Grand Junction, Colo., sits nestled in the heart of a massive valley. Surrounded by the majestic mesas and canyons of the western Rockies, it is quiet, peaceful and so vast it's easy to imagine that someone could vanish there without a trace.
Frank Birgfeld's daughter Paige did just that when she disappeared earlier this summer. Now he searches the Colorado River for his daughter, convinced that she can be found.
"I think the word is effervescent," he said. "She was … she's the kind of person when she comes in the room and meets you, she always gives you a big smile."
Paige Birgfeld is 34 years old, an attractive model and dancer and a struggling businesswoman. Twice divorced, Paige is a single, devoted mother of three. For Frank, the hardest part is not being able to follow his fatherly instinct to help his daughter.
"She's out there somewhere, and I can't protect her," he said.
Paige's disappearance is riddled with questions. Was it a kidnapping? Did she run away?
Or did it have to do with a secret life the soccer mom was hiding from everyone — including her own family?
Strange Disappearance, 'Persons of Interest'
On the night of June 28, Paige was driving home alone to her children, but she never made it to her front door. Upon receiving a call from the sheriff's office informing them that their daughter was missing, Frank and his wife, Suzanne, immediately jumped in their car and drove the three hours to Grand Junction, desperately calling Paige's cell phone, to no avail.
The next day, Paige's car was found just 2 miles from her home — vandalized and set on fire. Paige's family led a group of volunteers in their massive search over hundreds of square miles, through desert scrub brush and murky waterways.
Within days of her disappearance, investigators and volunteers found several personal items belonging to Paige a few miles southeast of Grand Junction: a checkbook and a video-store membership card. The clues initially seemed promising, but they didn't lead to Paige.
There are, however, a broad range of "persons of interest" — individuals whom police have not named as suspects, but whom they are talking to. According to the police, one of those on their list is her first husband, Ron Beigler. Shortly before Paige's disappearance, it seemed the couple was discussing rekindling their relationship and Paige met with Beigler just hours before her disappearance. Beigler denies having had anything to do with it.
Then there's Rob Dixon, Paige's second husband and the father of her children. In October 2005, Dixon was charged with slapping and punching Paige inside their million-dollar home.
According to Paige's friends Riina Stockemer, Barbara Campbell and Andrea Land, Dixon is a man with a violent temper.
"Lately, she was very concerned about him being around the kids. She had a lot of worry that it wasn't a healthy situation," Campbell said.
Dixon was the first person that Land and Campbell thought of in connection with Paige's disappearance, but Dixon had an alibi. He was almost 2,000 miles away in Philadelphia at the time his ex-wife went missing.
Police have also talked with Ralph Jones, a convicted felon with a violent past who works at an RV dealership just a few hundred feet from where Paige's car was found. While Jones has not been named a suspect, his home has been searched twice.
It turns out that Jones knew Paige well -- intimately, in fact. Jones was a client of Paige's in her secret double life.
'A Little Extra on the Side'
"I knew that a couple of years ago she was learning to give massages. But, you know, lots of people give massages. … So, I knew she was doing a little extra on the side," Campbell said.
The "extras"? For the right price, Paige would perform massages topless. She even had an ad in the local paper and her picture posted on a Web site called Naughty Nightlife. In her profile, she wrote "Tired of chopped meat showing up when you ordered filet mignon?"
Paige's jobs selling cookware and teaching dance to children didn't pay nearly enough to cover her mounting debts, the cost of raising three children and the $6,000 mortgage on her million-dollar home. Paige is, by all accounts, a very confident woman, comfortable in her own skin. So why did she keep this other life a secret from her family?
"I think she realized we would not approve and actually, now that I think about it, I think, you know, this was one of her strong points. She was a beautiful, gorgeous model. And if she was able to legitimately use that, she was trying to keep the house and the kids together," said Paige's mom.
Erotic Massage, or Prostitution?
Paige's former roommate Jaime Silvernail, along with Land, Campbell and Stockemer, insist that Paige knew exactly where to draw the line with her side job.
"There's a clear line that she knew where that boundary was, and she wouldn't cross it because the legal ramifications could affect her kids in the long run. And everything she does is for her kids," Silvernail said.
The friends are absolutely convinced that Paige was not prostituting herself. But "Alexia," another woman who makes a living off of nude massages in Grand Junction, said the opposite is true. She said Paige had quite a reputation with her clients. Alexia agreed to speak under a pseudonym to protect her identity.
"And they're [the clients] like yeah, I had her once and she was really expensive because she did full service. … I've had a couple of them that said she wanted to do everything just to make money," Alexia said.
And while the money can be good, it's a dangerous job.
"There's just guys that won't take no for an answer, and they force themselves on you. I've had to fight a lot off me," said Alexia, who explained that she's been raped at gunpoint, and the only reason she stays in the business is for the money.
For Craig Birgfeld, it can be difficult to hear some of the more explicit details of Paige's secret life.
"I'm continually having to talk about things that if I heard people talking about them in the locker room after a football game, I'd beat the crap out of the guys. But it was a part of her life. And like it or not, that's the way she chose to provide for her kids. So, I have to accept it," he said. "I have to not judge her for it. And it doesn't really matter now, because what's important is finding her."
But not everyone is as nonjudgmental as Craig. Some fear the nasty rumors are there reason there's a shortage of volunteers searching for her. But Paige's best friends and family say they will keep searching, for the sake of her children: Two little boys named Taft and Kohl, and their big sister, Jess.
Paige is still missing, but she's very much alive in the hearts of those who love her.
"I talk to her all the time. I have her flyer sitting on my dashboard, and it reflects onto my windshield, and as I'm driving I can see her face at all times. And I talk to her frequently. I ask her where she is," Campbell said. "But I tell her we will find her, we will keep going and we'll make this work. And just hope that we can get her home safe."