Helen West hadn’t met Jennifer Blagg when she called her the evening of Nov. 12, 2001.
She lived across the street from Michael, Jennifer and Abby Blagg in a quiet subdivision near Grand Junction. The day before, her mother-in-law had "shooed" away some people at the front door of their home, and West said giving Jennifer Blagg a call felt like the neighborly thing to do.
West testified about the interaction in a Jefferson County courtroom on Thursday morning. Hearsay laws meant West couldn’t discuss exactly what her mother-in-law encountered, only that it was someone who had apparently come to the wrong house.
West also couldn’t really talk about her conversation with Jennifer Blagg, only that it felt normal, and that the two had discussed getting a cup of coffee together at some point.
They never would.
The afternoon of Nov. 13, 2001, Michael Blagg called 911 and said he came returned to his home on Pine Terrace Court after work and found the back door ajar. There was a large bloodstain on his wife’s bed, and she and their daughter were gone.
Jennifer Blagg’s body was found in the Mesa County landfill on June 4, 2002. Michael Blagg was arrested two days later, and found guilty of killing his wife in 2004.
To this day, there has been no trace of Abby Blagg.
Michael Blagg’s murder conviction was thrown out after a juror was caught lying on her questionnaire about being the victim of domestic violence. The now-55-year-old is on trial once again, this time, in Jefferson County, where the case was moved because of its notoriety on the Western Slope.
Opening statements in the second trial were delivered on Tuesday.
West was one of multiple neighbors who took the witness stand on Thursday morning. She testified that she had met Michael Blagg once, but had never met his wife or daughter, even though their house was right across the street.
The morning of Nov. 13, 2001, she said she woke at up at around 6 a.m. and took her dog Pip outside for a walk, like she normally did.
It was dark out, West said, and she never made it farther than her front yard.
That’s because she said she heard three male voices off of Greenbelt Drive, the street behind the Blagg home. She said it wasn’t really a cause for alarm for her at the time.
That afternoon, West and her mother-in-law went to the grocery store. When they got back, police had blocked off their street for what would become one of Mesa County’s most notorious murder investigations.
It wasn’t until a few days later that West realized she ought to tell police about the voices she had heard the morning of Nov. 13, 2001.
This is significant because Michael Blagg’s defense claims that a child predator killed Jennifer and kidnapped Abby, and that they reached the family’s home through Greenbelt Drive and broke in through the back door.
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Prosecutors allege that this never happened, and instead Michael Blagg shot and killed his wife while she was sleeping, wrapped her body in a tent and loaded it into the family minivan.
Then, in the early morning hours of Nov. 13, 2001, he took her body to Ametek Dixson, where he worked, and threw her body into the dumpster, according to the Mesa County District Attorney’s Office.
Prosecutors say Greenbelt Drive got a fair amount of traffic from people who live in the subdivisions near the Blagg home, and that it would be very hard for a kidnapping to occur there without anyone noticing, given how many people lived in the subdivision.
One of those neighbors was Helen West’s husband James. He said Michael Blagg helped them unload their van when they moved into their house, but other than a friendly wave, he never really encountered the couple or saw anything strange the morning of Nov. 13, 2001.
The jury also heard from other people who lived near the Blaggs, including a pair of brothers who lived down the street.
One of them took his car to swim practice at 5:30 a.m. on Nov. 13, 2001. He said he didn’t see anything.
The other took his Razor scooter to school a few hours later. He also said he didn’t see anything.
Neither of them had met the Blaggs, but one of them said he remembered seeing Michael Blagg apparently teaching his young daughter how to ride a bike outside of their home more than 17 years ago.
Millie Fowler lived off 22 1/2 Road in the Redlands subdivision of Mesa County and walked up and down the street near the Blagg home with her husband every morning.
She says on Nov. 13, 2001, she didn’t see or hear anything.
Chris Durham owned the house the Blaggs lived in, and rented it out to the family for $1,200 a month. The afternoon of Nov. 13, 2001, he testified that a neighbor called and said there were lots of police cars out front, and that maybe he should come by and check on things.
Up until then, Durham said the Blaggs were perfect tenants, and he had only met them a handful of times.
But, he says when he tried to bring an insurance adjuster to the Blagg home once police had finished their investigation, he realized his key didn’t work.
Michael Blagg later told him that Jennifer Blagg had changed the locks, Durham testified.
All of the neighbors described where the Blaggs lived as a quiet cul-de-sac. In a videotaped interview with investigators, Michael Blagg said a lot of older people lived there.
West, however, said there was a scary incident in July 2001, when someone broke into her house and stole her purse.
She was alerted to the perpetrator by her neighbor’s black lab, who was frantically barking. West said she believed this was directly related to the intruder.
West said the morning of Nov 13, 2001, she never woke up to hear that dog barking. Her husband said he didn’t hear anything out of the ordinary either.
This testimony was in the middle of a five-and-a-half hour video the jury had started watching Wednesday afternoon. The video, which is grainy and hard to hear at times, shows Michael Blagg’s first interview with investigators, including Sgt. Wayne Weyler, who was called to the witness stand to introduce the video.
The video is expected to continue Thursday afternoon.
The other witnesses punctuated the video because they had been flown in from out-of-state and had a set schedule.
9NEWS is in the courtroom for the Michael Blagg trial and will provide updates during breaks on 9NEWS and 9NEWS.com.