Authorities Probe Secret Escort Service

Since she disappeared June 28, friends and family have described 34-year-old Paige Birgfeld as a busy entrepreneur and dedicated mother of three.

But investigators in Colorado are now also describing Birgfeld as the owner of an unlicensed escort service who used the pseudonym "Carrie" and kept a list of escort clients.

"It is looking like she's the owner of Models Incorporated," Heather Gierhart, a spokeswoman for the Mesa County Sheriff's Office, told ABC News. "It's looking more like she was running it and had her own clients."

Police are probing Birgfeld's client list and say that a number of her former customers could be considered possible suspects in what they're now calling a likely case of foul play.

Until Saturday, authorities in Colorado were treating Birgfeld as a missing person, even suggesting that the woman may have staged her own disappearance.

But new information about her escort agency, combined with a lack of any evidence indicating she voluntarily went missing, altered the investigative track over the weekend.

"We so far haven't found a single piece of evidence that indicated she left on her own free will," Gierhart said. "She hasn't surfaced anywhere or used money or cell phone or anything like that."

Confirmation by investigators that Birgfeld oversaw an escort agency, which is not registered with the Colorado Secretary of State's office, has stunned family and friends.

"We didn't know any of this," Suzanne Birgfeld, Paige's mother, told the Rocky Mountain News Sunday, saying that the family has added the name "Carrie" to some of the missing person fliers.

Frank Birgfeld, Paige's father, told the Grand Junction Sentinel that he was taken aback when an investigator told him his daughter worked in the adult entertainment business.

"Based on the way this thing is unwinding, this isn't the sort of thing she would want me to know," Frank Birgfeld said. "I haven't heard of anything illegal. I'm getting the feeling she knew where the line was."

Suzanne Birgfeld said she did not know where the name "Carrie" may have come from, but she added that the information about her daughter's double life may actually benefit the search for their daughter.

Authorities are also inching closer to ruling out the involvement of Robert Dixon, one of Birgfeld's two ex-husbands and the father of her three children, whom she recently wrote about in an online forum for consultants who sell Pampered Chef products.

"I'm thinking this is a bit close for my comfort," Birgfeld wrote in June of Dixon's possible move to Durango, Colo., less than a four-hour drive from Grand Junction.

"He could theoretically hang up the phone and be waiting at my house before the kids and I return from errands," Birgfeld posted on ChefSuccess.com, using the name Paige Dixon.

But Dixon has cooperated fully throughout the investigation, and it appears more and more likely that he had nothing to do with her disappearance.

"It looks like he was out of state at the time," Gierhart said. "At this point we're not comfortable ruling anyone out, but we're definitely comfortable saying he's moving down on the list of people we're interested in."

Howard Beigler, Birgfeld's first husband, is in the same position, Gierhart said, despite postings by Birgfeld on the same online forum that suggested the two had rekindled their relationship.

Investigators have also visited a downtown office kept by Birgfeld, according to the Grand Junction Sentinel, in which they reportedly found a massage table and what appeared to be acupuncture equipment. Birgfeld was not licensed to practice acupuncture in Colorado. Gierhart would not confirm or deny the visit.

Early in the investigation, authorities found Birgfeld's 2005 Ford Focus burning in a parking lot about three miles from her home. The burned out car provided no additional clues about where the woman may be.

In addition to the escort agency, the reported acupuncture shop and chef's consulting business, authorities also say that Birgfeld sold baby products.

All the business endeavors, Gierhart said, may have put her in contact with someone involved in her disappearance.

"She had several businesses, which means she had lots of customers," Gierhart said. "That's a lot of people we need to interview, and they're all people of interest."

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