DNA test confirms remains are Birgfeld’s

Paige Birgfeld

A DNA test result confirmed what authorities suspected three weeks ago with dental records: It’s Paige Birgfeld.

Mesa County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Matt Lewis said investigators learned last week a lone tooth, recovered from skeletal remains that were found March 6 in a Delta County gulch, matched a DNA profile for 34-year-old Paige Birgfeld, the Grand Junction woman missing since 2007.

The tooth was compared to a DNA profile that was constructed using DNA taken from Birgfeld’s toothbrush in 2007, as well as her mother and father, Lewis said.

Authorities on March 7 said they relied on dental records for tentative identification.

There are other happenings with evidence: Unspecified personal items, including articles of Birgfeld’s clothing recovered with the bones, were sent to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s Grand Junction laboratory for DNA and trace-evidence analysis.

Lewis said the results are in-hand, but he declined to share them.

The CBI essentially moved Birgfeld’s case to the front of the line among law enforcement agencies waiting for DNA and trace analysis, he said.

“They did a remarkable job accommodating us because of the nature of this case,” Lewis said.

Cause of death remains undetermined, he said.

Recovered from Wells Gulch on March 6 and 7 were Birgfeld’s skull, lower jawbone and “the majority of the larger bones,” Lewis said. He declined to specify the bones but said they comprised roughly 70 percent of a complete skeleton. They are expected to be examined by a Front Range forensic anthropologist in a search for clues about how Birgfeld died.

The last time friends or family heard from Birgfeld, she was returning to Grand Junction from Eagle on the night of June 28, 2007. The remains of the mother of three children were discovered March 6 by a group of hikers in Wells Gulch, a dry creek bed roughly a mile east of U.S. Highway 50.

Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey has said investigators believe the body was buried there and was exposed over time by natural causes.


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