Trial begins in 2007 murder of mom of 3 and escort-service operator Paige Birgfeld

Posted at 10:54 AM, Jul 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-25 14:10:12-04

Jury selection begins Monday in the trial of a man accused of killing a mother of three who operated an escort service.

Paige Birgfeld disappeared in June 2007 on the Western Slope. Her Ford Focus was found burning on July 1, 2007, in a parking lot in Grand Junction. Investigators said the fire was intentionally set.

Hikers found her skeletal remains in 2012 in a dry creek bed near the Mesa-Delta county line. Authorities said it appeared Birgfeld's body was buried, but erosion eventually exposed it.

Lester Ralph Jones was arrested in December 2014. He's being tried on charges of murder and kidnapping. He's pleaded not guilty.

Birgfeld sold kitchen products, did odd jobs and ran an escort service.

Police said Jones was a client of Birgfeld's service, Models Inc. 

Although the Mesa County Sheriff's Office identified Jones as the defendant, the arrest affidavit noted that physical evidence did not link him -- or any other suspect -- to the murder.

However, the affidavit said while Jones denied recognizing Birgfeld, investigators said Jones' phone records showed he called Birgfeld eight times during June and early July of 2007. They also found 27 other calls to numbers associated with adult massage services.

2013 | Cold-case experts to review homicide 

2012 | No Cause Of Death For Paige Birgfeld

2012 | Skeletal Remains Of Missing Mother Found

2007 | Suspect Named In Woman's Disappearance