Gun Found Near Missing Woman Paige Birgfeld's Burned Out Car

A gun was found last week less than a half-mile from where authorities found the burned out car of a missing Grand Junction woman.

A man reported finding an unloaded Ruger 9mm handgun about 6 inches off the road Tuesday. The area is near where Paige Birgfeld's car was found July 1, a few miles from her Grand Junction home.

Birgfeld, a 34-year-old mother of three, was last seen June 28 and reported missing two days later.

A search along an area highway over the weekend of July 18 turned up several of her belongings. Investigators haven't said where the items were found.

Investigators said the gun was booked into evidence. No record was found on an initial check of its serial number.

Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey said it's not uncommon for people to find weapons. He said the proximity to Birgfeld's car would be of interest to the investigators on the case.

He said determining the gun's ownership will require following the paper trail.

Friends and family have described the twice-divorced Birgfeld as a devoted mother who sold kitchen products out of her home and held other jobs to support her children. Authorities say they've discovered that Birgfeld also had an escort service, a discovery that came as a surprise to many who knew her.

On Saturday, search dogs released near where Birgfeld's car was found led investigators to a nearby RV dealership where Lester Ralph Jones works. Jones, 56, has been described as a "person of interest" in the case.

Sheriff's office spokeswoman Norma Mestas would not say what the dogs uncovered for investigators.