July 3, 2007: Missing woman wrote about fear of ex-husband
By AMY HAMILTON
and GARY HARMON
The Daily Sentinel
Investigators are looking at several Web site postings by a Grand Valley woman who disappeared Thursday and whose burned car was discovered Sunday night.
In those postings, Paige Birgfeld, 34, described herself both as fearing the return of her ex-husband, Rob Dixon, to Colorado and falling back in love with her first husband, Howard Beigler, with whom she had recently re-established ties.
Birgfelds’ disappearance was “definitely a strange one,” said Lt. Jim Fogg of the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department, which is investigating the case alongside the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
While it’s a missing-persons case, Fogg said it’s the kind of case law enforcement deems most compelling.
“The ones that cause us the most concern are the ones in which an otherwise rational adult suddenly comes up missing,” Fogg said.
Birgfeld’s torched 2005 Red Ford Focus, found about two miles from her home at 2512 Oleaster Court, adds “a certain twist” to the tale, Fogg said, “but we have not yet ruled out a random act of vandalism.” Birgfeld’s vehicle was found in the employee parking lot at Walker Products, Inc., a business that makes auto parts at 727 Road 23.
Friends from Paige Birgfeld’s MOMS group said she took a call on her cell phone about 10 p.m. Thursday night and left the house in her car, leaving her three children in the care of a live-in nanny.
Birgfeld’s family reported Paige’s disappearance on Saturday, according to Mesa County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Heather Gierhart. Birgfeld’s father, Frank Birgfeld of Denver, said Dixon arrived in Grand Junction today from his home on the East Coast. Frank Birgfeld denied that Dixon had been in the area recently and said to the “best of my knowledge it appears the ex-husband was not here.”
“I have to say that he’s well aware he’s the prominent public figure, and it’s very easy for this to get woven into it,” Frank Birgfeld said of Dixon.
Dixon did not attend the candlelight vigil Monday night for Paige.
Paige Birgfeld in postings on http://www.chefsuccess.com, a site for consultants selling Pampered Chef products, described herself as a single mom with full custody of her three children and fearful of the day that her ex-husband would return.
“Oh, man! My children would ask me if Dad was going to kill me. I can’t imagine what they were thinking life would be like after he killed me,” she wrote in a March 24 posting. “Thank God he is far, far away! I would gladly sacrifice every penny of child support if he would stay away!”
More recently, she wrote on June 17 in postings headed, “My kids’ dad is moving to our state,” that she and the children “have been so happy and free and safe since their dad moved 2000 miles away! As always, he couldn’t hold on to his job, and has found a new one in Durango, which is about 3 hours away in the summertime. I’m thinking this is a bit close for my comfort — he could theoretically hang up the phone and be waiting at my house before the kids and I return from errands!”
While she has full custody, she said on a posting that she let Dixon see the children whenever he wanted, which she said was “about three times in the last two years.”
In October 2004, Mesa County sheriff’s deputies were called out to the Dixon’s home after he allegedly threatened family members. No arrests were made in the case. Paige called police from work and asked authorities to check her home. After arriving at the home, deputies decided Dixon was not a danger to himself or anyone else.
In her postings, Birgfeld also noted that she had rekindled a romance with her first husband, whom she married soon after meeting him at age 15. They remained married until about eight years ago, she wrote.
She left her first marriage because her husband didn’t want children and she did, Birgfeld noted.
“So, now I have the babies, don’t need that one fixed anymore,” she wrote.
Birgfeld, who said she got most of her income as owner of a modeling agency while also selling kitchen and baby products, appears to have refinanced her home with a $830,000 loan in January, according to court records.
The records show Birgfeld acquired the home in a quitclaim deed from her then-husband, Dixon. He claimed bankruptcy in October 2005 after being enmeshed in a series of financial scandals.
The home off 25 Road is valued at $909,330, according to the Mesa County Assessor’s Web site.
Dixon, who said he always wanted to be a paramedic, said he was using his family fortune from cell-phone business to purchase expensive equipment for fire departments across Colorado.
In the meantime, he also steered about $3.24 million from the Grand Junction Rural Fire Protection District into a company in which Dixon had part ownership.
After buying equipment for several fire departments, including those of Grand Junction and the Grand Junction Regional Airport, Dixon failed to make lease payments. In some cases, agencies allowed the equipment to be repossessed and in others, such as with Grand Junction, local governments took over the payments themselves.
Birgfeld used the mortgage on the house to repay previous loans, records suggest.
Friends in Birgfeld’s MOMS group said they were shocked to learn of her disappearance. Kim Holman, who said she’s known Paige for more than five years, said Paige tirelessly works support her family and loves her children.
Holman said she was surprised to hear from Paige that she was re-connecting with her first husband, a marriage which Paige called “the biggest mistake in her life.”
“Her kids were everything,” echoed Kim Chambers, also a MOMS club member at Monday’s meeting. “She would never leave her kids.”
Authorities are not releasing information on whether Birgfeld’s burned car is related to a spate of arson fires that have occurred around Grand Junction in June.
In late June, 11 parked cars were burned or showed signs that someone tried to start a fire inside. Also in late June, someone broke in and tried to set a curtain on fire at the Trinity Baptist Church at 2748 B 1/2 Rd.
Birgfeld, described as 5 feet, 4 inches tall and 110 pounds with sandy hair and hazel eyes, was last seen Thursday wearing a blue strapless top with flowers and blue-jean shorts while driving the car that was found Sunday, with Colorado plates, 022-00X.
Anyone with information about her whereabouts is asked to call the Sheriff’s Department at 244-3500.