Stories of double lives exposed come out regularly, but the story of Paige Birgfeld is definitely one for the books. She is the mother of three who led a secret life as an escort and disappeared without a trace in 2007. Her secret not only destroyed her family but also led to her untimely demise.
The details that surround the story of Paige Birgfeld seem taken straight out from a thriller. A mother that ventures into the dark side of life to provide for her kids is something that you’ve often seen in movies. From movies, everyone knows it could end badly. This is the story of a loving mother who tried to do the best she could for her family, but unfortunately hurt them all, and herself, in the process.
A Seemingly Ordinary Mother
Anyone who has had children knows that most parents would do anything for them. Paige Birgfeld was no exception, and she did her best to offer her children the best life she could as a single mom. However, she had a dangerous secret that would eventually destroy all the work she did for her family.
Paige was one of those mothers who never misses her kids’ soccer practice, and she didn’t know any different from all of the other soccer moms in town. She was juggling several careers and struggling to take care of her young children after her two divorces.
A Devoted Mother of Three
Many of the people in the neighborhood where Paige Birgfeld lived knew her as a supermom who was always on top of cleaning, driving, and cooking, while also juggling her jobs. She was there for her kids every moment of the day and even allowed them all to sleep in her bed.
Most of her friends were impressed with her mothering skills and over the years, observed how she sacrificed her own privacy and needs to provide her little ones with a loving environment. However, little did they know Paige had a terrible secret.
Struggling to Make Ends Meet
As having three young children is not cheap, Paige decided that she needed to make some money on the side on top of her income from her several jobs. As such, she tried multiple money-making methods, including selling baby slings, cookware, and even flipping houses.
But all this didn’t work very well, and besides not making much money from these schemes, Paige realized that they were taking up a lot of her precious time. So she expanded into babysitting and even considered breeding dogs to supplement her income. But when she figured that her situation was already a chaotic one without the addition of more children or dogs, Paige decided that she needed to look into other options.
Soccer Mom By Day, Escort by Night
Because she had lots of responsibilities and was struggling to make and needs, Paige was forced to come with an unorthodox solution to her problems. She had loved dancing ever since she was a kid, and at one point, she opened a dance school. She was in her 20s at the time, and this is how she met her first husband.
But dancing on its own wasn’t the way to pay the bills but in order to be able to get out of the red. Paige realized that she needed something that would bring in lots of extra cash without taking up a lot of her time. The fact that her method was slightly illegal was just a tiny detail.
Building a Business as an Escort
Because she has excellent organization skills, it didn’t take Paige long to set up her own escort service and start working under the fake name “Carrie.” She ran her business from her home and a nearby office she rented, and she only confided in some of her best friends.
According to them, Paige was never an escort herself, but sometimes she would occasionally dance on the job. She mostly offers services such as stripping, nude massages, and role-playing. Unknown to her family, Paige had spent a brief time serving in a club when she was younger, which is perhaps how she got the escorting idea in the first place.
Things Start to Go Awry
After a couple of months of earning cash on the side with her escort service, things looked a bit brighter for Paige. She was now in a better place financially, but she wasn’t aware of the fact the trouble was just outside her door.
In June 2007, she met with her ex-husband Howard Beigler, in Eagle, Colorado. She then drove home, and when Howard called her to make sure she got home fine, she answered and told him she was nearly home. That was the last thing anyone heard from her.
Paige Is Missing
Even though the drive home was just 120 miles, Paige wasn’t home in the morning, which is when her children and their nanny began to worry. It wasn’t unusual for Paige to be out all hours, so in the beginning, they just thought she was late.
But after two days without even a phone call, they started to sense that something was indeed very wrong. They decided to eventually call the police and tell them that Paige had been missing without a trace, and they couldn’t get in contact with her.
The Search Begins
In many missing person cases, the police need to spend days or weeks looking for their first clue, but when Paige Birgfeld disappeared, things happened so much faster for them. The following night the police found her red Ford Focus burning in a parking lot just 3 miles away from her house.
However, there was no sign of her anywhere nearby, and it was only one month later that the police found her business cards and checks scattered along the highway, across an 11-mile stretch. That was the moment the police learned that there was much more to the story of Paige than they were led to believe.
Secrets Come to Light
After finding her business cards, the police started to investigate “Carrie’s” double life and began to interview her friends and parents. Paige’s parents were shocked to learn that her brother had done something so morally questionable and agreed with the police that it was entirely possible that Paige’s disappearance had something to do with her secret life.
Because everyone knew that Paige was a devoted mother, they soon realized someone really wanted her gone. She would have never left her children like that. So, soon after the police investigated Paige’s secret life and learned about the way she was earning money on the side, they were convinced that everything pointed to foul play.
The Initial Theory of the Police Is Dismissed
Because Paige led such a difficult life, it was easy to assume that she simply grew tired of it and decided to abandon her family. However, after extensive questioning of friends and family, the police dismissed this original theory because they were convinced this was not a woman who would leave her children willingly.
When questioned by the police, Paige’s father told them that it was incredibly improbable that she would do such a thing. “If Paige had two broken legs, she would crawl on her elbows to get to those kids,” he said in a statement.
The Focus of the Investigation Shifts
As soon as the police were convinced that there was no way Paige would have abandoned her children, they started to shift the focus of the investigation. They decided to have a look at the men in Paige’s life, starting with her ex-husbands. Paige’s friends knew that she had recently started to see her first ex-husband again.
The police decided that Howard Beigler was a person of interest because he was with her on the day she was reported missing. The two had been high school sweethearts, and their relationship lasted for over a decade.
Her Ex Would Never Harm Her
Even though the police centered their investigation on the ex-husbands, friends and family were positive that despite their differences, the fathers of Paige’s children would never harm her.
The police were soon convinced of this as well, because after investigating a abit more, they found out that her first ex-husband had followed up several times, calling Paige to see if she got home safe. They then turned their attention to Rob Dixon, her Paige’s second husband, who had a bad history with Paige.
What About Her Second Ex-Husband?
Dixon became a person of interest in the case because he had a complicated relationship with his ex-wife. They had a tumultuous relationship, and according to Colorado District Attorney Dan Rubinstein, “He would get angry. He would yell loudly. He would make threats or statements that would cause people to be very concerned.”
Paige’s father was worried as well, and he said, “Dixon is a person that’s kind of two personalities. We think of him as ‘Good Rob’ and ‘Bad Rob.’ At the first part, it was 100-percent Good Rob, and I think as his financial situation deteriorated, we saw a lot more of Bad Rob.”
A History of Physical Abuse
In 2011, when she was still married to Dixon, Paige called 911 in distress, telling the operator, “My husband and I were in a fight. He wanted the children to stay with him, and he said that I would come home and find them all murdered.”
The police defused the situation, but just a year later, Paige made a second call, claiming her husband abused her physically. The two of them divorced after eight years of marriage, and Paige was left to take care of three children alone.
The Second Ex-Husband Is Cleared
Even though they had a history of abuse, the police couldn’t find any link between Rob Dixon and Paige’s disappearance. In fact, Dixon was in Philadelphia at the time Paige disappeared. He also appeared very concerned about his ex-wife going missing and made several phone calls to her phone to see if she was all right.
After questioning her second husband, the police decided that he didn’t have anything to do with Paige’s disappearance. There were now out of immediate leads and had to expand their search.
Going After the Clients
Because Paige was in the escort business, it was only a matter of time for the police to start going after her clients. At least eight of them were interrogated, and only one of them behaved suspiciously enough for the police to make a person of interest.
His name was Lester Ralph Jones, and phone records indicated that he was one of the last people Paige had called before she disappeared. The thing is Jones had an alibi, but that wasn’t enough to quench the suspicions of the police completely.
A Body Is Found
There was absolutely no news regarding Paige’s whereabouts until 2012, when a hiker in Western Colorado uncovered a body that was immediately tested, and it was confirmed that the remains were indeed those of Paige Birgfeld. Further investigation and an autopsy proved that she had been dead since the night she disappeared.
The police were no longer looking for a missing person, but for a murderer instead. They went back to the details of the previous investigation and decided to take in Lester Jones because they weren’t satisfied with his explanations and alibi.
Who Was Lester Jones?
Lester Ralph Jones was 55 years old at the time Paige Birgfeld disappeared. He denied involvement in her murder continuously, even though he was one of the last people Paige called before she died. There was not much evidence of a relationship between Jones and Birgfeld, but they did indeed communicate by phone according to records.
Even though Jones initially denied even knowing Birgfeld, he then admitted he paid for a massage. Lester Jones worked just across the street from the place where Paige’s car was found burning.
A History of Sexual Assaults
Besides his suspicious behaviors and proximity to the place where the car was found burning, Jones was also considered a prime suspect by the police because he was previously convicted of sexual assault and even kidnapping of his ex-wife. It’s no wonder that the officers were very keen to have a talk to him from the beginning.
“On the week of June 28th, Lester Jones was first out of town on the weekend prior to with his wife in California, and then he came back to Grand Junction, and she went on to Georgia,” said Colorado District Attorney Dan Rubinstein.
Suspicions Are Growing
The police had enough evidence to interrogate Lester Jones more, as every time they had contact with him, he gave them reasons to be more suspicious. The prosecution found a “whole host of items, such as handwritten notes about other escorts, what their bra sizes were, what type of sex they would have if they would have sex at all,” according to Rubinstein.
Further objects that fueled the police’s suspicious against Jones included two men’s wigs, a stash of Viagra. and a food scale from the company Paige was working for as a part-time saleswoman.
Police Are Getting Closer
During his first interrogation, Jones denied knowing Paige altogether. But during a second interrogation about his whereabouts on the night of the murder, he changed his initial story in which he said he went to Walmart to buy a soda, ultimately denying being in Walmart at all.
When dogs were taken to Paige’s car, they alerted the police of Jones’ smell in the front seat, but he continued to deny he went anywhere with her. All the proof the police had was not enough to jail him, though, so when Jones initially went for trial, he was set free.
No Body, No Conviction
One of the main reasons Jones was allowed to go free was the fact that no body had been discovered until 2012. It had been very difficult for the prosecution to convict him in the absence of a body, so even though there was enough evidence against him, he was allowed to walk.
“Certainly, you can’t bring this to a conclusion, a trial, what have you — the absence of the body certainly muddies that water,” said Paige’s father after Jones was allowed to walk as a free man.
Finding the Body Changed Everything
In the spring of 2012, a hiker who was exploring a creek bed located approximately 60 miles south of the last place the police and searchers had previously found Paige’s business cards scattered along the highway, stumbled upon human remains.
“A hiker in the Wells Gulch area just happened by a human skull, and when they unearthed it, it had duct tape that was sort of around the jawline area and around the back of the head,” said Dan Rubinstein.
Forensics Are Inconclusive
Even though the police and forensic investigators quickly determined that the human remains were indeed those of Paige Birgfeld, the crime scene provided a gruesome but incomplete picture, so no one was exactly sure how Paige died. More bones were scattered across a mile-long stretch, so determining exactly how Paige met her end was impossible.
“The reality is we don’t know exactly how Paige died,” said Dan Rubinstein in a later interview. “What we do know is that she was kidnapped, and we know that because of the items that were strewn down Highway 50, and we know that because of the duct tape. You don’t duct tape a person who is already deceased.”
The Family Is Relieved
Even though the discovery of the body meant that there was absolutely no hope for Paige to be found alive, her family was relieved because they finally got closer. Deep in their hearts, they already knew Paige was dead, but not having proof was indeed very difficult to cope with.
This was also the time for the police to reopen the investigation in the case of Lester Jones because he did not have a solid alibi for his whereabouts on the night of the murder. Even though he did not have an apparent reason for killing Paige, his proximity to the place where she was found was enough for the police to proceed to trial.
The First Trial
Paige’s family got their closure, but they were not keen to see their mother’s and daughter’s murderer brought to justice. When Lester Jones was first brought to trial, it had been over nine years since Paige disappeared. In 2016, Jones first stood trial for both kidnapping and murder.
He continued to insist that he was not guilty and that he had no reason at all to kill Paige, but his former wife, Lisa Nance, came forward to claim that he was an abusive man with a history of violence that must have killed Paige because she knew too much and he didn’t want his current wife to find out that he was paying escorts for massages. Her testimony was enough for the police to bring back the charges against Jones.
The Jury Surprises Everyone
In September 2016, Lester Jones went to trial for the kidnapping and murder of Paige Birgfeld, but everyone was in for a surprise. The result was a mistrial because the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict. Johnson was charged with first and second-degree murder, second-degree kidnapping, and second-degree arson, but he was allowed to walk because of a hung jury.
For the first time, attorneys spent approximately six weeks presenting testimony from various witnesses, and according to KREX, “Jones’ lawyers focused their final argument on five other men who they say could be responsible for Birgfeld’s murder, but were not pursued because of what defense attorneys call a deficient investigation conducted by the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office.”
A Hung Jury
Jurors were ordered by Chief District Judge Brian Flynn to keep deliberating after they initially decided that they couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict. A note from the jury said, “We are unable to come to a unanimous decision. The jury feels we have exhausted our choices.”
After two more hours of deliberation, the 12 jurors decided to send another note to the court to inform that “The jury remains in the same position. … We do not feel any further discussion will change our current state.” It was that moment that district attorney Dan Rubinstein decided that the best course of action would be a mistrial.
The Prosecution Doesn’t Rest
The fact that Lester Jones was allowed to walk free thanks to a mistrial didn’t mean that District Attorney Rubinstein gave up the case. In December 2016, a second trial began with a new jury. The first one had been a huge blow to Paige’s family, but the prosecution managed to arrange a second trial quickly to bring them justice.
At the beginning of the second trial, Jones was still adamant he had nothing to do the kidnapping and murder of Paige Birgfeld. However, the prosecution reminded the court that everything pointed out in his direction, starting from the fact that he was working opposite the place where Paige’s car was found and that he had no alibi for the night of the murder.
The Final Verdict
The second time around the jury was much more decisive and found Lester Jones, who was 65 at the time, guilty of murder and kidnapping. At the sentencing that took place right before Christmas, Jones was given life in prison without the chance of parole.
Paige’s family finally got the justice they deserved even though it took nine years and two trials to get to that result. “What happens to him doesn’t bring Paige back,” said Frank Birgfeld after the verdict. “If he wanted to make a deal and skip prison and bring her back, I’d take it.”
Where Is Paige’s Family Now?
Paige’s three children are currently living with their father on the East Coast and are keeping in touch with their grandfather. During the trial, Paige’s daughter, Jess Dixon, the stand to testify and describe her mother as a person who did everything for her kids.
She presented a lot of details from the day her mother disappeared. “We had been trying to get her back on the phone and it wasn’t working, and we weren’t sure what to do at the time. We were young and our au pair didn’t know the situation,” Jess said. “Our mom was a very kind lady. She did everything for her kids.”
Why Did Lester Jones Kill Paige?
Even though he was sent away for life for the kidnapping and murder of Paige Birgfeld, Lester Jones continued to argue that he was innocent, and no one knows for sure why he killed Paige. According to his ex-wife, he may have done so to conceal the fact that he was using Paige’s escort service.
That’s just a supposition though, and we may never find out the exact reason for which Paige lost her life, neither the way she died. Still, even without this information, the fact that the murderer was convicted brought some closure to her family.
A Secret Life Led to the Destruction of a Family
The case that was opened by the prosecution following the death of Paige Birgfeld revealed more about her than she ever hoped her family would know. Paige never intended for her parents and children to find out that she was earning a living managing an escort service.
However, everyone who knew her still remembers that she was a kind and loving mother who only took a dark turn because she wanted to make sure her kids had a better life. Sadly, her efforts were cruelly stopped, and she left three children alone in the world. They all remember her as a wonderful mom and wish things were different.
From Ideal Mother to Escort Service Owner
Paige Birgfeld lived in the humble town of Grand Junction, Colorado, and in the eyes of everyone who knew her, she was the picture-perfect soccer mom. Everyone who knew her liked her, but no one suspected she was leading a double life.
There were, of course, rumors that she was a divorced mom because her second husband was abusive, but that didn’t change anyone’s opinion about her. Still, as we know from books, movies, and real life, no one is that perfect, and we all have something to hide. In Paige’s case, it was a dark secret that would cost her her life.
Everyone Searched for Her
Following her disappearance, everyone was worried and searched for Paige, which proved that she was a missed member of the community. The police initially searched only the Grand Junction area where Paige lived, but then extended the search to the whole Mesa County.
Even though Paige’s family and friends initially believed that she would soon return home, the police didn’t want to leave anything to chance, and they scoured the terrain that was lush with vegetation for weeks, without success though.
Hundreds of Volunteers
Proving once more that everyone cared for Paige, more than 100 volunteers join the Birgfeld family in a frantic search for the mother of three. No one was really sure what they were searching for, but everyone hoped they would find Paige alive. After the business cards were found on the highway, Paige’s dark secret was revealed.
Even though her family and the entire community were a bit shocked to find out that Paige managed an escort service, they continued to believe she was a wonderful mother and understood that all she did was for the wellbeing of her children. A shadow was cast over her image, but it didn’t affect her reputation as a mother.
A Man Called Jim
In the early stages of the investigation, the police had reason to believe that a man called Jim was talking often with Paige on the phone. But it was almost impossible to trace him because he used a prepaid phone to call her. In the beginning, no one suspected why that was.
Because the phone was prepaid, there was no way to tie a real name or credit card to it, so the name Jim could very well have been a false one. But after investigating all the calls, even after the phone died out, the police were able to find out that the man called Jim was, in fact, Lester Jones.
The Family Did Not Cope Well with Paige’s Disappearance
Paige’s kids were desperate for answers after their mother disappeared without a trace. Paige’s sister, Callie, tried to comfort her niece who kept asking where her mom was, saying “Wherever she is, she wants to be with you right now.”
After the body was discovered, the family got some closure, but they were still terribly affected by the fact that she had been dead for years and left to rot in the woods. When the skeletal remains were found, Paige had to be identified from her dental records.
The kidnapping and murder of Paige Birgfeld caught the attention of the national and international press, with articles being published constantly about the search and then the trial of Lester Jones. The entire world watched as the criminal was brought to justice.
In 2018, “Betrayed – Death by Desire” was released by the Discovery Channel as part of their murder investigations series. The episode focused on Paige’s life and the dark secret that would lead to her untimely death. It also detailed the trial and sentence given to Lester Jones.
A Life Destroyed
It took nine years and two trials for the police and prosecution to find the murderer of Paige Birgfeld and bring him to face justice. Paige’s family had to deal with both her disappearance and the fact that they didn’t know whether she was alive or not for years.
The secret life Paige was leading eventually destroyed everything she loved and worked so hard for. But most of the people who knew her argued that she was cruelly snatched from her family when all she did was do everything in her power to offer her kids a good life.