11 News Special Report: Where is Paige?

By: Natalie Pallone Email
By: Natalie Pallone Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - More than two years ago a Grand Junction mother of three disappeared.

What happened to Paige Birgfeld is a question her father and the Mesa County Sheriff have looked tirelessly to answer.

In this 11 News Special Report Anchor Natalie Pallone sits down with both of them to find out where the investigation stands.

Her dad Frank Birgfeld says, “I think the thing I miss the most is hearing Paige laugh, hearing her voice.”

It’s nearly three years since anyone has seen Paige Birgfeld and not a day has gone by that her father hasn’t thought about her.

“Some days are an emotional rollercoaster with the steep downhills and never the uphills,” he says.

She was beautiful and caring, but this Grand Junction mother of three also led a secret double life as an adult escort, something investigators with the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office has said made their job harder.

Sheriff Stan Hilkey says, “Next June will be three years. The case remains unsolved and open.”

Hilkey has been on the case ever since June 28, 2007 when Paige was reported missing.

On July 1, her car was found abandoned and on fire in a parking lot near her home and in the days and months that followed her family, investigators and volunteers set out on foot and horseback looking for any sign of Paige.

An extensive search along Highway 50 near Whitewater turned up some clues, some of Paige’s personal checks, a Blockbuster video card, insurance cards for her and her children and even a shoe possibly worn by Paige were all found.

“I'm unaware that anything has come of material found on Highway 50 so I guess were back where we were then,” her dad says.

Frank hasn’t stopped searching for his daughter and believes he’s been left out of the investigation, writing letter after letter to the Sheriff’s Office.

“I'm looking for an active investigation. They may say that's what's going on but I don't see it. I'm left trying to communicate and we don't seem to have much cooperation on that,” he says.

Hilkey says the investigation is extremely active and his office is focused on the sole suspect in the case, Lester Ralph Jones.

He says, “We believe there was a connection between the two, the type and specifics we haven't talked a lot about.”

But Frank’s not sold on Jones. “I have informants and they say Paige knew him and found him repulsive, I think she would have been weary being around him. I also think there was no interaction that would have caused him to have a preplanned motive to harm.”

Frank also thinks that if Jones was the one who harmed his daughter, he wasn’t working alone.

“There's a considerable possibility that there was someone else present when Paige was harmed and that connection would help greatly if Jones and another where doing weekend work in Delta County in June and July of 2007 and that be important for me to know and could lead to finding Paige,” Frank says.

Frank also has another theory, a murder for hire plot.

Hilkey says, “I can't comment on his theories or what he believes. We have to concentrate on the investigation as we know and be confident that what we've done is good work. Really good work.”

Hilkey says he wants to solve Paige’s case as much as Frank does, but unfortunately, they have to cross every t and dot every i and that takes time.

But the investigation is picking up steam.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation just finished up a round of DNA testing on items relating to the case, Hikley says. “We are hopeful that these latest tests will show a link between our persons of interest and Paige Birgfeld.

But even if it does and Joes is arrested, Frank says he won’t be satisfied.

“I would feel like it was progress but I wouldn't feel like it was a conclusion by a long shot,” he says.

Hilkey says, “If there was new information that would come in on where to go and where to search or a new lead to follow at this point we would take it.”

As the Sheriff’s Office waits to see if the latest DNA tests are the link they’ve been looking for Frank says he’ll continue to explore every avenue he can in the hope of finding his baby girl. “This is my daughter,” he says.

Anyone with information on this case is asked to call the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office at 244–3500.

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Ozz Location: Maryland on Dec 7, 2009 at 12:22 PM
    As old friends of the Birgfelds, we have been following this tragedy from afar since it began. From our perspective there are a number of things which don’t compute as far as the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office is concerned, including their refusal to investigate the potential existence of a large sum of money and thus a motive for her disappearance and the lack of information about progress (or lack of it) getting back to the Birgfelds - all related to their handling of the investigation. It would seem to us that transferring the case to the CBI might well solve all of these problems, an action which, to our understanding, is welcomed by Sheriff Hilkey. It’s also very important that the press keep the pressure on the investigators, whoever they may be, to end this mystery and help put an end to the Birgfeld’s pain of losing their only daughter.
  • by Justin Location: Grand Junction on Dec 3, 2009 at 09:01 PM
    Perhaps in the world of justice victims and families are just numbers. It takes the media to remind us that we are dealing with someones daughter, someones mom, someones friend...The media needs to put pressure on the powers that be to solve this case.
  • by Annonymous Location: somewhere on Dec 3, 2009 at 01:14 PM
    Cool Report. Keep the good work.
  • by Lou Location: Grand Junction on Dec 2, 2009 at 08:43 PM
    We're glad you continue to report on this horrible mystery. This case needs to be brought back out of the cold case list. Many questions seem to continue: Why hasn't the MCSO referred the case to the CBI in order to receive help in solving it? Why are Paige's family and friends not informed of the current info for the investigation? Why didn't the article bring up the question of the large amount of money that was supposed to have been found in her house from an anonymous source but not admitted to by the MCSO? Do they (or someone) have something to hide? Please keep reporting on this case so Paige's family can have some closure and a criminal can pay for this crime.
  • by Richard Location: Grand Junction on Dec 2, 2009 at 05:58 PM
    It’s been almost three years since the Sheriff told us that Ralph Jones is the only suspect of this horrible crime. That’s about as close as he could come to say that Jones committed murder. Yet the Sheriff has never taken the case into court. Maybe Jones did it as the Sheriff tells us but, apparently, there wasn’t a case put together. Jones may well be the worst of the worst but this doesn’t seem to be fair play by the Sheriff’s Department. Two years for DNA Test results? Follow the money please.
  • by Barbra Location: Grand Junction on Dec 2, 2009 at 03:28 PM
    It is good to hear that the investigation is still active but at the same time it is rather confusing. Why has this much time passed without a trial if indeed there is so much evidence? Coming to terms with the fact that Paige was murdered was difficult but knowing for sure that the culprit(s)walks free is unbearable!
  • by Riina Location: G.J. on Dec 2, 2009 at 02:05 PM
    Thanks for your story on Paige. This is a horrible crime and whoever did it is still out there making none of us safe. Our Sheriff said things which sound that they’re close to solving the case but he has done that sort of thing years ago. I wish that you had asked him for more specifics and directly about when this will be solved. Her family and friends need closure. Please, stay on top of the case and keep the public updated as often as possible.
  • by Jay Location: Denver on Nov 30, 2009 at 11:51 AM
    Glaringly this story made no mention of the request for the FBI to investigate whether the sheriff’s investigator took a large amount of paiges money. If so, wouldn’t it corrupt the whole investigation? If so, isn’t it needed to remove the cop that did it? Why are the Birgfelds so adamant? What do they know? And why won’t the police pursue it? Was channel 11 pressured not to include that area in its report?
  • by Suz Location: Denver on Nov 29, 2009 at 02:59 PM
    Thank you, Natalie, for this update. I wonder, since this has been such a stalemate, why the Sheriff wouldn't want to give up a case where no progress continues to be made? I also wonder why the Sheriff's department doesn't do an internal investigation when a national network program has quoted a "source close to the investigation" that investigators "discovered a large amount of cash in Paige's home-tens of thousands of dollars". It's her children who need use of that missing money. Don't forget the children.
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