Body found in orchard dismembered

Police say victim is Caucasian woman between 20 and 35

A body found in an orchard west of Glenwood Springs was not a young girl but a woman who had been dismembered, authorities said Sunday.

Garfield County sheriff’s spokeswoman Holly Hopple said the victim is a Caucasian woman who was between 20 and 35 years old. The woman had extensive dental work, multiple tattoos and brown hair with blonde highlights.

Hopple said authorities have not recovered all of the woman’s remains.

“We’re searching for additional remains as well as further evidence,” she said.

The woman has yet to be identified. Hopple said an autopsy performed Saturday by the Mesa County Coroner’s Office could not determine the cause or time of death.

A worker discovered the woman’s body Friday morning in an apple orchard up Canyon Creek Road north of Interstate 70. The body was reportedly in a bag but had been pulled out by animals.

Sheriff Lou Vallario previously said it seemed more likely that the body was dumped in the orchard than that the woman was killed there.

Asked whether the body could be that of Paige Birgfeld, the 34-year-old Grand Junction mother missing for nearly two years, Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey said Sunday night he had not been contacted by Garfield County authorities.

Earlier news reports, based on accounts from witnesses, had indicated the victim was a young girl.

Hopple said the FBI on Sunday joined the other agencies involved in the investigation and search for evidence, including the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Department, the Garfield County Coroner’s Office and search and rescue teams from Garfield and Mesa counties.

She said investigators and volunteers have been combing the area from 8 a.m. to sunset each day since the body was discovered. She said authorities have recovered other evidence in addition to the woman’s remains but wouldn’t say what it was.

Authorities are working to maintain the integrity of the crime scene by stationing deputies there overnight and restricting access. Eastbound U.S. Highway 6, which runs parallel to I-70, is open to residential traffic only.

Canyon Creek Road is open to residential traffic only with a law-enforcement escort, Hopple said.


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