Thirty-four-year-old Paige Meredith Birgfeld is much more than a twice-divorced mother of three who works as a children’s dance instructor and a salesperson for upscale home kitchen items and baby supplies. The 5’4”, 110 lb. woman is also known as “Carrie” by the clients of Models Inc., Paige’s adult escort service, although some might refer to her clients as “Johns.” Her parents and her older brother, the latter a plastic surgeon, have now learned that their daughter/sister has literally worked night and day to keep up the almost $1 million home that she retained at the time of her divorce from her second husband, a man who allegedly went broke while trying to maintain his rich lifestyle for his wife and their children. It is her work at night, though, that has caused her family and friends to wonder how she was able to keep her two lives and her two identities separate, with her work as a female “escort” and masseuse who gave topless massages and may have practiced acupuncture on the side hidden from all who knew her from her “daytime” job and persona.
Paige met her first husband when she was 16 and he was 19. They were to marry some six years later. Paige wanted to be someone other than a 20-something wife; she also wanted to be a stripper. Her husband indicated that he ultimately relented to her constant requests to strip for pay, and she found work in a Denver-area adult men’s club under the stage name of “Madison,” perhaps even taking the name from the character played by Daryl Hannah in the 1984 Tom Hanks movie, “Splash.” One media report suggests that she not only stripped for the money, but for what the money would buy her, “a breast augmentation” as stated by her husband at that time. “I think,” he is quoted as saying, “that she stripped to feel better about herself; it made her feel more powerful.”
The trappings of money
A year after her first divorce she met her soon-to-be second husband, a man with money and all the trappings of the good life, this while she was still dancing at the adult club. She allegedly told a friend she married this time around for money, stating “love had nothing to do with it.” A large, expensive house, a number of high-priced cars and three children would follow in a marriage that ended in 2006 with her husband filing for bankruptcy.
Paige needed to make money to keep up her lifestyle -- a lot of money -- much more money than teaching dance to kids and selling kitchenware in home parties could provide. She would survive no matter what it took. What it appears to have taken is Paige expanding her entrepreneurial activities into the night, into the world of quick relationships with men in need. She was, as one client allegedly described her on the Web site believed to belong to Paige, “pricey but worth every dime.” She is believed to have described herself as having a “beautiful body and nice teeth,” indicating her services included “erotic massages, private dancing and escort duties.” Paige evidently made much more than dimes, noting on the escort service Web site that was believed to have once carried her ad, most “escorts” ranged from $300 to $500 per hour. Such sites also carry the notation that any services discussed and advertised are in no way related to the crime of prostitution, and if money happens to be exchanged, it is for companionship only. So much for the Internet highway and its legal disclaimers…
Paige carried on with her non-secret life, that of raising three children while selling baby gear, giving dance lessons and selling kitchen items, while “Carrie” earned the real money needed to keep her life style afloat, that is, until she disappeared on June 28. This was the day that she followed through on her plans to meet with her first husband, perhaps looking for the safety and security of an old relationship as opposed to that offered by her clients, her “secret friends.” After spending time together, Paige left for the drive back to her home and three children. She never arrived.
It was another two days before Paige would be reported missing to the police, and one more day before her car would be found burning in a parking lot a few miles from her upscale home. The suspects in her disappearance would likely include her first and second husbands and the people on her client list. Then there would be the wives and girlfriends of her male clients and anyone else she might have “dated.” Investigators must consider why her car was burned from the inside out, perhaps to destroy evidence of her abduction, or did she simply park the car there to meet a “client” and was never returned. Perhaps with vandals torched the car for fun, or could there be a third part of her personality, an unnamed part that wanted to escape her first two lives, one that might have even staged her own disappearance?
People have secret lives such as “Carrie’s” for a number of reasons: fast money without the need for the usual job skills, escape from an otherwise boring life, the thrill of a secret identity, and/or the need to control and to feel powerful in a life that otherwise may have seemed out of control. Some have suggested that she could be bipolar with the need for different activities both day and night meeting the manic requirement of such a psychological disorder.
Police will now conduct the usual search for a missing person, one of over 875,000 conducted in the U.S. every year for people who shouldn’t be missing. They will check her cell phone (used less than five miles from her home the night she disappeared, but then turned off), and her home telephone records. But if her car was found 10 miles from her home, why would her cell phone have been last used less than five miles from her house? Another question for investigators to answer. Police will also check her address books, interview her family members, her current friends and former spouses, and, of course, identify everyone who had ever utilized her escort service or her other Internet advertised activities. It is this group of special people that will not like to be identified and interviewed, as many, like “Carrie,” have something to hide from their families and their daytime associates. Secrets will no longer be secret and names will be revealed.
The big losers in this case to date are Paige’s three children ages 8, 6, and 3, now residing with their father until their mother can be located. The children’s father is the same man that Paige, while writing on a blog on March 24, wrote “Oh man! My children would ask me if Dad was going to kill me. I can’t imagine what they were thinking life would be like after he killed me.” He is currently working as an EMT in Philadelphia and allegedly has a solid alibi for the date Paige went missing. Meanwhile Paige’s family, friends and members of her community spent the past weekend searching for the hard working missing mother of three. You see, no matter what name her alter ego went by, she is still a person who needs to be found; just ask the three children who call her “Mom.” We hope the search is successful.
The search continues
On Saturday, 75 volunteer searchers, using Paige Birgfeld’s burned out red Ford Focus as ground zero, conducted an extensive, 360-degree search for her in the 100 plus degree temperature of the day. Items of interest were found by searchers, to include the missing mother of three’s checkbook and a series of checks that were scattered along a multi-mile stretch of Highway 50, about 10 miles from where her car had been found July 1. This has been a continuing area of interest to investigators and a more extensive search will be conducted on Sunday from that area back to where Paige’s car was found. The missing woman’s father has suggested his belief that the series of checks found by searchers could be an intentional trail left by someone, perhaps the victim or her assailant.
Was she the victim of a kidnap, assault and murder, or, as bizarre as it sounds, could she have faked her own kidnapping, knowing that to do so would expose her second identity and her secret life to her family, friends and the world? The police continue to suspect foul play, and meanwhile, the investigation continues.
Clint Van Zandt is a former FBI Agent, behavioral profiler and hostage negotiator as well as an MSNBC Analyst. His web site www.LiveSecure.org provides readers with security related information.