DENVER (AP) — Investigators said Thursday they are waiting for DNA tests to confirm that skeletal remains found in western Colorado are those of a missing Grand Junction mother of three who ran an escort service, unbeknownst to many of her friends.
The Mesa County Sheriff's Department tentatively identified the remains as Paige Birgfeld, 34, who was last seen in June 2007.
A hiker found the remains Tuesday in a dry creek bed in neighboring Delta County, an area that was searched after Birgfeld disappeared. Mesa County Sheriff's Sgt. Matt Lewis said Thursday the remains were buried at one time and were probably exposed by erosion.
Birgfeld's father, Frank Birgfeld of Centennial, visited the scene Wednesday.
"I don't cry much, but I did today," he told the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. "People keep telling me there's going to be this great moment of closure, but the party hasn't come, that's for sure. I'm crushed."
Friends knew Paige Birgfeld as a devoted single mother who sold kitchen products and did other odd jobs. Authorities said after her disappearance that she also ran an escort service.
She was twice divorced. Authorities have said they ruled out her ex-husbands as suspects.
No one has been arrested.
In October 2007, investigators identified Lester Ralph Jones, then 56, as a suspect. Lewis said Jones remains a suspect but investigators had not spoken with him since the remains were found.
Phone numbers listed for Jones were disconnected. It wasn't clear whether he had an attorney.
Lewis said investigators haven't been in contact with Jones for "quite some time." Investigators believe he still lives in Mesa County and works in nearby Garfield County, Lewis said.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation will conduct DNA tests. Lewis said it could be weeks or months before the results are known.
An autopsy is not possible because only a skeleton was found, Lewis said. Investigators are considering having a forensic anthropologist examine the bones for possible signs of trauma, but no decision has been made, he said.