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Disappearance of wife, daughter shock Baptist community in Colo.

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (BP)–It’s been seven days since Michael Blagg returned home from work and discovered a pool of blood in the master bedroom and his wife and daughter gone from their upscale home in Grand Junction, Colo. And with dozens of investigators, including the FBI, working the case, authorities say they have a mystery on their hands.

Mesa County Sheriff’s Dept. spokesman Chris Franz said he could not elaborate on leads, but the amount of blood discovered in the house worries authorities, and they are not close to understanding what happened to Jennifer Blagg, 34, and her daughter Abby, 6.

The investigation has officially been listed as a missing persons and assault case, Franz said.

The Blaggs were active in Grand Junction’s Christian community, starting intercessory prayer ministries in local churches. Prior to moving to Grand Junction, the Blaggs were members of the First Baptist Church, Simpsonville, S.C., where he taught Sunday school and she worked in the church’s prayer ministry.

A secretary at the church said the Blaggs joined First Baptist in April 1998 and had not moved their membership since moving to Colorado. The daughter, Abby, had the distinction of being the youngest person to join the church at age 4.

Ray Shirley, pastor of Monument Baptist Church in Grand Junction, said he became acquainted with the Blaggs because their children attend the Bookcliff Christian School, a ministry of Bookcliff Baptist Church.

“Our families have known each other for a little over a year,” Shirley told Baptist Press. “Jennifer and my wife are best buddies and Mike and I are close friends and accountability partners.”

The two families were planning to celebrate Thanksgiving together.

Shirley was one of the first people to receive news that something was wrong inside the Blaggs’ $250,000 home.

“The Sheriff’s Department called my wife with the news,” Shirley said. “I was with our chairman of deacons at the time and we both went to the house. By the time we got there it was surrounded with crime scene tape.”

Authorities said Blagg left for work at 6 a.m. on Nov. 13. His wife and daughter were asleep. Blagg told police he called the house at 7 a.m. and there was no response.

When he arrived home around 4:30 p.m. Blagg discovered a large pool of blood in the master bedroom and his wife and daughter missing.

Since then, more than 1,200 hours of investigation have been completed by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the FBI and local authorities.

Franz said bloodhounds have searched fields around the neighborhood and searches have also been completed in the nearby Colorado River.

Franz said no one has been ruled out as a suspect, including Blagg.

However, authorities said Blagg has been “very cooperative with us.” Franz said Blagg does not have a criminal record.

Shirley told Baptist Press that he asked Blagg whether he was involved in the disappearance of his wife and daughter.

“He told me he didn’t and I believe him,” Shirley said. “I wouldn’t have had him stay at my house if I didn’t believe him.”

For four days after the disappearance, Blagg stayed in Shirley’s home.

Shirley said he has been ministering to Blagg on a routine basis since the disappearances. “I’ve been praying with him, reading Scripture with him as well as other pastors here in the area,” Shirley said.

Shirley, a 1996 graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, said Blagg is a quiet man who loves his family.

“They would ride bikes a lot,” he said. “And his overall countenance exudes spirituality. They were so involved in prayer ministry and they were so close. There is no way he could have had anything to do with this.”

The Blaggs had been married for 10 years and dated three years prior to their marriage. He was a former military pilot with a degree in nuclear physics.

Shirley said the disappearances have been unsettling for this town of 50,000 residents.

“Nothing like this has ever happened here,” he said. “It will never be the same.”

Shirley said their 7-year-old son, Logan, is troubled by the disappearance of his friend, Abby.

“Our son is very literal and he knows they are not here,” he said. “That is enough for him for now. He doesn’t say they are dead or missing. He says that he wants to find them but he doesn’t know where to look.

“It is rough as a parent,” Shirley said. “A lot of the kids have internalized it.”

The Christian community gathered in mid-November for a prayer service that lasted two hours.

“I believe the Lord used that prayer meeting to get us through the weekend,” he said. “It was a turning back to God.”

The case is also drawing national attention. Blagg appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Nov. 20. Franz said news organizations from across the country are being drawn to the story.

“We certainly hope this is a solvable crime,” Franz said. “Right now, there are just more questions than answers.”

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  • Todd Starnes