GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (CBS4)– Opening statements began on Thursday in the murder trial of Paige Birgfeld, a single mother of three in Grand Junction.
Lester Ralph 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 murder, kidnapping and arson.
The prosecution went first in laying out its evidence against Jones after jurors were seated on Thursday.
“Evidence will show that he chose a remote location for Paige to be buried. Her body was not found for five years,” said one prosecutor.
Evidence photos were shown in the courtroom of Birgfeld’s remains.
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.”
Jones’ lawyers say one of those men — who died in 2011 — could have killed Birgfeld. They say there’s no physical evidence tying him to Birgfeld’s death.
Defense attorneys point to what they consider a botched investigation from the day Birgfeld went missing. They offered up five other men they claim could have killed her and say the sheriff’s office did little to investigate those other men.
Her apparent double life attracted widespread attention to the mystery of her disappearance, including a “48 Hours” segment called “The Secret Life of Paige Birgfeld” in 2008.
Her skeletal remains were found in 2012, in a dry creek bed in neighboring Delta County county. Officials still don’t know how Birgfeld died.
The trial is expected to continue for weeks with testimony from dozens of witnesses.