Suspect Named in Disappearance of Missing Escort Mom
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – Colorado police named a suspect Tuesday in the disappearance of missing mother Paige Birgfeld.
The Mesa County Sheriff's Office named Lester Ralph Jones, 56, of Grand Junction, Colo., a suspect in Birgfeld's June 28 disappearance.
Jones had been named a person of interest in the case. He worked at an RV dealership near where Birgfeld's burned out car was found July 1. Foul play is suspected in Birgfeld's disappearance, police said.
Police did not release details of Jones' relationship with Birgfeld, nor whether he was in custody.
Birgfeld, a 34-year-old mother of three, was reported missing June 30.
Authorities say they've discovered that Birgfeld also had an escort service, a discovery that came as a surprise to many who knew her.
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.
In August police found a gun less than a half-mile from her car. A man reported finding an unloaded Ruger 9mm handgun about 6 inches off the road.
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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.