After mistrial in Birgfeld case, man, 65, guilty
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.