tv The Secret Life of a Soccer Mom MSNBC August 6, 2011 11:00am-12:00pm PDT
log on to dateline.msnbc.com. that's all for now. i'm ann curry. for all of us here at nbc news, thanks for joining us. 911 emergency. >> has the jury reached a verdict? >> we the jury find the defendant -- >> when you're with her, you feel like you are the only person in the room. >> that's how people felt about paige. big-time charisma. >> we all pale in comparison to her. >> the way she juggles the kids, the job, the million dollar house. >> many of us would ask her, how would you do it? >> an important question when she suddenly vanished. >> something bad must have happened. >> police discovered this sunny soccer mom was leading a double life on the wild side at night. >> she told me she would visit a client and maybe two.
>> the shocking truth came out. would the truth lead police to her? >> you stand here and you say i know you're there. but where? >> "the secret life of a soccer mom." >> thanks for joining us, i'm chris hansen. the woman at the center of our story is really two people. one a radiant mother with a winning approach to life. the other a woman with secrets she shared with very few. but when she disappeared the secrets tumbled out. now if only they could shed some light on her fate. here's keith morrison. >> on the brow of a hill on one of america's quintessential western towns is a fine big house, the setting and perhaps in some way the reason for the story you're about to hear. the secret that lay behind it. if not for its wide sweeping driveway, its swimming pool, its glorious views across the
valley, to the river, to the town, to the mountains beyond, its hefty monthly payment, would any of this have happened? >> the house with paige, the kids were running and screaming sometimes, people were coming and going. >> paige is the woman who lived here with the three children. these are her parents, frank and susie birgfeld. >> that's the life paige wanted to be a mom and have her kids around her. >> the birgfelds brought paige to colorado when they were young and she was small and she was sparkling and they, as doting as parents could be. >> my word i used to describe her is effervescent. a person who has a big smile, a person who when she meets you, you are the center of the moment. >> yes, and popular too.
and as she grew very pretty indeed. >> you know during high school she certainly always had a date for the prom. >> she tried college away in florida, but how could she leave colorado? and perhaps more to the point, there was a young man. and she was in love. so she returned and married and life began to pile up its layer cake of unintended change. she divorced. married again. bore three lovely children and divorced again. these things do happen. what can you say? besides keep what you can and move on. in paige's case it meant moving on here in the sprawling house on the hill with the swimming pool, magnificent canyon views, and bewitching sunsets. in the divorce, paige got the house and the kids and the mortgage. ah, yes, that. the humongous, worry-all-night you can't pay it mortgage.
which might certainly have eaten away at anyone's easy good humor, god knows she wouldn't have been alone these days, but paige, said her friends, was not like that. if she worried, it was all inside. she didn't show it. >> you might be feeling down. and she can always pull out the bright side of something to make you feel better. >> paige! welcome. >> look at you. >> she has a bubbly personality. every time she shows up, it's all the kids in tow and just really excited to see you and hear how things have been going in your life. >> amazing really. and rather than stew and worry about the mortgage, paige launched businesses to pay it. she sold cooking products for a company called the pampered chef. and slings for carrying babies. and she taught dancing classes for little kids. and she became on top of everything else, a charter member of the grand junction chapter of moms club international. a support group for working
mothers. these are some of her best friends from the moms club. >> she's a soccer mom. she's got three kids. she's a quilter. she's a fabulous cook. there's so much more to her. she's just amazing. so many of us would always ask her, how do you do it? we all pale in comparison to her. >> you throw a pebble in the pond and watch the ripples. paige with her impact on the world and those around her, she's like a boulder. >> but did they ever really know paige? some perhaps had guessed something. after all she should have been very house poor, but here she was busy, productive, apparently unworried. life for paige seemed to be as far as anybody knew, parents and children included, pretty good. >> she has a girl, 8, a boy who
just turned 7, and another little guy who's 3. that's her life, her family and then her friends. >> her parents lived a four-hour drive away in denver. they marveled at her life and energy from a distance. so if they didn't know everything, well, what parent does? and of course, when the call came, that moment that up-ended everything, it was long distance. >> this is the mesa county sheriff's department. he said "your daughter is missing." those are big words. and i said, "what do you mean missing?" she said, "well she has been missing since thursday night." and i remember saying, "this is a problem. she is not the kind of person who would not be home unless there was a problem." and we went home and threw some stuff in an overnight bag and
left the house in 20 minutes. >> they drove in silence, fast, and they tried to tell themselves their panic was mistaken, she'd turn up, cheerful as ever. though what they do when they got there, they had no idea. anymore than any of her best friends knew what to think. >> i was instantly terrified for her. something really bad had to have happened. it just seemed that maybe she was driving home from a pampered chef show one night and her car broke down. she got out to fix a tire and somebody kidnapped her. scenarios like that were in my head. >> scenarios? oh, yes, there were possibilities. none of them good. but no friend, no parent, could have begun to imagine what one of those scenarios could very well have been. when paige birgfeld was so suddenly gone. coming up -- he's the last person known to
have seen paige. >> we were going to have a picnic and hang out together all day. >> a former husband reveals a romance rekindled in "the secret life of a soccer mom." ♪ hallelujah ♪ ♪ hallelujah ♪ [ baby crying, dog barking ] [ female announcer ] it doesn't have to be thanksgiving to have the perfect thanksgiving sandwich. carving board turkey -- only from oscar mayer. jeff, lunch! uh-huh. jeff! honey, i can't walk any faster. [ female announcer ] oscar mayer deli fresh turkey comes in a clear pack... [ cellphone beeps ] [ jeff ] ooh. thanks hun! [ female announcer ] ...so the freshness you see is what you taste. ♪ it doesn't get better than this ♪ [ male announcer ] this is the network. a network of possibilities. excuse me? my grandfather was born
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the ribbons are paige's favorite color. so we've been wearing them since she disappeared. >> at 34, paige birgfeld was a charter member of the grand junction chapter of the mom's club international. there was no chance she walked out on her three children. her friend, andrea land, told a story about paige's commitment to her kids. >> i was in the kitchen. i looked at her and said don't you ever want to -- and she finished my sentence. just run away. yeah, i said some times i just want to run away. she said, yeah, but i would want to take my kids with me.
that's the thing. we all knew she would never leave her kids intentionally. but something bad must have happened. >> mesa county sheriff stanley hilkey was inclined to agree and began retracing paige's last movements to look for any evidence of foul play. >> you have really got to look at the relationships first. >> and almost immediately at a person of interest. as far as police could determine unless something came up, the last person to have seen paige was the first of her two ex-husbands ron bigler. >> i have a hard time looking back on the day with any fond memories at this point. >> it's a given in the police business that husbands, especially ex-husbands, become important subjects of the investigation when the woman suddenly disappears, and in this case there was a clue buried in the past. bigler was once cited for domestic violence, spent the night in jail. though paige did not pursue the charge.
investigators decided a conversation with mr. bigler, the last person after all known to have seen her was certainly in order. >> it was a typical, you know, late teenage romance that turned into love and marriage. >> they were, said bigler high school sweethearts. they got married in 1995. began quarrelling soon after. >> they had known each other when they were young. and they, she had told me they had both said we don't want kids. and she just had this really -- the maternal instinct became very, very strong. she wanted babies. and he didn't. and that -- that was most of the problem. >> so, after two years, they divorced in 1997. paige was just 24 then. what could she be doing ten years later in the company of ron bigler in the hours that led up to her disappearance. >> we were going to meet for the day in eagle together. we were going to have a picnic
and hang out together all day. >> here's the story bigler told to police and us and it sounded, frankly, a little more romantic a tale than we expected to hear. >> we went to subway, brought it back. we were sitting outside down by the river. it was very familiar. i brought some pictures. we just sat there and relaxed and enjoyed the day and the weather. i mean it was a special wonderful day. but i can't see it that way at all now. >> if that sounds like a date, well actually in a way it was, said bigler. he, after the breakup of their marriage, stayed single. and when her second marriage collapsed, his chance it seemed perhaps had come again. >> it was very exciting. hard to figure out. >> that night after their romantic picnic -- >> she called me before i got home to see if i made it back in to denver and then we had a
brief conversation, you know, not too brief but -- and -- i expected to hear from her later that night after she got home. >> but he never did hear from her after that, he told police, though, repeatedly, he tried calling her the next day. went to voicemail. >> hello, you have reached the home offices for brain dance, pampered chef and maya wrap baby slings. please leave a message and i will get back to you within the next few days. >> so when ron bigler talked to the mesa county sheriff's department, it was actually he who first called them. could they believe his story? well, said paige's friend, yes they could. >> she told me they were starting to get back together. she had been texting him. and she kind of told me, in a giggly school girl kind of way, maybe she felt really excited. >> would a man falling in love all over again want to harm paige? no, the sheriff decided probably not.
he reached out and was providing information to our investigators about what they did on the day, and, where they were so he has been cooperative as well. >> i'm confident that the police know i had nothing to do with it. >> besides, paige had met ron a considerable distance from grand junction. now police went looking for any trace she may have left on the drive back. cell phone records, for example. it appeared there were some of those. >> from the time she left her first ex-husband in eagle county on that thursday, to the time she drove back down here, a lot of what we used in the very first part of this case were telephone records, who she's calling, who's calling her, who's leaving her messages. >> and then, it was the day after paige was reported missing about the time they were calling up the phone records, a call came into the grand junction fire department. there was a red ford focus in an industrial parking lot a few miles from paige's house.
it was her car. and it was on fire. coming up -- mounting clues from that torched car to some items found by the road. >> could that have been placed there by paige as a trail? >> the investigation heats up. in "the secret life of a soccer mom." ease of cooking is very important to me. perdue perfect portions is great on busy nights. five chicken breasts individually wrapped, so you can use what you want and put the rest in the refrigerator. and the best part is it only takes 10 minutes. it's my go-to meal.
it was bizarre. and for paige's family and friends terrifying. this was three days after she disappeared. her car on fire. right in town a few miles from her house. paige wasn't in it, wasn't anywhere around. but said sheriff hilkey -- >> there was probably a lot of clues in that car. and some of the evidence still yet to be completely analyzed. >> didn't all get burned up? >> it's badly damaged, you know. what wasn't damaged in the fire was probably badly damaged in the suppression of the fire. we haven't gotten all the
evidence back yet probably. it certainly appears to be an arson and probably done in a way to destroy evidence. >> but nothing in the car explained where she was. and now, any chance that paige had some bizarre accident or was lost somewhere was gone. this was foul play. the sheriff brought in search dogs in hopes of tracking her scent. now suddenly, it seems as if half the city was looking for paige. her parents were amazed to see not just friends and neighbors but volunteers from all over the state flocked to grand junction to look for their missing daughter. >> so here's the command center. this is a park that is fairly close to paige's house. we have a group that is coming in. it looks like this is one of her smaller groups, straight ahead of the command center. >> this is difficult, dispiriting work. it's dry and hot, in the way the high country sun can scorch in the summertime. >> it was heart-rendering the amount of energy people put out on behalf of us without knowing us.
>> when you start out, you must feel like you're terribly alone. >> i don't know where i would have gone. i would have meandered around and felt absolutely helpless. >> as soon as the car was found burned, you go out and you realize, there's just miles and miles of nothingness. >> this is big country out here. you go out for, usually two hours, you come back to the command center, get some liquids. and it wasn't 20, 30 minutes, somebody would hold up a map and say we'd headed out again. there were no slackers. everyone went. they would go again and again and again. >> paige's children, occupied with god knows what terrors, had their grandparents at least for now. paige's 8-year-old daughter even joined the search, decorating search poles for rescuers to use. even by then, searchers were not confident they were looking for a person who was still alive.
>> i felt paige would be home. within a day or two. that whatever held her up had to have been something wrong or she would have never been away from her children overnight. but i don't think that we thought it was -- i never thought it was something more serious than that. >> paige's friends hoped of course she would turn up safe and sound. but -- >> suddenly, the small quiet town has a tragedy. and a mom with three kids is missing. so they want to come help because they want to get this mom back with her kids or at least give the family closure. >> then a few days into the search, something big. alongside a wind blown highway outside of town, volunteers spotted bits of paper in among the gravel and the weeds. and when they retrieved them, they found paige's check register, blockbuster membership
card, personal items the sort of things a woman puts in her purse. had paige thrown them out of the car or was it someone else, someone trying to get rid of evidence? >> on one hand you're excited because it's something and it's hers, you know it's hers, maybe that will lead somewhere. by the same token it's scary because you think why are her things on the side of the road? how did this happen? >> if you stop to think, if you're one person in a car, how do you do that? that means you have to go up the road and down the road and use both sides of the car. it also raises the issue, if you've got a bag of her stuff, why would you go to the trouble of dispersing it? why don't you just keep it all together and throw it in the trash somewhere, why don't you burn it? i'm not sure what to make of
that other than to know her stuff was there. >> trouble is that the sheriff's department couldn't make much sense of it either. >> opened the door for a lot of speculation. could that have been placed there by paige as a trail? could have been placed there by a suspect as a diversion. could it have been blown out of a vehicle going down the road unwittingly. >> alas, apparently a romantic meeting with an ex-husband. a burned out car, hers, yielded no useful clues. papers scattered by a highway, miles out of town. who left them there? a search that by now covered hundreds of square miles of high desert around grand junction and no sign of paige birgfeld. but were police looking in the right places? paige's first husband, ron bigler, told a believable story about the last night with paige, but what about ex-husband number two? father of her three children. everybody who knew paige also knew that marriage was deeply
troubled. by the way now that she was single again, did paige's small home-bound business generate enough income to support her expensive life? where she was getting the money? investigators were about to uncover "the secret life of a soccer mom." no one saw it coming, not the police, not her parents, not the city. now, to worry and grief, add shock. coming up -- stunning revelations about paige. and troubling talk about her second husband. >> rob is a guy who i think of as a jekyll and hyde. >> the mystery deepens. in "the secret life of a soccer mom."
defense officials tell nbc news more than 20 americans killed belong to the elite navy seals team. the taliban claimed responsibility for shooting that aircraft down. rangers at yosemite national park found the body of a california man who died after being swept over a waterfall nearly three weeks ago. now back to "the secret life of a soccer mom." ♪ >> you can stand on the front doorstep here and i believe you can see five miles. and i believe everything happened in that area. >> as the weeks passed, search-and-rescue teams scoured the countryside around grand junction, colorado, looking for the popular young mother of three who had suddenly vanished. >> and you stand here and you look and you say, i know you're there. but where?
>> they searched on horses, atvs and on foot combing through brush land, deserted lots and the murky river running through the canyon floor. hoping to find something. afraid of what that something would be. >> and nothing. we have looked in a very vast open areas, we've looked on top of the river and we've looked under the river and we have not found her. >> special dog teams sniffed along the highway leading down to the riverbed. rescue divers searched under water but found no trace. with the trail growing cold, police turned their attention to paige's second ex-husband. rob dixon, the father of her three children. they have been divorced for a year and dixon now lived in philadelphia. but people here in grand junction certainly remembered dixon. and not necessarily fondly. >> rob was a guy who showed up in town and made a splash. >> paige's parents knew the story all too well.
how rob dixon had come into a huge family fortune, how he moved to grand junction, bought the big house, filled its garage with exotic sports cars. >> he went through his money in a hurry. >> i've seen where in a deposition he admitted that he lost over $10 million. >> went bankrupt eventually. but along the way, paige's parents heard their son-in-law got involved with the local fire department as a board member and benefactor. >> the first big gift was a camera that fits on to helmets and he gave away, the paper reported, $2.8 million of those cameras. >> and then about the time paige's parents heard that her marriage was going south, so did her husband's gifts to the fire department. >> apparently it turned out that he hadn't purchased them. he had only rented them. and so when the money was dissipated, the rent came due, without the resources to pay it. so he was in the paper with
frequency because of these fire department matters. he was actually made the news person of the year. >> he did have a reputation in grand junction, in mesa county, colorful character. certainly was a person that just by the nature of anybody being an ex-husband or having that kind of relationship, is a person that is included in any kind of investigation like that. >> besides as the sheriff soon discovered, dixon's legal troubles had not been confined to financial issues. >> i think mr. dixon had been arrested a couple times. >> for what? >> domestic violence type harassment type case. >> to outsiders, paige and rob seemed happy and very successful, living in that spacious new home. but inside, as marriages so often are, it was a different thing altogether. at least according to paige's parents. >> she had a troubled marriage from almost the beginning. >> rob is the guy who -- i think of as kind of a jekyll
and hyde. >> 911, what is your emergency? >> my husband and i were in a fight, and he was supposed to watch my children. >> paige called 911 in the fall of 2004. >> he seemed to be okay. i said i was just going to take the children with me so he didn't have to deal with it. he wanted the children to stay with him. and he said that i would come home and find them all murdered. >> she was terrified she said that dixon would hurt the children. police were dispatched. when they arrived, dixon was fine, they decided. no threat to the children or himself or anyone else. no charges. then, less than a year later after a possibly violent quarrel, dixon was arrested on suspicion of third degree assault and misdemeanor child abuse and pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of harassment, got a deferred sentence and then later the entire case was dismissed. paige's friends claim she was afraid of her husband. >> incidents where her ex-husband had a very angry
temper. easily enflamed by the kids doing normal kid stuff. he would break furniture and break doors. >> when they finally divorced. dixon moved clear across the country and paige got the children. but worried a lot, said her parents, about retaining full custody. >> quite honestly she was afraid she did not want the chance that he might have part custody of the children. she would rather that he see the children when she was around. >> even though dixon only flew west to visit occasionally, her friends say paige seemed terrified of him. she posted a warning on the website related to one of the businesses. >> my children would ask me if dad was going to kill me? >> she was worried about dixon's apparent plan to move back to colorado. >> my kids and i have been so happy and free and safe since their dad moved 2,000 miles away. as always, he couldn't hold on to his job.
and has found a new one in durango, which is about three hours away in the summertime. i'm thinking this is a bit close for my comfort. a few months after she posted that, paige vanished and the sheriff found himself looking through court records for clues. >> those things happen, i think, and -- >> but it does make him a person of interest? >> absolutely. it has. >> custody battles do bristle with poisonous allegations some true, some not. this is dixon's lawyer, scott robinson. >> it was not surprising that she would say bad things about rob dixon on her website. she lived in fear he would come and get custody of the children if the truth about her was made known. >> truth? what truth. had she lied about rob dixon? >> nothing paige dixon said about rob dixon was true inasmuch as it related to allegations of domestic violence. he didn't do anything to her. >> and he couldn't have anything
to do with paige's disappearance said robinson. how could he? dixon was thousands of miles away in philadelphia when paige vanished. still why would she tell her parents and friends she worried about keeping him away and retaining custody of her children. and how did she manage her very expensive life and stay solvent? suddenly there was an answer, and it was a shock. >> certainly to the degree we didn't know about it. am i surprised i didn't know about it? no, i don't think it's the sort of thing you would relate. >> her parents had no idea or her children or their teachers or the consumers of her baby slings or for that matter most of the members of the mom's club. paige birgfeld, the beautiful young mother had a secret second life. after tucking in her children she would head out into the night to work her second job. running her own escort service.
>> well, we didn't know about her having an adult business. whatever that means, how far that goes. it was somewhat akin to her having a drape on part of her life that we were unaware of. >> from soccer mom to scarlet letter. the news of paige's secret side hit grand junction like a bombshell and created a whole new set of potential suspects. had she been working the night she disappeared? and, did either of her ex-husbands know what she was doing? coming up -- how her double life could complicate the troublesome case. >> people don't want other people to know that they're involved in a business like that. >> now who's going to talk about "the secret life of a soccer mom"? i don't even know anymore. [ tapping ] well, know this -- for a good deal on car insurance progressive snapshot uses this to track my good driving habits. the better i drive the more i save.
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flip through the phone book of any city in america and you will find pages of advertisements promising varying degrees of sexual companionship. but the idea of paige birgfeld, well, she seemed like the least likely candidate for a career in adult entertainment. >> i can tell you sitting here today i don't fully comprehend. >> this was a woman with three kids. and there was the mom's club, the dance classes for little girls, the modest home bound businesses selling cooking gear and baby slings. of course, there was that big mortgage, the million dollar house. it must have taken real money to keep that going. but her parents and friends or most of her friends say, they had no idea she was financing it with a secret business in topless massages and escort services. though jamie silvernail who once stayed with paige was clearly
aware something was going on. >> this is something that i know she did out of necessity. paige is a very fun person to be around. when you're with her, you feel like you're the only person in the room. she makes you feel like you have been her best friend. and that kind of personality works really well in this industry. >> so it does. but once discovered here in grand junction it colored everything. paige's parents were as desperate as ever to find their daughter. >> when i get up in the morning, i think, paige, we're coming. she needs my protection and i can't give it, but we're coming as best we can. >> but the crowds of volunteers declined. >> there was a small judgmental faction of people in town that i would say that just didn't approve and it seemed like the turnout slowed down for a while. >> the sheriff revealed that
paige's clients knew her as carrie. her escort business was called models, inc. her online ads boasted that models inc. was the best grand junction had to offer, dancers, erotic massage, or companionship. it linked to a second adult website showing her as an escort in grand junction named carrie. tired of chop meat showing up when you order filet mignon, she wrote, affluent clients are lavishing in delightful sessions. as carrie, paige made herself available on an in-call, out-call basis. any time, all hours of the day and night. in her ad she said she served grand junction and smaller towns around it and if the client wanted to pay, she'd take longer trips by charter jet only, $25,000 minimum. which of course meant the search for paige had gotten much more complicated. >> we knew it would add
complexity, because a lot of escort-type businesses, or, or whatever are going to be activities that are kept secret. people don't want other people to know that they're either patrons of a business like that or involved in a business like that. so that's exactly how it panned out. >> according to online reviews of her persona, paige was very well liked by her male clients. three days before she vanished a client named dennis posted this rave review. her picture does not do her justice. she is a sexy goddess. i am in love. and wish i could see her every day. rating -- 4.0 out of 5.0 stars. carrie is a very gorgeous woman. a little bit pricey. if you have the money, she's worth every dime. obviously said her parents, the adult business came as a shock. but they're trying to understand it from her point of view. >> look, i don't condone that side of things.
i don't celebrate that side of things. but -- and just because someone has a need to make ends meet do i think you can do things just for that reason. but at the same time, i realize this is a single parent who is trying to do the parent thing and had a lot of balls in the air trying to meet those ends. >> and her friends? some say they had a vague idea about the double life paige was leading. though they insist her activities would have been legal and careful. >> her biggest fear would have been if she did something illegal, who would the kids go to instantly? her ex-husband. and that was -- that was her worst fear. because her kids were everything to her. >> but to police the details of what paige did or didn't do with her clients wasn't so much the issue. the crucial question was this -- did her work in a business known to be dangerous lead to foul
play and her disappearance? everybody wondered that now. >> we have various different crime issues around here especially with meth. i know that that makes people pretty crazy. and you know, who knows? she was, is a beautiful woman. and when you are a beautiful woman by yourself you are vulnerable. >> but it was the detail offered by ron bigler, paige's first ex-husband that sent the search in a very particular new direction. >> she told me she would go visit a client and maybe two. >> one client, maybe two. who were these people? did they have something to do with the disappearance of paige birgfeld? coming up -- >> lester jones is the only person that remains on our screen right now. >> a new name emerges in "the secret life of a soccer mom. s to protect your family with life insurance... but afraid you can't afford it? well, look how much insurance many people can get through selectquote for less than a dollar a day.
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when the news broke that the beautiful young missing mother, the whole town had been looking for, was secret escort and erotic masseuse, it put a rather different complexion on things. surely most people assumed her disappearance must be connected to that job. paige's family and friends felt certain she wasn't selling actual sex and maybe they thought that's what led to whatever happened. a pushy customer wanted more and wouldn't take no for an answer. >> you had a situation where paige won't cross the line, and you have somebody that's unsatisfied with that. then things can get out of hand. >> it turned out first husband ron beigler knew about paige's side business. in fact, that she'd been freelancing as an exotic dancer since about the time they got married back in the '90s. he worried about it over the years, he said, but didn't think it was his place to judge how
she lived her life. >> i knew she was away more than that. i couldn't step back in after all these years and tell her what to do. she depended on that to pay her bills. it wasn't sexual. i didn't like her doing it because of the danger involved. people who buy that form of entertainment could get it from somebody else besides who i was in love with. >> sadly, investigators are beginning to believe that beigler's concerns were valid. and it turns out the second husband turned out also discovered her secret career. the fight that got him arrested began, said dixon the lawyer, when he found in his wife's possession clothes designed for erotic out calls. >> is that what broke up the marriage? >> probably is what tipped the lid. the ris of suspects was increasing clients and moved to
the top is a 57-year-old mechanic named lester ralph jones. >> lester ralph jones is the only person that really is on our radar screen right now. >> reporter: what's his connection with her? >> i don't know that we've ever completely disclosed the nature of the relationship. it's not hard to connect the dots with relation to that business. >> he was a client? >> we don't know the exact extent of that. >> another local official said he was a client. evidence exists he may have made one of the last phone calls to paige before she disappeared, and another connection to the name lester ralph jones. remember, paige's red car was discovered on fire the day after she was reported missing. investigators took tracking dogs to the car and where did those dogs follow the scent? right across the street to the workplace of -- mr. jones. warrants were obtained. investigators searched jones' home, twice, actually. and, was anything retained from those warrants? >> certainly nothing that gets
us where we need to be at this point. there are enormous amounts of evidence, though, that have been submitted to our state crime lab that have yet to come back. >> i assume he's denied any responsibility? that would be a fair assumption? >> very fair, yes. >> reporter: a background check revealed a criminal record. >> includes some violence against his spouse. >> including a five-year sentence for assault and kidnapping involving his ex-wife and shooting but missing her male friend. most of his troubles have begun with jealousy, aggression and women. but at work, said his customers, he seemed perfectly fine. >> he was a friendly person to be around. when he worked on my car he was professional. he fixed what needed to be fixed. >> a detective named david duncan had once actually hired jones as a mechanic. >> it was kind of a shocker to me, because ralph was -- i'll say was -- i don't know what he's like today, but was a
pleasant person to be around. >> but then, this was years ago, detective duncan was called in to investigate those allegations by jones' ex-wife a woman named lisa. duncan has retired now, but when the possible connection to paige's disappearance came up, he read the old record, and -- >> the reports allude to the fact that in the home ralph physically restrained lisa. lisa in her statement calls it kidnapping. they're not minor things. they're firearms involved. ed evidence is there and it's clear. >> but it's one thing to say the man has a past. quite another to connect them to the disappearance of paige. in other words, the investigation stalled, and paige's father was reduced to writing jones a letter begging for his help. >> i said, i'm aware that you knew my daughter paige. who's been missing. first, the letter is asking to meet me somewhere and tell me whatever it is with your
knowledge that will help me find her. and never heard from him. >> did you sweep down and arrest him? >> no. >> reporter: why not? >> well, paige is still missing and there's pieces of the puzzle we have yet to find. >> both of her ex-husbands have ally byes police have checked out, but many in grand junction remain suspicious. after all, paige had supposedly been afraid of her ex-husband, rob dixon. remember what she wrote months before she vanished? my children would ask me if dad was going to kill me. >> the abuse was -- >> one of paige's friends this one is not in the mom's club. this is a woman named carol. she told us paige was also afraid of jones. worried because as a client he had taken too deep and interest in her. carol says that not long before she disappeared paige asked her to meet jones and -- >> lester jones told me that he had been good friends with rob
dixon. he stressed that. >> was conspiracy even possible? ridiculous, said rob dixon's lawyer. >> rob dixon does not know, did not know and probably will never know lester jones. >> never met him? >> never met him. never knew him. knew nothing about him except what he learned from the media once lester jones was a suspect. >> we have one person we really can't eliminate at this point. >> that person, lester ralph jones, has hired an attorney that told "dateline" that her client is not guilty and not responsible for the disappearance of paige birgfeld. so until paige or some new evidence is found, an arrest seems unlikely. >> but if you don't find a body, if you don't find paige, it seems reasonable to think that the person of interest can go on living his life without fear of being prosecuted? >> i don't think he should go on living his life without fear of being prosecuted.
>> you can put together a case without a body? >> i'm hopeful some they we'll get our day in court. >> for now, paige's three children live with their father. and paige is, well, who knows. it's a big, empty county here around grand junction, colorado. lots of space. they keep looking and against all the odds keep hoping. the two of you, i think, are maybe at different places along this road of -- being prepared for things. >> i still feel that paige is hidden somewhere. has been put somewhere, where she can't get away. probably someone that's obsessed with her and at first i thought oh, every time he leave, she must be bound and gagged, and then more than one of her friends has mentioned to me just recently, because a lot of us have this gut intuitive feeling
that paige is still alive, and cannot get back yet to her children. >> look, some of these searchers went to salt lake city and searched for elizabeth smart. who in the world would have scripted that out, that she ended up with some sort of a knucklehead religious zealot? and yet she walked in perfectly healthy, to the best i can see. do i think the odds favor that? no. but as long as the odds are there, that's one reason we have always been here at the house waiting for the phone to ring. waiting for the door to open. on the long-shot odds that somehow that's her story, and she'll walk through the door. paige's father is renting an apartment in grand junction where every day he continues his search. for more on this case, visit our website at dateline.msnbc.com. that's all for now.