Details of Disappearance
Abby, her father, Michael Francis Blagg, and her mother, Jennifer Loman Blagg, resided in the Redlands area west of Grand Junction, Colorado in 2001. The family lived in a home in the 2200 block of Pine Terrace Court.
Photos of Michael, Jennifer and the Blaggs' former house are posted with this case summary. Michael was employed as an operations director for the Dixson division of Ametek, Inc. Jennifer was a stay-at-home mother and often participated in exercise classes and religious studies, as well as volunteer work with Abby's class.
Michael told authorities that Abby went to sleep in her bedroom at approximately 7:00 p.m. on November 12, 2001. He said that Jennifer received a phone call from a neighbor regarding a possible lunch date the following day at 8:00 p.m. Michael stated that he and Jennifer went to bed by 10:00 p.m.; he said that there was no indication of anything amiss during the overnight hours.
Michael said that he departed for work at approximately 6:00 a.m. on November 13. He claimed that his wife and daughter were asleep when he left the house. Michael told investigators that he called home periodically during the day to speak to Jennifer, but no one answered the phone at their residence. He said he was concerned about her apparent absence by the late afternoon hours, but he did not believe that anything was wrong.
Michael said that he returned home by 4:00 p.m. and noticed that there were signs of a struggle inside the residence. A large amount of blood was on the mattress in the master bedroom, but there was no sign of Jennifer or Abby. Michael called authorities at 4:20 p.m. and the residence was sealed off as a potential crime scene.
Investigators learned that an unidentified individual called Bookcliff Christian School and told administrators that Abby would be absent from class on November 13. Authorities read Jennifer's journals, hoping that her private thoughts may provide evidence as to their whereabouts. The diaries were reportedly full of Biblical references.
Michael moved out of their home in December 2001, stating that it was difficult to remain in the house without his wife and daughter. He told authorities that a portion of Jennifer's jewelry had allegedly been stolen from the residence on the day Jennifer and Abby disappeared. He claimed that he did not realize the jewelry was missing until January 2002, nearly two months after they vanished. Michael suggested their disappearances were connected to a series of burglaries that occurred in the Grand Junction area in late 2001.
Authorities placed Michael under surveillance in late November 2001. A camera allegedly recorded him stealing a shredder and a table, worth over $500 altogether, from his employer in January 2002. Authorities questioned Michael about the incident in February 2002. He attempted to take his own life the following day by slashing his wrists. He left a note denying any knowledge of Abby and Jennifer's disappearances.
Michael was taken to the hospital in serious condition; his condition stabilized and he was released after one week. Michael maintains his innocence in Jennifer and Abby's cases, but he was publicly identified as a possible suspect after his suicide attempt.
His family members and friends supported him after his wife and daughter vanished, but opinions over his possible connection to the case began to change in early 2002. Michael's employment was terminated in late February 2002. He hired an attorney and said that he planned to look for a new job.
Officials questioned friends and relatives of the Blaggs in Arizona, California, South Carolina and Texas as part of the investigation. Authorities announced that they believed Jennifer and Abby were the victims of foul play in late March 2002.
Investigators said that they believed the family's maroon and gold 2000 Ford Windstar was involved in the disappearances. A photo of the vehicle is posted with this case summary. Investigators believe that the minivan may have been used to transport Jennifer and Abby from their residence in November 2001. The vehicle was parked inside the family's garage at the time they were reported missing.
An anonymous female caller contacted authorities several times after Jennifer and Abby's disappearance. The informant claimed she saw the minivan in an area near Park Ridge, Colorado on the day of their disappearances. Investigators asked the caller to contact them again with additional details during the spring of 2002.
Authorities announced that they planned to search in a 45-mile area near the Blaggs' home in early April 2002. Officials said that the search was limited to areas accessible by a two-wheel drive, low-clearance vehicle. The family's Winstar matched that description. The search lasted 12 days, but no evidence related to the case was discovered.
Officials continued to search around the Grand Junction area for clues related to the Blaggs' investigation through the early summer of 2002. Jennifer's remains were discovered in the Mesa County landfill on June 5, 2002. There was no evidence of Abby's body at the scene and authorities are not certain if her remains will be located in the future.
Michael was residing with his mother in Georgia at the time of the discovery. He was charged with first-degree murder in his wife's case shortly after her body was identified. Michael returned to Colorado to face the charges. Authorities concluded that Jennifer was killed by a gunshot to her left eye. Officials believe that she was murdered while she slept, as her dental retainer was discovered with her remains. Jennifer only wore the device while she was sleeping.
An employee of Colorado Legal Services in Grand Junction recognized Jennifer and Abby's photos and contacted investigators in late 2001. The worker stated that Jennifer visited the office several days prior to their disappearances and claimed that she was being abused by her husband and was frightened. The employee said that Jennifer had wanted to end her marriage. The witness said Jennifer was unable to see an attorney immediately, and she became upset and left.
Investigators stated that Jennifer's body was located in landfill trash collected from Michael's former employer in November 2001. One of his former co-workers told authorities that he saw Michael pushing a pallet jack with two large-sized cardboard boxes on it on the day he reported Jennifer and Abby as missing. The witness stated that Michael discarded the items on the loading dock near Ametek's trash compactor. Michael refused an offer of assistance with the boxes, which was uncharacteristic of his behavior.
Documents released in mid-June 2002 revealed that the owner of a local escort service told authorities that Michael visited her business several times monthly for massages administered by topless women. Investigators discovered numerous pornographic images on Michael's home computer; he claimed that he and Jennifer were having sexual problems in late 2001 and he was conducting research online.
Authorities also stated that Michael likely abused Jennifer and investigators believed that her murder was premeditated. Officials said that Abby was probably an ancillary victim of the attack. Trace amounts of Jennifer's blood were found on the exterior and interior of the Blaggs' van, including on the steering wheel, but none of Abby's blood could be found anywhere, either in the van or in the house.
Authorities announced that Michael appeared to nearly confess to his wife and daughter's murders during questioning in February 2002. Documents stated that Michael began crying during the interview session and inquired as to the penalities for murder categories. He requested to speak with attorney before continuing with the session and departed police headquarters afterwards. Michael's suicide attempt occurred later that evening.
Michael was tried for Jennifer's murder in the spring of 2004. His defense attorneys argued that she was killed by an intruder. Prosecutors produced witnesses to indicate that Jennifer and Michael's relationship was troubled and that her murder and Abby's disappearance had all the marks of a staged burglary. Jennifer's mother testified, saying Jennifer had once told her Michael choked her while he was drunk.
On April 16, 2004, after twelve hours of jury deliberation, Michael was convicted of murdering his wife. He was sentenced to life in prison. His conviction was upheld on appeal in 2008.
Abby remains missing. Michael has never been charged in connection with her disappearance. Foul play is suspected in Abby's case due to the circumstances involved.