Delta County Sheriff's Office says the human remains were found in the Wells Gulch area by a hiker. Authorities have used dental records to tentatively identify the remains as 34-year-old Paige Birgfeld. They say other personal items were also found with the remains.
Paige's father, Frank Birgfeld says he's spent five years searching for his daughter.
"It's a hard day for me," he said, remembering his daughter. "She had this great smile and everything centered around Paige's kids."
He says friends and family had searched the area where her remains were found several times before.
"We've searched this area before. My son was out here," he said.
DNA testing will be performed by the Colorado Bureau Investigation on the remains to confirm that they are in fact Birgfeld. Deputies say the remains might be forwarded to a forensic anthropologist to see if there are any signs of trauma to the remains.
"There have been several sets of remains, and each time we have hoped to identify them as the remains of Paige Birgfeld, and in this case, we are very confident, based on the forensic odontology - the dental comparisons - that this is indeed the remains of Paige Birgfeld," Sgt. Matt Lewis with the Mesa County Sheriff's Office said. "That identification will be followed up with a DNA comparison to be absolutely certain, but we are very confident in the identification."
Using dental records to verify an identity is accurate, sources told 9Wants to Know. DNA testing can provide a positive identification.
Birgfeld was last seen on June 28, 2007. Her checkbook, Blockbuster card, insurance card and a shoe were found along Highway 50 between Delta and Grand Junction.
"[The remains were found] a little bit farther to the south than where our original searches in 2007 took place," Lewis said.
Birgfeld was a mother of three and led a secret life as an escort. Her burned-out car was found a few days after she went missing.
"We are very happy that we can bring closure to the family in this case, and in this case we still have a lot of work to do as far as to determine what actually happened and what led to these remains being discovered where they were," Lewis said.
Her death is being called a homicide.
Lester Ralph Jones of Grand Junction has been the sole suspect in the Birgfeld's disappearance. Jones was sentenced to five years in prison in 1999 for attempted kidnapping and assault. He was released in 2001. He has never been arrested in this case.
"I know about him and he's capable of it. He has the [right] profile," Frank Birgfeld said.
9Wants to Know has learned it is believed Jones was one of Birgfeld's clients through the escort service.
"At this point there has not been an arrest, and we continue - we have gathered quite a bit of evidence that was found in the area of the remains and we will be processing that evidence for trace and for DNA to see if we might be able to further the investigation at this point," Lewis said.
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