Af­ter mis­trial in Birgfeld case, man, 65, guilty

The Denver Post - - DENVER & THE WEST - By Danika Wor­thing­ton

A jury found 65-year-old Lester Ralph Jones guilty of kid­nap­ping and mur­der­ing Paige Birgfeld, a mother of three whose skele­tal re­mains were found in 2012.

Tues­day’s de­ci­sion came af­ter Jones’ first hear­ing ended in a mis­trial; a jury couldn’t reach a unan­i­mous de­ci­sion in Septem­ber.

“While this ver­dict will not bring Paige Birgfeld back to her fam­ily, we are happy it will give her fam­ily clo­sure,” Mesa County sher­iff ’s spokes­woman Megan Ter­lecky said.

Jones was sen­tenced to life in pri­son with­out pa­role for first- and sec­ond-de­gree mur­der, Ter­lecky said. He also was sen­tenced to 12 years in pri­son with three years of pa­role for sec­ond-de­gree kid­nap­ping.

Pros­e­cu­tors said Jones killed Birgfeld in 2007 then set her car on fire and dumped her body. She was re­ported miss­ing in July. Her torched car was found days later. A hiker found her re­mains March 6, 2012, in the Wells Gulch area in Delta County. Jones was ar­rested in Novem­ber 2014.

The 34-year-old mother led a dou­ble life as a paid es­cort. In­ves­ti­ga­tors said Jones fre­quently so­licited pros­ti­tu­tion and pa­tron­ized Birgfeld’s busi­ness, in­clud­ing in the days lead­ing up to her dis­ap­pear­ance.

Jones has a pre­vi­ous crim­i­nal record, in­clud­ing a fiveyear pri­son sen­tence for first-de­gree as­sault and sec­ond-de­gree at­tempted kid­nap­ping.

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