker in Wells Gulch.
Deputies arrested Lester Ralph Jones, the only suspect ever named in the case. Jones, 63, of Grand Junction, was a client of Birgfeld’s escort service.
Police found Birgfeld’s car, a 2005 red Ford sedan, on fire in the parking lot at 727 23 Road in Grand Junction just before 10 p.m. on July 1, 2007.
When firefighters arrived, the interior of the vehicle was on fire. There were no license plates on the vehicle but when the VIN was checked by police through 911 dispatch, they learned the vehicle was registered to Paige Dixon. No human remains were found inside the burned vehicle.
In the days preceding the car fire, investigators compiled this list of activities by Jones and his link to Birgfeld:
Jones went out of town with his wife on June 22, 2007 to California. He returned two days later and she continued on to Georgia. Jones’ wife did not return to Grand Junction until June 30.
Jones telephoned Models Inc., Birgfeld’s escort service, on his personal cell phone several times between June 25 and June 27 while his wife was out of town. Jones purchased a Tracfone at Walmart on June 26 and the only calls he made with that phone were to Models Inc.
Jones denied buying the Tracfone even after police showed him surveillance photos.
The first number Birgfeld called on June 28, 2007 before returned to Grand Junction from Eagle was Jones’ Tracfone.
The second number she called was Timothy Zotto, who has been alibied by police. The third number she called was John Livingston at Motel 6.
Investigators believe it is logical that Birgfeld would have set client appointments in the same order she returned their phone calls, Jones first and then Livington at Motel 6.
Birgfeld was near the intersection of 23 and G Road when she spoke to Howard Beigler at 8:57 p.m. During her last conversation with Beigler, Birgfeld was near Walker SMS and Bob Scott RV, not Motel 6 on Horizon Drive.
Livingston left a voice mail on Birgfeld’s phone at 10:24 p.m. from Motel 6, asking if someone was still coming.
Analysis of Jones’ computers indicates that he was on the computer every night while his wife was out of town except the night of June 28.
Birgfeld disappeared after she last spoke with Beigler at 8:57 p.m. on June 28.
After she went missing, a trail of checks, business cards and other personal belongings of Birgfeld’s were found along Highway 50 between Whitewater and Bridgeport Road. Investigators believe this indicates that she was taken there immediately following her disappearance and that it appears someone, likely Paige, was trying to leave clues of her travel path.
It was on July 1 that her car was reported on fire in the parking lot of Walker SMS. The driver’s seat was pushed all the way back. That seat alerted to the scent of Jones by trained dogs, with the scent of Birgfeld and a cadaver scent coming from the vehicle.
Walker SMS is across the street from Jones’ place of employment, Bob Scott RV.
Packaging from the Tracfone was found in the trash can by Jones’ work station despite his denial of purchasing it.
A gas can was located next to Jones’ work station despite other employees indicating they did not remember it being there or having any explanation as to why it was there.
Jones’ wife told police her husband left their home about 9 p.m. on July 1 to turn off the shop lights at Bob Scott and returned home about 10:10 p.m.
Driving time between Jones’ home and Bob Scott RV is about 20 minutes. When confronted by investigators, Jones admitted driving from his residence to his work to turn off the shop lights.
Investigators have not revealed what they believe happened between the time of Birgfeld’s final phone call and when her remains were found.