March 16, 2008: With heavy hearts, friends of missing mom move on
Nearly nine months after the disappearance of Grand Junction woman Paige Birgfeld, some of her friends reluctantly embarked Saturday on the task of selling household items and seeking a buyer for her sprawling home north of town.
A garage sale that continues today at 2512 Oleaster Court offered a glimpse into Birgfeld’s life. For sale were: bolts of colorful fabric, a reminder of her love of sewing; toys that her kids have outgrown; merchandise from her business as a Pampered Chef consultant; and other mementos of the 34-year-old mother of three who inexplicably vanished June 28.
Friends are overseeing the garage sale because Paige’s parents, Frank and Suzanne Birgfeld, are visiting their grandchildren this week in Philadelphia. Paige’s second ex-husband Rob Dixon has custody of the kids and lives there.
The timing of the garage sale with Frank and Suzanne’s trip probably wasn’t coincidence, friends said.
“I always just think if it was my kids, I couldn’t do it, either,” said Connie Flukey, who helped orchestrate the sale. “We’ve seen them suffer enough already. This is hard enough for them to know that all her stuff is going to be gone.”
Flukey said most of the shoppers seemed to know the items belonged to Birgfeld’s family, and some people probably purchased more items than they needed to show support for the family.
Friends of Paige Birgfeld in the MOMs Club gathered in January, seven months to the day of her disappearance, to again say goodbye to their friend.
“It was a big relief for all of us,” Andrea Land said. “I think we all felt about 50 pounds lighter.”
A massive search effort was launched in the weeks following Birgfeld’s disappearance, but it produced few clues to her whereabouts or condition and prompted the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department to determine foul play was involved. Now, every time the media delivers another story about Birgfeld, who led a double life as an escort, those old wounds open back up, Land said.
“Every time it resurfaces, it hurts just as much as the first day,” she said.
Land said she and others plan to search for Birgfeld’s remains again once the weather warms. Searching feels empowering and is “better than sitting around and waiting,” she said.
Land said the only way she will fully feel closure in the case of her missing friend is if her remains are found or if someone is prosecuted for her murder. Grand Junction man Lester Ralph Jones, 57, is the lone suspect in the case, the Sheriff’s Department has said, and a grand jury may investigate the case, Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger said last week.
“Being in limbo is the hardest part,” Land said. “It’s the most surreal thing. Nobody ever thinks it will ever happen to them.”