Ep 5: Garden Variety

Douglas Lovell returned to the Utah State Prison in January of 1986, following four short years of freedom spent with his wife, Rhonda Lovell.

His earlier stay there, from 1979 to 1982 on an aggravated robbery conviction, had ended early thanks to a show of leniency from the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole. The board had released Doug after he’d served just two-and-a-half years on a sentence of five years-to-life. The board had also seen fit to terminate his parole in August of 1983, effectively ending his post-release supervision.

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Utah Board of Pardons and Parole records show the board approved releasing Douglas Lovell from custody less than three years into his 1979 sentence of five years-to-life for aggravated robbery. The parole board also terminated Doug’s post-release probation in 1983.

Less than two years later, Doug had followed Joyce Yost home from a club, kidnapped and sexually assaulted her.

The sexual assault of Joyce Yost was a different category of crime. The sex offense carried a similar sentence of five-to-life, but with the added wrinkle of a 15-year minimum mandatory. This meant no amount of mercy from the parole board would end Doug’s time in prison early. His only hope for an early release would be to win an appeal of his conviction, something his attorney hoped to secure by characterizing the attack on Joyce as a “garden variety rape.”

Rhonda Lovell

South Ogden police believed Doug had taken Joyce’s life to prevent her from testifying at the rape trial, but they’d been unable to prove it by that point in 1986. However, with Doug at the outset of a lengthy prison stay, the detectives were able to turn their eyes to his wife, Rhonda Lovell.

Doug Lovell and Rhonda Buttars had married two years earlier, in January of 1984. They’d conceived a son in late 1985, during the lead-up to the rape trial. Rhonda was still pregnant when, in March of 1986, South Ogden police sergeant Brad Birch arrived at her work bearing an arrest warrant.

Rhonda Lovell office
The Eccles Building on the corner of 24th Street at Washington Boulevard in Ogden, Utah. Rhonda Lovell worked in an office here during March of 1986. Photo: Dave Cawley, KSL Podcasts

Brad was at that time acting as lead investigator on the Joyce Yost disappearance. The warrant he brought with him to Rhonda’s office did not deal with Joyce’s case, though. It instead listed a charge of taking wildlife out of season, or poaching.

Brad had discovered that a fish and game officer had encountered Doug and Rhonda Lovell in the Monte Cristo Range east of Ogden the prior autumn, after Joyce Yost had disappeared but prior to Doug’s conviction in the sexual assault case.

Poaching stop at Monte Cristo

The Monte Cristo region of northern Utah was a popular spot for summer camping, fall leaf peeping and winter snowmobiling. It’s frequented in the autumn months by hunters who seek deer and elk that spend time in the uplands. 

A state highway crossed the southern end of the range, connecting the rural communities of Huntsville on the west and Woodruff on the east. Monte Cristo’s popularity with hunters meant that highway corridor also drew significant attention from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, which patrolled the area in search of poachers.

Monte Cristo
Utah State Route 39 crosses the southern portion of the Monte Cristo range at elevations reaching 9,000 feet above sea level. The mountains are home to mixed aspen and conifer forests. Photo: Dave Cawley, KSL Podcasts

One such officer had come across Rhonda Lovell sitting by herself in a vehicle on a snowy day in late 1985. He had stopped to talk with her and Rhonda had reportedly told the wildlife officer she was traveling alone.

A short time later, the same officer had observed Rhonda’s vehicle coming down the highway eastbound toward Woodruff. There appeared to be a second person with her. The officer stopped the vehicle and questioned Rhonda a second time. The man with her, she had supposedly said, was just a hitchhiker.

This seemed unlikely. Utah State Highway 39 was not a thoroughfare where pedestrians would often thumb rides. In fact, the man had not been a hitchhiker. The man with Rhonda during her second conversation with the wildlife officer was her husband, Doug Lovell.

The lost records

The date of the encounter on Monte Cristo is not clear from available records. Some time passed between that day and the date when the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is said to have discovered an animal carcass which had been poached in the Monte Cristo region. The agency screened charges with a prosecutor in Utah’s Rich County, which led to the filing of charges against Doug and Rhonda Lovell.

The charging documents filed in Rich County Circuit Court are no longer available, having at some point in the 35 years since been purged in accordance with state record retention rules. The probable cause statement which would have included an outline of the factual basis for the charges has not been preserved by the court.

This excerpt from Rich County’s “Index to Criminal Register of Actions 1896 to 1998” file shows a blank space where Rhonda Lovell’s name would appeared alphabetically (highlight added by the Cold team). The blank space suggests the record was expunged.

In response to a public records request from the Cold team, Rich County Attorney Ben Willoughby said the county had only kept a scanned copy of a register of court cases from that time period. The document, titled Index to Criminal Register of Actions 1896 to 1998, included names, case numbers and years for criminal cases filed in the county’s court.

“However, it does not contain a case file for Rhonda Lovell,” Willoughby wrote in an emailed response to Cold’s record request. “The spot in the index where her case should be alphabetically referenced appears to have been whited out prior to being scanned.”

Hunt for the Wildlife Resources officer

A subsequent public records request to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources likewise failed to uncover any paperwork underlying the arrest warrant, though that’s not unusual considering the age of the case, the lack of computerized record systems at the time and government rules which allow for the destruction of some paper records on a prescribed schedule.

The Cold team made contact with several current and former DWR employees in an attempt to identify the wildlife officer who encountered Rhonda Lovell in 1985. Those included sworn law enforcement officers known to have participated in poaching patrols of the Monte Cristo region in 1985. None specifically recalled being involved with the case or suggested who might have been.

[Editor’s note: After this article was first published, a source came forward and stated the wildlife officer who’d stopped Rhonda Lovell was conservation officer LaVon Thomas. Thomas is deceased.]

Utah’s Monte Cristo Range covers portions of Weber, Rich and Cache Counties. Doug and Rhonda Lovell’s encounter with a state wildlife officer occurred on the eastern, or Rich County, portion of State Route 39. Photo: Dave Cawley, KSL Podcasts

It remains unclear how word of Doug and Rhonda Lovell’s encounter with the wildlife officer made its way to South Ogden police or why Brad Birch, and not the wildlife officer, served the arrest warrant on Rhonda on March 19, 1986. However, Joyce Yost’s daughter Kim Salazar said she was aware of the plan to arrest Rhonda before it occurred.

“I know that they were trying to get information [about Joyce] so they used this poaching as a way to talk to Rhonda, to put some pressure,” Kim said.

Rhonda Lovell’s interview

Brad brought Rhonda to South Ogden police headquarters and sat her down in an interview room. He read Rhonda her Miranda rights. Then he and another detective, Terry Carpenter, began to ask questions.

“They kept saying, ‘If you know something [about Joyce Yost], we’ll let you go if you tell us. … Otherwise we’re going for a long ride.’ I said, ‘Well let’s go.’”

Rhonda Buttars (Lovell), on her 1986 interview with South Ogden police

Both Brad and Terry filed written reports following their interview with Rhonda. The reports said she denied having knowledge of or part in any poaching scheme. Rhonda reportedly told the detectives that Doug had been out of the car defecating when the wildlife officer had first approached her. She’d felt embarrassment over this, which is why she had instead claimed to be alone. She did not have an explanation for why she had later told the same officer Doug was a hitchhiker.

The reports said Rhonda claimed to have been headed to Woodruff with Doug at that time for a snowmobiling outing with friends. But she declined to identify those friends, saying she didn’t want to get them involved.

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South Ogden police Sgt. Brad Birch and Terry Carpenter filed reports regarding their interview of Rhonda Lovell following her arrest on a poaching warrant issued out of Rich County, Utah.

The detectives also took the opportunity to question Rhonda about the disappearance of Joyce Yost. Rhonda, the reports said, claimed no knowledge of what had happened to Joyce. She denied Doug’d had anything to do with it.

“Rhonda asked some questions about the trial which were answered by Sgt. Birch,” Terry’s report read. “Rhonda was asked if Doug had any firearms. She stated that he only had one rifle that she was aware of. That being a Weatherby 300.”

This was untrue, as Rhonda had been with Doug and his friend William “Billy Jack” Wiswell when they had buried a cache of stolen guns behind a cabin in Utah’s Deep Creek Mountains. The South Ogden detectives were unaware of that fact at the time.

Rhonda Lovell’s stay in jail

At the conclusion of the interview, Brad and Terry informed Rhonda they would be taking her to the Rich County jail in Randolph, Utah for booking on the poaching warrant. They allowed her to make child care arrangements for her daughter before starting the 100-mile drive.

Rhonda Lovell mug shot
Rhonda Lovell’s booking photo from the Rich County, Utah jail, taken on March 19, 1986. Photo: South Ogden Police Department

“Rhonda was seven or eight months pregnant and so we transported her and tried in about every way to help her as much as we could,” Terry told me in an April, 2021 interview.

Terry recalled Rhonda being cordial, in spite of the circumstances. His 1986 report had described her as “very sociable and willing to talk about anything else.”

Rhonda did not crack under the pressure. Her husband acted as her lawyer when their case went before a judge the following May. Doug Lovell succeeded in having the charges dropped.


An anonymous call

Doug and Rhonda Lovell’s encounter with the wildlife officer would take on new significance for investigators a year later. On April 3, 1987, a man called police in Roy, Utah and reported finding a body in the mountains near Causey Dam. In a subsequent call to the Weber County Sheriff’s Office, the anonymous caller said he’d observed a woman’s purse next to the body.

This KSL TV archive story from December 13, 1988 tells the story of an anonymous call to police on April 3, 1987 reporting the discovery of human remains near Causey Reservoir. Reporter Larry Lewis spoke with Weber County Sheriff’s Lt. Archie Smith about the case.

Causey is accessed by way of the same highway Doug and Rhonda had been traveling at the time of the poaching stop at Monte Cristo.

Numerous searches of the area around Causey failed to turn up any human remains. The anonymous caller was never identified. Detectives who investigated the report believe the man was being honest but were unable to recover the body without his further assistance.

Locations of interest for Cold season 2, episode 5.

Hear the the anonymous caller’s voice in episode 5 of Cold: Garden Variety.

Episode credits
Research, writing and hosting: Dave Cawley
Audio production: Nina Earnest
Audio mixing: Trent Sell
Additional voices: Saige Miller (as Rhonda Lovell), Ethan Millard (as Archie Smith), Alex Kirry (as Murray Miron)
Cold main score composition: Michael Bahnmiller
Cold main score mixing: Dan Blanck
KSL executive producers: Sheryl Worsley, Keira Farrimond
Workhouse Media executive producers: Paul Anderson, Nick Panella, Andrew Greenwood
Amazon Music team: Morgan Jones, Eliza Mills, Vanessa Rebbert, Shea Simpson
Episode transcript: https://thecoldpodcast.com/season-2-transcript/garden-variety-full-transcript/
KSL companion story: https://ksltv.com/460854/anonymous-call-may-have-led-to-joyce-yosts-body-near-causey/
Talking Cold companion episode: https://thecoldpodcast.com/talking-cold#tc-episode-5

Cold season 2, episode 5: Garden Variety – Full episode transcript

Kim Salazar: His decision that night in April of ’85 altered my life forever.

Dave Cawley: Joyce Yost’s daughter, Kim Salazar, was not satisfied. Doug Lovell, the man convicted of kidnapping and sexually assaulting her mother, was headed for sentencing. But not for Joyce’s murder.

Randy Salazar: She told the detectives, I remember her telling them, ‘I know that son of a bitch has something to do with it. I know he has something to do with it.’ And they told Kim, ‘We’re sure he is too but we just can’t, I mean, we can’t just go over there and tell him he has something to do with it. We have to figure something out here.’

Dave Cawley: Two years earlier, the Utah Legislature had established a system of minimum mandatory sentences.

Brian Namba: The reason we call it mandatory is the judge, if you got the conviction, the judge could not give him probation.

Dave Cawley: That’s retired Davis County prosecutor Brian Namba. Under the law, Judge Rodney Page had to send Doug to prison for at least 10 years. Unless there were mitigating circumstances, in which case Doug would get no less than five. Or, if there were aggravating circumstances, he’d get no less than 15. Brian had filed a motion arguing in favor of the longer, 15-year term.

Brian Namba: So there’s a list of potential aggravating circumstances.

Dave Cawley: They included Doug’s pattern of stalking women, the extreme cruelty and depravity of his attack on Joyce, his history of violent offenses, his pending charges for car theft and his hostility toward Joyce’s family.

Brian also pointed out it was only because of Joyce’s hesitancy to testify about specific sexual acts during the preliminary hearing that the sodomy charge had been dropped.

Doug’s attorney, John Hutchison, didn’t file a motion of his own full of mitigating circumstances. Instead, he simply asked Judge Page to treat Doug’s convictions as misdemeanors, which would spare him prison time altogether. Hutchison argued it would be “unduly harsh” to send Doug away for so long, because of “the nature and circumstances of the offense and the defendant’s history and character.”

Judge Page reviewed a confidential pre-sentence report prepared by an agency called Adult Probation and Parole — or AP&P. It included background information on Doug, his family relationships, his criminal history, as well as the impact of his crime on Joyce and her loved ones.

Kim and her husband Randy had sat through Doug’s trial in December of ’85, a trial at which Kim’s own mother — the victim — was absent.

Kim Salazar: They had a woman on the stand and they had a picture of her, of my mom on the stand and they just had that woman read word-for-word what my mom had said during the preliminary hearing.

Dave Cawley: And they’d seen for the first time Doug’s wife, Rhonda.

Kim Salazar: I just remember being disgusted by all of their shenanigans. Y’know, in between. They just came off as this loving couple and it just wasn’t the case.

Dave Cawley: Doug’s convictions were about to put that loving relationship to the test.

This is Cold, season 2, episode 5: Garden Variety. From KSL Podcasts, I’m Dave Cawley.

We’ll be right back.

[Ad break]

Dave Cawley: Doug Lovell returned to court for sentencing on the afternoon of January 16, 1986. Judge Rodney Page asked defense attorney John Hutchison if there was anything he wanted to say. John said he’d read the pre-sentence report and believed its recommendations were “disproportionately large to the nature of the evidence.”

Judge Page then turned to Doug and asked if he had anything to say.

“Just the fact that I’m innocent,” Doug said.

Judge Page told Doug he believed the case had been proved beyond a reasonable doubt. The jury had got it right. He then handed down the maximum for each of the two counts: no less than 15 years and possibly up to life. The sentences would run concurrently — at the same time — meaning the soonest Doug could hope to be released from prison would be 2001. This was a victory not only for the prosecution, but also personally for detective Bill Holthaus, who told me he remembered John Hutchison’s reaction.

Bill Holthaus: This was not on the record, this was afterwards. He said, ‘My client wants to appeal and I quit.’

Dave Cawley: I asked Bill what he made of that statement.

Bill Holthaus: That he knew he was guilty as sin and did his job and now he was done, is what I made out of it ‘cause I knew, I knew John pretty well. He’d go to bat for his client but he knew he was guilty.

Dave Cawley: But guilty of what? Sexual assault, or something worse? Randy Salazar kept hearing Doug’s words in his head: “she’s gone, buddy.”

Randy Salazar: I mean, that’s pretty much telling you that, y’know what, I had something to do with this.

Dave Cawley: Just days after Doug’s sentencing in the rape case, the city attorney in Washington Terrace dropped all charges stemming from Doug’s June 20, 1985 DUI arrest, the one where he was caught driving drunk toward Joyce’s apartment with a loaded handgun. The prosecutor said abandoning the case would be “in interest of justice” because Doug already faced a long prison sentence. He noted there were other serious charges pending too, presumably a reference to the car theft cases out of Salt Lake City. But Doug resolved those easily. He cut a plea deal and received no additional prison time — no penalty for stealing the car he’d used to kidnap Joyce Yost.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: The Utah State Prison complex occupied a spot at the southern end of the Salt Lake Valley known as “Point of the Mountain.” It comprised several different buildings spread across a square mile of land. The oldest and in many ways most gloomy of them was the Wasatch facility. That’s where Doug began serving his time, on Wasatch’s A-block. Inmates on A-block were housed in cells with Alcatraz-style metal grill doors. This was a big change for Doug who, on his first stint at the prison from ’79 to ’82, had lived in SSD, the Special Services Dormitory.

Doug found himself housed next door to someone he’d met during those earlier years in SSD: a man named Roy “DJ” Droddy.

Roy “DJ” Droddy (from June 1986 police recording): Doug and I lived next door to each other on A Block and we become friends, reacquainted our friendship.

Dave Cawley: I’ll come back to Roy in just a moment. First, I need to acknowledge something significant Joyce’s daughter Kim Salazar had noticed during the rape trial.

Kim Salazar: Rhonda was pregnant with Doug’s baby by then. So she was starting to, y’know, look pregnant.

Dave Cawley: Rhonda Lovell worked for the state at an office in the Eccles Building in downtown Ogden. That’s where, on the morning of Wednesday, March 19, 1986, South Ogden police sergeant Brad Birch showed up to serve her with an arrest warrant. Kim had known this was coming.

Kim Salazar: I was in communication with them every day at that point.

Dave Cawley: Brad had learned about Doug and Rhonda having been questioned by a Utah Division of Wildlife Resources officer during a drive through the Monte Cristo mountains. The Rich County prosecutor had decided, on what evidence I can’t tell you, that Rhonda had been involved in poaching.

Kim Salazar: I know that they were trying to get information.

Dave Cawley: Brad told Rhonda they were going over to police headquarters to have a little chat.

Kim Salazar: Y’know, so they used this poaching as a way … to put some pressure.

Dave Cawley: Brad read Rhonda her her Miranda rights. Then, he began to pepper her with questions. This conversation was not recorded. My account of it is based on the written reports of Brad Birch and another detective, Terry Carpenter. Here’s what they said.

Rhonda said she didn’t know anything about any poaching. Doug had not shot any deer on the day of their drive and she hadn’t seen any dead animals. Doug did own a deer hunting rifle, she said — a Weatherby 300 — but she declined to mention the other guns he’d stolen with Billy Jack the prior May.

So, if Doug wasn’t up there to shoot deer, why had they gone to the mountains? Rhonda said they’d tried to go to Doug’s father’s cabin but they weren’t able to make it because they didn’t have a key for the gate. And anyway, the real purpose of their trip was to meet some friends on the far side of the mountain, in a town called Woodruff, to go snowmobiling. Who were these friends, the detectives asked. Rhonda wouldn’t — or couldn’t — provide their names.

Terry Carpenter: Y’know, we wondered about that a lot, how that happened and what went on.

Dave Cawley: Terry Carpenter’s memories of these events were a bit hazy when we spoke…

Terry Carpenter: I don’t remember all the details of that.

Dave Cawley: …which isn’t surprising considering just how long ago this took place. But that’s made it difficult to pinpoint just when the poaching stop occurred. The KSL TV archives show the winter season of ’85 had started strong in Utah.

Reporter (from November 14, 1985 KSL TV archive): It was 24 degrees at Brighton today with a 10-minute line at the Majestic ski lift.

Skier 1 (from November 14, 1985 KSL TV archive): We love it, it’s great.

Skier 2 (from November 14, 1985 KSL TV archive): It is glorious, absolutely glorious.

Reporter (from November 14, 1985 KSL TV archive): Is this the earliest you’ve ever skied?

Skier 1 (from November 14, 1985 KSL TV archive): This is the earliest I’ve ever skied, absolutely.

Dave Cawley: An intense storm had blanketed the high country with snow by mid-November.

Reporter (from November 13, 1985 KSL TV archive): Utah’s winter storm in the last two days left three feet of new snow at the Salt Lake ski resorts. It fell on top of several inches of hardpack snow already in the mountains.

Dave Cawley: So the idea Doug and Rhonda might have had a legitimate snowmobiling rendezvous planned was within the realm of possibility. But…

Reporter (from November 13, 1985 KSL TV archive): Those condition prompted a number of warnings about avalanche danger in the high country.

Unknown (from November 14, 1985 KSL TV archive): We were concerned about conditions and did ask that people stay out of the high country, that we were having problems.

Dave Cawley: …a storm this intense would have forced the Utah Department of Transportation to close the highway that crosses the Monte Cristo mountains.

The available evidence suggests Doug and Rhonda’s Monte Cristo drive happened after Joyce disappeared in mid-August but before the road was blocked with snow in mid-November. That period spanned Utah’s bow and rifle deer hunting seasons, when wildlife officers were on high alert for poachers.

I described Rhonda’s encounter with one such officer in the last episode.

Terry Carpenter: He drove past and noticed that Rhonda was in the car.

Dave Cawley: By herself. A short time later, the same officer had spotted Rhonda in the car again, but accompanied by a man. He’d stopped to talk to her again and Rhonda had claimed Doug was just a hitchhiker. But here, under the scrutiny of the South Ogden detectives, Rhonda had a different explanation for why she’d been alone when the wildlife officer had first approached her.

Terry Carpenter: Doug was out of the car for a minute going to the bathroom.

Dave Cawley: She’d been too embarrassed, she said, to explain this. Terry suspected a different reason for the discrepancy.

Terry Carpenter: It became apparent that she was afraid to say too much around Doug.

Dave Cawley: Brad warned Rhonda if she did not come clean, she was headed to jail. Not the Weber County Jail there in Ogden. They were going to take her way out to Randolph, on the other side of the mountains, an hour and a half drive away.

“Well, let’s go,” Rhonda said.

Terry Carpenter: Rhonda was seven or eight months pregnant. And so we transported her and tried in about every way to help her as much as we could.

Dave Cawley: I have a copy of the jail booking records. Rhonda is smiling in her mugshot. But she would later describe being miserable that night: 27 years old, husband in prison, several months pregnant, flat on her back on the floor of the jail.

Terry Carpenter: So that was my first contact with Rhonda.

Dave Cawley: The court scheduled a hearing for May 13th on the poaching charge. Rhonda was ordered to appear, along with Brad Birch and Doug, who had to be transported up to Randolph from the state prison. Doug and Rhonda were reunited.

They went before the Rich County Circuit Court judge together. Doug told the judge he intended to act as their lawyer and he wanted to call his wife to testify. This was all a bit much for a minor poaching citation. The judge dismissed the case on the spot.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Utah’s minimum mandatory sentencing law was putting the state’s Department of Corrections in a pinch. The agency had only one prison in ’86 and it was fast running out of space. Planning was underway for a second prison, but as a stopgap the state began shipping some inmates out to county jails.

Roy “DJ” Droddy, who I mentioned a few minutes ago, was among them. He ended up in Duchesne County, home to Utah’s highest mountain peaks, hundreds of natural gas wells and a whole lot of dust and sagebrush. Roy hadn’t been there long before he reached out to South Ogden police. He claimed to have information about the disappearance of Joyce Yost.

Brad Birch drove out to the Duchesne County Jail on June 4, 1986 to talk with Roy.

Brad Birch (from June 1986 police recording): And Roy, what we talked to you about is your involvement with a Mr. Doug Lovell, is that right?

Roy “DJ” Droddy (from June 1986 police recording): Correct.

Dave Cawley: Roy told Brad Doug had enlisted his help drafting legal documents for an appeal. They’d discussed Joyce Yost.

Roy “DJ” Droddy (from June 1986 police recording): He told me that, ah, that that was the young lady he was accused of raping and kidnapping, back in April of ’85 and, ah, in August, ah, he killed her.

Brad Birch (from June 1986 police recording): He made that statement to you?

Roy “DJ” Droddy (from June 1986 police recording): Yes.

Dave Cawley: Roy said Doug had denied raping Joyce, but admitted killing her.

Brad Birch (from June 1986 police recording): Did he say how he killed her?

Roy “DJ” Droddy (from June 1986 police recording): No, he did not.

Brad Birch (from June 1986 police recording): Did he say where?

Roy “DJ” Droddy (from June 1986 police recording): No, he did not.

Brad Birch (from June 1986 police recording): Did he say that anyone was with him at that time?

Roy “DJ” Droddy (from June 1986 police recording): No, he did not.

Dave Cawley: The only real clue Roy was able to provide dealt with what he said were Doug’s efforts to conceal Joyce’s body.

Brad Birch (from June 1986 police recording): In talking about moving the body, when did he say that that happened?

Roy “DJ” Droddy (from June 1986 police recording): Uh, in November, when he was, ah, he was stopped in November for poaching and it was during that time that he moved the body.

Dave Cawley: The poaching stop at Monte Cristo. The details of that were not public knowledge.

Brad Birch (from June 1986 police recording): And he said that he was stopped by fish and game officer?

Roy “DJ” Droddy (from June 1986 police recording): Yes, ah, his wife was stopped and questioned first, and he was not in the vehicle. And the fish and game stopped him a second time, in which he was in the vehicle. He had just come from moving the body.

Dave Cawley: Roy said he hadn’t just learned this from Doug. He’d also heard it from Rhonda herself. They’d talked on the phone about it during the three weeks since the court hearing in the poaching case.

Brad Birch (from June 1986 police recording): Do you think that she knew he was moving the body when they were there originally?

Roy “DJ” Droddy (from June 1986 police recording): In my conversations with her she said no, that she didn’t know, that she thought he was out going to the bathroom or having a bowel movement. She did not know that he was moving the body. I had known because Doug had told me previous to that, but Rhonda did not tell me until, ah, after she had been in jail.

Dave Cawley: Roy’s story, if true, would mean Joyce’s body was in the Monte Cristo Mountains about 30 miles northeast of Ogden. At that very time, in early June, the last bits of winter snow would’ve been melting off those mountain slopes.

I’ve not found any records showing police followed up on this lead. Terry Carpenter told me they tried, but said the information was simply too vague and the Monte Cristo region too vast.

Roy said he’d be willing to testify if the police could ensure his safety. Doug was a dangerous man who’d expressed a desire to have somebody else killed.

Roy “DJ” Droddy (from June 1986 police recording): Right. An officer by the name of John Holtman.

Brad Birch (from June 1986 police recording): Something like that.

Roy “DJ” Droddy (from June 1986 police recording): Right. Right, correct.

Dave Cawley: There’s no person in this story named John Holtman. But to my ear, John Holtman sounds reasonably close to Bill Holthaus, the Clearfield detective who’d arrested Doug the morning after the rape.

Brad Birch (from June 1986 police recording): Do you think he still has the ax to grind against that officer?

Roy “DJ” Droddy (from June 1986 police recording): Yes.

Brad Birch (from June 1986 police recording): Do you think he still would do that if he had the opportunity?

Roy “DJ” Droddy (from June 1986 police recording): Yeah. Because, ah, Doug feels he’s lost a lot and uh, will continue to lose and he feels that the person responsible is this officer Holtman and he’s very bitter towards him.

Dave Cawley: I mentioned this to Bill.

Bill Holthaus: Disappointed he didn’t know my name, but— (Laughs)

Dave Cawley: Grateful, disappointed.

Bill Holthaus: Just maybe a little bit.

Dave Cawley: Bill remembered getting a warning from Brad about a possible threat.

Bill Holthaus: It never came to any fruition. I was apparently, y’know, for sure I was a lot more careful after that for awhile. It went away like everything else. It’s not the first time that a law enforcement officer’s been threatened.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Doug Lovell wanted off A-block. He requested a transfer from the prison’s Wasatch facility to SSD. SSD inmates lived under less restrictive security, qualified for additional recreation time, had a greater array of employment opportunities available and so forth. Space in SSD was limited though and reserved for inmates who were taking part in its programs. Those included sex offender treatment and mental health support for offenders with intellectual disabilities. Doug didn’t have an intellectual disability. He was still publicly denying having raped Joyce, so he couldn’t exactly apply for sex offender treatment. Instead, his stated reason for application to SSD was depression.

Doug Lovell (from recorded phone call): I was uh, I had a very, very low self esteem. I didn’t like myself, I still really don’t. There’s a lot of times I just, for the most part, I just hated me. I hated me and I resented people that, um, that cared a lot about me.

Dave Cawley: That’s Doug’s own voice, captured in a phone call to Rhonda. The prison at the time classified inmates as one of three personality types: Kappa, Sigma or Omega. That correlated to predator, victim or neutral. Doug was a predator-type.

Doug Lovell (from recorded phone call): I’m really a proud person in the sense that I don’t like exposing myself to people and I don’t like letting people, I don’t like telling somebody that I have a problem.

Dave Cawley: Prison staff approved his request and moved him into SSD in the summer of ’87. He began seeing a therapist there, a young woman named Kate Della-Piana.

Doug Lovell (from recorded phone call): When I first started seeing her, y’know, I says ‘y’know, Kate,’ I says, ‘y’know, I feel really bad about, y’know, the first few months that we spent together because I was blowing smoke up your butt.’ She says, ‘I know you were.’ She says ‘it was about to end, too.’

Dave Cawley: Kate did not respond to my interview request for this podcast. Doug also reconnected with an old friend in SSD: Tom Peters. This audio is tough to make out, coming off a very old analog tape, but listen close and you’ll hear Tom say SSD had a good atmosphere and he was able to help inmates with lower ability levels than his own.

Tom Peters (from September 1991 police recording): SSD is a very good atmosphere. It’s mental health. And I’m a psych, I work with the guys who are on the lower ability level than my own, you know? So I work with these guys. It’s very comfortable.

Dave Cawley: Tom had returned to prison in the spring of ’87 on a new set of theft cases. He and Doug often spent their rec time together playing tennis or lifting weights. They didn’t talk about what had happened to Joyce Yost.

Doug kept those kinds of secrets close.

Tom Peters (from September 1991 police recording): God only knows the things he’s done, you know?

Dave Cawley: So it surprised Tom when he started seeing Doug leaving those therapy sessions with Kate Della-Piana.

Tom Peters (from September 1991 police recording): When he goes to therapy with her he’s come out, you know, crying before. He says he’s talking about his brother’s death.

Dave Cawley: Royce’s death was a topic Doug rarely discussed.

Doug Lovell (from recorded phone call): I was caught in between y’know Royce and a lot of situations. Even after he died, I was still, situations that he left me with. Left on my shoulders. And uh, when Royce was around he helped me deal with things, sometimes by not even talking about it. But he was there.

Dave Cawley: Doug had never even been candid about his brother’s death with Rhonda.

Doug Lovell (from recorded phone call): Sometimes when you have secrets, you spend so much time and energy in trying to hide them.

Dave Cawley: Rhonda visited Doug at the prison regularly, bringing the kids Cody and Alisha with her. Only then, in their separation, had Doug started to see Rhonda as his best friend.

Doug Lovell (from recorded phone call): I never thought I’d see that in a woman. And I never realized, y’know, up until now, until lately through my therapy just what the hell, what the hell I had out there.

Dave Cawley: There is another person Doug came to know around this same time, but you couldn’t call him a friend. His name was Carl Jacobson. Carl had taken a job as a corrections officer at the prison in ’83, just as he was turning 22 years old. His first assignment was on A-block, but he transferred to SSD midway through ’86, placing him there shortly before Doug arrived.

Carl’s duties in SSD included sitting in on group therapy sessions for inmates in the Merit Two program, which is what Doug joined when he arrived at SSD in ’87. Carl found Doug easy to manage. He would stop by Doug’s bunk when making his rounds each evening and they’d watch the 6 o’clock news together. Doug, in turn, learned Carl was someone he could safely feed information to when the situation warranted. A symbiotic relationship.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Roy City police dispatcher Betty Nicholas was at work on Friday, April 3, 1987, when, just after noon, she took a phone call. The caller, a man, told Betty he had found a body. He was an avid hiker, he said, and had been back in an area where few people go.

Betty asked the man’s name. He refused to give it, saying he didn’t want to get wrapped up in anything. She reassured him he wasn’t in any trouble, she just needed more information, like an address. All he would say was the body was decayed. 

Betty urged the man to call the Weber County Sheriff’s Office, the agency responsible for cases outside of city limits. She told him there were several missing women from the area whom police were eager to find. A little later that same afternoon, Weber County Sheriff’s dispatcher Sheli Tracy received a call from the same man.

Anonymous caller (from April 3, 1987 police recording): I called about Crimestoppers, the number.

Dave Cawley: He wanted information on how to get in touch with Crimestoppers, an organization that allows people to submit anonymous tips.

Anonymous caller (from April 3, 1987 police recording): Well what it, what it, what it was, I’m reporting a body that I found.

Sheli Tracy (from April 3, 1987 police recording): Mmmhmm.

Anonymous caller (from April 3, 1987 police recording): Huh?

Sheli Tracy (from April 3, 1987 police recording): A body?

Anonymous caller (from April 3, 1987 police recording): Yeah, a body that I, that I just just happened across. Way up, you know, it’s way out, y’know it’s not in the communities or anything. It’s way out in the hills.

Dave Cawley: The man said he’d parked his car near Causey Dam, an impoundment on the South Fork of the Ogden River about 20 miles east of Ogden, and hiked two or three miles back into the mountains behind the reservoir. That’s where he’d found the body.

Anonymous caller (from April 3, 1987 police recording): There was a purse there.

Sheli Tracy (from April 3, 1987 police recording): There was, was it a lady?

Anonymous caller (from April 3, 1987 police recording): Well I assume the body was a lady’s but I didn’t open the purse or anything.

Sheli Tracy (from April 3, 1987 police recording): Can I get your name?

Anonymous caller (from April 3, 1987 police recording): No, I’m not interested in leading search parties.

Dave Cawley: Sheli told the man she just needed his name and number so she could have an officer call him, to gather more specific information. He refused.

Sheli Tracy (from April 3, 1987 police recording): Can you explain to me where it’s at?

Anonymous caller (from April 3, 1987 police recording): Well, if you had half an hour.

Dave Cawley: The man said he’d been in the area searching for “sediments” and would have to use a specialized geologic map to pinpoint the spot.

Sheli Tracy (from April 3, 1987 police recording):  You won’t give me your name?

Anonymous caller (from April 3, 1987 police recording): I, I, I’m just reporting it. Of, of course not. I didn’t have anything to do with it, you know?

Dave Cawley: Sheli asked if he would wait on hold just long enough for her to grab an investigator. He agreed, but hung up before she returned to the call moments later.

Let tell you a bit about Causey Reservoir. Causey is surrounded by mountain ridges that rise 1,000, 2,000, almost 3,000 feet above the water’s surface. Beyond the reservoir and between the ridges are several canyons, the bottoms of which are thick with vegetation.

These canyons are cut in a 180-degree arc — from 12 to 6 on the face of a clock. Wheatgrass Canyon is at the top and Skull Crack Canyon is at the bottom. Wheatgrass ascends all the way to the base of Monte Cristo — the mountain near where Doug and Rhonda were suspected of poaching.

Skull Crack is home to a private cabin community called Causey Estates. The summer homes there are scattered among stands of quaking aspen and are only accessible through a locked gate. Between Wheatgrass and Skull Crack, to the east, are a series of canyons and ridges rarely visited except by hunters and ranchers. The anonymous caller had not indicated which of these canyons held the remains.

That didn’t stop sheriffs deputies from searching. They went out five days after the anonymous call and combed the area around Causey Dam with no results.

A month later, police in Ogden arrested a man named Cary Hartmann in connection with a series of four rapes committed in 1986 and early ’87.

Larry Lewis (from KSL TV archive): Prosecutors say their key evidence in the case against Hartmann are statements he made to police at the time of his arrest, information from police lab tests and a victim’s testimony.

Dave Cawley: Cary had previously worked as a reserve officer for the Ogden Police Department. Investigators had also discovered he’d been dating Sheree Warren at the time of her disappearance in October of ’85.

Larry Lewis (from KSL TV archive): She was last seen leaving her job at a credit union in Salt Lake to meet her estranged husband at a downtown auto dealership.

Dave Cawley: I mentioned Sheree in the last episode. Police at the time considered both Cary Hartmann and Sheree’s estranged husband, Charles, persons of interest. After Cary’s arrest on the rape charge, Ogden police Captain Marlin Balls phoned Weber County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Archie Smith with a tantalizing lead. A witness claimed to have seen Cary at Causey Estates the weekend after Sheree vanished.

Ball suggested the body the anonymous caller had found could be Sheree. So investigators visited Causey again on June 20, 1987. This time, they focused on the canyon adjacent to Causey Estates but again didn’t find anything. A few months later, a jury convicted Cary Hartmann in the first of the rape cases.

Larry Lewis (from KSL TV archive): The guilty verdict brought tears to family members and even some jurors in the courtroom. The victim agreed to shed her cloak of anonymity and talk with reporters about her feelings, she said as a way to help other rape victims.

Victim (from KSL TV archive): I think if I have the strength to finally be on camera that maybe it will give other people strength through me.

Dave Cawley: Cary Hartmann headed to the Utah State Prison on a sentence of 15-to-life, just like Doug Lovell. And, like Doug, he landed in SSD.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Doug kept his appellate attorney, David Grindstaff, busy during that summer of ’87. Doug still owed on the loan he’d taken out against his stolen Mazda. But responsibility for making those payments had fallen on Rhonda.

Susan Yerage (from 1992 police recording): He was in prison and she couldn’t make, she was gonna have a rough time making payments on it. Especially with the kids.

Dave Cawley: That is Susan, the loan officer who Doug had showered with yellow roses at the beginning of our story. She worked with Rhonda in arranging payments.

Susan Yerage (from 1992 police recording): She got really upset and she said that they were gonna file bankruptcy, which they did.

Dave Cawley: She worked with Rhonda in arranging payments. The appellate attorney, David Grindstaff handled that bankruptcy case. At the same time, David put together a brief for the Utah Supreme Court arguing Doug had been wrongly convicted.

He raised seven points on appeal. First, David said the testimony of Sharon Gess about having been stalked by a red car car with flip-up lights had prejudiced the jury. Second, he said the trial court had given the jury bad instructions regarding venue. Third, he took issue with Judge Rodney Page’s decision to tell the jurors Joyce had been missing for two months. Fourth, he said the prosecution hadn’t established chain-of-custody regarding Joyce’s dress, pantyhose, bra and the blue men’s shirt which were all admitted as evidence. Fifth, he said the sentence was too harsh because the state hadn’t proved Doug’s attack on Joyce rose to the level of “extreme cruelty and depravity” required by the law. Sixth, he said Doug’s trial attorney — John Hutchison — had failed to object to all of the above, meaning Doug was denied effective counsel. And seventh, he said the use of Joyce’s testimony during the trial had deprived Doug of his right to confront the witnesses against him.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office disputed every point. The Utah Supreme Court scheduled oral arguments for December 14, 1987. Rhonda wrote a letter to her husband a couple of weeks before that date. Here’s what it said.

Saige Miller (as Rhonda Lovell): I sure do miss you, honey. I want you home so bad. I can’t stand it. I love you so much. Baby, you are the best. … I hope the appeal will turn out good. I’m excited to go see what it will be like. I hope they hurry with the decision so I can get you home where you belong.

Dave Cawley: On the day of the oral arguments, Brian Namba sat and listened as David Grindstaff made his presentation to the justices.

Brian Namba: He called it a ‘garden variety rape.’

Dave Cawley: A garden variety rape. The comment caught the attention of Justice Christine Durham, the first and at the time only female justice on Utah’s highest court.

Brian Namba: I thought she was going to jump over the bench and strangle him for calling it a garden variety rape.

Dave Cawley: Oh, he said that in oral argument?

Brian Namba: Yeah.

Dave Cawley: Brian told me he’d suspected Doug would try to downplay the callousness of the rape in his inevitable appeal.

Brian Namba: That’s why I filed a written statement, so that it would be in the record and always looking towards appeal and having the Supreme Court be able to have a tangible piece of paper with a list on it of things that are limited to the status of the rape and does not include anything having to do with potential murder.

Dave Cawley: Brian hadn’t wanted the Supreme Court thinking Doug was being punished for killing Joyce, even though he’d only been convicted of kidnapping and sexually assaulting her. On the flip side, the fact Doug had not yet been charged with Joyce’s murder festered like an open wound for her family.

Randy Salazar: Kim is not satisfied with the rape.

Dave Cawley: Joyce’s daughter Kim Salazar and her husband Randy had kept hounding sergeant Brad Birch.

Randy Salazar: Kim is so frustrated ‘cause every time she calls, y’know, there’s nothing they’ve got.

Dave Cawley: They weren’t the only ones in the dark. Detective Bill Holthaus often bumped into Joyce’s sister Dorothy and her kids around town.

Bill Holthaus: Y’know, I was approached a lot, let’s put it that way. ‘What’s going on, what’s going on, what’s going on?’

Dave Cawley: Bill didn’t have anything to tell them. South Ogden police were investigating the disappearance, not Clearfield, and they weren’t sharing information.

[Ad break]

Dave Cawley: South Ogden police Sergeant Brad Birch promoted to lieutenant at the end of 1987. The move meant he no longer led the investigation into Joyce Yost’s disappearance.

Kim Salazar: My communication with them obviously became less and less over the years.

Dave Cawley: Kim Salazar had kept in touch with Brad and the rest of the detectives, including Terry Carpenter…

Kim Salazar: They were helpful, they were honest I think.

Terry Carpenter: But we were still at a loss as to what’d happened to Joyce.

Randy Salazar: Y’know, Kim’s on this all the time. Kim was constantly calling these guys. Seeing if they found anything out, seeing if they found anything out.

Dave Cawley: Kim and her husband Randy believed they knew right where Joyce’s killer was — the Utah State Prison — even if police couldn’t prove it.

Randy Salazar: But he is cocky down there. He’s very cocky.

Dave Cawley: Terry Carpenter soon moved in to the position Brad Birch had held before him.

Terry Carpenter: I was actually promoted to the detective sergeant and inherited the case.

Dave Cawley: Terry was an Ogden native. He’d attended Weber State College and had been inspired to pursue a career as a police officer by an older brother. He was 15 years into that career by the time he took over the Joyce Yost case.

Kim Salazar: Things had gotten very stagnant until he took over.

Terry Carpenter: Not that anybody had done anything wrong. They’d exhausted about everything that they could.

Dave Cawley: Terry didn’t have much of a direction to follow, at least at first. That changed a few months later, in March of ’88, when Terry received an unexpected phone call from a woman who wanted to remain anonymous.

“George” (from March 1988 police recording): Why don’t you, uh, why don’t you give me the name George.

Terry Carpenter (from March 1988 police recording): George. Ok. I don’t have a problem with that at all.

Dave Cawley: “George” wanted a few details about the Joyce Yost case…

“George” (from March 1988 police recording): She had blonde hair and that she was raped.

Terry Carpenter (from March 1988 police recording): That’s correct.

Dave Cawley: …and asked if it remained an open investigation.

“George” (from March 1988 police recording): Ok, why is the case open?

Terry Carpenter (from March 1988 police recording): Why is it open?

“George” (from March 1988 police recording): Uh huh.

Terry Carpenter (from March 1988 police recording): ‘Cause we’ve never been able to conclude any kind of a location or a whereabouts.

Dave Cawley: “George” said she was speaking with another woman who’d possibly witnessed Joyce’s murder. She wanted an assurance of anonymity.

“George” (from March 1988 police recording): Now I’m getting a little paranoid ok, so—

Terry Carpenter (from March 1988 police recording): I’m under—

“George” (from March 1988 police recording): Why am I paranoid? You won’t put a tracer on this call, will you?

Terry Carpenter (from March 1988 police recording): I understand that completely. That’s—

“George” (from March 1988 police recording): Are you comfortable with that?

Terry Carpenter (from March 1988 police recording): Yes.

“George” (from March 1988 police recording): Ok.

Dave Cawley: Terry told “George” any information she might have could prove valuable.

“George” (from March 1988 police recording): She was murdered by some, a friend of the guy that raped her, who paid someone to kill her. And she was, she was tortured, and umm, killed in a satanic ritual.

Dave Cawley: She said Joyce’s body had then been burned and scattered.

“George” (from March 1988 police recording): Right now I can’t give you any more information. Although, umm, this person said they, they’d be willing to talk to you some time in the future.

Dave Cawley: Terry said he’d do whatever it took to protect this witness, if she would just come forward. George said that couldn’t happen, yet.

“George” (from March 1988 police recording): And I appreciate your kindness.

Terry Carpenter (from March 1988 police recording): Well, thank you. I appreciate your calling.

“George” (from March 1988 police recording): Ok, bye.

Terry Carpenter (from March 1988 police recording): Alright, bye now.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: On July 14, 1988, the Utah Supreme Court issued its decision on Doug’s appeal. The five justices were unanimous. They dismissed every single one of his claims. Chief Justice Gordon Hall authored the opinion, in which he made direct reference to the statement from Doug’s attorney that the rape of Joyce Yost had been of the “garden variety.”

Brian Namba: That was a big mistake on his part. (Laughs). Justice Durham, I thought, boy if looks could kill. I’ve never seen her so mad. (Laughs)

Dave Cawley: That again is Brian Namba, the prosecutor from the rape case. The chief justice wrote there was ample evidence in the record of Doug’s pattern of criminal behavior, as well as his extreme cruelty toward Joyce, to justify the two sentences of 15-to-life. Vindication for Brian, who’d made sure to include those details in his motions. It’d proven tricky, since he’d also had to avoid implying Doug was responsible for Joyce’s disappearance.

Brian Namba: But that’s sort of my strategy is to try to take some of that incendiary stuff out of it, y’know, because you’ve got to keep the record clean. … And so they can look at it and say, ‘Well maybe he did, but here’s all this other stuff that justifies what happened.’

Dave Cawley: The specter of Doug winning release came off the table, much to the relief of Joyce’s family and South Ogden police.

Kim Salazar: We knew he wasn’t going anywhere, so they had time.

Dave Cawley: Did they though? Doug still had two paths to freedom open to him. One went through the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole, where he’d once before won an early release. The other went through the federal courts.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Weber County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Archie Smith had an idea. In September of ’88, he wrote a letter to a man named Murry Miron. Here’s what the letter said.

Ethan Millard (as Lt. Archie Smith): Dear Mr. Miron, I recently attended a psychological profiling course in Salt Lake City, Utah. The instructor … suggested that you are an expert in language analysis and may be able to assist us in a criminal homicide case.

Dave Cawley: Miron held a Ph.D in psycholinguistics, the intersection of how we speak or write and how we think. In the letter, Smith told the story of the caller who’d reported finding human remains near Causey in April of ’87.

Ethan Millard (as Lt. Archie Smith): The caller would not identify himself and we attempted through the news media to try to get the caller to call again with negative results. We searched the area three times with a large force and were still unable to locate a body.

Dave Cawley: Miron is deceased now, but had worked as a professor at Syracuse University and had advised the FBI on several high-profile cases, including the Patty Hearst kidnapping and the Son of Sam serial killings. He claimed an ability to psychoanalyze a person based on little more than their diction and dialect.

Ethan Millard (as Lt. Archie Smith): I am sending to you a copy of the conversation of the caller with our dispatcher, maybe you can tell us a little about the person and how we can go about locating him.

Dave Cawley: Miron’s response came about six weeks later. Here’s what he wrote:

Alex Kirry (as Murray Miron): It is my evaluation that the caller is a high-school educated, white male approximately between the ages of 45 and 60. The dialect markers are consistent with those of a native of the Northwestern United States.

Dave Cawley: Miron said the caller’s claims had the “texture of truthfulness,” with the exception of the statements about his identity.

Alex Kirry (as Murray Miron): In my judgement, the caller did discover a body in an advanced state of decomposition sufficient to have masked the sex of the victim, but is misrepresenting his purposes for being in the area in which he found the body. It is not likely that he was searching for ‘sediments.’

Dave Cawley: Maybe, Miron said, the caller lived nearby or was working on some sort of geological survey. But he said a government employee wouldn’t show so much hesitation in assisting the authorities. It didn’t seem he had any reason for avoiding interaction with the police, beyond the disruption to his daily routine. Miron said appeals to the caller’s conscience would likely fail.

Alex Kirry (as Murray Miron): The caller evidences little moral outrage or indication regarding the fate of the victim or interest in seeing her killer brought to justice. Instead, he appears to be motivated by the pragmatic concern of making the most minimal effort which will discharge what he perceives to be his only nominal civic responsibilities.

Dave Cawley: Miron suggested police play clips of the tape on the news…

Larry Lewis (from KSL TV archive): Investigators believe the body could be that of either Sheree Warren or Joyce Yost, two Weber County women who mysteriously disappeared in 1985 and are presumed murdered.

Dave Cawley: …along with reassurances they did not believe the caller was guilty of any crime.

Lt. Archie Smith (from KSL TV archive): We believe that he did in fact find a body and we desperately need him to lead us to that body.

Larry Lewis (from KSL TV archive): But that may be difficult.

Dave Cawley: Archie Smith enlisted the help of Utah Crime Solvers in putting together this public service announcement which also aired on television that winter.

Terry Pepper (from Crime Solvers segment): The caller stated that he had parked in the Causey Dam area up Ogden Canyon and had hiked two to three miles back into the mountains. While there he discovered the decomposed remains of a body. Because of a purse he found near the body the victim is believed to be a female.

Dave Cawley: The Crime Solvers segment involved a re-enactment of the body’s discovery, along with another plea for help.

Terry Shaw (from Crime Solvers segment): The caller’s description of the area where the body was located was very vague. Several searches of the area have proven unsuccessful. We need to hear from that caller or anyone who can identify the voice of the caller, if only for the sake of the victim’s family.

Dave Cawley: Utah Crime Solvers offered a reward for information about the location of the body or the identity of the anonymous caller. It did not help. The caller never came forward. To this day, he’s not been identified and the remains near Causey have not been located or recovered.

It’s worth noting though the call came in on April 3rd, two years to the day after Doug’s initial attack on Joyce outside her apartment. And more importantly, Doug — who often watched the 6 o’clock news with prison guard Carl Jacobson — saw the Crime Solvers segment.

Terry Pepper (from Crime Solvers segment): Call Crime Solvers about this or any criminal activity. You will remain anonymous.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Rhonda Lovell continued writing her husband letters through the spring of ’89.

Saige Miller (as Rhonda Lovell): It’s just not the same with you not with us. Doug, I love you with all my heart and soul and I never want us to be apart from each other. I would die without you Doug. Us and the kids are one and we can never break that.

Dave Cawley: Doug had a job working in the prison sign shop. He didn’t earn much, but he sent her something every month.

Saige Miller (as Rhonda Lovell): I really appreciate the money you send to us. It helps out so much, honey. I don’t know how I’d survive if you didn’t send money.

Dave Cawley: Rhonda talked about how quickly the kids were growing.

Saige Miller (as Rhonda Lovell): I’ve been thinking about you extra today. We cooked hamburgers and hotdogs outside and it brought back a lot of memories. … It seems like yesterday when you were out on the deck cooking hamburgers for us. What I’d give to have it like that again. We were so happy, so carefree and alive.

Dave Cawley: All of this wistful talk over the idea of Doug winning his freedom. But with every passing month, it became more clear that wasn’t going to happen quickly, if at all. Doug’s therapist, Kate Della-Piana, had reached what seemed a breakthrough during summer of ’89. She’d managed to get Doug talking about the death of his brother, Royce.

Doug Lovell (from recorded phone call): Royce was a very cold person and uh, he was very brutal with certain situations and I never could be like that but yet I tried to be.

Dave Cawley: But Kate was moving on from that position at the prison. Rhonda noticed that with Kate’s departure, her husband’s tone changed.

Saige Miller (as Rhonda Lovell): Why don’t you ever talk about Royce anymore? Just because you don’t see Kate anymore doesn’t mean you don’t talk about it anymore. Please don’t shut me out again, okay? Please talk to me, baby.

Dave Cawley: Rhonda had by then waited four years for Doug to come home. It proved too much. She wrote Doug another letter at the end of that year, telling him she intended to move on with her life. Doug shared Rhonda’s “Dear John” letter with Kate as she was arranging his hand-off to a different therapist.

Doug Lovell (from recorded phone call): She says I, I got a feeling that, y’know, maybe you and Rhonda will get back together. And she looks at me, kinda hoping, y’know that kind of innocent look on her face. And I says, ‘I don’t know.’ I says, ‘Y’know, I kind of think, y’know, that it’s possible that maybe too much has happened between us.’

Dave Cawley: Rhonda had hired an attorney. It turned out to be Steve Kaufman, the man whose band Joyce Yost had gone to see on the last night of her life. Rhonda filed for divorce in late December. In an affidavit, she cited “irreconcilable differences” rising from her husband’s incarceration. She wrote until the divorce was granted, Doug would have “a tendency to feel that he has a strong hold.”

Doug did not contest the divorce. He agreed to pay child support and gave up any claim on their shared property. He only asked that Rhonda hand over his clothing and his bedroom furniture, including his waterbed. By March of 1990, Rhonda Lovell reverted to Rhonda Buttars.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Doug and Rhonda had been divorced for only two months when, in May of ’90, a man named Drew Dunifer dropped by a pawn shop on Ogden’s 25th Street. He brought two guns with him: one rifle and one shotgun. The shop, called 25th Street Pawn, gave Drew $300 for the shotgun.

A few weeks later, an Ogden detective stopped by 25th Street Pawn. He checked the shotgun’s serial number. It came back as stolen out of the town of Liberty five years earlier. It was one of the guns taken from the house of Cody Montgomery, Sr. You might remember Cody’s wife, Karen, described that burglary a couple of episodes back.

Weber County Sheriff’s detective Jeff Malan went to 25th Street Pawn several days later and seized the shotgun. The statute of limitations had expired, meaning even if Jeff could figure out who’d stolen the shotgun, he wouldn’t be able to secure criminal charges. Still, he had a duty to return the gun to its rightful owner. And of course, he wanted to figure out how the gun had ended up at the pawn shop.

The shop’s records included Drew Dunifer’s contact information. Jeff worked backward from there. Drew did not respond when I reached out to request an interview, so I can only tell you what the detective’s report and handwritten notes show.

They say Drew told Jeff the gun had belonged to the son of the woman he was then dating. Her ex-husband had bought the shotgun from another pawn shop — The Gift House — in early ’86. When this girlfriend and her ex divorced later that year, the ex had given the shotgun to her son. The woman and her son had subsequently moved in with Drew. That’s how he came to possess the shotgun.

I need to be clear: there’s no suggestion Drew did anything wrong here.

Who had pawned the shotgun the first time, at The Gift House? No one could say.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: The fifth anniversary of Joyce’s disappearance came in August of 1990 with no break in the investigation. But the anniversary brought with it fresh news coverage which breathed new life into an old lead. A bit earlier, I talked about how Sergeant Terry Carpenter had received an anonymous call in March of ’88. The caller had said Joyce’d died in a satanic ritual.

“George” (from March 1988 police recording): And then her body was burned.

Terry Carpenter (from March 1988 police recording): Her body was burned. Hmm. Do you know where this occurred at all?

“George” (from March 1988 police recording): Actually, I don’t.

Dave Cawley: Nothing much had come of that tip, until those news reports around the fifth anniversary. A different woman saw them and reached out to Terry.

Terry Carpenter (from August 1990 police recording): She wishes to explain some of the circumstances that she is aware of involving Joyce Yost. Is that correct?

“Kay” (from August 1990 police recording): Yes.

Terry Carpenter (from August 1990 police recording): Okay.

Dave Cawley: Terry agreed to give this woman anonymity.

Terry Carpenter (from August 1990 police recording): Ah, the other promise that I’ll make you is that when it comes times that we may want your testimony in court, I’ll clarify that with you before we reveal who you are.

Dave Cawley: I’m aware of this woman’s identity but have not had a chance to speak with her myself. As a result, I’m going to honor Terry’s promise of anonymity. I will simply call her “Kay.” Kay told Terry a convoluted story about a friend of hers, a woman named Barbara, who was part of a satanic coven.

“Kay” (from August 1990 police recording): She never went into detail. I know that she still had a goblet and candles and things that they used to use. They used to meet there at this house all the time.

Terry Carpenter (from August 1990 police recording): At the same house?

“Kay” (from August 1990 police recording): Yes.

Dave Cawley: The leader of the coven was supposedly a friend of Doug Lovell’s. Kay said Bee told her this friend had agreed to kill Joyce on Doug’s behalf.

Terry Carpenter (from August 1990 police recording): Did she say how they killed her?

“Kay” (from August 1990 police recording): She said beat, tortured, raped and stabbed.

Dave Cawley: Then, Kay said, the coven had driven Joyce’s body up Weber Canyon and disposed of it along an old dirt road.

“Kay” (from August 1990 police recording): Barbara said that she took her necklace off that she had been wearing and put it on the body. That it was the Italian, you know, the horn style, that style of necklace that was really big in the disco era. That she had put that on the body and that Joyce’s purse had been left with the body.

Dave Cawley: Kay’s account fell right in line with what that caller who’d asked to be identified as “George” had said in ’88, giving the bizarre story an air of credibility. But this claim of a ritualistic killing was also right in line with the popular media of the day.

Jane Clayson (from KSL TV archive): In the last four years, the Utah Attorney General’s Office says it has received dozens of reports of ritualistic abuse. Investigators say it exists, but it’s hard to prove.

Dave Cawley: A full discussion of the so-called “satanic panic” craze of the ‘80s and ‘90s is beyond the scope of this podcast, but prominent figures in media  — including Oprah Winfrey and Geraldo Rivera — were around this time broadcasting specials about the perceived dangers posed by satanic cults.

Jane Clayson (from KSL TV archive): But some experts say incidents of ritualistic worship and abuse in Utah are not widespread.

Unknown (from KSL TV archive): It happens, not to the degree people generally claim that it does and I think it often happens in response to publicity.

Dave Cawley: Terry did not dismiss the account, whatever his personal skepticism.

Terry Carpenter (from August 1990 police recording): This, ah, cult or this coven he was involved with, were there other people that participated the night that the killing took place? Except these that you’ve named?

“Kay” (from August 1990 police recording): Only, I don’t know.

Dave Cawley: Kay offered to take Terry out to the house where the coven met. It sat next to a large gravel pit near the mouth of Weber Canyon, about five miles south of Joyce’s apartment. Terry was intrigued. He told news reporters he’d received information from an informant who said Joyce Yost had “met with violence.” The Deseret News published a story with the headline “Clues may aid in Ogden case.”

Terry Carpenter: You want to either prove or disprove every possible lead that you can come on.

Dave Cawley: Terry soon identified and located the woman at the center of the coven claim, Barbara. Terry began meeting with Barbara, attempting to get more information.

Barbara (from April 1990 police recording): I didn’t do anything, I was just there. I didn’t do anything.

Terry Carpenter (from April 1990 police recording): Okay.

Barbara (from April 1990 police recording): And I don’t even know what was done.

Terry Carpenter (from April 1990 police recording):  Listen to me. If that’s accurate and that’s the case, then I have no doubt in my mind that the county attorney will grant you immunity.

Dave Cawley: Terry discovered the call from “George” in ’88 had come from Barbara’s psychologist. While in therapy, she’d recovered a memory of a ritualistic murder. She claimed to have once seen a petite blonde-haired woman dismembered by men in black robes.

Terry Carpenter: She believed for all the world that Joyce was one of the sacrifices that her father was involved with and that Joyce was sacrificed and disposed of.

Dave Cawley: But the story seemed to shift with each telling.

Barbara (from April 1990 police recording): How’s it going to look when I’m on the witness stand and say ‘Gee judge, I can’t remember if I was there or not. Gee judge, I have multiple personalities.’

Dave Cawley: You heard that right. Barbara said “I have multiple personalities.”

Terry Carpenter: You could talk to her and you could look to her physically, eye to eye, and she would change mannerisms, she would change voices, she would change from being a total absolute prude to being a sloven, whatever you want to call her.

Dave Cawley: Barbara had been diagnosed with what’s now known as dissociative identity disorder. Which meant Terry needed to speak with whichever personality had witnessed the supposed coven killing. He met with Barbara and her psychologist, intent on drawing out this particular persona.

Barbara (from April 1990 police recording): Got your handcuffs ready? Pull out your gun. And that would hurt me, so don’t.” (Laughs)

Dave Cawley: Barbara bounced between personalities in this audio recording of that meeting.

Terry Carpenter (from April 1990 police recording): Why did they bring her there?

Barbara (from April 1990 police recording): To bring the antichrist.

Dave Cawley: She offered graphic descriptions of a ritual murder.

Barbara (from April 1990 police recording): They buried her in different places.

Dave Cawley: She at times mocked or threatened Terry.

Barbara (from April 1990 police recording): Am I hurting your feelings?

Terry Carpenter (from April 1990 police recording): No, you can’t hurt my feelings. How much hair does this guy have and what does it look like?

Barbara (from April 1990 police recording): Well he certainly has more than you. I have to pick on you. You’re making me hurt.

Terry Carpenter (from April 1990 police recording):  You’re right. So that’s fair.

Barbara (from April 1990 police recording): Making me hurt bad.

Dave Cawley: At other times, she pleaded for Terry’s help.

Barbara (from April 1990 police recording): Carpenter, this hurts. Make it stop.

Dave Cawley: I’m being very selective about what I share from this recording, considering the circumstances. But it’s important to know the tape revealed Terry to be a cop who showed compassion. Part of that might be because his relationship to Barbara wasn’t just one of officer and informant.

Terry Carpenter: She was in my ward.

Dave Cawley: A ward is a local congregation of The Latter-day Saint church. Terry was at the time serving as bishop over his ward. That position of leadership in the church’s lay clergy had provided him ample opportunity to get to know Barbara’s various personalities.

Terry Carpenter: She would call as a little boy. She would call as a little girl.

Dave Cawley: But in his role as detective, Terry needed Barbara to give him names of the coven members. And so he had to press her.

Barbara (from April 1990 police recording): Don’t tell. I won’t tell.

Dave Cawley: Terry and a CSI team had already scoured the area around the coven house.

Terry Carpenter: I took canines in, I took cadaver dogs in there.

Dave Cawley: They’d found traces of blood. But forensic testing had revealed that blood didn’t even appear to be human. Near as the crime lab could tell, the blood had come from a chicken.

During a later search of a nearby gravel pit, the crime scene unit located a chip of bone. They likewise sent that off for forensic testing, which proved inconclusive. If the coven existed, and if they’d had something to do with the death of Joyce Yost, they’d covered their tracks.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Four days after Terry Carpenter’s meeting with “Kay,” Clearfield detective Bill Holthaus went into his office and found a slip of paper waiting on his desk. It was a “Phone-O-Gram,” a little form the secretaries used to scribble down messages. This Phone-O-Gram said Sergeant Carpenter from South Ogden had called for Bill regarding a person named “Joey.” Last name: S-C-H-O-S-T. Joey Schost. Bill called Terry back and Terry explained he was making a new push on the Joyce Yost investigation. He had a lot of people he needed to talk to about a new lead saying Joyce had died in a contract killing. Bill had been in the dark about South Ogden’s investigation for five years.

Bill Holthaus: I had no official involvement other than to occasionally ask South Ogden what was going on up until they put the task force together.

Dave Cawley: That was about to change. Bill said he wanted in.

Bill Holthaus: And there were little odds and ends that we did for South Ogden. Interviewing this person, interviewing that kind of person.

Dave Cawley: The biggest interview of the entire investigation was about to come, bringing with it a surprise break.

Ep 4: She’s Gone, Buddy

Marily Gren often overheard conversations among the attorneys and other staff at the Davis County Attorney’s Office. She was aware, working as a secretary there in April of 1985, of a particularly egregious case that had come in from Clearfield police. It involved a woman named Joyce Yost and the testimony she had given at a preliminary hearing.

“A case that came in, a bad case,” Marily told me. “I wasn’t the secretary assigned to the Clearfield area but we all typed up the reports and you kind of knew about all the cases.”

Former Davis County Attorney’s Office secretary Marily Gren holds a transcript of Joyce Yost’s preliminary hearing testimony during an interview for COLD on June 12, 2020. Photo: Dave Cawley

A young prosecutor named Brian Namba had taken Joyce’s case. He’d been the one to question Joyce during that preliminary hearing, at which she’d described being followed home and sexually assaulted by a man she didn’t know. Police had identified that man as Douglas Anderson Lovell and arrested him on suspicion of rape.

The Joyce Yost testimony clearly established Doug had threatened to kill Joyce if she reported what he’d done. She’d reported him anyway.

Then, Joyce disappeared.

Blood on the mattress

The scuttlebutt around the attorney’s office was that Joyce had likely been murdered by the man she’d accused of rape. Detectives from the city of South Ogden, where Joyce lived, had questioned Doug Lovell. He’d claimed to have no knowledge of Joyce’s whereabouts and had offered an alibi for the night she’d last been seen.

Police had searched Joyce’s apartment and found a blood-stained washcloth. They’d recovered her missing car near a water tank in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains days later. But Joyce’s location had eluded them.

Joyce Yost washcloth
South Ogden police recovered this blood-stained washcloth from Joyce Yost’s apartment during a search on August 13, 1985. Photo: South Ogden Police Department

During the search of the apartment, detectives had stripped the sheets from Joyce’s bed and collected them as potential evidence. It wasn’t until Joyce’s children and relatives went into the apartment weeks later though that they made a critical discovery the detectives had missed.

“The family went in to move the furniture out and they were the ones that discovered the blood on the bed,” prosecutor Brian Namba said. “That’s pretty unusual.”

Joyce Yost mattress
Joyce Yost’s family discovered this blood stain on the underside of Joyce’s mattress when moving her belongings in September of 1985. Forensic testing revealed the blood from the stain was the same type as Joyce’s blood. Photo: Weber County Attorney’s Office

The underside of Joyce’s mattress was stained with dried blood. The detectives had not thought to flip the mattress while stripping the sheets.

“Somebody said there was so much blood that a person probably wouldn’t live through loosing so much blood,” Brian said, “but that’s not conclusive enough to be able to tell the judge she’s dead.”

Rape trial

Joyce’s disappearance complicated matters in the rape case. She was both the victim and the key witness, the accuser whose account was most likely to lead to a conviction. Her absence raised the very real risk that Doug Lovell might be acquitted.

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Davis County prosecutors decided to press forward with the prosecution of Douglas Lovell after Joyce Yost disappeared. Utah 2nd District Court rescheduled the trial from August 20, 1985 to December 11, 1985.

The Davis County Attorney’s Office opted to press on with the prosecution.

“We were pretty resolute,” Brian said. “He could be a Josh Powell, easily. And so then he gets away scot-free from everything, which is his objective. And so you don’t want to give him what he’s trying to do.”

Brian needed to find a way to bring Joyce’s voice forward during the rape trial. He turned to Marily Gren with an unusual ask: could she play the part of Joyce Yost at the trial?

Joyce and Marily

Marily was a secretary, not an actress. She had never met Joyce herself.

“Only thing I’ve seen mostly is that one picture of her that you see everywhere, a professional picture,” Marily said.

They were similar in age — Marily was 42 to Joyce’s 39 — but had lived very different lives. Still, she felt an empathy for Joyce and agreed to serve as her proxy on the witness stand.

“I hadn’t ever been in that type of situation but I’m a woman and she didn’t deserve it,” Marily said.

Joyce Yost had an active social life and often spent free time out dining or dancing with friends and family. Photo: Joyce Yost family

The job required that Marily read Joyce’s words from the transcript of the preliminary hearing. This was a challenging task, as the prosecution needed her to convey the feel of Joyce’s testimony without going too over-the-top. During the trial, Utah 2nd District Court Judge Rodney Page warned Marily to avoid any theatrics.

“I was just to basically be neutral and read it, so I did,” Marily said.

Joyce Yost testimony

Joyce Yost’s testimony from the preliminary hearing had included detailed first-hand accounts of her efforts to fight off the man who’d assaulted her. She had pointed to Doug Lovell and identified him as the man who had raped and kidnapped her. Marily mimicked that motion in Joyce’s place.

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The transcript of Joyce Yost’s testimony from the June 12, 1985 preliminary hearing. Davis County Attorney’s Office staff member Marily Gren read from this transcript at Douglas Lovell’s sexual assault and kidnapping trial on Dec. 11, 1985.

“I tried to get out of my car, realizing I was definitely in a situation that my life was at stake,” Joyce had said. “I just prayed for help and as I was getting out of my car I grabbed ahold of the horn and thought maybe if I honk the horn that one of my neighbors or somebody would hear. It didn’t work. He became very angry.”

Brian Namba, the prosecutor, walked Marily through that and other difficult passages. Marily recalled it being a small part, but she was happy to help.

“One of the girls from the office was sitting behind some relatives of Joyce’s — and this is hearsay because that’s what this girl told me — but she said when I first started out, that they looked at each other and kind of rolled their eyes,” Marily said. “Towards the end they kind of got into it and she says she could tell that they thought I was doing a good job.”

Former Clearfield police detective Bill Holthaus and former Davis County Attorney’s Office secretary Marily Gren reminisce about Marily’s role reading the testimony of Joyce Yost at the kidnapping and sexual assault trial of Douglas Lovell in December, 1985.

Clearfield police detective William “Bill” Holthaus, the lead investigator on the case, shared that opinion. He’d sat in the courtroom and listened to Marily’s recitation of the Joyce Yost testimony.

“She read it just like Joyce had said it,” Bill said. “I think that had a little bit to do with the jury understanding what Joyce was saying, because it sounded like Joyce.”

Rape trial verdict

The rape trial against Doug Lovell spanned two days. Marily had served as Joyce’s proxy on day one. Doug himself had testified at the start of day two. His testimony conflicted with Joyce’s. He did not deny that they’d had sexual intercourse, but insisted she had instigated and encouraged the encounter.

“He was quite the cad,” Bill said. “Separated from his wife, chasing women around and he just struck me as a guy who didn’t respect women much.”

The case went to the jury on the afternoon of the second day. Only an hour had passed before the jurors notified the judge they had reached a verdict.

Marily had by that time gone back to her secretarial work in the attorney’s office across the hall from the courtroom.

“I stepped out of the county attorney’s office to get a drink at the drinking fountain and [defense attorney John Hutchison] was coming back with Douglas Lovell,” Marily said. “He was telling Doug, ‘It’s not good when they come back so quick.’ And I remember bending over the fountain thinking, ‘Yes!’”

The jury found him guilty on both counts, having found the Joyce Yost testimony as relayed by Marily more credible than Doug’s account. But the verdict did not answer the question of what had happened to Joyce.

The words Doug uttered on his way out of the courtroom that day also left little doubt he was the person responsible for her disappearance.


Hear what happened following Doug’s conviction in Cold episode 4: She’s Gone, Buddy

Episode credits
Research, writing and hosting: Dave Cawley
Audio production: Nina Earnest
Audio mixing: Trent Sell
Cold main score composition: Michael Bahnmiller
Cold main score mixing: Dan Blanck
KSL executive producers: Sheryl Worsley, Keira Farrimond
Workhouse Media executive producers: Paul Anderson, Nick Panella, Andrew Greenwood
Amazon Music team: Morgan Jones, Eliza Mills, Vanessa Rebbert, Shea Simpson
Episode transcript: https://thecoldpodcast.com/season-2-transcript/shes-gone-buddy-full-transcript
KSL companion story: https://ksltv.com/460347/joyce-yosts-rape-case-first-prosecuted-without-victim-to-testify/
Talking Cold companion episode: https://thecoldpodcast.com/talking-cold#tc-episode-3-4

Cold season 2, episode 4: She’s Gone, Buddy – Full episode transcript

Dave Cawley: Kim Salazar hadn’t been able to reach her mom all weekend.

Kim Salazar: I couldn’t get ahold of her. Dot couldn’t get ahold of her and … we all always talked every day.

Dave Cawley: Kim arrived to work at Royal Studio on the morning of Monday, August 12, 1985 hoping to see Joyce there.

Kim Salazar: She wasn’t late for work. She didn’t miss work. Ever.

Dave Cawley: She called her husband, Randy.

Randy Salazar: And she told me that her mom didn’t make it. That she didn’t go to work and she’d been trying to call her and there was no answer and so I told Kim, I says, ‘Maybe she took off to Wendover again.’ I says, y’know what, ‘Let’s not, let’s not panic.’

Dave Cawley: Kim phoned The Stateline, the hotel-casino where Joyce liked to stay on her occasional outings to West Wendover, Nevada. Her mom wasn’t there, either. So, Kim next called South Ogden police.

Randy Salazar: Kim explained to them, y’know, but they already knew about the threat that she had had with the rape case and, and what was going on with Doug Lovell.

Dave Cawley: Near as Kim could tell, her mother had last been seen late on the prior Saturday night in her sister Dorothy’s driveway.

Randy Salazar: They wanted to know if it’d been 24 hours she’d been missing and, heck, nobody knew when 24 hours started, y’know?

Kim Salazar: By the next day, when there still wasn’t anything … I begged ‘em, just meet me over there. Go in and see what’s wrong, y’know, and so they met me over there but they made me go in. They didn’t go in first.

Dave Cawley: Kim wriggled into her mother’s apartment around noon on Tuesday, August 13th, through a side window she knew didn’t latch tight. Then, she unlocked the door, allowing her husband and a South Ogden officer inside.

Randy Salazar: Everything was clean just like she kept it. I mean it was clean. Her house was always spotless.

Dave Cawley: No sign of a struggle.

Kim Salazar: Her apartment was always tidy.

Dave Cawley: Everything in the kitchen appeared as usual.

Randy Salazar: She had a, one of those automatic timers where the coffee had kicked on and made coffee and the coffee pot was full.

Dave Cawley: They went into Joyce’s bedroom.

Randy Salazar: All her jewelry and everything was on her dresser so it didn’t look like anybody came in and robbed her, y’know? And everything just looked like, everything looked just like normal, just like Joyce would keep it.

Dave Cawley: Almost.

Kim Salazar: The bed was made.

Dave Cawley: A single pillow sat at the top of the bed. It was a minor thing but Joyce’s bed usually had two pillows.

Randy Salazar: I know Joyce always used to fall asleep with the TV on. She always watched TV when the went to bed and fell asleep with the TV on.

Dave Cawley: That TV was right where it was supposed to be.

Kim Salazar: Her toothbrush, her cosmetics, all that stuff was in the bathroom.

Dave Cawley: The pink dress Joyce had worn to the Officer’s Club the prior Saturday night sat draped over the back of a chair.

Randy Salazar: Obviously, she came home, set the coffee pot and uh, and she had every intention of getting up and starting out her day and just never got to start it.

Dave Cawley: Kim looked in her mom’s closet. Joyce had so many outfits it was impossible to tell if any of them were missing. But she something did notice something else.

Kim Salazar: I found a washcloth down between the dresser and the door. … And it was dried up and crumpled, y’know, like it had fallen down between.

Dave Cawley: Detective sergeant Brad Birch arrived at Joyce’s apartment that same afternoon to perform a more thorough search. He stripped Joyce’s bed, discovering the sheets and the pillow sham didn’t match. He examined the washcloth, too. It was crusty, as happens when water slowly evaporates out of cotton. He smoothed it out. The front face had alternating stripes of pink, brown, green and gray. The back was tan, with several rust-colored stains: Dried blood.

This is Cold, season 2, episode 4: She’s Gone, Buddy. From KSL Podcasts, I’m Dave Cawley. We’ll be right back.

[Ad break]

Dave Cawley: Word soon got back to Clearfield police detective Bill Holthaus — the lead investigator in the rape case — of his victim’s disappearance.

Bill Holthaus: Yeah, this is not a pleasant time. She vanished. South Ogden let me know that.

Dave Cawley: At a pre-trial conference on August 15th — two days after the search of the apartment and five days before the trial was supposed to begin — the Davis County Attorney’s Office asked Judge Rodney Page for a continuance.

Bill Holthaus: We were convinced that bad things had happened. There’s no doubt in our mind. Joyce was not the kind to get up and walk away.

Dave Cawley: Judge Page gave the state a month, at the end of which he would either schedule a new trial or dismiss the case.

Brian Namba: I don’t think it really even entered our minds to dismiss, unless it was to dismiss to try to develop more evidence.

Dave Cawley: That’s Brian Namba, the prosecutor. He and Bill agreed Doug Lovell was likely responsible.

Bill Holthaus: I was sure he was involved when she was gone.

Dave Cawley: But was Joyce actually dead? And if so, how had he done it?

Bill Holthaus: At the time, I didn’t think he was, frankly, dumb enough to do it himself.

Dave Cawley: They had no body, no proof a crime had occurred. No corpus delicti. South Ogden police went and questioned Doug and his wife, Rhonda. They claimed to have been at a party the night of Joyce’s disappearance. There were witnesses, they said.

Bill Holthaus: There was an assumption at the time that maybe he paid somebody to get rid of Joyce.

Dave Cawley: Brian told Bill they were pushing ahead with the rape case, even if Joyce did not resurface.

Brian Namba: We were pretty resolute because we believed that he was responsible.

Dave Cawley: Brian told me dropping the prosecution would’ve only rewarded Doug.

Brian Namba: Once you’re, the train’s rolling as fast as it was going for us, I don’t think we really had much to lose.

Dave Cawley: Except a possible acquittal. Brian had to weigh that risk against letting Doug walk.

Bill Holthaus: To take him to trial without, without a body was a decision that wasn’t made lightly. We re-looked at everything before, before Brian made a decision to, to go to trial on that.

Brian Namba: He could be a Josh Powell, easily. And so, then he gets away scottfree from everything. Which is his objective. And so you don’t want to give him what he’s trying to do.

Dave Cawley: Brian told Bill they needed more. He needed to go back to the Pier III — the club where Joyce had dined the night of the rape — and find anyone else who might’ve seen Doug there.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Susan Yerage hadn’t seen or heard from Doug Lovell — the man who’d sent her unsolicited roses for two straight weeks — since he’d come into the credit union where she worked in April of ’85. He’d been in trouble then, due to police having impounded his Mazda, a car for which Susan had arranged financing.

Susan Yerage (from 1992 police recording): And I remember one time talking to him about the vehicle being, ah, they wouldn’t release it to us and about it being a stolen vehicle. And he brushed it off like it was no big deal, that that part was gonna get straightened out.

Dave Cawley: Now, in August, Doug returned. Susan didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. No debilitating back injury, for instance.

Susan Yerage (from 1992 police recording): He’d wait out in the lobby and then walk over and talk to me and at any time, never did I notice that he was having any health problems, or anything like that.

Dave Cawley: When last they’d spoken, Doug had told Susan he’d separated from his wife, Rhonda. And while separated, he’d had a one-night stand with a woman who’d then accused him of rape. Here, five months later, she asked how it was going.

Susan Yerage (from 1992 police recording): Well that, he said that him and Rhonda had got back together, that they were doing really well and that he figured that this whole thing with the rape thing was gonna be settled.

Dave Cawley: So too, he said, was the mix-up over the Mazda. It would all be taken care of.

Susan Yerage (from 1992 police recording): So I wasn’t anymore worried about the loan or what was going on with it, at all.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Rob Olsen often took walks along the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains to the east of his home in Uintah Highlands area of Weber County, Utah. His typical route took him past a water tank embedded in the mountainside on the north wall of Spring Creek Canyon. On just such a walk on Saturday, August 17, 1985, he noticed something unusual there: a white Chevy Nova parked behind the water tank. There was no obvious reason for the car to be there. A city work truck, maybe. But a little coupe? No.

Rob had seen that same car there once before, the prior Sunday, parked in the exact same spot. The next evening, on Sunday, August 18th, he caught a story on the TV news about the disappearance of Joyce Yost. Joyce’s son-in-law Randy Salazar saw it, too.

Randy Salazar: And they did a missing report thing. They put it on TV. I think it was on every channel. They gave her license plate number.

Dave Cawley: The news mentioned police were searching for Joyce’s car: a white, two-door Chevy Nova.

Randy Salazar: People were reporting seeing her car all over the place.

Dave Cawley: Realization struck Rob Olsen. He phoned South Ogden police just after 6 p.m. A group of officers rushed up the hill to the water tank. They included Rob Carpenter and Mel Hackworth, the same officers who’d taken Joyce’s report on the night of the rape. A dispatcher also called sergeant Brad Birch and the on-call detective, Terry Carpenter.

Terry Carpenter: We knew that it was Joyce’s car and hoped to find anything that would lead us to what’d happened to her.

Dave Cawley: Kim and Randy Salazar had themselves been calling South Ogden police multiple times a day.

Kim Salazar: Trying to get updates and see if they’d learned anything or , y’know, if they’d found the car, if they’d found her.

Dave Cawley: They called again after seeing that news report.

Randy Salazar: I called South Ogden police department to ask if they had found anything out on Kim’s mom and she, and the lady answered like this. This what she answered and said. ‘I’m glad you called me back.’

Dave Cawley: I have to acknowledge a discrepancy here. Randy and Kim each remember being the one on the phone.

Kim Salazar: I think she thought she picked up the call she had on hold with one of the detectives but she picked up the wrong line and it was me calling in.

Dave Cawley: But aside from this, their recollections are consistent.

Randy Salazar: And I said ‘Is there something going on with the Joyce Yost case?’ She said, ‘They found her car by the water towers.’

Kim Salazar: She said that the car has been found or, y’know, something to that effect.

Dave Cawley: They were stunned.

Randy Salazar: And then I told her, ‘Well, can we go up there?’ And then she asked who I was and I said ‘This is Randy Salazar.’ ‘Oh!’

Kim Salazar: Then she realized it was me and she was like ‘Oh my god.’ She just thought she was going to be in so much trouble.

Dave Cawley: The dispatcher had mistaken Kim, or possibly Randy, for one of the detectives.

Randy Salazar: She goes ‘You don’t want to go up there. Please do not go up there.’

Kim Salazar: Well, of course, then you’re wondering, ‘Well, y’know, where’s she?’ Y’know. ‘Why wasn’t she with the car?’

Randy Salazar: We had some other friends with us that were over to the house that day and uh, and one of the friends told her ‘Maybe somebody stole the car.’ Y’know? Kim said ‘Nah, nobody stole the car.’

Dave Cawley: Up on the hill, officer Steven Wallerstein was checking out the car in the fading daylight. Both doors were unlocked and both windows were rolled down. Several cigarette butts were in the ashtray — yes, cars used to come with ashtrays — and a bath towel sat wadded up on the driver seat. An empty plastic bag appeared to be stuffed between the driver seat and the driver-side door.

Wallerstein saw something on the floor behind the passenger seat: a one-pint Mason jar containing a thick white liquid. The lid wasn’t secured and much of the goo had oozed out onto the carpet, where it had begun to develop a crust. It looked like, and probably was, paint.

The water tank sat on a patch of unincorporated land, outside the boundaries of South Ogden. The Weber County Sheriff’s Office had jurisdiction. A couple of deputies arrived and told their South Ogden colleagues the area around the water tank was a magnet for teen delinquents, who liked to get drunk there. Proof of that was scattered all about: broken bottles and smashed cans. Brad Birch took notice of two particular Budweiser cans, sitting near the car. He took them, as well as the plastic bag from inside the car, as possible evidence.

The Nova’s gas tank was more than half full. But Detective Terry Carpenter told me something important was missing.

Terry Carpenter: There were no keys with it.

Dave Cawley: The police popped the hood and found a spare key hidden in the engine bay. As the sun set, they drove the Nova down the dirt path from the water tank to the pavement, and then to a service station.

Terry Carpenter: Actually took it to my garage, my father’s garage.

Dave Cawley: Terry moonlighted as a mechanic.

Terry Carpenter: We didn’t find a speck of blood. There was nothing in that car that we could tie it to.

Dave Cawley: All Joyce’s loved ones could do was wait.

Randy Salazar: We all knew. We all knew that it wasn’t good.

Dave Cawley: Brad returned to the water tank at first light the next morning with a man named Jim Gaskill. He was the preeminent local expert on forensic science, having helped establish Utah’s first crime lab a decade earlier. They brought search dogs, as well as items bearing Joyce’s scent. The dogs sniffed around the water tank, but came up with nothing.

Next, Brad and Jim went back to the service station to take a closer look at Joyce’s car. They lifted a few fingerprints. Then, they did the same at Joyce’s apartment. Unfortunately, none of the evidence seemed to indicate what’d happened to her.

Kim Salazar: We met them over at the South Ogden police station.

Dave Cawley: Kim interrogated the detectives about her mom’s car…

Randy Salazar: ‘Was the seat far enough for my mom or was it far enough for a man,’ she said.

Dave Cawley: …as Randy stood nearby.

Randy Salazar: And I heard her say ‘Well how the [expletive] don’t you know that?’

Dave Cawley: If the detectives knew, they weren’t going to let that information slip.

Randy Salazar: So I told Kim, y’know, ‘Maybe they’ll figure out.’ Well, she said ‘Well, this is something I think they need to measure now,’ she said, ‘because if they drove the car out of there, somebody moved that seat.’ And I thought, y’know, you’re right.

Dave Cawley: Randy told me he was impressed with Kim’s dogged demands for answers.

Randy Salazar: Kim was playing pretty darn good detective when this was going on. She already had things in her mind and question already and I was thinking ‘Hell, she’s doing some pretty good legwork here herself.’

Dave Cawley: South Ogden police went up to the water tank a third time that afternoon, with more dogs and more people. They scoured Spring Creek Canyon.

Terry Carpenter: We searched and searched and lo and behold found the keys 50 yards from where it was at, just in the sage brush.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Joyce’s mail kept arriving at her apartment. No one was there to receive it. Her bills went unpaid. She owed money to the local newspaper for a classified ad, the one she’d placed when selling her Oldsmobile. The man who’d bought the car had paid Joyce with a check. Kim talked to the bank and learned the man had stopped payment after learning Joyce was missing. The bank also confirmed there’d been no activity on Joyce’s accounts after August 10th. By late September, Joyce’s landlord told Kim and Randy they needed to cover her rent or clear out the apartment.

Kim Salazar: The power had gotten shut off. We didn’t know that and so everything in the fridge had spoiled.

Dave Cawley: The Salazars didn’t have hundreds of dollars to spare. They arranged to move Joyce’s things into storage.

Kim Salazar: When we had some manpower, y’know to get the furniture and stuff out, we went back and were moving all the furniture out.

Dave Cawley: Joyce’s sister, Dorothy, came to help, along with Dorothy’s daughter Cathy and Cathy’s husband, Paul, as well as some other extended family. First, they emptied Joyce’s closet.

Randy Salazar: I think Joyce had more shoes than ZCMIs had on stock. And she had more dresses and more makeup.

Dave Cawley: They packed Dorothy’s car full of Joyce’s clothes. Dorothy and Cathy then departed with that payload. Paul stayed behind to help Randy break down Joyce’s bed. South Ogden police had stripped the sheets weeks earlier, so the mattress was bare.

Randy Salazar: Both Paul and I lifted that up and he was on one end and I was lifting my hand up on the other and we had the mattress tilt like this and we looked at it and we looked at each other and said ‘Oh no.’ … The whole bottom of the bed was all bloodstained.

Dave Cawley: The bloodstain was about a foot in diameter. It had two lobes, one of them appearing darker. The other looked as if the blood had either wicked outward through the fabric or been diluted, say by wiping at it with a wet washcloth. Randy called to Kim, who was in the kitchen packing up her mother’s dishes. She came into the bedroom and saw the mattress. Dorothy and her daughter, Cathy, arrived back at Joyce’s apartment soon after. Randy and Paul showed them as well.

Randy Salazar: I had a bad feeling. I had a really, really bad feeling. And, and Paul had a bad feeling too. And uh, and we were both trying to convince Cathy and Kim, ‘Y’know what? We don’t know for sure that it’s because of that. Your mom might have, y’know, she could have had maybe her monthly or something in there, y’know?’ Y’know what, we both knew that it, it was more blood than that.

Dave Cawley: Kim saw something more…

Kim Salazar: The matching stain on the boxspring.

Dave Cawley: …suggesting the mattress had been flipped when the blood was still wet.

Randy Salazar: Then we started putting that washcloth together with the mattress.

Dave Cawley: Something terrible had happened in Joyce’s bedroom.

Randy Salazar: I remember Kim crying and Cathy start screaming. They both started screaming.

Kim Salazar: So we called Brad again. (Laughs)

Dave Cawley: Brad Birch told them not to touch anything until he arrived. South Ogden police were likewise stunned at the discovery.

Kim Salazar: Oh they were devastated. They were absolutely devastated that they missed something like that.

Randy Salazar: They were all looking at each other. ‘You didn’t turn the bed over?’ ‘You didn’t turn the bed over?’ And they all said to each other, ‘Nah, we didn’t turn the bed over.’

Dave Cawley: Weeks later, the crime lab would confirm the blood from the washcloth and from the mattress shared the same type. Joyce’s type: O.

Kim Salazar: I remember talking to him years down the road and he said we’ve never gone into another crime scene where we haven’t flipped a mattress. Even if it wasn’t warranted, we flip a mattress. It’s what we do.

Dave Cawley: Blood on the mattress did not itself amount to evidence of a murder. But it’s discovery came at a critical juncture in the rape case. The Davis County Attorneys Office was pushing ahead with the prosecution even in Joyce’s absence. Judge Rodney Page scheduled a new trial for December 11th.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Police dispatch in Ogden, Utah received a phone call toward the end of October of ’85 from the owner of a pawn shop called The Gift House.

Keith McCord (from KSL TV archive): The Gift House has been serving the city of Ogden for almost 55 years and friendly is an understatement.

Scott Van Vanleeuwen (from KSL TV archive): Get yourself a cup of coffee and sit down and relax.

Dave Cawley: The Gift House occupied an orange brick building on the west end of Ogden’s historic 25th Street.

Keith McCord (from KSL TV archive): Customers, friends and family come to the Gift House often. They browse the store, socialize and check in with the days events.

Dave Cawley: The owner, Scott Vanleeuwen, had worked in that storefront since 1961, before it even became a pawn shop. KSL TV profiled Scott and The Gift House in this 2013 story.

Keith McCord (from KSL TV archive): But aside from its dedicated friends and customers, the store like most pawn shops has a little bit of everything.

Scott Van Vanleeuwen (from KSL TV archive): Our business card says guns, gold and diamonds. That pretty well says it all.

Dave Cawley: Even today, the Gift House’s front windows advertise those three pillars of the business: guns, gold and diamonds.

Keith McCord (from KSL TV archive): (Sound of revolver spinning) And guns especially gives the place character.

Dave Cawley: On that October day, a man identified in police records only as “Scott” called dispatch and asked them to check a couple of serial numbers. They were from two guns: a 22-caliber lever-action Browning rifle and a 12-gauge Beretta shotgun. Both came back as stolen. They were among the pile of guns taken from the home of Cody Montgomery, Sr. in the town of Liberty six months earlier. The guns Doug Lovell and his buddy Billy Jack had buried behind a cabin in the Deep Creek Mountains.

Of course, police didn’t know that last bit at the time. All they knew was someone at the Gift House had a lead on the stolen guns. The dispatcher sent an officer over to pawn shop but by the time he got there, no one seemed to know anything about the guns. Police reports say the officer questioned Scott, who told him the guns weren’t there. He’d only received a phone call about them himself. He didn’t know who possessed them.

The officer passed his report off to a detective, who shared the information with the Weber County Sheriff’s investigator handling the stolen guns case. And then, nothing. The trail went cold.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: South Ogden police didn’t have much to go on by the time the two-month anniversary of Joyce’s disappearance arrived. They had her car, a bloody washcloth and a blood-stained mattress.

Larry Lewis (from KSL TV archive): The case is unlike any other missing person report South Ogden has ever handled. Usually cases like these are solved in a few weeks. This one has hung on two months.

Dave Cawley: Detective Sergeant Brad Birch went before TV news cameras.

Larry Lewis (from KSL TV archive): With all leads exhausted and nowhere to turn, police are now trying a long shot: a psychic.

Brad Birch (from KSL TV archive): We’ve found in some of the research that we’ve done in some other states they were able to locate items or locate missing persons or locate evidence located in areas that maybe the police hadn’t been able to find any other way. And if these people were able to do something like that for us, that’s what we’d be hoping for.

Dave Cawley: The reporter calling this a long shot was understatement.

Larry Lewis (from KSL TV archive): The psychics used personal items of Yost to try and get a feeling for the case. They examined this picture of her and her car keys. They also walked through her apartment to try to pick up any kind of lead on the case.

Dave Cawley: The most these “psychics” could say was they believed foul play was involved. Police weren’t alone in seeking help from less traditional sources.

Randy Salazar: Kim found a lady that was doing, she was a reader.

Dave Cawley: Randy Salazar told me this “reader” claimed be able to communicate with Joyce’s spirit. Kim went to see the reader several times, spending about $30 a pop. Randy ended up confronting his wife, saying he didn’t want to upset her…

Randy Salazar: ‘But Kim, all that stuff that lady’s telling you,’ I said, ‘is in the paper and on the news every day,’ I said. And she’d say ‘No it isn’t!’ And I said, ‘Y’know, it is, it is,’ I said. Y’know? … I said, ‘I’m not saying she’s a fake and, y’know, she probably feels your mom or whatever and,’ I says, ‘But,’ I says, ‘I’m not sure you ought to go to her anymore.’

Dave Cawley: Were these psychics offering anything of value, to either the police or to Joyce’s family?

Randy Salazar: If it was my mom, y’know what, I’d be wanting to go too. I says, ‘But you know, I’m just telling you: everything you’re telling me I hear on the news and I see in the paper.

Dave Cawley: No one who claimed to hear Joyce’s voice on the ether was able to provide a location for her body. But Joyce’s words would soon return to haunt Doug Lovell.

[Ad break]

Dave Cawley: Clearfield police detective Bill Holthaus and his team were tightening up their case. They’d made contact with the owner of the Pier III, who told them Doug Lovell had hung around the joint for days before Joyce Yost had showed up there with Lex Baer on the night of April 3rd.

Bill Holthaus: As I understood it, he was a regular. He was there quite often.

Dave Cawley: Doug had been obsessing over a woman who worked at the Pier named Sharon Gess.

Bill Holthaus: Sharon Gess, yes.

Dave Cawley: Sharon told police Doug had hounded her. She’d turned him down, saying company policy prohibited her from dating patrons. Every time Sharon had said no, Doug had grown more insistent. On the night of April 3rd, that insistence had turned to anger. He’d made a scene before storming out of the club.

About 15 minutes later, someone had called the Pier and asked to speak with Sharon. It was Doug. He asked what time she got off work. She didn’t feel comfortable telling him, so she just said ‘late.’ He suggested they grab something to eat when she was done. Sharon said no, she’d prefer to just go home. Doug kept pressing until Sharon hung up on him. 

Sharon and the others who’d been at the Pier told police Doug had made passes on every woman there.

Bill Holthaus: He actually pursued Joyce there that night.

Dave Cawley: Which contradicted what Joyce had told Bill just hours after the rape.

Bill Holthaus (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Uh, do you remember seeing him at the Pier 3?

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): I do not.

Dave Cawley: I asked Bill if he could explain this discrepancy.

Bill Holthaus: She actually didn’t want to admit that, y’know, she shined him off.

Dave Cawley: Maybe it was embarrassment or fear of not being believed. Only Joyce knows. But this revelation helped explain why Joyce had described asking Doug, as he was preparing to rape her the second time, if he’d been having relationship troubles.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): I said to him, I said, ‘Do you have a problem? Do you want to talk to me? Can I help you at all?’ Umm, I thought, y’know, was he having a fight with his girlfriend or something. He started to say something about some girl, then he quit.

Dave Cawley: Joyce had later revealed a tiny bit more to her daughter, Kim.

Kim Salazar: One thing that my mom had told me was that he told her that she was taking Sharon’s place.

Dave Cawley: Sharon told police she’d been seeing a little red car with flip-up headlights following her around town in the weeks prior to the rape. Sometimes when headed home after work, she’d see the car in the rearview and would go someplace other than home to prevent the driver from figuring out where she lived. This led prosecutor Brian Namba to wonder if Doug might’ve made a mistake. Perhaps he’d believed he was following Sharon that night instead of Joyce.

Brian Namba: It seems like to me that she was sort of similar in appearance. … But it seems like to me like they were both blondes and both the same, y’know, similar age.

Dave Cawley: As police were piecing this together, Doug’s defense attorney was busy preparing pre-trial motions. John Hutchison sent a discovery demand to the prosecutors, asking for copies of all the reports and audio recordings made by police. Brian wasn’t surprised.

Brian Namba: I think that that’s typical of him, that he would do his homework.

Dave Cawley: John also told Judge Rodney Page he feared media coverage surrounding Joyce’s disappearance might’ve already tainted the jury pool. He wanted Joyce treated as a “Jane Doe” during the trial.

Brian Namba: John is worried that if, if enough evidence leaks out to the jury that they would conclude that she was dead, they hold that against his client in the rape case. So he was trying to keep those facts out of the jury’s hearing.

Dave Cawley: Brian had his own concerns about the media coverage.

Brian Namba: By then I’ve had enough experience that I know that I don’t want to create issues for appeal. So I’m interested in keeping that away from the jury, but I still have to go through with my trial.

Dave Cawley: Brian argued against the Jane Doe idea but negotiated a compromise.

Brian Namba: The judge would simply tell the jury that the victim was not available for trial today for reasons unrelated to this case. Which, turns out to not be true. (Laughs) But that was our stipulation in order to allow the jury to deliberate fairly on the rape issue.

Dave Cawley: Brian also notified Judge Page he intended to use Joyce’s testimony from the preliminary hearing, by having a proxy read it from the stand during the upcoming trial. This was, at the time, an untested tactic.

Brian Namba: There is a rule of evidence that allows for it but it’s just, it’s just kind of, it’s really an unusual circumstance.

Dave Cawley: I’ll try to explain this without getting too bogged down in legal jargon. Typically, you can’t get on the witness stand and say “someone else told me… whatever” because that’s what’s known as hearsay. Utah’s Rules of Evidence are clear: hearsay is not admissible. Part of the reason for that is it’s impossible to challenge a claim of what some other person supposedly said, versus challenging the actual statement itself from the person who said it. And the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees Americans the right to confront their accusers.

But there are exceptions. Under Utah law, if a witness is unavailable for a hearing or trial, it is allowable to use their prior statements, so long as those statements were sworn and subjected to cross-examination. Like, for instance, when John Hutchison cross-examined Joyce during the preliminary hearing.

Brian Namba: Doesn’t violate the confrontation clause and it’s an exception to the hearsay rule because it’s a sworn testimony.

Dave Cawley: Had Doug Lovell waived his right to a prelim, Joyce wouldn’t have testified before vanishing and the case against him would’ve been much more challenging to prove.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Doug and Rhonda Lovell headed for the hills. They drove east, going up Ogden Canyon on Utah State Highway 39, into the Ogden Valley. They cruised past Pineview Reservoir and the small town of Huntsville, following the South Fork of the Ogden River.

This was a drive Doug knew well. It was the route to his family’s cabin. To get to the cabin, you had to turn off of the highway going west — just past the intersection that leads to Causey Reservoir on the east — onto a 10-mile-long dirt road that passed through locked gates.

Doug and Rhonda weren’t going to the cabin on this particular drive in late 1985. They continued up the highway, winding past beaver ponds. Conifers and quaking aspen replaced the sagebrush as the curvy two-lane road ascended to an elevation of 9,000 feet above sea level: the crest of the Monte Cristo mountains.

Utah’s Monte Cristo region is only accessible by car about six months out of the year. During the winter, the 19-mile stretch of SR-39 crossing the range is buried under snow. In the autumn, though, Monte Cristo belongs to hunters. They fan out from the highway when the aspen forest turns vibrant shades of red, orange and gold, stalking elk, moose and mule deer.

Bill Woody (from KSL TV archive): Hang on just a second. I’m state game warden. Need to check your license.

Dave Cawley: On Saturday, October 19, 1985, KSL aired a news story about hunting enforcement efforts underway in the mountains of northern Utah.

Reporter (from KSL TV archive): Bill Woody looks like a hunter and he acts like a hunter and he’s bagging prey just about as fast as he can.

Bill Woody (from KSL TV archive): Craig, it’s an untagged deer. No go, buddy.

Dave Cawley: I can’t say whether or not Doug saw this particular story. But the hunt was on his mind.

Bill Woody (from KSL TV archive): More manpower is what we need. More people out in the field doing the job. The same type of job, whether they’re out working plain clothes, or out working marked units. Both would do as good.

Reporter (from KSL TV archive): Woody will be out all this deer season looking for violations so fair warning.

Dave Cawley: Doug and Rhonda came to a stop at the side of the road. He opened the car door and brisk air, rich with the scent of pine, rushed in. Then, he stepped out and disappeared into the trees. Rhonda sat and waited. A Utah Division of Wildlife Resources officer passing through the area on one of those many hunting enforcement patrols saw her there and stopped to talk. Where was she headed? Was anyone else with her? Did she need any help?

She was fine. She was alone. The wildlife officer could see nothing wrong, so he moseyed along. Doug returned after a time. He and Rhonda resumed their drive. A truck bearing the logo of the Utah Department of Natural Resources fell in behind them on the highway. The wildlife officer had returned. He now wanted to know: who was this man with Rhonda?

The easy and honest answer — that Doug was her husband — was not the one she gave. She told the officer Doug was just a hitchhiker.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Late autumn had arrived in Las Vegas. The lightest of rain sprinkled from clouds, keeping temperatures unseasonably cool. A Las Vegas Metro Police officer headed down the strip, the row of high-rise casino hotels along Las Vegas Boulevard. He’d received word staff at the Aladdin had spotted a suspicious car parked in a lot east of the casino. It was the afternoon of November 11, 1985.

A layer of dust coated the red, four-door Toyota Corolla. Spiders had taken up residence in its wheel wells. The front passenger window was rolled down. The officer ran the car’s plate. The Corolla had been reported missing out of Roy, Utah, on the outskirts of Ogden, a little over a month prior. So had its driver, a woman named Sheree Warren.

Larry Lewis (from KSL TV archive): When Sheree Warren disappeared October 2nd, her friends and family believed then foul play was involved. They said Sheree wasn’t the type to run away, that she had everything to live for.

Dave Cawley: The Aladdin’s records showed Sheree had never stayed there. Las Vegas Metro detective Robert Luke called Roy police the following day and informed detective Jack Bell, the lead investigator on Sheree’s case, of the discovery.

Jack Bell (from KSL TV archive): It means that either she drove the car there herself or somebody stole the car from her, abducted her and took the car there.

Dave Cawley: Roy police had been searching for Sheree and her car for more than a month.

Officer (from KSL TV archive): What we’re asking for is just to locate where she may be or any evidence to show that or indicate that is maybe there’s some foul play involved so that we can do a different type of investigation rather than missing persons.

Dave Cawley: Sheree, a 25-year-old mother, had spent the past nine months working for the Utah State Employees Credit Union at a branch near the corner of Harrison Boulevard and 42nd Street in Ogden. That was just three quarters of a mile up the road from Joyce Yost’s apartment. It was also, coincidentally, the place where Doug’s wife Rhonda did her banking and near the spot where Doug had met up with Tom Peters when trying to cash his worker’s comp check in June of ’85.

Sheree had separated from her husband Charles the prior March, filed for divorce in May and moved back in with her parents, who lived in Roy. They often cared for Charles and Sheree’s three-year-old son while each parent worked.

Sheree had dated a few different men while separated, getting close with one by the name of Cary Hartmann. Cary was 37 — 12 years Sheree’s senior — and worked as a plumber at Weber State University in Ogden. He also moonlighted at a telemarketing firm and had in the past served as a reserve officer for the Ogden Police department.

Sheree had excelled at her job. The credit union had tapped her to take part in a new training program run out of the head office in Salt Lake City. She started that course on Monday, September 30th.

A couple of days later, on the morning of Wednesday, October 2nd, he met her estranged husband before work to hand off their son. Charles told Sheree he’d be dropping his Toyota Supra off to have some work done at Wagstaff’s, a dealership near the credit union head office in Salt Lake, later that afternoon. He wanted Sheree to pick him up and give him a ride back home to Ogden. She agreed.

Charles would later tell police that on that same afternoon, he’d called Sheree at work and told he’d changed his mind. He no longer needed a ride. But when Sheree left the office a couple of hours later, she told a fellow trainee named Richard she was headed to Wagstaff’s to pick up her old man.  She never made it.

Officer (from KSL TV archive): Probably ought to have a description of the vehicle. Have we got it here? Have we got it?

Dave Cawley: Her distraught parents had worked with police to post fliers around town in the days and weeks following her disappearance. Police scrutiny had quickly focused on Charles, who’d reportedly been in a dispute with Sheree over alimony. Police records show he’d refused to take a polygraph when pressed by a detective. The discovery of Sheree’s car in Las Vegas more than a month later though made the case much more perplexing.

Jack Bell (from KSL TV archive): There was some indication in the asphalt that the car left imprints. So that would lead to you to believe the car had probably been parked there when the weather was hotter.

Dave Cawley: Roy police detective Jack Bell asked Charles Warren to sign papers authorizing a search of the car, which he did.

Larry Lewis (from KSL TV archive): Bell says the car’s discovery now broadens the investigation to include transients passing through Salt Lake. He says any evidence found in the car will be run through a crime lab with the hope of learning who drove it to Las Vegas.

Dave Cawley: Las Vegas Metro police detective Robert Luke went to the Ewing Brothers tow yard on the north side of Vegas to search the Corolla on November 13th. The interior was filthy, likely due to the car having sat with the passenger window down for so long. The grime made it next to impossible to lift any fingerprints. The only set visible were on the driver door window.

Luke found a pair of women’s sunglasses and Sheree’s check books in the glove box, along with a pair of prescription medications. One belonged to Sheree, the other to Cary Hartmann. The car’s trunk held some papers, a baby stroller, a bottle of face cream, a woman’s suit jacket and a set of sheets for a queen-size waterbed. No signs of a struggle. No clue as to where Sheree might be.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Doug Lovell stepped out of the shower on the morning of Wednesday, December 11, 1985, looking like a shadow of the man who’d attacked Joyce Yost eight months earlier. He’d gone from a lean 155 pounds to a downright slim 130 on a diet of prescription pain pills. As he dressed himself for court, his wife Rhonda put her arm around him and said everything would be okay. Doug wasn’t the only person unnerved that morning. Bill Holthaus felt it, too.

Bill Holthaus: It was the first time we prosecuted a rape case without a victim in the state of Utah. Y’know, we’re nervous.

Dave Cawley: The trial commenced with jury selection. This process, known to lawyers as voir dire, typically involves asking a pool of prospective jurors questions in open court. The prosecution and defense can then use challenges to whittle down the pool to just the number needed for the jury — in this case, eight.

Doug’s attorney, John Hutchison, wanted that done differently. He asked to do it individually, in the judge’s chambers. This way he, Judge Page and prosecutor Brian Namba could see if any of the prospective jurors knew the story behind Joyce’s disappearance without tipping off all of the others.

Brian Namba: There’s no way to know whether they may have heard rumors, y’know.

Dave Cawley: Judge Page agreed. He told each person in the jury pool the accuser — Joyce Yost — was absent from the trial for reasons unrelated to the case. But he also said she’d been missing for more than two months. The trial proper got underway once the jury was seated. The clerk read the charges, which had been consolidated to just two: aggravated kidnapping and aggravated sexual assault. Aggravated sexual assault might not sound as severe as rape, but under Utah law it’s the more serious of the crimes because it involves the use — or threat — of a deadly weapon.

Jan Schiller, the YWCA rape crisis counselor who’d sat with Joyce in those first hours following the rape, was among the potential witnesses waiting outside the courtroom.

Jan Schiller: I was called as a potential witness to the trial and was 25 and, umm, the executive director … and my mom insisted on being there with me. They’re like, ‘There’s no way we’re letting you go there by yourself.’

Dave Cawley: Lex Baer, the man who Joyce had spent the evening at the Pier with prior to the rape, took the stand first. Sharon Gess followed him, telling how she’d been stalked by a man driving a red car with flip-up headlights. Brian was careful in how he talked about Joyce, Sharon and the Pier. This due to advise he’d received from Bill Holthaus.

Brian Namba: Bill and I would talk over the case and we’d talk about Sharon and I’d call her a barmaid. And Bill would just hammer me and say, ‘Don’t call her a barmaid. You call her a hostess,’ y’know? ‘But she’s, you have to treat her with some respect.’

Dave Cawley: What he’s getting at here is the possibility of bias — even if unintended — against drinkers among some Davis County residents.

Brian Namba: In that kind of case in Davis County, you have to be careful that you don’t lose the case because these people live a lifestyle that’s different than your own.

Dave Cawley: Many people who live in the county are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — more commonly known as Mormons — who abstain from drinking alcohol. Joyce was not a member of that faith, nor was she a teetotaler.

Bill Holthaus: Some people would say, ‘Well there she was at a bar, y’know, out clubbing or whatever.’ That’s why they have those places.

Brian Namba: He educated me on this, y’know, there’s a life beyond being a Mormon and not, and thinking a bar is a horrible place. Regular people go to the Pier. (Laughs)

Dave Cawley: They didn’t want the jury casting judgement on Joyce for being at a club or for her own past work as a hostess.

Brian Namba: The other aspect of that is that you don’t want the judge to think that she’s this hardened person who was less worthy of being protected, umm, because she lives that, y’know, go-to-a-drinking-establishment kind of a lifestyle, that she’s taking risks that should have been foreseen somehow.

Dave Cawley: But how was Brian supposed to show what kind of person Joyce was, if Joyce wasn’t there herself to tell her story?

Brian Namba: The danger of doing that kind of a case is that they blow off the testimony thinking, ‘well, she didn’t even think enough of it to come here herself,’ y’know, ‘we’re not going to convict him on that.’

Dave Cawley: So, he moved to introduce Joyce’s testimony from the preliminary hearing.

Brian Namba: The defense attorney objected.

Dave Cawley: Judge Page mulled it over and said he’d allow it.

Brian Namba: John [Hutchison] could see the handwriting on the wall and was just backpedaling and trying to figure out how he could minimize the damage.

Dave Cawley: Brian called a secretary from the county attorney’s office to the stand, to read Joyce’s words.

Marily Gren: My name is Marily Gren, M-A-R-I-L-Y and my last name is Gren, G-R-E-N.

Dave Cawley: Marily was not an actress, unless you counted her having held a role in a high school play 25 years earlier. But Brian told me, she had “flair.” They’d talked through what the job would require.

Brian Namba: ‘You should be fluent and clear without trying to be,’ (laughs) y’know, ‘theatrical.’

Marily Gren: But that was one thing Judge Page cautioned strongly, no theatrics. And I was just to, y’know basically be neutral and read it. So I did.

Dave Cawley: And yet, a robotic reading of the transcript wouldn’t be right, either.

Marily Gren: I mean like, when you tell me to say my name, that’s how I said her name. It’s not too thrilling. Y’know? ‘Your name?’ Y’know. ‘Joyce Yost.’

Dave Cawley: Marily also needed to convey the meaning behind Joyce’s words.

Brian Namba: And I thought she did the perfect balance.

Dave Cawley: Marily’s recitation impressed Bill Holthaus as well.

Bill Holthaus: She was extremely professional. She read it just like, just like Joyce had said it.

Dave Cawley: Marily was 42 at the time of the trial, just a few years older than Joyce. She knew the details of the case, having heard conversation around the office. From the stand — in Joyce’s place — she could see Doug sitting across the courtroom.

Marily Gren: So I guess I did look at Doug Lovell.

Dave Cawley: During the prelim, Joyce had pointed to Doug from the stand and identified him as the man who’d raped her. Marily did the same.

Marily Gren: That wouldn’t have been dramatic, y’know. I could do that. Yeah.

Dave Cawley: Joyce’s prelim testimony had included gut-wrenching descriptions of the initial assault in her car. Marily read them verbatim. I asked her to do it again, 35 years later.

Marily Gren (reading from Joyce Yost transcript): I tried to get out of my car, realizing I was definitely in a situation that my life was at stake. I just prayed for help and as I was getting out of my car I grabbed ahold of the horn and thought maybe if I honk the horn that one of my neighbors or somebody would hear. It didn’t work. He became very angry.

Dave Cawley: She paused here, reflecting on this part of Joyce’s experience.

Marily Gren: Anger, he had a lot of anger. I had forgotten that. But I guess people like that do, don’t they. … And it’s not at her, I don’t think. I think it’s anger at something else. But, it’s odd.

Dave Cawley: Marily concluded her read of the prelim transcript, slipping in one last touch before leaving the stand.

Marily Gren: I did get a sigh in there. (Laughs) At the end, at one place, I remember.

Dave Cawley: Joyce’s sister, Dorothy Dial testified next, followed by South Ogden police officer Rob Carpenter. They described Joyce’s immediate reaction to the rape, how she’d handed over her dress, bra, pantyhose and the blue men’s button-up shirt.

Then, it was Bill’s turn. John Hutchison went after Bill hard on cross-examination.

Bill Holthaus: I’d been on many cases with John, y’know. Umm, and he didn’t let up at all. Y’know, he knew how to push my buttons, but y’know, and I, I had to keep my cool. I mean, he’d ask little off-the-cuff questions just try to throw you off. He was good at it. He was a good attorney.

Dave Cawley: Court adjourned for the day. They took Thursday off, then returned on Friday, December 13th. The state’s final witness, a forensics expert from the crime lab, talked the jury through the information from Joyce’s rape kit. Then, Brian rested his case. To her relief, Jan Schiller, the rape victim advocate, had not needed to testify.

Jan Schiller: They had a strong enough case without me and I don’t know that I could have added much to what the detective would have said.

Dave Cawley: Jan told me Joyce, even though she’d not been there, had been heard.

Jan Schiller: Obviously, Joyce could be a voice for herself. She was really, really wonderful.

Dave Cawley: John Hutchison next launched his defense. The bulk of his case sat on Doug himself. Under oath, Doug insisted he had not raped Joyce. Her family sat listening, incredulous.

Randy Salazar: And everything that he got up and said, c’mon, you could see you’re full of crap.

Dave Cawley: Bill Holthaus had heard this story before.

Bill Holthaus: It was pretty much word for word what was in my initial police report.

Dave Cawley: Only, with some added flavor.

Bill Holthaus: He was just, it wasn’t a big deal to him.

Dave Cawley: To hear Doug’s telling of it, Joyce had been flirting with him.

Brian Namba: And when he testified, I remember women saying, ‘Man, that guy thinks he’s God’s gift to women.’

Bill Holthaus: He was quite the cad. Separated from his wife, chasing women around and I, I, y’know, he just struck me as uh, a guy who didn’t respect women much.

Dave Cawley: Doug shed tears on the stand, saying “I did not physically harm her.” Doug said Joyce had gone willingly with him in the Mazda to his house. He insisted she’d been wearing her own dress — not his shirt — when he’d later taken her home. Bill’s own personal opinion of Doug crystalized in that moment.

Bill Holthaus: I’ll tell you what it struck me as at the time — can’t prove it — struck me he’d done it before. I mean, this was not a one, one-off thing. I mean, this was just a casual thing. Not the first, not the first woman that he influenced, y’know, or pushed to do something like that.

Dave Cawley: The defense rested. Judge Page gave the jury their instructions. Closing arguments followed and the jurors headed off to deliberate at 2:20 p.m. Brian Namba felt optimistic.

Brian Namba: You get some momentum and you feel pretty good but on the other hand, there’s, you always have some reason to worry that some people may be offended or, or just on the principal that we don’t have the victim here, she really didn’t say anything, that could result in a not guilty.

Dave Cawley: He received word the jury had reached a verdict just one hour later.

Brian Namba: When the jury came back quickly, I assumed that that was a good sign.

Dave Cawley: Marily, who had read Joyce’s testimony from the stand, was in the hallway of the courthouse as John Hutchison swept past.

Marily Gren: I stepped out of the county attorney’s office to get a drink at the drinking fountain and he was coming back with Douglas Lovell … and he was telling Doug, ‘It’s not good when they come back so quick.’ And I remember bending over the fountain thinking, ‘Yes!’

Dave Cawley: The jury found Doug guilty on both counts. Judge Page ordered the bailiff to take him into custody pending sentencing. This time, there would be no bail, no accidental early release. Bill Holthaus and Brian Namba both told me they believe Joyce’s testimony — and Marily’s read of it — were pivotal in securing the conviction.

Brian Namba: You have to engage the jury so that they feel her presence. And I think, I think she really accomplished that.

Bill Holthaus: We had all the evidence but it just, y’know, this had never happened before in Utah and you’ve got to have something that ties that evidence together and, and her testimony tied it together.

Dave Cawley: Joyce’s family gathered in a foyer outside the courtroom.

Kim Salazar: I wanted to wait until I actually saw them bring him out of the courtroom.

Dave Cawley: A pair of deputies escorted Doug, in shackles, down the hallway, right past where Kim and Randy Salazar were waiting.

Randy Salazar: He had like a smirk on his face like a, like he didn’t give a [expletive] that he was just found guilty of that so, so the closer he came, I mean, we were making pretty good eye contact, me and him and I looked at him and I said ‘You mother[expletive]er.’ And he stopped right there in his tracks and he looked at me and he said ‘She’s gone, buddy. She’s gone. You’ll never find her.’

Dave Cawley: The two deputies dragged their prisoner past while Kim and Randy rushed to tell Brad Birch what’d happened.

Kim Salazar: But I thought ‘We’ve got him now.’ Because he’s pissed, he’s, y’know, he’s boiling over. The one thing he thought he could get away with if she wasn’t there was this rape.

Dave Cawley: The detective went to question Doug about his comment.

Kim Salazar: He still wouldn’t talk.

Dave Cawley: Any little flame Joyce’s loved ones had been protecting, clinging to the idea she might still be alive, flickered out.

Greg Roberts: We all wanted to hold out hope that she was somehow still alive and to me, that was like the point when, those words out of Lovell’s mouth to Randy when he was pissed off outside the courtroom was when we basically knew she was gone.

Dave Cawley: Joyce’s son, Greg Roberts, had not been in the courthouse himself that day. He was still in Virginia attending dental school.

Greg Roberts: Well, I was just so distraught, I didn’t know what, y’know, if I should move home.

Dave Cawley: Greg’s classes went on break for Christmas and he decided to drive home to Utah. The more than 2,000 mile journey left him ample time to think.

Greg Roberts: I called my dad and I just said, ‘Dad, I think I want to move home, y’know, so I can help.’

Dave Cawley: Mel Roberts, Joyce’s first husband, encouraged his son to stay the course.

Mel Roberts: It was a hard, hard decision for him and it was even hard for me to tell him: don’t quit school.

Dave Cawley: Mel told Greg his mother would not have wanted him to give up on his dream.

Greg Roberts: If he’d have said, ‘well if that’s how you feel,’ I probably would have left school and just moved back.

Mel Roberts: And that would’ve been, y’know, that would have been tragic.

Dave Cawley: That Christmas at home allowed Greg to reflect on the two years he’d spent living with his mom while in college, sharing the very apartment from which she’d vanished.

Greg Roberts: Which always made me feel guilty because I feel like I, I left her there unprotected.

Dave Cawley: Gone were the decorations and the piles of presents spread so far out from under the Christmas tree one could hardly find a place to stand. There were no boisterous dinners with Aunt Dot, with long hours of laughter between the two sisters.

Greg Roberts: Joyce was the glue of this family. Everybody’s been pretty lost since she’s been gone.

Dave Cawley: Greg told his sister Kim he was thinking of staying, of not returning to dental school.

Kim Salazar: And I said no. I will make sure you know everything every day as it happens. If something happens, I’ll make sure you know.

Dave Cawley: So, after the holiday, Greg made the long drive back to Virginia where he would wait for word about the sentence soon to come for Doug Lovell.

Ep 3: Nightmare on Top of a Nightmare

Joyce Yost had made a serious accusation.

She’d told police on the morning of April 4, 1985 that a man she didn’t know had raped her, kidnapped her and then raped her again. Clearfield, Utah police detective Bill Holthaus had found Joyce’s report credible. It was buttressed by physical evidence.

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The charging document filed with Utah’s 2nd District Court on April 5, 1985 accusing Douglas Anderson Lovell of the rape of Joyce Yost.

Holthaus identified and arrested a suspect, Douglas Anderson Lovell, within hours of first meeting and interviewing Joyce. Prosecutors in Davis County filed criminal charges against Lovell the following day.

That meant Joyce Yost would have to again face the man who’d assaulted her. What neither of them knew was that Lovell had hatched a murder-for-hire plot to keep Joyce from testifying.


Out on bail

Doug had, by Joyce’s account, threatened to kill her if she reported the rape. Yet a judge set bail at just $25,000. This meant Doug was able to convince his father, Monan Lovell, to secure his release by way of a property bond. 

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Doug Lovell’s father obtained a property bond to secure bail in his son’s rape case. If Doug failed to show up in court as ordered, his father would be responsible for covering the full $25,000 ordered by the judge.

Utah’s Second District Court scheduled a preliminary hearing in the case for June 12, 1985. Joyce would be expected to testify, presenting her account of the rape to a judge. Then, the judge would determine if the evidence supported moving the case to the next step, which is called arraignment.

Joyce confided in her ex-husband Mel Roberts that she feared taking the witness stand.

“We talked at length because she didn’t know what to do,” Mel said. “She was beside herself and I said ‘hang his ass.’”


Billy Jack

Doug, meanwhile, did not want to return to the Utah State Prison.

He’d previously served time there on an armed robbery conviction between 1979 and 1982. That case, in which Doug had acted as wheelman in a hold-up at the U-Save Market on 7th Street in Ogden, Utah, had hinged on the testimony of a lone female witness.

Joyce’s account of what Doug had done to her held similar potential to incriminate him. If heard by a jury, it would likely prove persuasive enough to tip the scales toward conviction.

Doug did not want to give her the opportunity to testify. He decided murder-for-hire was his best option for keeping Joyce quiet.

Billy Jack murder for hire
William “Billy Jack” Wiswell (left) and Doug Lovell play cards in this February, 1984 picture. Photo: Weber County Attorney’s Office

Doug had made connections during his time in prison. He called one of those friends, a man named William “Billy Jack” Wiswell, on the telephone toward the end of April. Doug told Billy Jack he needed help with a job.

Billy Jack was at the time living with a relative in Grand Junction, Colorado. Doug made the more than five-hour drive from South Ogden, Utah to Grand Junction the same day as the phone call.

On the return drive to South Ogden, Doug told Billy Jack the job was murder-for-hire. Doug needed Billy Jack to kill Joyce Yost. He offered $5,000 for the hit, payable after it was done.

Billy Jack accepted.


Stolen guns

Doug and Billy Jack drove up Ogden Canyon and into the pastoral mountain town of Liberty on the evening of May 4, 1985. They parked on a dirt road as the sun set, watching the nearby farm houses. 

The windows of one nearby house remained dark, leading the two men to believe it was unoccupied. They slipped in through an open door in the garage. Once inside, they located a collection of rifles and shotguns. Doug and Billy Jack took all of the guns they could carry.

A May 5, 1985 Weber County Sheriff’s Office report detailing the theft of several long guns from the home of Cody Montgomery, Sr.

They intended for one of those guns, a Winchester, to serve as the instrument of Joyce’s death.

Billy Jack took the Winchester to the apartment in South Ogden where Doug was then living with his wife, Rhonda Lovell. He used a hacksaw to cut the barrel and stock off the shotgun, making it easier to conceal and use in tight quarters.

Doug Lovell gun theft
Doug Lovell and William “Billy Jack” Wiswell obtained entry to this garage while searching for guns on May 5, 1985. Photo: Weber County Attorney’s Office

The two ex-convicts decided they would stash the remainder of the guns someplace safe.


Cabin near Callao

Doug had spent some of his earliest years growing up on a farm in the central Utah community of Oak City, on the eastern fringe of Utah’s vast West Desert region. He’d also spent time hunting in the mountains of the West Desert, particularly the Deep Creek range near the isolated community of Callao.

An old wooden cabin in those mountains had become a favorite haunt of his. So he, his wife Rhonda and Billy Jack headed there over Mother’s Day weekend in 1985. Once there, Doug dug a hole in the ground and buried the additional stolen guns.

Doug Lovell murder for hire
Doug Lovell stands next to a stream in the Deep Creek Mountains near Callao, Utah on May 11, 1985. Photo: Weber County Attorney’s Office

A Utah Highway Patrol trooper spotted Doug and Billy Jack near the city of Nephi while they were on their return trip home. Billy Jack was emptying his bladder on the roadside. The trooper cited both men on suspicion of driving under the influence.

The trooper did not know, nor did he discover, that the two men had just returned from burying the stolen guns.


Murder for hire

Billy Jack set out with the sawed-off Winchester one evening in May of 1985. He walked north from Doug and Rhonda’s apartment toward Joyce Yost’s home, keeping the gun concealed in a fluorescent light tube box he’d fished out of a garbage bin.

Joyce was not at home when Billy Jack arrived, so he took up a position concealed beneath some bushes across the street.

Joyce Yost apartment bushes
William “Billy Jack” Wiswell concealed himself behind these bushes across the street from Joyce Yost’s apartment with the intention of killing her on behalf of his friend, Doug Lovell. Wiswell ultimately failed to carry out the murder. Photo: Weber County Attorney’s Office

“I just set there and wait,” Billy Jack would later tell police. “Drank a few beers, sit there and wait.”

Billy Jack did not see Joyce arrive home that night. He felt a pang of conscience and decided he could not kill a woman he’d never met and held no grudge against.

He buried the shotgun and then skipped town. But Doug Lovell had another friend he would next turn to in order to keep the murder-for-hire plot alive.

Locations of interest for Cold season 2, episode 3.

Hear what happened when Joyce Yost testified in court in Cold episode 3: Nightmare on Top of a Nightmare

Episode credits
Research, writing and hosting: Dave Cawley
Audio production: Nina Earnest
Audio mixing: Trent Sell
Cold main score composition: Michael Bahnmiller
Cold main score mixing: Dan Blanck
Additional songs: By Outrageous used with permission
KSL executive producers: Sheryl Worsley, Keira Farrimond
Workhouse Media executive producers: Paul Anderson, Nick Panella, Andrew Greenwood
Amazon Music team: Morgan Jones, Eliza Mills, Vanessa Rebbert, Shea Simpson
Episode transcript: https://thecoldpodcast.com/season-2-transcript/nightmare-on-top-of-a-nightmare-full-transcript/
KSL companion story: https://ksltv.com/459925/missed-opportunities-could-have-prevented-joyce-yosts-death/
Talking Cold companion episode: https://thecoldpodcast.com/talking-cold#tc-episode-3-4

Cold season 2, episode 3: Nightmare on Top of a Nightmare – Full episode transcript

Dave Cawley: Clearfield police detective Bill Holthaus had a search warrant for Doug Lovell’s Mazda RX-7. The car sat in an impound lot, where it’d been for four days, ever since Bill had pulled Doug out of it and arrested him for the rape of Joyce Yost. Bill suspected he might find a gun in the car, or possibly blood stains. He came up empty on both fronts. He did however located six capsules containing an unidentified white power. That wasn’t all.

Bill Holthaus: But in the process of doing the car, we noticed the VIN number.

Dave Cawley: A car’s VIN number is a unique identifier, like a serial number.

Bill Holthaus: Any police officer will tell you, there’s more than one VIN on a car. So uh, my, the other officer crawled up underneath and found the chassis VIN.

Dave Cawley: It didn’t match. The car had two different VIN numbers. Bill ran both through NCIC, the FBI’s national crime database. The chassis VIN came back as stolen. Doug Lovell’s little red Mazda was hot.

This is Cold, season 2 episode 3: Nightmare on Top of a Nightmare. From KSL Podcasts, I’m Dave Cawley. We’ll be right back.

[Ad break]

Dave Cawley: Bill Holthaus had some questions for Doug Lovell about his Mazda…

Bill Holthaus: We had impounded his car, of course, I should say that.

Dave Cawley: …like why did it have two different VIN numbers? He confronted Doug a few hours after making that discovery. According to police reports, Doug claimed a few months earlier, he’d gone to a business in Ogden called Lincoln Auto, looking to buy an RX-7. Lincoln Auto had connected him with a guy named Marvin Fluckiger who ran a shop called Body Beauty in the city of Logan. Fluckiger had a blue RX-7 on his lot. The body was damaged beyond repair, but the frame and engine were still good.

Doug told Bill he’d initially planned to convert the wreck into a sandrail or a dune buggy. He’d obtained a loan for the car through America First Credit Union. You’ve already heard part of this story from Susan, the loan officer.

Susan Yerage (from 1992 police recording): It was to purchase an ’82 Mazda RX-7. And he wanted the check made out to the Marvin Flukinger [sic].

Dave Cawley: I have a copy of this check, which includes both Doug and Marvin’s names. Doug told Bill he paid Marvin to tow the wreck to a storage unit where he planned to do the conversion. Sometime later, Doug said he’d been shooting pool at a hole-in-the-wall bar and pizza joint called the Circle Inn when he a met a mechanic. This guy, Doug said, had offered to restore the wrecked Mazda for the low, low price of $3,000. Doug gave this guy the keys to his storage unit and two weeks later, went to claim his prize. The car, which had been blue, was now red.

Bill Holthaus: Make a long story short on that, the car was stolen.

Dave Cawley: As for the swapped VIN number, well, Doug said he didn’t know anything about that.

Bill Holthaus: We found out later that uh, he was partially involved in a stolen car ring.

Dave Cawley: I’ll go deeper into this in just a bit. First, let’s talk about how Doug’d managed to get out of jail. Following his arrest on suspicion of rape, Doug had told his family — as well as his wife, Rhonda — it was a misunderstanding. Doug would later say his father told him something along the lines of “No son of mine could commit rape.”

Doug didn’t have the money to post bail himself. He convinced his dad to do it for him. If Doug were to run, his dad would be stuck paying the full 25-thousand dollars. But Doug had no intention of running. Doug returned to the Ogden Main Branch of America First Credit Union after getting out of jail. He needed to talk to his “friend” Susan because he no longer had the car on which he was supposed to be making payments.

“I was just picked up by the police,” he told her.

Susan Yerage (from 1992 police recording): And so I explained to him the normal situation when a car’s impounded the notify the lien holder and then we go pick up the car. So I explained all that to him.

Dave Cawley: This raised the question: why had police impounded the car? Doug told Susan he’d been hustled by a woman. He’d gone to the woman’s apartment and spent the night with her.

Susan Yerage (from 1992 police recording): And that she was begging him not to leave. And that he finally left, went home to his apartment, got cleaned up and was going to work and the police picked him up on the highway. And that they’d impounded the car.

Dave Cawley: Doug told Susan the woman with whom he’d slept was now making a phony accusation of rape.

Susan Yerage (from 1992 police recording): And he did tell me all about … ‘she’s gonna prosecute me for rape.’ And he asked me what he should do. And I told him he needed to get a good attorney.

Dave Cawley: Doug had a different idea. He explained he’d separated from his wife, Rhonda.

Susan Yerage (from 1992 police recording): Y’know, he acted liked he needed someone to talk to and asked me if he, y’know, if we could go have a cup of coffee or go to lunch.

Dave Cawley: Susan felt no desire to interact with Doug in any kind of social setting. She told him no.

[Scene transition] 

Dave Cawley: Doug had other friends with whom to speak. One of them, William Wiswell, was living in Grand Junction, Colorado. Doug had first met William, who was better known by his street name “Billy Jack,” while in the Utah State Prison five years earlier. That’s where he was when, in late April of ’85, he received a phone call. Doug told Billy Jack he had a job for him and Billy Jack said he was game. Doug made the five-hour drive to Grand Junction that same day.

Billy Jack wasn’t a big man, only standing around five-foot-three. But he found Doug’s Ford pickup truck quite cramped as he slid onto the bench seat. He had to share the space not only with Doug, but also Rhonda and little Alisha.

Detective Bill Holthaus said Doug and Rhonda had been estranged at the time of the rape…

Bill Holthaus: He was at that time separated from his wife. He was living in uh, the house there down in Clearfield. She was living up in the apartment in South Ogden.

Dave Cawley: …but they’d reconciled since. Rhonda had rented a place at the Lake Park Apartments, less than a mile and a half as the crow flies from Joyce Yost’s apartment in South Ogden. Doug abandoned his house in Clearfield and moved in with Rhonda there. That’s where he was taking Billy Jack. They didn’t talk much on the long drive. Doug only mentioned the job after Alisha had dozed off, saying he’d pay $5,000 for Billy Jack to kill Joyce Yost.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Bill Holthaus kept in touch with Joyce in the days and weeks following the rape.

Bill Holthaus: I had, uh, two or three telephone conversations with her and two, I think only two times, uh, once I went to her apartment and spoke with her and uh, one time she came into the office.

Dave Cawley: She provided hair and blood samples for the crime lab during that office visit on May 9, 1985. Joyce’s ex-husband, Mel Roberts, told me she’d discussed the rape with him as well.

Mel Roberts: And it had a tremendous emotional effect on her.

Dave Cawley: Mel encouraged Joyce to move forward with criminal charges. She did, but also tried to shield her daughter and son from the details.

Kim Salazar: She didn’t let it define her. But I know, I can’t imagine as a woman not letting that eat you alive inside.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Bill, meantime, kept busy chasing down leads. He’d learned Doug’s Mazda had disappeared from a dealership called Carlson Cadillac in Salt Lake City in May of ’84. That case was still open and assigned to a Salt Lake City police detective named Ron Greenleaf.

Ron Greenleaf: It was my case to follow up on because it was on automobile, we called it dealer row.

Dave Cawley: Bill told Ron he was investigating a rape.

Ron Greenleaf: The suspect was Douglas Lovell and that he was in this red vehicle, which was stolen.

Dave Cawley: Ron headed up to Clearfield to take a look at the Mazda.

Ron Greenleaf: There’s 17 digits in a VIN number and they, every one of them means something.

Dave Cawley: Like where and when the car was built, what type of engine it came with and even what color it’d been painted at the factory. Ron brought a large book he called the “SVIN bible.” It contained the codes auto manufacturers used to generate VIN numbers, as well as the locations of “secret” VINs.

Ron Greenleaf: We confirmed that definitely that was the car. No doubt about it.

Dave Cawley: The detectives next turned their attention to Lincoln Auto.

Ron Greenleaf: Lincoln Auto is where he got the salvaged VIN.

Dave Cawley: Ron told me he, and many other Utah detectives who investigated car thefts back in the ‘80s, harbored suspicions about Lincoln Auto.

Ron Greenleaf: ‘Cause they would go out of state and you’d always see them on the freeway with car carriers taking damaged vehicles back and generally they were always high-end vehicles.

Dave Cawley: Those wrecked cars would then sit on the Lincoln lot.

Ron Greenleaf: Why would a junkyard in Ogden, Utah be accumulating high-end vehicles?

Dave Cawley: Ron leaned on the folks at Lincoln Auto and learned Doug Lovell had been involved in the transfer of another salvaged vehicle.

Bill Holthaus: There’s also a pickup truck that was involved. It was off another lot.

Dave Cawley: A white, 1985 Toyota SR5 pickup truck, stolen from Dan’s Used Cars in Salt Lake City in October of ’84. This was another of Ron Greenleaf’s open cases. Like the Mazda, the Toyota had gone through Marvin Fluckiger’s shop, Body Beauty, before receiving a new salvage title from Lincoln Auto. The detectives tracked down the Toyota and discovered it too had a mismatched VIN.

Ron Greenleaf: He’d, somebody, we didn’t know if it was him, we presumed it was him, had switched the dash VIN number. The VIN number on the dash.

Dave Cawley: I have to be careful here, as Marvin Fluckiger was never arrested or charged with any crime related to these vehicles, nor were the owners of Lincoln Auto. But investigators didn’t believe Doug had acted alone.

Bill Holthaus: The way they did it was they would go drive a car from a used car lot to test it. While they had it, they’d get copies of the keys made. They would come back later and steal the car. And that’s how they got the cars.

Dave Cawley: Stolen cars are tough to register, since they can be traced by their VIN numbers. A moment ago, Ron posed a rhetorical question about why a junkyard would want to stockpile fancy but smashed-up cars. One reason could be if they were running what’s known as a salvage switch or VIN swap scam. In that case, a thief would go to the junkyard seeking something very specific.

Ron Greenleaf: I would tell you all I want is the vehicle identification numbers, the VIN plates, and I want the title.

Dave Cawley: The thief could then graft the VIN plates from the salvage car onto the stolen one, before presenting the stolen car as if it’s the wreck after a rebuild. That way, the stolen car gets a new title under the swapped VIN number, which allows it to be legally sold and registered. In other words, it’s fraud.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: The shadow of Ben Lomond Peak stretched out across the horse pastures of the Ogden Valley. The North Fork of the Ogden River babbled through the pastoral town of Liberty, on its way down toward Pineview Reservoir. To the north, the last light of day lifted from the slopes of the Powder Mountain ski resort and the mountains around it.

Doug Lovell had grown up hunting those hills. So on this evening — May 5, 1985 — he sat in familiar surroundings as the sky slid through the lavender hues of twilight. Doug and his friend, Billy Jack sat in a parked Volkswagen. They were hunting, but not for deer. Instead, they watched as the lights came on in the windows of the farmhouses. One house caught Doug’s eye. It remained dark. The house belonged to Cody and Karen Montgomery, a couple with deep family roots in the Ogden Valley.

Karen Montgomery: We had just built our home and we’d been there maybe two years.

Dave Cawley: That afternoon, Cody and Karen had taken their kids, including Jessica, Cody junior and Chad, to visit a relative.

Karen Montgomery: We were going to go down to Cody’s grandma’s just down the road and get a haircut.

Dave Cawley: Jessica was then six going on seven and wasn’t all that interested in tagging along with her little brothers.

Karen Montgomery: She just wanted to stay home and read her book.

Dave Cawley: That’s Karen, by the way. She convinced her daughter it was better to come than to stay home alone and the Montgomerys headed up the dirt road.

Karen Montgomery: It’s just across the field. You could see it from the field. Y’know, it was just, just walking distance. Very close.

Dave Cawley: But far enough for Doug. He and Billy Jack crept from the Volkswagen toward the open garage door of the house…

Karen Montgomery: We had left the garage door open because there’s nobody up here.

Dave Cawley: …and hit pay dirt almost immediately. Cody Senior had left a long gun against the wall of the mudroom. Doug snatched it.

Karen Montgomery: It’s a four-level split and the garage was open, so the door that he went into came in from the garage and that was kind of a mudroom. And then, next to the mudroom was the washroom, the laundry room, and then there was a basement right there.

Dave Cawley: Doug and Billy Jack spotted more guns in the basement. Cody Senior was storing his father-in-law Ted Hilstead’s collection of rifles and shotguns there.

Karen Montgomery: There was no door to the basement so you could just see right in the basement and they were just at the back.

Cody Montgomery, Jr.: Yeah, probably wasn’t too hard to find.

Karen Montgomery: No, it wasn’t.

Dave Cawley: The Montgomery family returned home around 10 p.m. As Cody Senior steered into the gravel driveway, his headlights swept across a shell belt, a piece of hunting gear that holds shotgun shells. Doug, or maybe Billy Jack, had dropped it on the way out of the house.

Cody Montgomery, Jr.: You guys knew right when we got there that something was off.

Karen Montgomery: Yeah, yeah. Dad could, dad knew ‘cause that thing—

Cody Montgomery, Jr.: Yeah, ‘cause the bullet belt was out.

Dave Cawley: Cody Sr. put the car in park and told his children to stay put.

Cody Montgomery, Jr.: ‘Cause we had to stay in the car, right? And then dad went through the whole house and crawled up in the attic and everything, like checked the whole, every corner of the house out before he’d let us in.

Dave Cawley: Karen followed her husband through the house. She could see someone had ransacked the master bedroom.

Karen Montgomery: I went in my bedroom and I could tell that my five-gallon jar of change was gone and our drawers and been gone through.

Dave Cawley: Far-flung and sparsely populated Liberty was not one of the most active areas for crime in Weber County. Response times were slow. Cody and Karen did a more detailed sweep while they waited for a sheriff’s deputy to arrive.

Karen Montgomery: We started looking around and went downstairs and noticed that the guns were gone and some other things were missing from downstairs.

Dave Cawley: The deputy made a list of the missing guns. There were seven in total: four shotguns and three rifles.

Karen Montgomery: I mean after, they told us ‘You probably won’t see the guns again’ and just, y’know, ‘We’ll keep you informed if there’s anything that happens, comes of it.’

Dave Cawley: Cody and Karen Montgomery wouldn’t hear anything more about their missing guns for years.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Doug and Billy Jack came away from that theft with more guns than they needed. The following weekend — over Mother’s Day — Doug, Rhonda and Billy Jack made a road trip out to Utah’s West Desert. They went out past Callao — a small farming community along the old Pony Express Trail — to an old homesteader’s cabin Doug knew about from hunting trips in the Deep Creek mountains along the Utah-Nevada border. They dug a hole just out back of the cabin and buried several of the guns. They’d left one at home: a Winchester 1200.

They were driving home and were about halfway back when, near the city of Nephi, Doug pulled to side of the highway to allow Billy Jack to empty his bladder. A Utah Highway Patrol trooper took notice, stopped and arrested Doug on suspicion of driving under the influence. Billy Jack ended up in the drunk tank as well, leaving Rhonda to bail them both out of jail.

Word of this DUI arrest did not get back to Bill Holthaus. Nephi sits about 100 miles to the south of Clearfield and in ’85, even police agencies next door to one another in Utah struggled to communicate.

Bill Holthaus: At that time, uh, we couldn’t talk to Ogden, we couldn’t talk to any of those other places except on one frequency. It was called statewide and you only ever used that for emergencies.

Dave Cawley: Doug and Billy Jack returned to Rhonda’s apartment after she bailed them out and reunited with the stolen Winchester. The Winchester 1200 came from the factory with either a 28 or 30-inch-long barrel. Billy Jack took a hacksaw and chopped it to make the weapon easier to conceal and use at close range. Getting caught with that illegally modified short-barrel shotgun would likely land Billy Jack in federal prison. He certainly couldn’t just carry the Winchester down the street to Joyce’s apartment. He needed to conceal it. So he fished a long, rectangular box — which had originally held fluorescent light tubes — out of a garbage can.

Doug provided Billy Jack with the details of the plot. He would go visit his dad in the evening, giving himself an alibi. Billy Jack, meantime, would walk up Washington Boulevard with the Winchester. They scouted out Joyce’s four-plex. Doug showed Billy Jack where she parked at night. They even stalked her one day, following her to her work 40 miles south in the Salt Lake Valley. Doug bought a box of shotgun shells while down there. He gave Billy Jack a handful to take with him on the agreed-upon night.

Dusk was coming on when Billy Jack set out with his fluorescent light box. He walked to Joyce’s apartment and took up position behind some bushes across the street. He could see Joyce wasn’t home. Her Oldsmobile was absent from the carport. So, he settled in and waited, drinking beer after beer, the Winchester close at hand.

Billy Jack at last asked himself if it was worth it and decided he couldn’t do it. He grabbed the box, heavy with its payload of blue steel, stood and started walking back the way he’d come. He’d gone about two blocks to the west when, in line of sight of South Ogden police headquarters, he ducked into a patch of trees. He found some soft ground beneath a large pine tree and dug into it with his gloved hands. The Winchester went into the hole, along with the shotgun shells and the gloves.

Doug wasn’t happy when he came home from his dad’s house and discovered the hit had not happened. Billy Jack said it wasn’t his fault, Joyce had never arrived home. Doug told Billy Jack he needed to try again. They scouted Joyce’s apartment once more and Doug gave Billy Jack about $50, a down payment on the $5,000 that was to come. Billy Jack told Doug he would take care of it. Then, he used the money to get drunk. Over Memorial Day weekend, he thumbed a ride and hitchhiked his way out of town.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Doug’s arrest for DUI on the way back from buying the guns put him in a bind. If word of it got back to his bosses at the Ideal Cement company, he’d lose his job. Hardly a day had passed since Billy Jack’s disappearing act at the end of May before Doug came up with a plan. He went to work and, while there, claimed to have tweaked his back.

The injury — if there even was one — wasn’t serious. But Doug filed for worker’s compensation. He went in for a medical exam and exaggerated the severity of his pain. The doctor prescribed muscle relaxers, which he took. Doug then went to another doctor, under the guise of seeking a second opinion, and then another. He collected scripts for Percodan, Percocet and Valium. He took those, too. In fact, so great was his phantom pain that he received more muscle relaxers and even Halcion, to help him sleep at night.

Doug consumed those pills at sometimes two to three times the prescribed dosage not because he was in pain but because he’d become addicted.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: At the start of June, Doug’s mind turned to another man he believed capable of killing Joyce: Tom Peters.

Tom Peters (from 1991 police recording): Doug’s a dangerous man. He’s a very dangerous man.

Dave Cawley: Doug and Tom had met at the Utah State Prison in ’79. Tom’d had a reputation there as a bruiser, a so-called debt collector. He’d done time in maximum security prisons in both California and Colorado. Tom was also acquainted with Doug’s accomplices from the robbery at the U-Save Market: Sherrill Chestnut and Ray Dodge.

Tom Peters (from 1991 police recording): When Doug first got busted, he got busted armed robbery with, ah, some of the older, rougher guys around Salt Lake. I’m not from Salt Lake, but as I came and did time here I got to know them.

Dave Cawley: Tom had lived with Doug and Rhonda for a time in ’83 after getting out of prison. Tom’d actually had a wife then, but wasn’t welcome to live with her because he also had a series of girlfriends. Tom would later tell police he and Doug spent those weeks in ’83 carrying out a string of petty burglaries.

Tom Peters (from 1991 police recording): It was like a gas barbecue pit and stuff. … It was somebody’s front porch, not porch, in their garage thing, you know? Very little things.

Dave Cawley: By the spring of ’85, Tom had moved in with Becky, one of those girlfriends, on the west side of the Salt Lake Valley. Doug called Tom at Becky’s place that June and told him he needed help taking care of a woman. He was willing to pay to make it happen. Tom’s ears perked up at the mention of money.

Tom Peters (from 1991 police recording): I told him, ‘How much?’ ‘Cause see that’s the problem with that dope. You just don’t, money’s, I handled hundreds and hundreds of dollars all the time. Scheme, scams, you know.

Dave Cawley: Tom had a nasty heroin habit. Doug and Rhonda drove down to visit Tom at Becky’s apartment.

Tom Peters (from 1991 police recording): He was even on Percodans I believe at the time. He was a totally different person than what I seen before. And so was Rhonda. She was a totally different lady. I remember her very sweet.

Dave Cawley: Tom hadn’t known Doug to use drugs before but found him now angry and erratic.

Tom Peters (from 1991 police recording): See, when he first come to see me, he had a big scar down his cheek, you know? And he said this woman’s saying he’s raping her. That he raped her and he’s all wild you know?

Dave Cawley: Doug was due in court in just days — on June 12th — for a preliminary hearing. He wanted Joyce gone before she could testify. He had a fresh worker’s compensation check for $800. It was Tom’s if he wanted it, as a down payment.

Tom Peters (from 1991 police recording): Becky was sitin’ there. Rhonda was on the couch. Rhonda and her and Doug and me, and they were uptight ‘cause of money, you know. And I’m trying to make some promises, you know?

Dave Cawley: Tom told Doug he would do it. Tom didn’t intend to carry out the hit. He just saw it as an opportunity to secure his next fix.

Tom Peters (from 1991 police recording): I only got some dope is all I got, I’m just a dope fiend. That’s all I was then. Just a street dope fiend, where I would lie to anybody for the dope.

Dave Cawley: Tom talked it over with his girlfriend, Becky, after Doug and Rhonda left. They hatched a plan. Tom would take the money, use half of it to buy heroin and take the other half to Las Vegas or Wendover. He’d gamble it, double it back to the original amount, then return the $800 to Doug and say ‘sorry, can’t do it.’

Tom drove up to Ogden a few days later. He met up with Doug near the Utah State Employees Credit Union branch on 42nd Street and Harrison Boulevard, where Rhonda did her banking.

Tom Peters (from 1991 police recording): ‘Cause he was trying to cash a check, too … to pay me.

Dave Cawley: Next, they rolled down 40th Street to scope out Joyce’s apartment. Doug and Rhonda had already gone and cased Joyce’s apartment themselves. On one of those trips, Doug had discovered the back window on the east side of the Joyce’s unit didn’t latch tight. He could slide it open from the outside.

Tom Peters (from 1991 police recording): And then he says, he said ‘You can go to the window’ and I believe he said ‘There’s a window open. Or even go up to the door, you know, and just, you know, burglar your way in,’ you know? And ‘Pack her stuff, and pack her stuff. Act like she just disappeared.’

Dave Cawley: Tom understood Doug wanted him to make it appear as though she’d skipped town. Doug said to take Joyce up into the mountains. They agreed on a date. Doug knew his family would be gathered at his dad’s cabin on this particular night. He arranged to be there with Rhonda, to provide an alibi. Once at the cabin, Doug kept flipping on a portable AM radio so he could listen to the hourly news. He expected to hear something about a murder in South Ogden. That news report never came.

Tom Peters had purchased a gram of heroin with the money and headed to Nevada to gamble the rest. His plan to double the money failed.

Tom Peters (from 1991 police recording): He come back a couple of times and it wasn’t done, but I had already, I didn’t win in the Vegas. I didn’t win, you know the story. I didn’t double his money and come back and give him money, I spent it all. We partied and got dope and, anyway, he called a couple of times and said ‘What’s happening?’ But the money’s already gone. And he did say, ‘Well, it’s gonna be done. If I have to do it myself, it’s going to be done.’

[Ad break]

Dave Cawley: Joyce Yost went to court on June 12, 1985. The preliminary hearing was an opportunity for a judge to review the evidence and decide if it was enough to advance the case to arraignment, where Doug would enter a plea. Detective Bill Holthaus had no doubt it would be.

Bill Holthaus: It was very, very good evidence.

Dave Cawley: Joyce and Bill were the only two witnesses called to testify at the prelim by the prosecutor, Brian Namba.

Brian Namba: It was a pretty serious case for an attorney with as little experience as I had. It was, uh, probably the most serious case that I’d had up to that point.

Dave Cawley: Brian was just a few years out of law school. He’d only been with the Davis County Attorney’s Office for about a year. Doug also had an attorney, one who was much more seasoned: John Hutchison.

Brian Namba: John was a very colorful guy.

Dave Cawley: Hutch, as people called him, had a bit of a reputation.

Brian Namba: I think that his rough exterior was intimidating to young attorneys. When I first met him I was somewhat intimidated by him.

Dave Cawley: John often showed up to court in moccasins and a Nehru jacket. He had long hair.

Brian Namba: Y’know he was sort of a hippy in the early years, that he refused to wear a necktie and wore beads and things like that when he went to court. (Laughs) But an excellent attorney, an excellent legal mind.

Dave Cawley: He rarely advised his clients to waive their right to a preliminary hearing.

Brian Namba: The defense attorney can use the preliminary hearing as a tool of discovery to find out what the witness is going to say, to limit what the witness can say when they get to a trial and to help them to be able to prepare some sort of a defense.

Dave Cawley: That’s how Joyce came to sit on the witness stand on that June day. It was the first time she’d seen Doug since the night of the rape.

Kim Salazar: I went with her. I didn’t go into the courtroom, though. But I was there with her.

Dave Cawley: That’s Joyce’s daughter, Kim Salazar. She and her husband Randy had turned out to support Joyce.

Randy Salazar: I do remember her, her saying she didn’t want to get on the stand. ‘Cause Doug told her if she told anybody that he promised … he’d come back and kill her. … But I just always tried to tell her that I loved her and, man, and I stood behind her and, y’know, yeah. So that’s what she was afraid of.

Dave Cawley: Joyce had not revealed the rape to her son Greg Roberts, who was at that time attending dental school in Virginia, until the time of this court hearing.

Greg Roberts: Maybe that’s why she called me and told me.

Dave Cawley: Joyce hadn’t wanted what’d happened to interfere with Greg’s studies.

Greg Roberts: Yeah, I think I got a muted story for sure from her. She didn’t really let on much and that, everything that was going on surrounding it.

Dave Cawley: Joyce had been more candid with Mel Roberts, her ex-husband.

Mel Roberts: She was concerned about going forward with it, with charges. And I said ‘You owe it to yourself and to Kim and Greg to hang that sonofabitch.’

Dave Cawley: She’d told Mel she feared having her private life dissected in public.

Mel Roberts: Y’know, and she was prepared to be drug through the mud because you know they’re going to. And I said, ‘You just have to take it with a grain of salt. I mean, you know it’s not true.’

Dave Cawley: Bill Holthaus listened to her testimony.

Bill Holthaus: I remember that it basically went to script. I mean, Brian asked the questions that were in my police report.

Brian Namba: She portrayed a really nice image. She was very likable. But I think she was embarrassed about the whole thing. She didn’t really relish the thought of testifying and so she did leave some things out.

Dave Cawley: He walked her step-by-step through the story. Her responses were not as detailed as they’d been the night of, but they were consistent. That is, until Brian asked if the assault had included anything other than “normal” sex. Joyce said no. Brian had read the reports. He knew what Doug had forced Joyce to do.

Brian Namba: When she wouldn’t say it voluntarily, the tightrope as a prosecutor to have to walk is that you’re not allowed to ask leading question of your own witness.

Dave Cawley: Joyce couldn’t bring herself to talk about it in open court.

Brian Namba: So when she didn’t volunteer it, I had to try to figure out ways to ask the question using different words but without leading her and that was kind of difficult.

Dave Cawley: Brian tried to rephrase. John objected, but was overruled.

Brian Namba: The judge kept giving me a chance because he knew what was in the probable cause statement on the information but she just wouldn’t say it. (Laughs)

Dave Cawley: This was a blow to the state’s case, but not a fatal one. John took his turn questioning Joyce. Hadn’t she offered to go have coffee with Doug? How had she identified his car if she hadn’t seen its license plate?

Bill Holthaus: Mr. Lovell’s attorney, umm, attempted to trip her up on a couple three things. It didn’t work.

Dave Cawley: The point of greatest substance in John questioning revolved around the medical exam Joyce had undergone, what’s known as a rape kit. The doctor’s and nurse’s notes, along with the forensics gathered during that exam, had been passed to the police, prosecution and defense. TThey’d become part of the record of the case. However, that’s not the same thing as being public.

I will again acknowledge here, as I did last episode, that Joyce is not able to provide consent for release of this information. I have personally reviewed the rape kit records but am only revealing a sliver of what they say in this forum because they are factually relevant and were discussed in open court.

Defense attorney John Hutchison asked Joyce if she knew whether or not the doctor had observed any vaginal tearing, a possible indicator of forcible sex. Joyce replied she didn’t know. The doctor’s report did not mention any vaginal tearing. But then remember, Joyce had cooperated with her attacker following the initial barrage in her car.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Because I was taking a certain amount of physical abuse along with this and uh, decided to cooperate.

Dave Cawley: So the absence of those other injuries was not unexpected. There was another issue with the rape kit evidence. The crime lab had tested oral and vaginal swabs collected from Joyce. The vaginal swab contained traces of seminal fluid. The oral, however, did not. That meant the state had no physical evidence to support the sodomy charge.

There’s a good reason why that swab came back negative. The doctor’s notes stated while Joyce hadn’t showered following her assault, she had taken a drink of water. These two factors — Joyce’s reluctance to testify to the sodomy and the lack of supporting evidence — led to the judge dismissing the sodomy count.

Bill Holthaus: But she held up well during preliminary, other than there were some things she didn’t want to talk about.”

Joyce left the hearing recognizing her reluctance had hurt the prosecution’s case.

Kim Salazar: She knew that there was things she didn’t say that she probably should have said but she was ashamed and she wouldn’t say it.

Dave Cawley: It was her nightmare scenario, like the scenes in that TV movie she’d watched, A Case of Rape. Yet, she’d faced it. Kim’s husband Randy said his mother-in-law had shown tremendous courage.

Randy Salazar: This man had ruined her life and her kids’ life and, and y’know what? She wasn’t scared of him anymore. She was, she was telling the truth. And everything you told me that you were going to kill me? ‘Well [expletive] you.’ You know what? ‘You’re going to prison for what you did to me.’

Dave Cawley: As for Doug, he would remain free on bond at least until his arraignment hearing on June 20th.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: John Hutchison showed up in court on June 20th without his client. Doug, he said, was unavailable and “incapacitated” by a back injury. The story of the back injury had taken on a life of its own. Doug now had crutches and doctors notes aplenty. Bill Holthaus thought it was all baloney.

Bill Holthaus: Never saw any indication there was anything wrong with this health at all. … He was thin to begin with. He wasn’t a heavy kid … actually, y’know I thought of him as being in pretty good shape.

Dave Cawley: John asked the judge to postpone the arraignment. The judge agreed to a one-week delay. Doug was not convalescing at home. He’d taken Rhonda’s car that day, driven up to a mountain reservoir called East Canyon and spent time drinking beer and boating. When Doug’d returned home that evening, Rhonda had discovered he’d smashed up her car while driving intoxicated.

“I’m going to kill Joyce Yost,” Rhonda would later say he told her.

Later that night, police received a 911 call from a man who lived in the same apartment complex as Doug and Rhonda. He’d seen a blue pickup truck crash into a parked flatbed in the parking lot of the Lake Park Apartments. Those apartments sit on the west side of U.S. Highway 89. The road, which also goes by the name Washington Boulevard, is one of the primary north-south arteries of Utah’s Weber Valley. And it serves as the dividing line between the communities of South Ogden to the east— where Joyce lived — and Washington Terrace to the west. Because the 911 call came from a location just a hundred or so feet on the west side of that dividing line, the dispatcher sent out an officer from Washington Terrace.

Officer TJ Harper received the information at about 11 p.m. He drove his patrol car over to the complex and spotted the blue Ford pickup truck turning northbound onto Washington Boulevard. He radioed for backup and pulled the truck over. Harper would write his official report he noted the smell of alcohol as he approached the truck.

“How much have you had to drink tonight,” Harper asked.

“A couple of beers,” came the reply.

“Did you hit another vehicle back there at the Lake Park Apartments,” he asked.

“No, but some guy says I did,” the driver said.

Harper told the driver — Doug Lovell — he appeared to be intoxicated and would have to take a field sobriety test.

A couple more patrol cars showed up about this time. They’d come not from South Ogden but instead from the city of Riverdale, even farther to the west. Harper put Doug through a few quick tests, which Doug failed. He then placed Doug under arrest. The two Riverdale officers began the process of impounding the pickup truck.

Officer Steve Hallowell took a look inside the cab. He spotted a handgun under the driver seat: a Beretta model 950BS, also known as the “Minx.” This tiny semi-automatic pocket pistol fired .22 caliber short rounds. What it lacked in punch, it made up for in sheer sneakiness. Hallowell slid the magazine out of the gun. There were six rounds in the clip as well as one in the chamber, ready to fire.

State and federal law prohibited Doug from possessing firearms, let alone a loaded, concealed handgun while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident. This was, at very least, a violation of the terms of his pre-trial release in the rape case. What none of the officers seemed to realize that night was Doug had skipped court earlier that same day.

Bill Holthaus: At that time, there was very little communication between Davis County and Weber County. We didn’t have the same radio frequencies.

Dave Cawley: The Washington Terrace and Riverdale officers apparently did not know Doug stood accused of a kidnapping and rape. They didn’t piece together he’d been headed toward Joyce’s apartment when they’d stopped him and found the little mouse gun. And once again, no one bothered to tell Clearfield police detective Bill Holthaus…

Bill Holthaus: So I, I doubt they even really knew much about our case at that time. And I didn’t know anything about the DUI up there at all.

Dave Cawley: …or Davis County prosecutor Brian Namba.

Brian Namba: You didn’t have a lot of intelligence going on from one person to the other, one agency to the other.

Dave Cawley: Had someone with knowledge of the Joyce Yost case been involved in or informed of this DUI arrest, they might have realized he was on his way to Joyce’s apartment to kill her.

Brian Namba: The county sheriff, they had enough cars that they would have briefings when they had shift change. But the smaller agencies, it’s just one officer turning over the keys to the other officer and saying, ‘Well, this is what happened tonight.’

Dave Cawley: It was after midnight when officer Harper booked Doug on suspicion of DUI, leaving the scene of an accident, carrying a concealed weapon and illegal possession of a firearm by a restricted person. Prosecutors in Weber County filed formal charges later that same day. Again, no one bothered to communicate this to Brian Namba, the prosecutor handling the rape case in neighboring Davis County.

Brian Namba: Y’know, they didn’t have a lot of computer communication going on in those days. just paper. And they probably just never found out about it.

Dave Cawley: So it was that Doug Lovell, an ex-con with a history of violence, who was out of jail on bond while awaiting trial for rape, who police had caught with a loaded firearm, was allowed to bail out of jail. Again. And Joyce had no idea about any of it. One week later, on June 26th, Doug went before Utah 2nd District Court Judge Rodney Page for his arraignment in the rape case.

Brian Namba: The purpose of arraignment is for the defendant to just declare whether he’s guilty or not guilty.

Dave Cawley: He pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Brian Namba: He would have heard what the evidence is against him at the preliminary hearing and when he declares that he’s not guilty, then that sets the stage for us to set trial.

Dave Cawley: Judge Page scheduled the trial for August 20th. Brian Namba asked the judge to compel Doug to provide blood, hair and saliva samples to be used in forensic tests. Doug’s attorney objected. But Judge Page issued an order to make it so. Judge Page also signed what’s known as a hold order. I have a copy of this document. It reads “the defendant is ordered held until further notice of this court.” Clear language from the judge saying keep this guy locked up until I say otherwise.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: A week and a half later — on July 8th — the situation with the stolen Mazda came to a head. Salt Lake City police detective Ron Greenleaf had obtained an arrest warrant.

Ron Greenleaf: Possession of a stolen vehicle.

Dave Cawley: There were two separate charges, one for the Mazda RX-7 and the other for the Toyota pickup. Ron drove up from Salt Lake late that afternoon and arrested Doug.

Ron Greenleaf: He was very talkative, but not, didn’t give me one iota of information regarding this case or the stolen vehicles. It was just like, y’know, how’s the weather? Gee, this is fun, y’know. Haven’t been outside for awhile. … Wish I wasn’t in handcuffs. (Laughs)

Dave Cawley: They arrived at the Salt Lake County Jail. Ron walked Doug in through the sally port. He then hung around, waiting and watching as Doug went through the booking process. That didn’t finish until a little after midnight.

Ron Greenleaf: He just said, ‘I guess I’ll be seeing you, huh, in court?’ And I said, ‘Yes, you will.’ (Laughs)

Dave Cawley: Ron didn’t see Doug in court. Jail records show staff there let Doug walk at 1:45 a.m. on July 9th, a little over one hour after he was booked. This, even though the felony car theft charges would’ve been more than enough for a judge to revoke his bail in the rape case.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Meantime, the Davis County Attorney’s Office was trying to find Doug to serve the court order demanding he provide blood and hair samples. He wasn’t in the county jail where, according to Judge Page’s hold order, he was supposed to be. Detective Bill Holthaus went to work tracking him down. Bill went to Doug and Rhonda’s apartment in Washington Terrace on July 17th. He knocked on the door and was surprised when Doug answered.

Bill figured, in that moment, that the hold order must have been rescinded. He told Doug they needed to go to the hospital for the blood draw. Doug said it wasn’t a good time. He was babysitting his wife Rhonda’s then-four-year-old daughter, Alisha.

Bill Holthaus: The mother was not there.

Dave Cawley: Rhonda worked for the state at an office in downtown Ogden and was gone during the day. Maybe Bill could come back another time, Doug suggested.

Bill Holthaus: I was not willing to come back another time. So I told him that we can take the daughter with us.

Dave Cawley: Doug and Alisha piled into Bill’s police car. They drove around Hill Air Force Base, to a hospital in the city Layton for the blood draw. On the drive back, Bill took a route that went past the base’s South Gate.

Bill Holthaus: At that time, there was a large, there was an F-105 on a stanchion which was there for everyone to see and the young girl made a comment about the airplane.

Dave Cawley: Bill asked Alisha if she would like to see the plane up close, an offer she eagerly accepted.

Bill Holthaus: This was not her fault, y’know, that we were in this situation. So I, I stopped to show her the airplane.

Dave Cawley: As Alisha looked, wide-eyed, at the sleek jet, Doug and Bill began to talk.

Bill Holthaus: We had a conversation about the case and Douglas said something to me about, ‘This isn’t going to trial.’ And y’know, ‘This is, nothing’s going to come out of this.’ And I said, ‘I believe it is, I believe we have the evidence for it to go to trial.’ He looked at me with an expression that got my attention.

Dave Cawley: Bill did not startle easily.

Bill Holthaus: It just was like it froze the moment.

Dave Cawley: The two men looked each other in the eyes. Bill saw an intensity in Doug’s expression that he still, to this day, struggles to put into words.

Bill Holthaus: And he said, ‘This will not go to trial.’

Dave Cawley: An odd thing for Doug to say, considering a trial date had already been scheduled. It was just a month away.

Bill Holthaus: And I simply said, y’know, with the young girl there I didn’t want to get into a, y’know, a shouting contest. I said, ‘I believe it will.’ And I let it go at that.

Dave Cawley: The exchange left Bill troubled.

Bill Holthaus: That uh, led me to believe that he could become violent.

Dave Cawley: He reported this concern up his chain of command.

Bill Holthaus: I did mention that to the attorneys following that. And I did mention that to South Ogden at that time.

Dave Cawley: He told Joyce about it as well and urged her to go stay someplace safe.

Bill Holthaus: I think she believed that she was able to take care of herself.

Dave Cawley: Joyce did not heed this advice. She declined urgent invitations to stay with her daughter Kim and Kim’s husband Randy.

Kim Salazar: She had to have some fear. But she didn’t ever let on that she was afraid.

Dave Cawley: Randy didn’t realize the latch on one of Joyce’s apartment windows was broken.

Randy Salazar: You could just slide it open.

Dave Cawley: Even from the outside.

Randy Salazar: If I would have known that, I would have, I mean, I would have put that, I mean, I never even heard of it.

Dave Cawley: Doug Lovell was well aware.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: The heat of the afternoon struck Joyce Yost as she followed her daughter Kim to the parking lot outside Royal Studio, a photography business in Ogden where Kim worked. It was Saturday, August 10, 1985.

Joyce had just taken a job at the studio as well, having quit her position selling fur for the Weinstocks department store. The pay was better and her commute was only four miles, instead of 40. Kim’s shift at the photo studio ended earlier than her mother’s on that hot summer Saturday.

Kim Salazar: I always got off early on Saturdays. We only worked until like noon but she stayed there all day and so she walked me out and I remember I had actually thought about asking her if she would watch the kids that night because we were going to go some where but then she told me that they were going to go out to the base to listen to Steve play in the band so I never, y’know, asked her to babysit the kids.

Dave Cawley: Steve was the adult son of Joyce’s close friends Gordon and Terry Kaufman.

Joyce had also made plans for the following day. A guy friend she’d been seeing, John Gibson, was coming over to barbecue. Joyce finished her shift later that Saturday afternoon and went out to her car. It wasn’t the big Oldsmobile anymore. She’d sold that days earlier and in its place purchased a white, 1976 Chevy Nova.

She went home, changed into a pink dress, then drove the Nova over to her sister Dorothy’s house on Fern Street in Clearfield. Dorothy later described the events of that night in a police interview.

Dorothy Dial (from January 1992 police recording): She drove, ah, to my place and we got in my car and went to the officer’s club.

Dave Cawley: Joyce told Dorothy she’d sold the Oldsmobile. The check she’d received from the buyer was in her purse. Joyce and Dorothy carpooled to the club together, leaving the Nova parked outside Dorothy’s house.

Dorothy Dial (from January 1992 police recording): Well, it’s, my car as a sticker and she, she, base sticker and hers didn’t and it was just easier to do it that way.

Dave Cawley: They spent the next several hours socializing, dancing and listening to the band.

Steve Kaufman: They liked us as long as we weren’t too loud. And people could get out and dance on the dance floor. They’d have a good time. They’d dance on most every song.

Dave Cawley: Steve Kaufman, the frontman, had put the group together years earlier, in 1964.

Steve Kaufman: Started in 8th grade at Mt. Ogden Junior High School and basically was a way to get girls to like you.

Dave Cawley: The band is still together today, under the name “Outrageous.” But in ’85,  they were called “Still Rain.”

Steve Kaufman: We opened for everybody from The Monkeys to Jan and Dean, Johnny Rivers, Tommy James and the Shondels, Three Dog Night. All kinds of different groups. Mommas and the Pappas.

Dave Cawley: Still Rain had flirted with going big time in the mid ‘70s, but here a decade later they mostly just gigged on weekends. The Officer’s Club at Hill was a regular venue.

Steve Kaufman: The club had a big bar and those guys in the Air Force, so these were all officers and their wives and their friends.

Dave Cawley: The O Club often booked Still Rain on back-to-back nights — Friday and Saturday — for four hours each night.

Steve Kaufman: I don’t know how I did that. But, I didn’t know any better. I mean, you know, been, that’s all I was, I was a rock and roll guy. Music was everything.

Dave Cawley: Joyce was only five years older than Steve, but he remembered thinking she must have been even older since she socialized with his parents.

Steve Kaufman: My parents lived at a place called The Apartments which was over by the old McKay-Dee Hospital. And it was kind of a, a big fancy new complex and it had a wonderful outdoor pool. And every Sunday, that’s where a lot of people had church. (Laughs) At that pool. For those who weren’t going to one. And Joyce was always over there hanging out.

Dave Cawley: It had been awhile since Joyce had been over to the Kaufman’s. Terry kept hoping to catch up with her, but they were seated on opposite ends of the table. They weren’t able to chat from that distance over the noise of the band.

Joyce and Dorothy danced their last dances as the clock approached midnight. They said their goodbyes as the band wound down their final set. Then, the two sisters went out to Dorothy’s car and drove back across the freeway into Clearfield. The weather had turned while they’d been at the club.

Dorothy Dial (from January 1992 police recording): It was very nice, ah, when we went out there, it was warm. It was hot. But when we left to come home, which I think was about midnight, it had turned real cold and windy.

Dave Cawley: Joyce, in her pink dress, was not prepared to stand out in the icy wind chatting with her sister.

Dorothy Dial (from January 1992 police recording): No, we said goodnight out in the driveway and see you later and she got in her car and left and I went into my house.

Dave Cawley: Joyce drove to her apartment, where she parked the Nova in the carport. She went inside, changed out of her dress, flipped on the little TV on her dresser and settled down to bed. The Kaufmans had remained at the Officer’s Club a little while longer to talk with their son.

Steve Kaufman: My parents were very supportive and they would often bring friends and stuff to hear us and would come hear the band. They liked hearing the band.

Dave Cawley: Gordon and Terry didn’t leave the club until a bit after midnight. Their route home took them past Joyce’s apartment sometime between 12:30 and 1 a.m. Terry noticed light in Joyce’s kitchen window, suggesting she might still be awake. She turned to her husband, who was driving, with a suggestion.

Terry Kaufman (from April 1992 police recording): ‘Let’s stop and talk to Joyce. I didn’t get a chance to talk to her too much tonight because she was sitting down at the other end of the table’ and I hadn’t seen her for, oh maybe a couple of months to talk to her, ‘And let’s just visit with her and find out how she’s doing.’ And he looked at his clock and thought it was, I think he said it was around 12:30 or 20 after 12. And it’s kinda late and we were going into Salt Lake the next day so we said let’s, let’s wait and do it maybe tomorrow or the next night. We’ll come down and talk to her and visit with her. And I noticed the light on in her kitchen. That’s why I suggested maybe stopping because I knew she was still up.

Dave Cawley: They didn’t stop. If they had, Joyce might still be alive today.

Cold season 2, episode 2: A Case of Rape – Full episode transcript

Dave Cawley: I need to talk to you for a moment, before we get started. This is normally where I advise you of the content of this podcast — discussions of murder, domestic abuse, sexual assault and so forth — and advise your discretion in listening.

Please hear me when I say this episode in particular deserves not just discretion, but also consideration on your part about whether you really want to listen and, if so, about when, how and with whom you choose to do so.

What you’re about to hear includes a depiction of a woman’s rape and the events which immediately followed. The level of detail goes beyond what you might normally expect from a news report. People with firsthand or even secondhand lived experience in this realm might find this episode particularly difficult.

I’ve spent a great deal of time debating with colleagues — and personally deliberating — about how best to present this part of the story. This episode represents my imperfect attempt to find a balance in showing the truth of what happened to Joyce Yost against the risk of harm to survivors of similar assaults. It is in no way my intent to titillate you, exploit Joyce or sensationalize the topic of sexual assault. So, if you choose at this point to proceed, please do so with that understanding in mind.

Sheryl Worsley: I’m Sheryl Worsley, director of podcasting here at KSL Podcasts. Before we get started with this very difficult episode, I want to make sure you know that help is available 24-7 if you or someone close to you has experienced rape or any other form of sexual abuse. In the United States, you can go rainn.org. That’s the Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network website at R-A-I-double-N-dot-org. You can also call 800-656-HOPE to connect with free resources. No one need suffer in silence. You are not alone.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Orange orbs of streetlamp light strobed up the hood of Joyce Yost’s big, white Oldsmobile convertible, reflecting off the glass of the windshield as she drove home on the night April 3, 1985. Joyce had spent the evening having dinner with a man at a supper club called the Pier 3. She’d left a bit after 10 p.m., driving toward the apartment where she lived alone on the corner of 40th Street and Liberty Avenue in South Ogden, Utah. She had not realized someone was following her.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording):  And I pulled in my driveway and all the sudden, this little red sports car pulls right in the parking stall next to me.

Dave Cawley: Joyce’s parking stall was the third of four in the carport outside the four-flex apartment she called home. The little red car pulled up beside and slightly behind her. Its driver stepped out before Joyce had even realized what was happening. In a few short strides, he’d reached her driver door and popped it open.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): He didn’t wait for me to roll the window down or to open the door myself or anything. And he stayed right inside of the car door.

Dave Cawley: That’s Joyce’s own voice from one of the few known recordings of her. It has never before been public. The man, with feathered hair and a prominent walrus mustache, wedged his body between the car door and the chassis, preventing Joyce from closing it.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): I didn’t, ‘God,’ he says, ‘I can’t believe I’m doing this.’ Uh, but he said, ‘I noticed you at the Pier 3 and I was attracted to you and decided to follow you.’

Dave Cawley: The man said he wanted to get to know Joyce.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): And uh, he wanted to know if I would like to go have a drink and I said, ‘No thank you, I’ve got to do a few things and be up early for work.’

Dave Cawley: He did not take no for an answer. They were at an impasse.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): I uh, was reluctant to go have a drink with him. I did suggest that maybe, if anything, a cup of coffee and he didn’t seem to want a cup of coffee. He was more insistent of a drink and I was more insistent of coffee and so we forgot that.

Dave Cawley: She sensed danger. Joyce knew from experience that the path to safety was narrow. She had to tread with care, acting nice to avoid stinging this stranger’s pride.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Oh, I said, ‘What is your name?’ … ‘I don’t, y’know, know your name.’ And he says, ‘It’s Dave.’ I said, ‘If you’ll just leave,’ I said, ‘I’ll visit with you some other time.’ Y’know, and I, oh in the meantime, I brought up the age difference. I said I, ‘Obviously, I’m old enough to be your mother.’ And, ‘Well, does that matter?’ And I said, ‘Well, I guess not necessarily but,’ uh, I said, ‘I am 39 years old.’ I said, ‘How old are you?’ And he said he was 27.

Dave Cawley: Joyce didn’t date younger men and didn’t intend to start with this fellow. But he wouldn’t leave. He continued to stand next to her, blocking the car, holding her captive without touching her. That is, until he did.

This is Cold, season 2 episode 2: A Case of Rape. Back with more in just a moment.

[Ad break]

Dave Cawley: The man who stood at the side of Joyce Yost’s Oldsmobile had heard enough. With a swift stroke, grabbed Joyce’s neck with one hand. She felt the grip of his fingers on her throat, squeezing her trachea, stealing her voice. She writhed, trying break free. It did no good.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): He grabbed me by the throat and he uh, was forceful and told me if I screamed or said anything that uh, he would tear my throat open.

Dave Cawley: Joyce’s pounding heart seemed to shriek in protest, her skull throbbing to the rapid beat of her occluded pulse. The man leaned in, placing the weight of his body against her. He pressed her flat across the Oldsmobile’s split-bench front seat.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): I, I realized I was in a rape situation. That I wasn’t just with somebody that was being a little bit forceful that I was going to be able to get rid of. But I was in a rape situation.

Dave Cawley: Terror surged through Joyce. She flailed, her legs and arms swinging, infused with the desperate vitality of self-preservation. She kicked so hard her shoes flung right off of her feet. She scratched at her attacker with her long acrylic fingernails, using such force some of those nails split or were torn clean off.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): I put up a fight because that was my natural reaction and I could see that wasn’t doing any good.

Dave Cawley: After some time — seconds or minutes, Joyce tell — the man’s grip loosened. She gasped and struggled to make sense of what was happening.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Realizing I was in a rape situation I decided I’ve got to do some thinking here about how to handle this.

Dave Cawley: She started to talk, tossing out any reason that might dissuade him. She said she was pregnant, even though she wasn’t. She said her husband was inside and he would come out and find them, even though she wasn’t actually married. He didn’t care. The man told her to stop fighting. He told her they should take a drive.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): So, he wanted me to go to his place in Sunset and I said ‘No.’ I was not going.

Dave Cawley: Joyce feared going with this man to his house would mean the end of her life. That’s why she dared say no.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): And he said, ‘Do you want it right here?’ And I said, ‘Yes.’ I decided at this point to cooperate.

Dave Cawley: It wasn’t as though he’d given her an actual choice.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): He, uh, took off his pants, pulled up my dress, pulled my pantyhose down and he did proceed to have sexual intercourse.

Dave Cawley: Joyce’s language here is clinical and precise. In a bit, I’ll share more about the circumstances behind this recording which should help explain her choice of words. For now though, just understand that Joyce calling this “sexual intercourse” doesn’t adequately describe to what was happening to her.

While forcing himself upon Joyce, the man also tore open the front of her shirtwaist dress. The thread connecting three of its buttons snapped. Those buttons clattered onto the upholstered car seat, joining the severed fragments of Joyce’s fingernails. The man also tore open the clasp of her bra and ripped off her pantyhose. Joyce endured the indignity, hoping when the man had satisfied himself, he would leave her in peace. But that’s not what happened.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): That wasn’t good enough for him. He was still was insistent on going to his place.

Dave Cawley: Joyce’s thoughts were jumbled.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): So, I absolutely did not want to do that but I also figured I wasn’t going to have any choice.

Dave Cawley: She offered a silent prayer in her mind, begging God for help. Her hands swept about the car, fingers frantic to find some way of defending herself. They came across an object, cold and metal. Her keys. Joyce’s knuckles closed around them.

She saw her target as she looked up at the shadowed face of the man atop her. Joyce’s muscles tensed. Her arm swung upward, driving the blade of one of those keys toward the dim spot where she believed the man’s eye would be. He caught the glint of it coming and recoiled a fraction of a second before the blow landed.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): I was hoping to get him in the eyes but I got him right alongside the nose here on the side of the face.

Dave Cawley: The key raked down the left side of the man’s nose, tearing open the skin around the curve where his nostril and cheek met. Blood raised in the wound. He grappled Joyce again, shook her and threatened to kill her. He had a gun, he said, so she’d better behave.

The man straightened up, pulling up his pants. Joyce saw an opportunity.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): While he was doing that, I laid on my horn. I was able to get ahold of my horn hoping that if I just did that, that maybe a neighbor inside of the apartment complex would, would come out.

Dave Cawley: The car’s horn seemed to shriek in the quiet of the night. The man’s arm shot out, his hand once again gripping her throat. He yanked her out of the car and tossed her onto the ground. The car horn fell to silence.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Well, that was a total loss. Nobody came out, nobody came to my rescue. So, by this time my shoes were off, I didn’t even have my purse. I didn’t have my keys, either.

Dave Cawley: The man then dragged Joyce over to his car. She tried to break free, to run, but the man kept hold of her. He shoved her inside his car, pressing her head down into the cramped passenger footwell of the little sports coupe. Joyce was folded in half, her back on the floor, her legs up against the passenger seat’s headrest. The man dropped into the driver seat beside her, saying again as he did so that he had a gun.

“One wrong move,” he said, and he would not hesitate to use it.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): By this time I’m, I’m really frightened and I do feel like my life is on the line. … My children, my grandkids, everybody was flashing through my mind and I, I, I felt like my life was on the line.

Dave Cawley: Joyce heard a metallic sound, a sort of click.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Just before he pulled out of the driveway he did something. And I, I wasn’t sure what he was doing but it was like he was putting a shell in the gun, a gun or something. He was doing something.

Dave Cawley: The sports coupe’s rotary engine cranked to life. The man put the car into reverse, backed out onto the street then began driving away from Joyce’s apartment. She couldn’t see a thing. The Mazda’s interior was all black. All she could make out were the sunroof overhead and the slats of louvers running across the back window.

“Don’t make any wrong moves,” the man said.

He reached his right hand across the car’s center console and placed his hand high on her hip, holding her in place. He pulled the hand away for only moments at a time, when he needed to shift gears.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): I didn’t honestly think he had a weapon but I, I wasn’t going to take any chances, either. So, I cooperated all the way. I didn’t move, I didn’t argue, I didn’t try to get out of his car or anything.

Dave Cawley: Loud music played over the car stereo, drowning out the waspy rasp of the engine. Time seemed to stretch and distort. Joyce couldn’t tell how long the drive lasted. Her internal compass spun, her sense of direction obliterated. The car did, eventually, come to a stop. Joyce heard the driver door open and shut. Then, the rear hatch popped open, only to slam shut as well.

The next thing she knew, the man was draping something over her face, pressing a dark, silky fabric against her eyes. It felt cool against the heat of the bruises that were forming beneath her skin. He didn’t tie the fabric around her face, only held it in place with his hand. The blindfold made it difficult for Joyce to find her balance as she more or less rolled out of the little car. The man used his other hand to push her in the direction he wanted her to go. She dared not run or shout by this point. Instead, she went along in silence.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Then he led me into his house, blindfolded and back to his bedroom and just more or less dropped me on the bed, waterbed.

Dave Cawley: Water. Joyce’s throat burned. She asked her captor if she might have a glass of water.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): And he was, seemed reluctant at first to get me the drink of water but I said, ‘Look, I’m not going any place and I’m not, I will cooperate with you.’

Dave Cawley: After thinking it over, the man pulled a cigarette out of a pack, lit it and gave it to Joyce. He lit one for himself as well, then went into the kitchen to grab a beer and fetch Joyce some water. She glanced around the room but couldn’t make out much of anything in the dark. The only light came from the glow of a digital clock radio on the headboard. She calmed herself and tried to think. Physical resistance hadn’t worked. Neither had appeals to this man’s sense of decency. So, she decided to try and negotiate.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): In fact, when he came back with the drink of water, and we sat and had in fact a couple of cigarettes, I felt as though I was maybe talking him out of it. I said, ‘Look, I, y’know, if you have a problem or there’s something bothering you or anything I can do to help you,’ I said, ‘Please, let’s talk about it.’ And umm, he didn’t want to tell me too many things because I think, I don’t think he wanted me to know too much about him. And I did tell him that if he, y’know, didn’t hurt me, that I wouldn’t hurt him.

Dave Cawley: Joyce wondered if something had happened to the man earlier in the night at the Pier. She asked if he’d had trouble with a girlfriend and offered to talk to him about it. He started to say something, then stopped, apparently thinking better of it. The man said there was only one reason he’d brought Joyce to his home.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): This conversation didn’t do me much good because he was still going to proceed with intercourse and told me to undress. So I undressed, what was left of my clothing and uh, I cooperated with him and uh, he uh, stopped having intercourse for awhile. In fact, we had another cigarette and then uh, he, I asked him if he would please take me home. I said, ‘I’m very tired, I have to work tomorrow,’ and I, y’know, all these things to try and get him to take me home. He said, ‘I’m not through yet.’

Dave Cawley: I’m going to interrupt here and acknowledge we’re about to enter a part of this story involving description of specific sex acts. These are matters of fact and while difficult to hear are necessary to understand later events. I include such detail only with that relevance in mind.

The man began again. He made demands. He ordered her to perform oral sex. Humiliated and terrified, she complied.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): So, I thought, ‘Well, I’m on his grounds and I don’t know whether he’s going to, y’know, still harm me at this point so I cooperated.

Dave Cawley: At one point, the man told Joyce he wanted to perform anal sex. This was too much. In spite of her fear of death, Joyce said no. The man insisted. She held her ground. To her surprise, he didn’t resort to using physical force and instead gave up on the demand. A minor victory, perhaps, but a monumental one for Joyce in that moment.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): When he was through, then uh, he said, ‘Do you want me to take you home now?’ And I said, ‘Yes.’

Dave Cawley: Here, Joyce noted a shift in the man’s demeanor.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): He uh, seemed to be feeling remorse, like he uh, ‘Oh, I can’t believe, can’t believe I did this,’ y’know? And uh, I said, ‘Well,’ he asked me how I felt and I said, ‘I don’t feel well at all.’ I don’t mean like I was sick to my stomach, I just was not feeling well about the whole situation mentally.

Dave Cawley: She found her ruined dress and wadded it into a ball.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): I asked him if, if he had an old t-shirt or a sweatshirt or something that I could wear home and uh, he got me a light blue silky Arrow shirt.

Dave Cawley: Joyce pulled the shirt over her torso — the man didn’t give her any pants — and then she followed the him out of the bedroom. He didn’t cover her eyes this time and thanks to a single light he’d left on in the kitchen, she was able to see the layout of the house. He led her through it, out the side door and onto the driveway. The moon, just a day short of full, painted the landscape with soft, silver light.

Joyce looked around. She saw several bags of trash sitting next to the door. She noticed a carport but no garage. And she saw the car, a red Mazda. The man led her over to the car and sat her down in the passenger seat, right-side-up this time. He put his key in the ignition and turned it. The car’s headlights popped up from the hood. Joyce made note of that detail: the car had flip-up lights.

The man backed out of the driveway, then headed east. In the moonlight, Joyce could see the looming figure of the Wasatch Mountains on the horizon, unmistakable even at night. But she wasn’t sure exactly where in Sunset they were. She caught a glimpse of a road sign that read 200 West. The man made a few turns before ending up at a place Joyce did recognize: the onramp to the I-15 freeway at 650 North in Clearfield, the city immediately to the south of Sunset.

The west gate of Hill Air Force Base sat just across the overpass. Joyce’s sister Dorothy’s house, which she visited frequently, was only a quarter of a mile or so to the south east. The Pier, where Joyce had had dinner with her “gentleman friend” Lex Baer just hours earlier, was right down the road as well.

The man who’d abducted her and repeatedly raped her, seemed to be lost in thought as he steered the car onto the freeway.

“I’m really a nice person,” he said after a time. “I don’t normally do things like this.”

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): I was feeling terrible and uh, he said, ‘I, I probably won’t ever get to see you again.’ I didn’t even want to tell him at that point that he was absolutely correct because I knew I still wasn’t home yet—

Dave Cawley: To Joyce, it seemed as though he was feeling remorse.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): In fact, he, he took my hand and he held my hand and I said, ‘I have a feeling you’re probably a gentleman.’ ‘Yeah,’ he said, ‘I’m the type that sends roses and buys presents and, and uh, y’know, does nice things.’

Dave Cawley: The type that sends roses.

The car continued north, every rotation of its tires bringing Joyce that much closer to home. It exited the freeway and turned onto 40th Street. The peak of Mount Ogden, looming five-thousand vertical feet above, seemed to grow larger in the windshield with each passing second. At last, Joyce’s apartment came into view. The Mazda slowed to a stop at the curb.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): So then he said, ‘What is your husband going to say?’ And I said, ‘That’s really my problem, not yours.’

Dave Cawley: Hopefully, she said, her husband would be asleep and wouldn’t notice her coming in looking as she did. Then, she wrenched the handle of the car’s passenger door, pushed it open and swung her legs out. Her bare feet came down onto the cool grass.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): I just got out of the car and uh, had my clothes in my hand and walked over to my car because my car still had the car door open. My purse was in it, my car keys were in it. My shoes were in it. And I gathered up those things and went on into my apartment.

Dave Cawley: The apartment door closed behind Joyce with a thud. She locked it. A wave of emotion then washed over her. Tears cascaded down her cheeks. Her entire body convulsed in spasms.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): I was quite hysterical at that time and I was trembling, I was shaking, I was cold, I was upset.

Dave Cawley: Joyce didn’t know quite what to do, standing there in a man’s shirt in the middle of the night, her sense of security shattered. She had to tell someone what’d happened to her, but didn’t dare dial the police. Instead, she picked up the phone and called her sister, Dorothy. It was after 1 a.m. on the morning of Thursday, April 4, 1985 when Dorothy Dial, or Dot as her friends called her, came awake to the sound of her telephone ringing.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): I just told her what’d happened and she was, y’know, startled to get a call from me at that hour and, and find me hysterical and she said, ‘What in the world is the matter?’ And I said, ‘I have been raped.’

Dave Cawley: Dorothy is no longer alive, but she shared her side of this experience in a 1992 police interview.

Dorothy Dial (from January 1992 police recording): She was crying and she said, ‘I, I have been raped.’ And I told her to call the, the police.

Dave Cawley: Joyce told Dorothy she didn’t want to do that. Terror gripped her. He might come back.

Dorothy Dial (from January 1992 police recording): She said that he told her that he had a gun. She never seen it, but he, he had threatened her with a gun.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): She says, ‘Well you call the police.’ And I said, ‘I really don’t want to be put through the humiliation.’ I said, ‘I’ve watched A Case of Rape twice and seen things on TV and I said, ‘I don’t want to go through it.’ But I said, ‘I feel like, y’know, tomorrow he could go out and harm somebody’s little girl or something,’ y’know?

Dave Cawley: A Case of Rape was a made-for-TV movie that first aired in 1974. It starred actress Elizabeth Montgomery — then best known for her leading role in the TV series Bewitched — as a woman who is twice raped by an acquaintance. She reluctantly pursues charges, endures a grueling experience as a witness during the criminal trial and then watches the man who raped her walk free after being acquitted. The movie had had a profound impact on Joyce. She did not want to go through a similar experience.

Dorothy Dial (from January 1992 police recording): She was scared and upset. Ah, I, I think for awhile she didn’t really know what to do.

Dave Cawley: Dorothy did her best to calm her younger sister. Joyce then began to pour out the story of what’d happened to her that night.

Dorothy Dial (from January 1992 police recording): She said that she had been up at the Pier (phone rings) for dinner with a friend and left and, ah, when she got in the, ah, driveway of her apartment, a car pulled in beside her and she didn’t know that she had been followed.

Dave Cawley: Joyce told Dorothy she’d never seen the man before.  He’d attacked her without provocation, abducted her and raped her.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): And uh, she said, in fact, the more she heard from me, the angrier she was getting and she says, ‘Well, you call the police right now,’ or she said, ‘If you don’t, I will.’ So, I said, ‘I will.’

Dorothy Dial (from January 1992 police recording): And she was a little bit hesitant, at first, and ah, I told her, ‘If you don’t call them, I will.’ But she, she called and called me back and, and said that, umm, she had called. In fact, the police came while we were still talking.

Dave Cawley: I have a copy of a handwritten South Ogden police dispatch log from that night. It shows Joyce’s call to the police came in at 1:58 a.m. The dispatcher sent two patrol cars to Joyce’s apartment. Officer Rob Carpenter arrived first. When Joyce answered his knock at the door, she was wearing a green velour jogging suit. She’d changed out of the shirt the man had given her. But, importantly, she had not yet showered. Carpenter stepped inside, followed moments later by the second officer, Mel Hackworth. Carpenter began taking a report from Joyce, rolling tape on a little handheld recorder.

Officer Rob Carpenter (from April 4, 1985 police recording): And you realize how serious this accusation is, don’t you?

Dave Cawley: It’s tough to make out, but Carpenter was asking Joyce if she really wanted to go through with making a report.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Yes I do.

Officer Rob Carpenter (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Alright, I just want to make sure. It sounds like there’s some doubt on, on whether you really want to report this now or not.

Dave Cawley: He wasn’t trying to discourage her, from what I can tell, but was instead picking up on Joyce’s own hesitance.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): I know, I mean, I know how I feel.

Dave Cawley: Joyce had, after all, not wanted to report the rape to police.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): And yet…

Dave Cawley: She’d done so only when pressed into it by her sister.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): He might be sitting here tomorrow night. I don’t know what to do. I don’t—

Officer Rob Carpenter (from April 4, 1985 police recording): He might be, I’m, I’m just saying, you’re acting as though you, you really don’t want to do this but you’re doing it anyway. That’s what I’m—

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): I know.

Officer Rob Carpenter (from April 4, 1985 police recording): That’s what I’m saying.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): I know, I know.

Dave Cawley: Officer Carpenter wasn’t doubting Joyce, but instead giving her the opportunity to end the process there. Joyce considered what might happen if she backed out. She told Carpenter she worried the man who’d attacked her might go on to hurt someone else. And so, she decided to press on, to tell what’d happened. She said she wasn’t sure the man had had rape on his mind when he’d first approached her.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Maybe if I’d have gone with the guy and had a drink with him, I’d have been better off. Like, y’know, I had no idea I was getting myself into such a mess.

Dave Cawley: She wondered aloud what had caused him to snap. She said she believed the man had a conscience and must be feeling as miserable as she was. Yet, she couldn’t reconcile that with what he’d done.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): I feel like, like he feels like hell about it and yet he did it. I mean, y’know, I feel like tomorrow it could be somebody’s little girl, y’know? And uh, or, somebody else.

Dave Cawley: Officer Carpenter collected Joyce’s clothing. She pointed out a blood spot on the dress, saying she thought it could be from the wound she’d inflicted with her keys. And she handed over the shirt the man had given her to wear home. Carpenter took all of it, placing each item in its own brown paper evidence bag. Next, he asked Joyce if she had a physician or gynecologist whom she saw regularly.

Officer Rob Carpenter (from April 4, 1985 police recording): We’re going to have to have you examined, is the thing. And uh—

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): When?

Officer Rob Carpenter (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Tonight. As soon as possible.

Dave Cawley: Joyce was going to have to undergo an invasive physical exam, what’s known as a rape kit. The two officers conferred about how best to proceed. Carpenter said he’d start writing up a report and checking in the evidence while Hackworth drove Joyce back to Sunset to look for the house.

The three of them then walked out to the carport. The Oldsmobile’s driver door was still hanging open. Joyce showed the officers where the man had parked and how far he’d dragged her. Then, she and Mel Hackworth sat down in his squad car.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): I know he’s, I know he’s feeling pretty bad about it.

Officer Mel Hackworth (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Hold on just a sec. Dispatch 30.

South Ogden dispatcher (from April 4, 1985 police recording): 30.

Officer Mel Hackworth (from April 4, 1985 police recording): I got the victim with me now. We’re gonna head back out to Sunset, see if we can find out where this guy lives. My mileage is 79,593.1. We’re leaving from this address.

South Ogden dispatcher (from April 4, 1985 police recording): 30, 10-4. KSM 897-0233.

Dave Cawley: It was 2:33 a.m. Hackworth started driving down 40th Street, headed for Sunset. He talked to Joyce as he drove, probing for more specifics: words or phrases the man had used, what she’d seen or even smelled inside his house.

Much of the sound that’s to follow will be difficult to understand. Listen close and in this clip, you’ll hear Joyce say she’d cooperated because the only thing worse than being sexually abused would be to die.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): I had made up my mind at that point, I was going to cooperate with everything because, uh, I guess the only thing I figured that would be worse than being sexually abused at that point was to die.

Officer Mel Hackworth (from April 4, 1985 police recording): That’s, that’s right.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): And I cooperated.

Dave Cawley: Here again, Joyce made reference to that TV movie, A Case of Rape. Joyce told Hackworth the ending — in which the rapist is acquitted by a jury and the victim’s life is shattered — was on her mind.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Yeah and, y’know, the guy walks out with a smile on his face and here they showed her throughout the movie, I mean she was really, she was beaten and bloody and, y’know, abused in every which way, right?

Officer Mel Hackworth (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Well—

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): The thing, the thing that bothers me is I, I had made my mind to cooperate with this guy which, would in turn probably make him feel like, like I was enjoying myself. And I also told him, I said, ‘Look, I’ll be your friend. I’ll give you my phone number.’ I said, ‘If you want to talk to me.’ I had told him my name. I mean, anything. I wasn’t going to put up a fuss. And uh, I wanted, I wanted to live. I was scared. I was scared.

Dave Cawley: If you couldn’t make that out, Joyce said she feared the rapist might’ve interpreted her cooperation as consent. She’d told her name and phone number because she wanted to live. She was scared. Hackworth tried to reassure Joyce, telling her prosecutors won rape cases all the time. Defense attorneys could be tough to face but he encouraged Joyce not to let that deter her. Hackworth drove through Sunset and just over the border into Clearfield. He turned onto 650 North and asked Joyce if she recognized the route.

Officer Mel Hackworth (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Now, here’s the freeway entrance.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Right, uh huh.

Officer Mel Hackworth (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Okay. This is the road you came up?

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Uh huh.

Dave Cawley: They headed down to 200 West, the street Joyce remembered seeing a sign for when leaving the man’s house. Hackworth drove down each cross street as Joyce peered out the window. She told him more than anything, she was looking for that little red car.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Of course I’m, what I’m looking for more than anything is that little red car and who knows what he’s done with that one. Oh Jesus, I wonder if it’s that house back there. (Sound of car reversing)

Dave Cawley: So many ranch houses, all lined up in rows, all looking somewhat alike. Joyce struggled to find the right one, telling Hackworth she thought it was going to be easier.

Officer Mel Hackworth (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Should we try it?

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Try the next street over and see what…

Dave Cawley: Joyce struggled to find the right one.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Shoot!

Dave Cawley: Telling Hackworth she thought it was going to be easier.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): I thought this was going to be easier.

Dave Cawley: She began to grow frustrated with herself.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Goll, I wanted to remember everything so good. And, y’know, I did have my mind on so much, and just—

Dave Cawley: Hackworth gave her continual reassurance.

Officer Mel Hackworth (from April 4, 1985 police recording): That’s alright, just relax. Everything will be fine.

Dave Cawley: He believed her.

Officer Mel Hackworth (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Now, do you want me to go up the street a little ways?

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Well, I was thinking about up this street and possibly—

Officer Mel Hackworth (from April 4, 1985 police recording): That’s fine.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Does that one go up?

Officer Mel Hackworth (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Yup. Let’s go up this street and see what we have.

Dave Cawley: Time and again, they reached the end of a street without Joyce pointing out a house. But they did succeed in finding the road sign she’d seen.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Somehow, see, see this 200 West sign, but how in the heck did we get to it?

Officer Mel Hackworth (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Well, this is a street we haven’t been down yet. So let’s—

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Oh, we haven’t?

Dave Cawley: Hackworth turned off of 200 West onto 750 North, the last street in Clearfield before reaching the border with Sunset. That’s when it happened.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): See that place right there?

Officer Mel Hackworth (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Yeah?

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Oh my God. He helped out.

Officer Mel Hackworth (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Is that it?

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): It sure is.

Dave Cawley: Joyce spotted a little red Mazda sitting under a carport next to a house. Hackworth hit it with his spotlight and made note of the license plate. It read W-W-P 1-0-1.

Officer Mel Hackworth (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Dispatch, 30.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): (Whispering) That’s it.

South Ogden dispatch (from April 4, 1985 police recording): 30, go ahead.

Officer Mel Hackworth (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Get a 28 on Whiskey, Whiskey, Papa one-zero-one.

South Ogden dispatch (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Standby.

Dave Cawley: In police 10-code, 10-28 is a vehicle registration check.

South Ogden dispatch (from April 4, 1985 police recording): 30.

Officer Mel Hackworth (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Go ahead.

South Ogden dispatch (from April 4, 1985 police recording): What kind of vehicle was that plate off?

Officer Mel Hackworth (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Looked like a Mazda.

Dave Cawley: The dispatcher recorded the address at 3:01 a.m. From there, Hackworth told Joyce it was time for them to go the emergency room. They started north toward McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden.

Joyce sat without speaking for a time, finding herself carried along in the flow of events that felt beyond her control. The relief and elation she’d felt at having found her attacker’s hideout had all too soon given way again to fear. And so, she asked the police officer who sat next to her in his squad car the one question that kept repeating in her mind.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): How uh, how safe am I? Uh, if they come after him and, how safe, y’know?

Officer Mel Hackworth (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Well, I don’t know.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): (Nervous laugh)

Dave Cawley: “How safe am I?” Hackworth said it was difficult to know just what was cooking in the man’s mind.

Officer Mel Hackworth (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Guy might be as meek as a lamb and our detectives might go out there and he feels bad about it and if he was drunk or if was under the influence of some intoxicant or something and he realizes he screwed up, he may just admit to everything and go down and get his comeuppance and that’s it. You just don’t know.

Dave Cawley: Joyce told Hackworth she sometimes felt fearful living alone, ever since her son, Greg, had moved away to attend dental school. Of the units in her fourplex, she said, only three were occupied, hers and two others. If her attacker came back to get her, it wouldn’t be hard for him to figure out which unit was hers.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Nobody lives above me. There isn’t anybody in that one for quite some time. And then there’s just one down next to me and then her parents live in the upstairs.

Dave Cawley: The situation reminded her, she said, of a problem she’d had a couple years earlier with a young college football player who’d approached her after seeing her sunbathing out in the yard one day. He’d been large, physically imposing and very insistent. He’d showed up at her door in the middle of the night. Joyce had been so unnerved by it that she’d filed a police report about his harassing advances. It just so happened that Mel Hackworth had also been the officer who took that report.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Did you come to my house before?

Officer Mel Hackworth (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Yeah.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): When that football player—

Officer Mel Hackworth (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Kept bothering you?

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Yes.

Dave Cawley: Joyce said the football player had come back a year later and apologized for how he’d treated her. Maybe the man who’d raped her that night would feel a similar stroke of guilt and confess. Or, maybe he would just claim it’d been consensual. Joyce said she knew how it would look. Maybe she hadn’t fought hard enough.

Officer Mel Hackworth (from April 4, 1985 police recording): You did tell him no, did you ever tell him no, you didn’t want to have any sexual intercourse with him, or did you ever—

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): I really didn’t because, umm, I pretty well knew what I was in for and I didn’t want to, I didn’t want to make anything any worse. I, I just uh—

Officer Mel Hackworth (from April 4, 1985 police recording): So the only thing you ever told him you really said no to was the, was the rectal?

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Yeah.

Officer Mel Hackworth (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Okay.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Y’know, I mean, I, I figured I did my fight and my, uh, whole bit in my own car and out, y’know, there. And uh, that’s where I really did put up the fight and tried to, uh, oh I just wanted to hurt him so bad. Wanted to do something to him.

Officer Mel Hackworth (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Okay.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): I, I fought there and then I realized he, y’know, got ahold of me and thought, I know I’m in for it.

Dave Cawley: The patrol car pulled into a parking stall outside the hospital emergency department. It was 3:16 a.m.

Officer Mel Hackworth (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Dispatch 30.

South Ogden dispatch (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Go ahead.

Officer Mel Hackworth (from April 4, 1985 police recording): I’ll be at McKay ER. I’m on 79611.7.

South Ogden dispatch (from April 4, 1985 police recording): 10-4. 0316.

Officer Mel Hackworth (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Okay, let’s go in.(Car doors open and close)

[Ad break]

Dave Cawley: Bill Holthaus wasn’t sure what time it was. All he knew was he’d been deep asleep when his phone started ringing. He was the detective on call for the Clearfield police department on the night of April 3, 1985.

Bill Holthaus: I was at the time Charlie 16. And I was low man on the totem pole. There were 16 officers. It wasn’t a big, it wasn’t a big police department.

Dave Cawley: Clearfield wasn’t a big city, either, especially back then. It claimed a population just shy of 20,000 people. Many of its residents commuted to jobs in larger cities nearby, like Ogden or Salt Lake City. Hill Air Force Base occupied Clearfield’s eastern border. To the west were onion fields stretching out toward the marshes and mud flats of the Great Salt Lake. Clearfield’s heart was the Freeport Center, a former Navy supply depot-turned-business park. But when those warehouses closed down each night, the city went to sleep.

Bill Holthaus: My chief of police when I was in patrol would say, ‘I would like you to get two citations a night.’ Not just me, but everybody. You would be lucky if you could find two cars moving, y’know, in the middle of the night.

Dave Cawley: The phone call that’d rattled Bill from sleep in those dark hours came from the lone patrolman on duty, Randy Slater. Randy told Bill they’d received a call from another town — South Ogden — where police had taken a report of a rape.

Bill Holthaus: …that had occurred in our city, would I come in and interview her?

Dave Cawley: Clearfield sat at the far northern end of Davis County, while South Ogden was at the southern end of Weber County.

Bill Holthaus: It was questionable at the time, because there were two jurisdictions involved, who was going to take the case. But there was a South Ogden patrol officer that took the initial call and he felt like it probably was our case.

Dave Cawley: Bill got out of bed and got dressed. At the same time, a young woman named Jan Schiller received a similar call at her home in the nearby city of Layton. Like Bill, she was on call, not for the police department, but for the YWCA.

Jan Schiller: Even though you’re on call, umm, it still startles you because it always happens when you’re asleep.

Dave Cawley: Jan had taken a volunteer position as a rape victim advocate. She was 25 years old and fresh out of college.

Jan Schiller: I had just seen this volunteer opportunity and it was during the recession years and I just thought, ‘Gosh, I’d like to get, y’know, some experience even just volunteer while I’m, y’know, working at just a job for the, y’know, until I get something that I really want.’

Dave Cawley: This was Jan’s first actual call-out — one of only two she would ever take. She put hair in a ponytail and started driving bleary-eyed toward South Ogden police headquarters. Joyce was already there by the time Bill and Jan each arrived.

Jan Schiller: I mean, Joyce was, y’know, sitting upright, square-shouldered. … And I was thinking, ‘Wow, this woman is so together and I feel like a slob.’ (Laughs) Which is kind of a funny, funny reaction.

Bill Holthaus: She was not the typical young rape victim that you see on television.

Dave Cawley: The rape kit exam had taken about an hour-and-a-half, so it was after 4:30 by the time Joyce, Jan and Bill sat down for a formal interview. The smell of brewing coffee wafted on the air.

Bill Holthaus (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Okay, we’re ready to start. Is everybody still awake?

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Coffee?

Bill Holthaus (from April 4, 1985 police recording): He’s, he’s working on it.

Dave Cawley: This recording — taken from the only surviving cassette tape copy of the interview known to exist — is the source of many of the clips you heard in the first half of this episode. It had sat for years undiscovered in a box at the Weber County Attorney’s Office until I started looking for it. Even Joyce’s own children had never heard this tape.

Bill Holthaus (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Okay Joyce, what I would like you to do, is I would like you to tell me in your own words what occurred tonight, probably starting at the Pier.

Dave Cawley: Although he was then 40 years old, detective Bill Holthaus had only been a cop for a couple of years and only a detective for about half of that.

Bill Holthaus: But it was the first sexual case that I had handled.

Dave Cawley: That’s not to say Bill was a novice when it came to interviews.

Bill Holthaus: The interview in and of itself wasn’t that, wasn’t difficult.

Dave Cawley: To understand why, I need to tell you a bit about who Bill Holthaus is. Bill grew up in Michigan in the years immediately following the end of World War Two. His father had emigrated to the states from Germany, settling in the city of Wyandotte, between Detroit and Lake Eerie.

His father was a devout Lutheran who pressured Bill, one of three children in the family, to enter the seminary. Bill didn’t want to do that. He wanted to see the world. So, in 1962 at the age of 18, he rebelled by enlisting in the U.S. Air Force. Bill started out as a missile mechanic, then became a bomb loader. He bounced around the globe, serving at various Air Force bases.

While stationed in San Antonio, Texas, he took a second job as a reserve police officer. One night, while responding to a call about a man burglarizing storage units, he stepped out of a patrol car. A man on the roof of the storage unit building opened fire. A bullet hit Bill in the lower leg. Bill would face hostile fire again, while serving two tours in Vietnam and Cambodia, first in 1966, then again in ’69 and ’70. Bill moved up the enlisted ranks of the Air Force, becoming a First Sergeant. He went to work in air operations.

Bill Holthaus: Even in the, in the Air Force part of my job as you move up the supervisory levels is interviewing people and I always did enjoy that —  not that I was always good at it — but I always enjoyed it and I really just kind of fell into it.

Dave Cawley: As a senior non-commissioned officer, Bill often had to mediate disputes between subordinates, including some cases of sexual misconduct.

Bill Holthaus: I had had experience with young airmen, female airmen, who had been molested and stuff.

Dave Cawley: By 1980, Bill had landed in Utah, at Hill Air Force Base. His 20-year mark with the Air Force was approaching and he felt an itch to make a change. Even though he was by then in his mid 30s, he wanted to go college. To make tuition money, Bill took a side job.

Bill Holthaus: I was doing security work for a Job Corps center.

Dave Cawley: The center was home to hundreds of young people who lived in dorms while receiving vocational training. Problems were inevitable in that environment and Bill often ended up interviewing Job Corps residents who were suspected of petty crimes.

Bill Holthaus: In the process of that I met all the police officers, all the patrolmen. And I, I got a call from the chief of police saying that they liked the way that I’d done the interviews and testified in court to some of these cases ‘cause if I was the initial interviewer, I had to go to court — most of them were misdemeanors — uh, and uh, I was offered a position when it became available.

Dave Cawley: So in 1982, Bill retired from the military and took a full-time job with the Clearfield police department. He was 38. Bill spent several months working dispatch, then patrol. He didn’t actually attend the police academy until the department had an opening in its investigations division. When he at last started his academy class, he found himself surrounded by younger cadets.

Bill Holthaus: The interesting thing about the police academy in Utah is you can be 21 or 38 and you have to still pass the same physical stuff so it becomes difficult (laughs) when you’re 38 years old.

Dave Cawley: All this is to say that when Bill sat down with Joyce early on that April morning in 1985, he brought with him a lot of life experience. Jan Schiller, the rookie rape victim advocate, could see it in the way he carried himself.

Jan Schiller: He was big and had the shorter haircut and, y’know, he had that cop presence but when he spoke, it was, it was very gentle even with the gruff voice. There was a lot of caring in that voice.

Bill Holthaus (from April 4, 1985 police recording): During, or while you’re telling me this, I may stop you and ask you some questions. If you find that that is breaking your train of thought, then let me know. Then we’ll go back and ask the questions later.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Okay.

Bill Holthaus (from April 4, 1985 police recording): But we’ll start out by trying to ask them during, while it’s fresh in your memory. Okay?

Dave Cawley: Jan had never heard this recording of the interview, until I played it for her.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Y’know, tomorrow he could go out and harm somebody’s little girl or something.

Jan Schiller: (Listening to audio of Joyce) I remember her saying this.

Dave Cawley: Upon listening back, she praised the way Bill — the large, gruff detective — validated Joyce.

Jan Schiller: He was never mocking and he was always just, y’know, trying to give her that control. ‘I’m going to ask you questions, but if that’s not working for you, we’ll wait.’ Y’know that, ‘I’m giving you the choice of how to do this again.’

Dave Cawley: By that point, Joyce had already recited the events of the prior evening multiple times — to her sister, to the South Ogden officers, to the physician at the hospital — and as a result her thoughts were less jumbled, her voice less emotional.

Bill Holthaus (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Okay, can you tell me anything in particular about the sports car? Was it a soft top, was it a convertible-type sports car?

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Uh, it had a sunroof.

Bill Holthaus (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Had a sunroof. So it was a hard top, then. In other words, it didn’t have a canvas top. It had a hard top on it.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Right, right. It was a little, shiny red Mazda with the—

Bill Holthaus (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Oh, it was a Mazda.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): —uh, lovlor, louvres in the back window.

Bill Holthaus (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Okay.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): They’re black. The car is red.

Dave Cawley: I need to acknowledge here journalistic ethics typically preclude identification of sexual assault survivors without their prior consent. Joyce is not able to provide that consent, due to circumstances I’ll discuss in later episodes. I’ve had to consider with care the level of detail to include in this narrative. My decisions are driven in part by knowing Joyce made this police report willingly and later provided a substantially similar account in open court, making those facts a matter of public record.

Back to the interview.

Bill Holthaus (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Starting out with the Pier, and about what time of night—

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Okay, I met—

Bill Holthaus (from April 4, 1985 police recording): —did it start at?

Dave Cawley: Bill had Joyce go over it all in fine detail: the attack in her car, her physical struggle, the man dragging her to his car.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): I don’t think there was a gun but I did not see one.

Bill Holthaus (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Okay, so the sound that you heard when you were leaving there—

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): I can’t figure out what he did. I really can’t—

Bill Holthaus (from April 4, 1985 police recording): —did it sound like a tape recorder? Possibly putting a tape in a tape recorder?

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Possibly, he did have some very loud music going.

Dave Cawley: Jan felt awed by Joyce’s poise.

Jan Schiller: I was so impressed with how really quite calm she was in the retelling of everything, how articulate she was. I just, I thought, y’know, in her day-to-day life she must have been such a confident, fun woman and just that, y’know, her, her umm, her sense of, ‘I’ve got to think this through and how do I get through this safely,’ y’know, that she was that with it while all this was happening to be having those thoughts.

Dave Cawley: Bill, too, found Joyce’s demeanor remarkable. Given their similar ages, he chalked it up to her also having had life experience.

Bill Holthaus: She’d been a, either a divorced or separated mother, she’d raised kids, umm, she’d had a traumatic experience but probably not the first one in her life. Y’know, she’d had children who’d had problems, those kinds of things.

Dave Cawley: This also helped when Bill had to pivot the interview toward some very direct questions.

Bill Holthaus: I did feel, feel an empathy for her. I will, y’know, I thought that she was wronged. I did. But there’s certain questions you have to ask.

Bill Holthaus (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Okay. Now, you say you had intercourse. Uh, was this in the missionary position? Meaning face-to-face?

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Yes.

Bill Holthaus (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Anything other than that?

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Uh, then he had me turn over and that—

Bill Holthaus (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Okay.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): And that, he had me in some very unfeminine positions or whatever you should say.

Dave Cawley: Joyce wasn’t quite as forthcoming in her descriptions here as she’d been in her conversation with officer Mel Hackworth a couple hours earlier. Bill did not press her, at least not right at that sensitive moment.

Bill Holthaus: I was little bit hesitant to ask her some questions in the initial interview. It became more comfortable later in subsequent interviews. But the first one was a little difficult for me. I still remember that.

Dave Cawley: The deeper into the details they went, the more of the experience she relived, the less control over her emotion Joyce maintained. Her body began to shake, just as it had when she’d arrived back home.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): I was quite hysterical at that time and I was trembling, I was shaking, I was cold, I was upset.

Bill Holthaus (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Like right now, so why don’t you stop for just a moment—

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Well—

Bill Holthaus (from April 4, 1985 police recording): —and have, have a cup of coffee—

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): —no, y’know, I—

Bill Holthaus (from April 4, 1985 police recording): No, stop right now and have a cup of coffee and then we’ll talk— (Tape stops)

Dave Cawley: Here, and at a couple other points, Bill stopped the recorder, giving Joyce time to compose herself. During one of those moments, Jan took Bill aside.

Jan Schiller: And I was saying, ‘My gosh, she is so put together’ and he said, ‘But did you notice her broken fingernails? This woman’s put together.’ I mean, she worked at a department store. She was this elegant, put-together, sophisticated-looking woman. He said, ‘Yeah, she wouldn’t have gone out with broken fingernails.’

Bill Holthaus: What convinced me that something really had happened was the evidence. Y’know, I believed what she was saying based on the evidence that I first saw.

Jan Schiller: He was reading her so well. He was catching things that I wasn’t catching. Although I was quite young, I might have caught them being older and he’d had a whole lot more experience, but, y’know like the broken fingernails and the, ‘Yes, we’re going to stop and you’re going to, y’know, have a cup of coffee. Yes, you are trembling right now.’

Dave Cawley: Jan also noticed how Bill used the lightest touches of humor to help Joyce get through the tough spots.

Bill Holthaus (from April 4, 1985 police recording): When he had the light on, could you see his body?

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Mhmm.

Bill Holthaus (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Did you notice any scars, marks, tattoos, umm, missing fingers or toes? (Laughs)

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): No, I didn’t.

Bill Holthaus (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Okay.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): And really, I honestly didn’t look that hard. I, I remember he had a hairy chest.

Dave Cawley: Jan had said only a handful of words herself by the time the interview had reached its conclusion.

Jan Schiller: She really had a voice that, during that interview though. Umm, it wasn’t really necessary to, to do to much coaxing because she had a voice.

Dave Cawley: There’s a point I want to address here before moving on to the next part of this story. It’s the concept of consent. In each of Joyce’s interactions with police that night, she expressed concern over how her story would be received. She worried about not being believed, of being humiliated. Jan told me this is very, very common for women who report cases of abuse and sexual assault.

Jan Schiller: We’re taught to be nice. We’re, y’know, we’re taught to not be forceful and when we are forceful, there’s all sorts of words for that that aren’t complimentary. (Laughs)

Dave Cawley: A large degree of Joyce’s trepidation rose from the fact she had capitulated. She’d decided to cooperate after receiving a physical beating in her own car. You’ve already heard her — in her own voice — say she believed putting up a fight would have meant the end of her life. But that, she also said, could be mistaken for consent.

I put the question to Jan: did Joyce agreeing to have sex with this man under those conditions qualify as consent?

Jan Schiller: No, it does not qualify as consent. It qualifies as duress. (Laughs) If you’ve been violent with a woman and threatening with a woman and then she says yes, that’s not consent.

Dave Cawley: South Ogden police headquarters sat less than half a mile to the west of Joyce’s apartment on 40th Street. With the interview complete, Bill drove Joyce back home. He noticed a few things as soon as they arrived. First off, the driver door of Joyce’s car was still open. He poked his head inside.

Bill Holthaus: There was, uh, a partial fingernail in her vehicle which she had described to me. Umm, there was some keys, which she had described to me, in her, in her vehicle which uh, she had told me, umm, in the initial interview that uh, she had fought with him getting out of the vehicle. That was enough to convince me that something had happened.

Dave Cawley: He also spotted the buttons from Joyce’s dress, as well as one of her earrings sitting on the car’s front seat.

Bill Holthaus: What she told me on the initial interview, the evidence matched. It wasn’t a matter of me going and finding evidence and then asking her about it. She’d told me about that before I ever found the evidence. And that makes it much more solid than if you find something and ask somebody about it.

Dave Cawley: They went into the apartment. Bill pulled out a Polaroid camera and snapped photos of Joyce’s broken fingernails, as well as the bruises on her neck, arm and jaw. He took photos of her car as well, showing its position in the carport. The sun was breaking over the mountains to the east, lighting the scene.

Bill Holthaus: Now it’s daylight.

Dave Cawley: Bill decided it was time to go and see the house Joyce had pointed out in Clearfield, to knock on the door and ask some questions. And so he left. Joyce was exhausted. She hadn’t slept. In one of the photos Bill had taken of her that morning, her eyelids are drooping as if she might nod off at any moment but for the adrenaline and caffeine in her bloodstream. She was at last able to shower and to call her daughter, Kim Salazar…

Kim Salazar: She called and just told me that she’d been raped and of course I couldn’t get in my car fast enough.

Dave Cawley: …and repeat once again the story of what’d happened. Or at least a Cliffs Notes version of it.

Kim Salazar: Like she never told me everything that happened that night.

Dave Cawley: Kim’s husband Randy remembered hearing the news as well.

Randy Salazar: I remember Kim saying ‘What? Why didn’t you call me last night?’

Kim Salazar: I don’t suppose it was an easy thing for her to tell me in the first place and the fact she had to do it on the phone.

Dave Cawley: Kim rushed over to her mother’s apartment, finding Joyce midway through the job of repairing her broken fingernails.

Kim Salazar: She was putting herself back together. What was broken was being fixed.

Dave Cawley: At least, on the outside.

Kim Salazar: I mean, it’s just so devastating. You don’t, you don’t know what to do, you don’t know what to do. You’re just helpless. I mean, I didn’t know what to do for her.

Dave Cawley: Bill had by that time arrived back in Clearfield.

Bill Holthaus: And as I pulled off of 650 North exit, a deep red Mazda with black louvers pulled on going southbound on I-15. So I just came back behind that car and uh, followed that car until I could get ahold of a trooper to back me up and uh, when the trooper got in behind me, I pulled it over.

Dave Cawley: This was very lucky timing.

Bill Holthaus: And sometimes lucky is better than good.

Dave Cawley: The driver of the red Mazda was a slim, younger-looking guy with feathery brown hair and a large mustache. He wore a plaid shirt with the top button undone, revealing a tuft of chest hair.

Bill Holthaus: And that was in fact Doug Lovell.

Dave Cawley: Bill looked Doug in the face and noticed a cut just to the side of his nose. It appeared fresh, with a single drop of coagulated blood still at the bottom.

Bill Holthaus: There was things in the car that immediately told me he was the right person.

Dave Cawley: Looking into the car through the driver window, Bill could see something sitting on the floorboard of the passenger side: the matching earring to the one he’d already observed in Joyce’s car.

Bill Holthaus: We would have got him anyway but it was just funny the way we did get him with the earring laying on the, he might have gotten rid of the earring later in the day. I don’t even know if he knew it was there.

Dave Cawley: Bill figured this was more than enough probable cause, the legal standard he needed to clear in order to make an arrest, and so he did. He took Doug out of the Mazda and read him his Miranda rights. Then, he placed Doug in the back of his unmarked police car. Bill didn’t have a warrant to search the Mazda right then, so he instead locked it up and left it on the side of the freeway.

Bill then drove Doug to Clearfield police headquarters for an interview. He started out by once again reading Doug his rights. He asked Doug if he understood them and, for a moment, Doug hesitated. He wondered if he ought to have an attorney present. Bill said that was up to Doug, who thought it over and then agreed to talk.

Bill Holthaus: He actually admitted being with her, but his, his, his uh, story was quite a bit different than hers.

Dave Cawley: Unfortunately, this interview was not recorded so I can’t play you actual audio. But I have reviewed Bill’s handwritten notes, which he took down that very day. Here’s what they say.

Bill wrote Doug claimed both he and Joyce had been sitting in their cars outside the Pier 3 the prior evening. Joyce had motioned him over. Doug said Joyce had asked if he’d like to follow her home, and so he had. Doug had said it was Joyce who suggested they go for a drink as he stood next to her car in the carport. Bill asked if Doug had assaulted Joyce in her own car.

Bill Holthaus: When I did ask him about the car, he didn’t answer anything on that. At all. He just said that he picked her up, followed her from the club, picker her up, took her home, had sex with her, brought her back.

Dave Cawley: During the interview, Doug called Joyce by name, saying he remembered her last name — Yost — because a ghost town near where he liked to go deer hunting shared the same name. Doug insisted his time with Joyce had been 100-percent consensual.

Bill Holthaus: Yeah, he just said that, y’know, that they agreed to have sex.

Dave Cawley: Doug Denied having given Joyce one of his shirts. Bill asked Doug about the cut on his face. Doug said it’d resulted from an accident at work the day before. Bill told Doug he knew he was lying. While they’d been speaking, another officer had impounded the Mazda. Bill explained about the matching earrings in the two cars. Bill told Doug he was going to book him on suspicion of rape and sodomy.

Bill Holthaus: Took him down to jail, booked him in, came back, wrote the reports.

Dave Cawley: Fewer than 12 hours had elapsed from the time of Joyce’s first confrontation with the man in her carport to his arrest. Bill credited that quick turnaround to Joyce herself.

Bill Holthaus: You can put that whole case on her. I was just peripheral on that. I was just picking up the pieces is what it amounted to and making them all go together.

Dave Cawley: The following day, Doug Lovell went before a judge. The Davis County Attorney’s Office, after reviewing the evidence, had filed much more serious charges. They included aggravated kidnapping, two counts of rape, aggravated sexual assault and forcible sodomy. In spite of this, the judge set Doug’s bail at just $25,000. That should’ve been the end of it.

Randy Salazar: After they pulled him over and, and took him to, and took him to jail and booked him, I think he was, I think he already had his mind made up what he was going to do.

Dave Cawley: Joyce’s son-in-law Randy Salazar told me it was only the beginning.

Randy Salazar: That’s where it all started it. That’s where uh, (pause) I think that’s where this nightmare begins.

Dave Cawley: Doug Lovell was not going to remain in jail for long. But Bill Holthaus would soon make a discovery about the little red Mazda that could put Doug right back in a cell.

Ep 2: A Case of Rape

Content note: This article includes discussion of rape and sexual assault. Free resources are available for survivors of sexual abuse and violence through the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network hotline at (800) 656-HOPE (4673).

A fresh pot of coffee gave its invigorating odor to the otherwise somber air at police headquarters in South Ogden, Utah.

Bill Holthaus, a detective for the police department in the nearby suburb of Clearfield, arrived there well before sunrise on the morning of April 4, 1985 to investigate a case of rape involving a woman named Joyce Yost.

“I got a call from South Ogden PD telling me that they believed they had a rape, or a woman reporting a rape that occurred in our city,” Holthaus said. “Would I come in and interview her?”

Joyce Yost rape dispatch report log document
The South Ogden police dispatch log from the morning of April 4, 1985. Highlights added by the Cold team. Photo: South Ogden, Utah police

Joyce wore a green velour jogging suit. The dress she’d been in at the time of the alleged rape was already gathered in a brown paper bag, taken as evidence by a South Ogden patrol officer at the time of her initial report.


Joyce Yost and Bill Holthaus

“She was not the typical young rape victim that you see on television,” Holthaus told me of Joyce years later, during a conversation in May of 2020.

Joyce was, at the time in 1985, 39 years old. She was a mother of two adult children, as well as a proud grandmother. For years she’d been a fixture of the Ogden, Utah retail scene, selling Estée Lauder and other cosmetics at the ZCMI department store. She lived alone, having been twice divorced.

“She’d had a traumatic experience but probably not the first one in her life,” Holthaus said.

Clearfield police detective William "Bill" Holthaus
Bill Holthaus, seen here in an undated photograph, began his second career as a police officer in Clearfield, Utah after serving 20 years in the U.S. Air Force. Photo: Bill Holthaus

Bill Holthaus was in many ways Joyce’s contemporary. Both were transplants to Utah: Joyce from Minnesota and Bill from Michigan. Both had been raised as Lutherans and were not part of the predominant religious culture in Mormon-centric Utah. Bill was, at age 38, just two years into his police career.

He’d spent the prior 20 years serving in the U.S. Air Force, where he’d at times been required to interview subordinates about instances of sexual misconduct. He knew such interviews were often delicate.

“I did feel an empathy for her,” Holthaus said. “I thought that she was wronged. I did. But there’s certain questions you have to ask.”


Joyce Yost audio tape

Holthaus pressed the record button on a small audio cassette tape deck as he and Joyce sat down to talk. A young volunteer rape victim advocate from the YWCA named Jan Schiller joined them, sitting by Joyce’s side.

The detective started out by asking Joyce to walk him through what had happened to her the prior evening.

“I met a gentleman friend at the Pier 3 at approximately 7 o’clock for dinner,” Joyce can be heard saying on the tape recording.

The audio tape of Joyce Yost’s interview has never been shared publicly prior to its inclusion in Cold season 2.

“We had a couple of drinks and we had dinner and we danced a couple of times,” Joyce said.

Joyce Yost spent the evening of April 3, 1985 at the Pier 3, a now-defunct supper club in Clearfield, Utah. The Pier 3 sat in the building that is painted yellow in the right image from 2021.

The Pier 3 was a supper club located in a strip mall in the city of Clearfield, just west of Hill Air Force Base. Joyce described leaving the Pier 3 at approximately 10:15 p.m. with her friend. They said goodnight to one another in the parking lot and went their separate ways.

“Then I went on home, not realizing anybody was following me, not really paying attention to see if anybody was following me,” Joyce said.


Confrontation in the carport

Joyce told Holthaus that when she arrived at her apartment on 40th Street in South Ogden at around 11 p.m. she pulled her Oldsmobile convertible into her stall in the carport adjacent to the four-plex. At the same time, a small, red Mazda coupe pulled in just beside and slightly behind her.

“I wasn’t just with somebody that was being a little bit forceful that I was going to be able to get rid of.”

Joyce Yost

The driver of the Mazda exited his car and approached her, opening the door of her car before she even had a chance to do so herself. He wedged his body between Joyce and the open car door, preventing her from closing it.

“He says ‘I can’t believe I’m doing this,’ but he said ‘I noticed you at the Pier 3 and I was attracted to you and decided to follow you,’” Joyce said.

The man told Joyce he wanted to get a drink with her. She rebuffed the advance, suggesting they might instead get coffee another time. The man, who’d told Joyce his name was “Dave,” responded negatively.

Joyce Yost apartment carport evidence court exhibit
This police photo from 1985 shows the carport outside Joyce Yost’s apartment in South Ogden, Utah. Joyce’s parking stall sat between the two cars pictured here. Photo: Weber County Attorney’s Office

“He grabbed me by the throat and he was forceful and told me if I screamed or said anything that he would tear my throat open,” Joyce said.

The man then proceeded to sexually assault Joyce. She fought back, breaking some of her acrylic fingernails in the process. She lost one of her earrings. The buttons down the front of her dress were also torn from the garment.

“I realized I was in a rape situation,” Joyce said. “I wasn’t just with somebody that was being a little bit forceful that I was going to be able to get rid of.”


Joyce Yost’s voice

Jan Schiller, the rape victim advocate, did not say much during this interview. She hadn’t needed to, as Joyce had been composed, thoughtful and articulate.

“I was just so impressed with her,” Schiller told me decades later. “She really had a voice during that interview.”

Joyce went on in the tape recording to describe how the man had sexually assaulted her in her car, then dragged her to his car and shoved her head down into the passenger footwell. Joyce said he’d claimed to have a gun and threatened to shoot her if she put up any further struggle.

The sexual assault of Joyce Yost and its immediate aftermath played out at a variety of venues across southern Weber County, Utah and northern Davis County, Utah.

The man then drove to his house in Clearfield. On the way, Joyce’s other earring fell, unnoticed, onto the floor of the Mazda.

Once at the house, the man blindfolded Joyce, took her inside and repeatedly assaulted her again.

Over the space of the next hour or so, Joyce engaged the man in conversation. She succeeded in gaining his trust and in convincing him to let her go. Joyce promised the man she would not report what he had done if he would just return her home. He eventually agreed, giving her a blue men’s shirt to wear in place of her ruined dress.


A Case of Rape

On the drive back to her apartment, Joyce said the man told her he was normally a nice guy, the type who sends roses.

Joyce had called her sister Dorothy Dial upon arriving home at around 2 a.m. She’d expressed fear, not only that the man might return to harm her also but that police might not believe her account.

“Even now 35 years later, most women still don’t report the rape,” Schiller said.

Joyce Yost and sister Dorothy Dial
Joyce Yost (left) and her sister Dorothy “Dot” Dial (right) remained close throughout Joyce’s life. Joyce called Dorothy after being kidnapped and sexually assaulted on the morning of April 4, 1985. Photo: Joyce Yost family

A 1974 made-for-TV-movie called A Case of Rape had left a strong impression on Joyce. The fictional film starred actress Elizabeth Montgomery as a woman who is twice raped by an acquaintance and then suffers public humiliation during the resulting criminal trial.

Joyce told her sister she did not want to go through a similar experience. Dial said if Joyce didn’t call police, she would. With this encouragement, Joyce agreed to file a report with South Ogden police.


The supporting evidence

At the conclusion of the interview, Bill Holthaus went to Joyce’s apartment. He saw her car sitting in the carport with the driver door still open. He looked inside and noted the fragments of her broken fingernails, as well as a single earring and Joyce’s keys.

Former Clearfield, Utah police detective Bill Holthaus discusses what he saw when he examined Joyce Yost’s car on April 4, 1985, after taking Yost’s report of a rape and kidnapping at the hands of Douglas Anderson Lovell.

Joyce had attempted to stab her attacker in the eye with her keys during the initial assault in her car. She had missed and had instead struck the man on the side of the nose, causing a laceration. He had responded by pummeling her.

Holthaus photographed Joyce’s injuries, which included contusions on her neck and chin, with a Polaroid camera.

The detective then left Joyce and returned to Clearfield, intending to knock on the door of the home where Joyce had said the man had taken her.


Arrest of Doug Lovell

Holthaus was about to exit I-15 when he spotted a red Mazda RX-7 matching the one Joyce had described getting on the freeway headed southbound. He radioed for backup and then pulled the Mazda over.

The man at the wheel of the Mazda had a cut along the side of his nose. Holthaus could also see a single earring in the passenger footwell of the car as he looked in through the open window. It was the match to the other earring he’d previously seen in Joyce’s car.

Doug Lovell rape mugshot April 4, 1985
Detective Bill Holthaus arrested Douglas Anderson Lovell on suspicion of rape just hours following Joyce Yost’s initial report. Photo: Davis County Sheriff’s Office via Utah State Archives

“So we took him into custody right there,” Holthaus said.

The man, soon identified as Douglas Anderson Lovell, had a different story to tell about what happened on the night he met Joyce Yost.


Hear how Joyce Yost’s family responded to her sexual assault in Cold episode 2: A Case of Rape

Episode credits
Research, writing and hosting: Dave Cawley
Audio production: Dave Cawley
Audio mixing: Dave Cawley
Cold main score composition: Michael Bahnmiller
Cold main score mixing: Dan Blanck
KSL executive producers: Sheryl Worsley, Keira Farrimond
Workhouse Media executive producers: Paul Anderson, Nick Panella, Andrew Greenwood
Amazon Music team: Morgan Jones, Eliza Mills, Vanessa Rebbert, Shea Simpson
Episode transcript: https://thecoldpodcast.com/season-2-transcript/a-case-of-rape-full-transcript/
KSL companion story: https://ksltv.com/459836/previously-unheard-audio-reveals-joyce-yosts-terrifying-story-to-police/
Talking Cold companion episode: https://thecoldpodcast.com/talking-cold#tc-episode-2

Cold season 2, episode 1: The Type that Sends Roses – Full episode transcript

Dave Cawley: Susan Yerage did not expect what greeted her when she walked through the doors of the America First Credit Union branch where she worked: a dozen, long-stem yellow roses in a bud vase sitting on her desk.

Susan Yerage (from 1992 police interview): They just had a little note on them, to a friend, and it says that you for being a friend or something like that.

Dave Cawley: What friend would have sent her a dozen roses without so much as signing a name? Susan moved the flowers to her credenza, thinking it must be a mistake. Except, it happened again. Another dozen yellow roses arrived a couple of days later, again bearing a card that read “thank you for being a friend.’ She again set the flowers aside.

Susan Yerage (from 1992 police interview): I mean, they were beautiful flowers, but when you’re getting, getting them from somebody that they don’t even write their name on the card? It makes you a little nervous.

Dave Cawley: That feeling only intensified at the end of the week, when a third batch of roses arrived. They’d come from a place called Gibby Floral. Susan phoned the company and asked who’d sent them.

Susan Yerage (from 1992 police interview): They told me that it was a young kid that came in, paid cash for them and said, ‘Send the flowers.’

Dave Cawley: This “secret admirer” game was not endearing. Some stranger who refused to identify himself was harassing Susan. Her unease soured into outright fear.

Susan Yerage (from 1992 police interview): ‘Cause every day I’d walk out looking around the credit union thinking, y’know, what’s gonna happen.

Dave Cawley: She told the florist not to accept any more deliveries in her name. But, Susan once again received a dozen yellow long-stem roses at the start of the next week. They’d come from a different florist, a place called Candlelight, in the nearby city of Layton.

Susan Yerage (from 1992 police interview): And I called them and they said the same thing happened. A young kid came in, paid cash for them and they sent them out. And I told them I wouldn’t accept them.

Dave Cawley: This flood of flowers had to have cost the sender hundreds of dollars. While yellow roses are meant to symbolize friendship, Susan couldn’t shake the sense of dread the blooms had brought with them. She wondered if someone might be trying to manipulate her. She did have access to sensitive financial information. She didn’t dare think what other intentions the man who sent the flowers might have.

Susan Yerage (from 1992 police interview): You know, if you know who it is, if you know the person and you know a reason, but for any normal person, roses every other day, like that, is ridiculous. I mean, to me, it is. What kind of guy would blast a woman he didn’t know with a barrage of bouquets?

Susan Yerage (from 1992 police interview): Scared me to death. … Because I couldn’t figure out why.

Dave Cawley: This is Cold, season 2, episode 1: The Type That Sends Roses. From KSL Podcasts, I’m Dave Cawley. We’ll be right back.

[Ad break]

Dave Cawley: If you draw a line on a map between the cities of Minneapolis, Minnesota and Winnipeg, Manitoba, then stick your finger in the middle of that line, you’ll find yourself pointing at a small college town called Bemidji.

George and Hulda Figel, residents of Bemidji, welcomed their third daughter Joyce Lynn Figel on January 3, 1946. Joyce had two sisters. The oldest, Dorothy, was 19 years Joyce’s senior. Edna, the middle child, was also significantly older, graduating from high school the same year as Joyce’s birth.

The Figel family lived on a farm on the outskirts of town. The older girls helped their mother raise little Joyce, nicknaming their baby sister “Binky,” a reference to the popular brand of pacifier.

George Figel worked as a greenskeeper at the Bemidji Town and Country Club, a post he’d held for decades. But by the time Joyce was old enough to enroll in school, George was nowhere to be found. He and Hulda had divorced, leaving Joyce to be raised by her mother and sisters. As a teen, Joyce met a boy named Mel Roberts.

Mel Roberts: Well, she was a very attractive girl, for openers.

Dave Cawley: Mel was a few years older — he was a senior in high school when Joyce was a freshman — and found himself smitten.

Mel Roberts: She just had a real outgoing personality. Friendly, bubbly, happy-go-lucky.

Dave Cawley: They dated for the better part of a year.

Mel Roberts: We’d go to football games and basketball games. We’d follow the, like tournaments and whatnot we’d go watch the high school teams play.

Dave Cawley: Their relationship took a turn though when, at age 15, Joyce learned she was pregnant. Hulda Figel took news of her unmarried teenage daughter’s pregnancy hard.

Mel Roberts: I went out to her house on a Saturday morning and walked in the yard, pulled in the yard and she was in the kitchen making a cake … and she spun around and left. Wouldn’t even speak to me.

Dave Cawley: The Figel family tree traced its roots back to Germany and Scandinavia. They’d been Lutherans long as anyone could remember.

Mel Roberts: They went to church religiously. Every Sunday and she went through her, y’know, the Lutheran confirmation, which is two years.

Dave Cawley: Hulda told Joyce she shouldn’t raise her baby.

Mel Roberts: She was gonna put her in a Lutheran home and, y’know, give the baby up for adoption.

Dave Cawley: Mel had a different idea: keep the baby and get married.

Mel Roberts: Joyce and I sat there and talked for a few hours and then she finally came in and we, we hashed it out.

Dave Cawley: Mel had by that point started classes at Bemidji State College.

Mel Roberts: When I found out she was pregnant I dropped out of college and went and found a job. (Laughs)

Dave Cawley: Lacking experience or references, Mel went from business to business, knocking on doors, until he ended up at a metal stamping company. The manager invited Mel into his office.

Mel Roberts: He said, ‘Do you have a girl pregnant?’ And I looked at him like he was on Mars. Come to find out, his son was in the same circumstances. Similar age to me. And honest to God, I think that’s probably why he hired me.

Dave Cawley: The job interview took place at about 3 in the afternoon. The manager told Mel his shift started at 6.

Mel Roberts: And I ended up working in that business the rest of my life.

Dave Cawley: Mel and Joyce married in January of 1962. Joyce gave birth to a daughter, whom they named Kim, about four months later. Joyce became a full-time mother at the age of 16. She dropped out of school and moved with her new husband to Minneapolis. A year later, they welcomed a second child, a son named Greg. The Roberts family scraped to get by.

Mel Roberts: You look back on how you survived and it was pretty amazing. Kids today couldn’t do that.

Dave Cawley: They made friends with their neighbors but didn’t have much time for socializing. Mel worked nonstop. Joyce’s favorite pastime seemed to be sunbathing.

Mel Roberts: She was a sun goddess. Always, she’d lay in the sun when it was 40 degrees out.

Dave Cawley: She would even drag the laundry into the yard so she could to the ironing in the sun. Each summer Joyce would take the kids and spend a week or two visiting her sister Edna in Duluth, on the western tip of Lake Superior.

Mel Roberts: Edna spent a tremendous amount of time with Kim and Greg when they were little.

Dave Cawley: Dorothy, Joyce’s oldest sibling, had by then moved away to Utah. She and Joyce struggled to stay in touch during this period, relying mostly on letters.

Mel Roberts: Back then it wasn’t like you had cell phones. We, we didn’t come from wealthy families so long distance calls back then were expensive.

Dave Cawley: Long distance calls weren’t the only luxury they had to forgo. Mel and Joyce were in over their heads.

Mel Roberts: The odds of that succeeding are pretty remote.

Dave Cawley: Joyce took jobs waitressing in the evenings. She couldn’t find better paying gigs, in part because she’d never finished high school. The stress of her situation began to feel like a vice. She wanted out. Joyce filed for divorce from Mel after just a handful of years.

Mel Roberts: Had we not been so young, I’m pretty sure the relationship would have been far more successful.

Dave Cawley: The separation didn’t solve Joyce’s problems. Instead, it brought on a different set of challenges. Money grew even more tight, forcing her to work two or three jobs at a time.

Mel Roberts: She had to work a lot so the kids spent some time alone and whatnot but, she didn’t have any choice.

Dave Cawley: Dating in her early 20s with two young children also proved difficult. She had a few bad experiences with boyfriends that left her, in Mel’s words, “screwed up.”

Mel Roberts: Struggling financially and, and I think she was struggling emotionally as well.

Dave Cawley: Mel had remained close to Joyce, their children and even Joyce’s mother Hulda in spite of the divorce. But forces beyond his control soon swept him away. The government drafted Mel into the U.S. Army in 1968.

Mel Roberts: I spent 15 months in Korea.

Dave Cawley: Joyce needed a fresh start. She decided to leave Minnesota, to take her kids Kim and Greg and head west, following her sister Dorothy’s trail to Utah.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Monan Lovell had three sons. The oldest, 19-year-old Russell, was playing a game with 17-year-old Royce at the family’s home in the city of Uintah, Utah. The baby of the family, 14-year-old Doug, watched from the sidelines. Monan interrupted, telling the boys he and their mother had news to share. Doug could tell it wasn’t good.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): I remember thinking to myself that they were going to tell us someone in the family died.

Dave Cawley: That is not Doug’s actual voice, but they are his words, taken from a letter written many years later. Tears welled in Monan’s eyes. He told his sons he his wife Shirley were divorcing after nearly 20 years of marriage. Monan saw expressions of shock on his son’s faces.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): I never seen my mom or dad fight, and neither had my two older brothers. We were the perfect family so I thought.

Dave Cawley: Except they weren’t. Royce was beginning to dabble with drugs. Doug had been getting into trouble himself. He’d gone to juvenile court a year prior, when he was just 13, for theft.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): I can still clearly hear my father’s voice saying you kids need to decide who you want to live with. It was more than I could handle … How dare they make me pick between them.

Dave Cawley: Monan told his boys he would be moving out of the home that very day. Doug bolted to his feet and ran out of the room.

It was September of 1972. Russell would soon turn 20 and could live on his own. Royce, it was decided, would follow his father to his new apartment. Doug would remain with his mother, Shirley.

Doug Lovell had spent his earliest years on a farm on the fringe of Utah’s vast West Desert.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): We had all the animals that belonged on a farm and then some. Animals were the love of my life, and I had lots of them.

Dave Cawley: The farm life was not to last. Monan had taken a job with the U.S. Air Force and, when Doug was 10, moved his family north to the suburbs of Ogden, near Hill Air Force Base. Doug started finding trouble not long after. He got into schoolyard fights…

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): I remember back in school when two boys had a problem with each other, they would meet after school and fight. The worse that might happen is a bloody nose or black eye.

Dave Cawley: …and developed a habit for swiping property that didn’t belong to him. Doug turned 15 in January of ’73, days before the courts finalized his parents’ divorce. He landed back in juvenile court the following November on criminal counts of theft and burglary. Soon after, at age 16, the courts decided he could answer the same question his brothers had before: which parent would he choose to live with?

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): I never could pick. I stayed with mom and then I felt guilty for not being with my dad. I always felt who ever I was living with the other one was thinking that I loved them less.

Dave Cawley: Monan remarried two years after the split from Shirley, to a woman named Dorothy. She brought seven children of her own to their blended family.

Doug bounced back and forth between his parents until, in the summer of ’75, he lost the ability to choose. He’d dropped out of school and once again run afoul of the law. The juvenile court sent him to the Utah State Industrial School for a 90-day “observation and assessment.”

The industrial school wasn’t a prison, but life there was not like home. Doug could not come and go as he pleased. He lived in a dorm with other kids whom the state had also deemed juvenile delinquents.

The school’s stated aim was rectifying behavioral issues underlying criminal activity in wayward kids, helping them correct their courses before they became adults.

That time was fast approaching for Doug. He finished his time at the school and turned 18 in January of ’76. He moved in with his brother Russell, who was then living in a mobile home in the city of Clearfield. Doug worked menial jobs to pay his way and spent his free time hunting, playing in the mountains and riding his dirt bike.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Joyce arrived in Utah with her school-aged kids Kim and Greg and no safety net. She moved her little family in with her sister Dorothy, who lived in the suburb of Clearfield just west of Hill Air Force Base. Kim remembered her mother and Aunt Dot, as Dorothy was known, being very close.

Kim Salazar: They would laugh and laugh and laugh.

Dave Cawley: Joyce soon found work in the nearby city of Ogden. ZCMI, a now-defunct department store chain majority owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, had a few years earlier opened a sprawling branch store at the corner of Ogden’s 24th Street and Washington Boulevard. Joyce took a sales position at the ZCMI cosmetics counter. Greg told me his mother did well at this, no doubt because she looked the part.

Greg Roberts: She would dress to the nines. And she had a lot of clothes and working at ZCMI and Bon Marché, she’d, she’d put things on hold and they’d go sale and further sale and further sale and she’d end up with these outfits for next to nothing.

Dave Cawley: Joyce had developed this sense of frugal fashion very young, inheriting it from her mother. She used it, paired with her gregarious personality, to great effect.

Greg Roberts: I still have ladies that will come up to me that ‘I knew your mother’ … happens all the time.

Dave Cawley: Securing steady work allowed Joyce to move out of her sister Dorothy’s home before long. She found a place not too far away, in the neighboring community of Sunset.

Kim Salazar: The landlord lived in the basement, him and his son and we lived upstairs.

Dave Cawley: She also met a man by the name of George Yost. George drove a Buick Electra 225, a car of Titanic proportions.

Greg Roberts: We could swim around the back of there. They’d take us to get ice cream and just always take a Sunday drive and go look at nice homes and things like that and go get ice cream at Farrs and nobody had seatbelts on.

Dave Cawley: Joyce and George married. This caught Mel Roberts, Joyce’s first husband, by surprise.

Mel Roberts: I don’t know what that whole deal was about. Maybe security, I don’t know.

Dave Cawley: The last 10 or so years of Joyce’s life had been turbulent but she seemed to be putting down new roots.

Greg Roberts: Her and George bought a home together, George Yost bought a home together.

Dave Cawley: This did not last.

Mel Roberts: She wasn’t married to him very long.

Greg Roberts: She was married to George Yost for about three years, umm, just while we were in kind of elementary school and junior high.

Dave Cawley: Joyce and George divorced after just a few short years, leaving her to once again provide as a single mother.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Monan Lovell and his second wife, Dorothy rose early on the morning of January 6, 1977. They had plans down south in Salt Lake City. They were just on their way out the door when, at about 8:30 a.m., their phone rang.

Dorothy answered. A man on the other end of the line identified himself as officer Parks from the Ogden Police Department. Parks said he needed to speak with Dorothy’s then 21-year-old stepson, Royce. Dorothy said Royce was asleep, but given it was the police calling, she decided to wake him. She handed off the phone to Royce. Then, she and Monan left.

They returned about four hours later, around noon. When they came through the door of their home they saw Royce on the floor in a corner of the living room, between the couch and stereo. A small prescription pill bottle containing the psychotropic anti-anxiety medication Librium sat on a nearby table.

In a panic, Monan grabbed his son and pulled him into the center of the room, thinking he’d just passed out. Royce had not passed out. He was dead.

Royce’s brothers, Russell and Doug, were working together at the time. Monan called Russell and told him to grab Doug and get home, quick. They came through the door and saw Royce’s body.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): My legs gave out and I found myself crawling to him. As I held my brother’s lifeless body in my arms, I remember pleading to him to wake up!

Dave Cawley: Again, those are Doug’s words, taken from a letter he wrote years later. Monan and Russell had to drag Doug, then just weeks shy of his 19th birthday, off Royce’s body. This demonstration of emotion was notable. Royce and Doug had been at one another’s throats constantly as children, but their relationship had deepened as teenagers.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): I always seen my brother as being bigger than life. Just being with him I always felt safe and secure.

Dave Cawley: Yet, just the day before Royce’s death, he and Doug had had a furious fight. It didn’t quite come to blows, but it was close.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): I remember us standing face-to-face shouting at each other. We were so close, I could feel the tiny splashes of spit and the warmth from his mouth.

Dave Cawley: Doug had expected to take a punch but Royce had instead walked away. After the fight, neither brother would reveal to the rest of the family just what it had been about.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): There was no doubt that I loved him! In fact, my love for Royce was so strong, I would have traded my life for his.

Dave Cawley: The police came. Monan and Dorothy told an officer what’d happened, how they’d found Royce in a bizarre position in a corner of the room. They mentioned the morning phone call from a man calling himself Parks with the Ogden police. The officer called Ogden PD and asked to speak with Parks, only to be told there was no such person employed with the department.

The officer noticed something else: a scrap of paper sitting on the floor near the front door. It appeared to be a page out of paperback book. Printed text on the page read “sugar and spice and everything nice, acid and smack no way back.”

This was the tagline from a best selling novel titled “Go Ask Alice” written by a woman named Beatrice Sparks. The book was originally marketed as a true account, taken from an anonymous teenage girl’s diary, of her slide into addiction and death. Sparks is dead now but her claim that the manuscript was a true account became a matter of some dispute later in her writing career.

Suffice it to say, the book carried a strong anti-drug message and was widely popular in the ‘70s. How a page of it came to be the same room as the body of Royce Lovell was not clear.

An autopsy would later reveal the presence of IV needle tracks on Royce’s arms and legs. Toxicology testing showed the presence of not only Librium, but also Valium and amphetamines in his system. The coroner listed the cause of death as an accidental overdose.

Monan had his doubts. He told investigators there were other circumstances surrounding the death that made him believe it was not an accident. Royce’s death just days before he was scheduled to act as a state’s witness in a robbery case.

At the mortuary, Monan noticed what he thought were bruises on Royce’s hands, neck and across the bridge of his nose. A small ceramic dog that typically sat on the fireplace mantle in the same room where Royce had died appeared to have been moved as well, suggesting to Monan someone might have used it as a bludgeon.

Police were never able to verify these suspicions and they closed the case.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Joyce had not been divorced from her second husband George Yost for long before she became close with another man.

Greg Roberts: His name was … Floren B. Nelson … he was a big part of her life.

Dave Cawley: “Nails,” as he was better known, was an Air Force man. He’d been born in 1921 and played football for the University of Utah before joining the U.S. Army Air Corps six months after Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Nails ended up piloting the revered P-51 Mustang fighter during the Second World War’s waning months, flying combat missions over Europe. All of this before Joyce had even been born.

Nails owned a boat. On summer weekends he and Joyce would take it out on Willard Bay, a freshwater reservoir adjacent to the Great Salt Lake, where they’d fish for walleye.

Greg Roberts: She loved to sunbathe and she loved to go boating with Nails. It was a big, big part of her life.

Dave Cawley: Greg was in the 9th grade when he told his mom he’d decided what he wanted to be when he grew up.

Greg Roberts: Told her and her sister I wanted to be a dentist and they just thought that was so neat. And, y’know, we didn’t really have any dentists in the family and I wasn’t sure why I exactly chose that but they made quite a big deal of it and it kind of maybe made it a bigger goal of mine. To have their support.

Dave Cawley: Mel felt a little more skeptical of his son’s plan…

Mel Roberts: Yeah, I don’t know where he, where he ever came up with that. It was nothing I promoted, it was nothing Joyce promoted.

Dave Cawley: …but Greg had his mind set.

Mel Roberts: It was just something he wanted to do.”

Dave Cawley: Monan Lovell tried to counsel his wayward son, asking why Doug kept breaking the law. It seemed to Monan that Doug had the mind of a 13-year-old, even though he was approaching 20. His single piece of advice: stop committing crimes.

Doug didn’t listen. He was picked up for possession of a controlled substance in late ’77 and sent to jail for three months.

Doug went out and stole some lumber around this same time and was charged and convicted of felony theft. In fact, he had two separate theft cases going simultaneously in two different counties. They each qualified for prison sentences. But the two judges, after comparing notes, opted for probation. This was rather remarkable, considering Doug’s rap sheet.

There was a hitch, though. Doug had to serve out part of that probation period at the Lakehills Community Corrections Center, a halfway house in Salt Lake City. There, Doug was to receive training and treatment to help him reform his pattern of bad behavior.

Doug had to live at Lakehills during the week, but was free to hold a daytime job and to spend Saturdays and Sundays offsite. A far less restrictive punishment than prison.

He attended a party with a girlfriend in the city of Roy while away from Lakehills on one such weekend. The party was well underway by the time he arrived. A young woman he knew — not the girl he was there with — spotted him coming through the door. She stood up.

“Lovell, what are you doing,” she asked. “It’s been so long.”

Her name was Rhonda Buttars. Doug and Rhonda had first met as kids, when they’d shared the same 6th grade class at Club Heights Elementary School. They’d never been close, but were acquainted through junior high and high school. That is, right up until Doug’d dropped out.

Doug and Rhonda started chatting, much to the annoyance of Doug’s date. He eventually took that young lady home, then returned to the party to continue flirting with Rhonda. They ended up leaving the party together later that night in Rhonda’s Camero.

They bumped into one another again a short time later, while attending a funeral for a mutual friend. From this sprang the seed of a relationship. They started dating. Rhonda would drive down to Lakehills on Friday nights and pick up her new boyfriend. They’d go to dinner or the movies before Rhonda would drop Doug off at his dad’s or brother’s place. Then, on Sunday nights, she’d return him to the halfway house.

This continued until April of ’78 when Doug completed his time at Lakehills and once again became a free man.

[Ad break]

Dave Cawley: Closing time was fast approaching at the U-Save Market. The grocery store at the corner of Ogden’s 7th Street and Monroe Boulevard typically locked its doors for the day at 8 p.m.

Bill Workman, the manager at the store’s front end, was in the process of counting the day’s receipts when, at 7:52 p.m., two men came through the door. One of them, pot-bellied and wearing a plaid flannel shirt unbuttoned down the front, carried a hand gun. A nylon stocking obscured his face. The second man, who was thinner, followed a step behind.

The lead man pointed the gun at Bill and told him to take him to the safe the safe and open it, which Bill did. The second man then grabbed a pair of cash drawers which held the bulk of the day’s sales.

As this was happening, another U-Save employee named Kellie Sherrod was closing up her station at the back corner of the building. She wasn’t able to hear the commotion up front.

Kellie Farr (née Sherrod): The store was really quite a large store.

Dave Cawley: Kellie was 18, fresh out of high school and working at the U-Save Market six nights a week.

Kellie Farr (née Sherrod): That particular day in August I was working the drive-in window and doing the gas pumps.

Dave Cawley: The drive-up window allowed customers to pull up in their car, ask the clerk there for a few items and then pay without having to step foot inside.

Kellie Farr (née Sherrod): People line up in their car to get their last, I dunno, gallon of milk or soda or cottage cheese. ‘Can you run across the store and get me some cottage cheese?’

Dave Cawley: Come closing time, it was Kellie’s job to shut down her station. That meant going outside to lock a metal grate over the window, to disconnect an air compressor hose and to record readings on a set of gas pumps located in the parking lot.

Kellie Farr (née Sherrod): I would have to subtract the digits from the day before and that way they could measure how much gas had been used.

Dave Cawley: Kellie carried a pen and notebook for this task. She stepped out into an alley behind the store and was startled to see a car parked there…

Kellie Farr (née Sherrod): It was a four-door Oldsmobile. I think it was a Cutlass Supreme.

Dave Cawley: …along with a man crouched down near the back bumper. The car was parked near the air compressor hose. Kellie thought maybe he was filling a flat tire. Except…

Kellie Farr (née Sherrod): He wasn’t using the air hose. I popped it off of the building and I rolled it up and set it just on the ground. I didn’t take it back in.

Dave Cawley: Many cars built in the ‘60s had their fuel caps tucked away behind the rear license plate. Kellie next thought the man might be stuffing a rag down the tank’s filler pipe.

Kellie Farr (née Sherrod): ‘Cause I thought he had lost his cap.

Dave Cawley: She had to walk past the car — and the man — in order to perform her other tasks.

Kellie Farr (née Sherrod): So I said hello to him. He jumped up.

Dave Cawley: Kellie told me the man acknowledged her with a hello of his own.

Kellie Farr (née Sherrod): I knew he was close to my age just by, he had long hair, a very distinct mustache which I noted, and I noted he had the same color of blue eyes as I did. That’s how close I was to him.

Dave Cawley: She continued past him, rounding the northeast corner of the building. She walked out to the gas pumps, then turned around to face back toward the building.

Kellie Farr (née Sherrod): And I was standing at the gas pump and I noted that that car had kind of pulled out.

Dave Cawley: Just then, two men came running around the front side of the store off to Kellie’s left. They were sprinting. She saw one of them had a handgun.

Kellie Farr (née Sherrod): And these two individuals running down the side of the store took nylon stockings off their heads.

Dave Cawley: The front-end manager, Bill Workman, wasn’t far behind.

Kellie Farr (née Sherrod): He didn’t chase them, just to the edge and he yelled ‘We’re being robbed.’ And that just changed my whole thing. Y’know, I’m thinking ‘Okay, I’m gonna write down a license plate.’

Dave Cawley: The two men dove into the car before she could do anything of the sort. The heavier guy — with the gun — landed in the back seat. He noticed her standing at the gas pumps, staring.

Kellie Farr (née Sherrod): The guy in the back seat told me ‘If you know what’s good, you’ll stand.’ So I stood.

Dave Cawley: Tires squealed in a burnout as the young man with the mustache stomped on the accelerator.

Kellie Farr (née Sherrod): And I actually saw the license plate when they pulled out, I had a notebook and I thought ‘I’ll just write down the license plate.’ It was covered. So he was not putting a rag in the gas tank for a missing cap. He was covering the license plate.

Dave Cawley: The car roared into traffic and disappeared. Kellie scribbled down a few notes about what she’d seen. They proved useful when Ogden police showed up minutes later.

Kellie Farr (née Sherrod): Went out and talked to me about where were you standing and what did you do? Kind of re-enactment. Wrote a verbal report. Probably spent at least an hour, hour and a half with them, talking to us.

Dave Cawley: Meantime, other officers were tracking down the car. They found it parked outside an apartment two miles to the north. Cash and change littered the floorboard, along with a box of .22-caliber ammunition.

The officers knocked on the apartment door with their own guns drawn. A man wearing a blue flowered shirt answered and handed over his ID, which bore the name Ray Dodge. Ray was the guy who’d grabbed the cash drawers from the U-Save Market’s safe.

Ray had spent much of his adult life in prison. He was also smart — a judge would later peg his IQ at 126 — and he’d earned a reputation while incarcerated as a crafty litigator. In the late ‘60s he’d mounted a legal challenge on behalf of some fellow state prison inmates, resulting in 29 of them going free.

There were two other people in the apartment with Ray, but neither matched the descriptions of the gunman or getaway driver. The officers interviewed them and determined the driver, the guy with the bushy mustache, was a 20-year-old man named Doug Lovell.

Doug had swapped into another car, a ’73 Pontiac Grand Am, as soon as he’d arrived at the apartment with Ray and the other robber. The officers put an APB out on the Pontiac and a Utah Highway Patrol trooper found it abandoned behind a carwash a couple hours later. Police wasted no time securing an arrest warrant for Doug. He surrendered the following day.

Ogden police soon identified the other robber as Sherrill Chestnut. Like Ray Dodge, Sherrill was a career criminal. He’d first gone to prison in the ‘50s for burglary. Soon after his release in ’65, Sherrill had taken a pair of Utah Highway Patrol troopers captive at gunpoint during a traffic stop.

How had a young man like Doug Lovell fallen in with these kinds of hardened felons, both of whom were at least 20 years his senior?

Kellie Farr (née Sherrod): He to me was a young kid that was doing the wrong thing, y’know at that point.

Dave Cawley: Kellie picked Sherrill, Ray and Doug from a line-up. And she realized it wasn’t the first time she’d seen their faces.

Kellie Farr (née Sherrod): I knew when I picked those guys out of the lineup I had seen them in the store.

Dave Cawley: They’d cased the store and planned the heist. They’d known what time to arrive and where to park the getaway car to avoid being seen. They’d made sure to obscure their faces and had accounted for contingencies.

Kellie Farr (née Sherrod): Other than I don’t believe they knew what the back window cashier did, coming out and that.

Dave Cawley: Doug could have rolled over on his accomplices, but didn’t. It made little difference, as Sherrill and Ray were quickly convicted and sent back to prison. Although Doug had only acted as the getaway driver, under the law he was just as culpable. Prosecutors filed a first-degree felony charge of armed robbery against him. He went to trial in November of ’78.

Kellie Farr (née Sherrod): I did get called as a witness to go to court on Doug Lovell.

Dave Cawley: Kellie felt a little nervous, but also confident about what she’d seen. That confidence only grew on the day of her testimony.

Kellie Farr (née Sherrod): He’s cleaned up, he’s in a business suit, y’know what I mean? But I knew it was him. There was no question.

Dave Cawley: He had supporters in the courtroom, his new girlfriend Rhonda Buttars among them. The judge had assigned Doug a public defender by the name of John Caine. John was a young, up-and-coming lawyer who’d been admitted to the bar in the fall of ’73 and almost immediately gone to work on a major death penalty case: the Ogden Hi-Fi Shop murders. I’ll have more to say about that in a later episode.

Caine’s defense proved insufficient. Kellie — the only witness who could place Doug at the scene of the robbery — shared her account with the jury.

Kellie Farr (née Sherrod): I do know that his role was to drive that car.

Dave Cawley: The eight jurors found Doug guilty. Utah law set the penalty for the crime of aggravated robbery at no less than five years in prison and possibly up to life. But when Doug went back to court for sentencing a couple of weeks later, Judge Ronald Hyde said he would not be sending Doug to prison.

He instead enrolled Doug in a course known as the “public offenders program” at the Utah State Hospital. This was a treatment-focused inpatient program for “emotionally disturbed” individuals.

The state hospital, an asylum, operated under the direction of the Utah Division of Mental Health. Doug would have to meet guidelines set by an agency called Adult Probation and Parole but if he kept out of trouble he could serve a much-abbreviated term at the hospital while retaining many of his personal freedoms.

Just as he’d done at the halfway house and the state institutional school. It didn’t work. A parole officer wrote Doug up for failing to abide by the treatment program the following June. Judge Hyde ordered Doug back to court and imposed the original sentence. So on August 8, 1979, almost one year since the robbery, Doug found himself reunited with his accomplices Ray Dodge and Sherrill Chestnut as an inmate at the Utah State Prison.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Joyce Yost’s daughter, Kim Roberts, met a young man through some mutual friends not long after starting classes at Roy High School. His name was Randy Salazar. Randy would at times drop by to visit Kim at her mom’s place. That’s how he was first introduced to Joyce…

Randy Salazar: She was a good lady. She was a hard worker. I’ll tell you what.

Dave Cawley: …as well as Kim’s younger brother, Greg…

Greg Roberts: I remember we then lived in like the Hertfordshire Apartments in Roy.

Dave Cawley: …and even Joyce’s boyfriend Nails and her sister, Dorothy.

Randy Salazar: Whenever there was a barbecue they, when we all got together, old Dot would be out there with her little drink and her cigarette and Joyce would be out there too and we’d just, yeah we used to have some pretty good times with them people.

Dave Cawley: Randy was a few years older than Kim. He graduated ahead of her. They stayed in touch and even started dating. That progressed to marriage in 1979. Randy was 20 and Kim was 17.

Greg Roberts: She loved Randy. Just loved Randy.

Kim Salazar: (Laughs)

Greg Roberts: He’s a character.

Dave Cawley: Kim had married young, just like her mother. Randy, for his part, got along very well with his new mother-in-law.

Randy Salazar: I mean, there’s some times she gave me some advice, y’know, some stern advice. Y’know, which is good.

Dave Cawley: Joyce was herself only 33 years old at that point, but she’d been through two marriages and knew a bit about relationships. She was still dating Nails, who’d been married before and had children of his own. Neither Joyce nor Nails seemed in any kind of rush to get married themselves. They’d moved in together though, sharing a condo just west of Weber State University. Greg, who was still in high school, lived with them. Randy sometimes joked to his young bride if she looked as good as her mother did in her 30s, he’d be a lucky man.

Randy Salazar: She was a very, very — and I’ll say — beautiful lady. She was, I mean she was always dressed to the max. Her lips were always just red with another tint on the of, of lipstick. Her hair was always fixed up nice. Her makeup, I mean she was just, she was very, very beautiful lady. She was.

Dave Cawley: It wasn’t just Joyce’s physical appearance that impressed Randy.

Randy Salazar: She was a hard-working, darn good provider.

Dave Cawley: Not only did Joyce work full-time at ZCMI…

Randy Salazar: She used to sell Estée Lauder, Estée Lauder and uh, and she was pretty darn good at it, too.

Dave Cawley: …she also supplemented her income cocktail waitressing at night.

Greg Roberts: Elks Club, Blue Monaco was in Roy. What’s the name of that one in Riverdale?

Kim Salazar: Lamplight?

Greg Roberts: The Lamplight.

Dave Cawley: Joyce would come home from her shift at the club after 1 a.m., knowing she had to rise early the next morning to be back at the cosmetics counter.

Kim Salazar: She did it so we had everything that we ever wanted or needed. She made sure of that. But we didn’t have a lot of time with her.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Doug Lovell was two days shy of the one-year anniversary of his arrival at the Utah State Prison when he received his chance to go before the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole on August 6, 1980.

The Board of Pardons had, and still has today, broad authority under the Utah Constitution. It’s the Board of Pardons, not any judge, that decides how much time someone who is sent to prison by the state courts really serves. Impress the board and you can shorten your stay.

Board hearings are audio recorded. Those recordings should be retained in the state archives. But when I asked the board for a copy of Doug’s 1980 parole hearing I was told it no longer existed. It was just too old.

What I can tell you, based on other paper records, is Doug presented as a model inmate at his hearing. He succeeded in winning over the board members.

No one had bothered to ask Kellie, the grocery store clerk whose testimony had helped convict Doug…

Kellie Farr (née Sherrod): No, I was never notified.

Dave Cawley: …and maybe it wouldn’t have mattered.

Kellie Farr (née Sherrod): I didn’t see him as a threat that particular day, other than y’know being scared of what was going on.

Dave Cawley: He’d only been the wheelman. At his trial, Doug had presented as an impressionable kid pushed into the crime by two notorious older felons.

Doug had entered a program upon arrival at the prison called “First Offenders.” It was designed for inmates who were young and in on their first felonies. The program operated out of the prison’s special services dormitory, or SSD, a minimum-security section where inmates were afforded more luxuries than in most other housing units. Doug had quickly discovered good behavior was advantageous. It allowed him to remain in SSD.

The judge had sentenced Doug to a term of five years to life. The parole board decided because of his model behavior he should serve just half of the minimum: two-and-a-half years. They scheduled his parole date for February 9, 1982.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Kim and Randy Salazar were still establishing themselves when, about a year into their marriage, Kim learned she was pregnant.

Randy Salazar: I remember Joyce saying ‘Now, this baby’s not going to call me grandma.’ … She said ‘This baby’s going to call me Joyce.’ And as time went on and it got closer, I remember she couldn’t wait to be called grandma.

Dave Cawley: Kim gave birth to a daughter, Melisa, in December of 1980. Joyce met her first granddaughter.

Greg Roberts: So she was a rockin’ 34-year-old grandma. She loved it.

Kim Salazar: Yep. She did.

Greg Roberts: She soaked up every minute of it.

Dave Cawley: Joyce had always gone all out on Christmas.

Kim Salazar: Oh my gosh. That’s an understatement.

Randy Salazar: There’d be the Christmas tree and there wouldn’t be much carpet left. Because she would, I mean she would shop and shop and man, she tried to give you any gift, any gift she thought of you during the year, it was underneath that tree.

Dave Cawley: Tradition dictated Joyce take her children over to her sister Dorothy’s house each Christmas Eve. The two sisters were known to gab for hours.

Kim Salazar: Y’know, when we were little we’d cry because it was time to go ‘cause we were going to miss Santa Claus and they’d be laughing and carrying on and we wouldn’t be going and we’d be mad.

Dave Cawley: As Kim and Greg had grown, they’d found themselves more and more a part of the family’s traditions.

Greg Roberts: We’d beg to open one gift. Just beg and beg and beg. And they’d, they had a little strategy you’d always get something kind of—

Kim Salazar: Kind of lame.

Greg Roberts: Baseball glove full of bad cologne or something.

Dave Cawley: Now that Kim had a baby of her own, born just two weeks before Christmas, Joyce shifted her focus to her little granddaughter.

Randy Salazar: And Joyce just, she bought her so many Christmas presents, by the time Christmas was there, it was crazy. And she just loved her, y’know, Melisa couldn’t open the gifts, so she would open the gifts a little bit and show her, like Melisa really didn’t care but Joyce got a lot of enjoyment out of it.

Dave Cawley: The early ‘80s brought some hard years, not just for Joyce but also for millions of people in United States. The nation went through back-to-back recessions in ’81 and ’82. At its worst, the unemployment rate climbed above 10%. Randy found a job in the shops of the Utah Transit Authority. It required that he work in Salt Lake City, so he and Kim moved south.

Randy Salazar: I think it was kind of hard on her because Kim wasn’t around a lot so we, so tried to come back every weekend.”

Greg had finished high school and enrolled at Utah State University.

Greg Roberts: I’d come home on the weekends and she’d do my laundry and pack me up with groceries, y’know.

Dave Cawley: Greg’s dream of becoming a dentist had dimmed. Mel Roberts told me he’d encouraged his son to pursue a different path.

Mel Roberts: His first quarter was in computer science. And he hated it.

Dave Cawley: Joyce split up with her longtime boyfriend, Nails, and moved out of their condo. She landed in a small apartment, the bottom left-hand unit of a four-plex on 40th Street in South Ogden.

Randy Salazar: And she used to lay out in her front yard all the time and after we had Melisa, she would be out on the lawn in the summertime with Melisa and just being a good grandma.

Dave Cawley:  Kim and Randy welcomed a second daughter, Melanie, at the beginning of 1982. Joyce and her sister Dorothy would often make the two-hour drive to West Wendover, Nevada on the weekends, where they would play the slots. Randy remembered once running into her there while he was visiting Wendover with his parents.

Randy Salazar: She told me ‘You ought to just play a dollar machine instead of those, instead of those dime and nickel machines.’ And I said ‘I don’t know.’ I said, ‘Man, I haven’t got the money.’ ‘Just try it.’ So I did it. And I hit a hundred dollars like, just right away and back then man, a hundred dollars to me was a lot of money. … Just right after that … I hit another hundred dollars. … And Joyce was kind of laughing at me and saying ‘See, see? You can do it.’

Dave Cawley: Joyce even slipped away to Wendover by herself on occasion. She didn’t always bother to tell Kim or Greg about those impromptu trips.

Randy Salazar: So she’d call her all weekend and then Kim would worry about her and I’d have to say ‘Kim, she’s alright. That’s, that’s your mom. You know your mom.’

Dave Cawley: Greg decided to switch schools after finishing his first year at Utah State. He transferred to Weber State College, which sat just east of Joyce’s apartment. She had a spare bedroom and invited her son to move in, which he did.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Rhonda Buttars had not waited for Doug Lovell after he went to prison in 1979. In fact, she’d soon married another man named Richard Ryan Scullin. They’d had a baby in ’81, a little girl they’d named Alisha. Their relationship had proven rocky, though. Rhona felt unhappy and, by ’82, was considering divorce. This was a daunting proposition. Rhonda thought about separating from her husband moving back home with her parents. While visiting them one day, she received a phone call from Doug Lovell.

The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole had let Doug out even earlier than planned. He’d left prison in January of ’82 and rented an apartment at a place called Pepper Ridge in Clearfield. His finances were in shambles. Upon his release, Doug’s parents had connected him with an employee at their credit union: a woman named Susan Yerage.

Susan Yerage (from 1992 police interview): I first met Doug when I was collection, ah, officer, in the collection department and I was collecting on a loan that he’d had prior to going to prison.

Dave Cawley: Susan was 10 years older than Doug. He seemed like a child to her…

Susan Yerage (from 1992 police interview): Young kid. Sandy blond hair, bushy mustache, slight frame.

Dave Cawley: …and she did what she could to help him sort out the mess he’d made.

Part of Doug’s post-prison plan involved rekindling his romance with Rhonda. On this phone call in early ’82, Doug told Rhonda she should forget about moving back with her parents and instead move in with him at his new apartment. Rhonda vacillated. Her attorney had told her the divorce would go more smoothly if she wasn’t cohabiting with another man.

“You’re so wishy-washy,” Doug had said. “I wish you’d just make up your mind.”

Rhonda chose to move in with Doug at the Pepper Ridge Apartments. She brought her daughter Alisha with her but soon found this led to problems. Doug told Rhonda when he looked Alisha all he could see was her estranged husband.

Rhonda told her friends Doug scared her. They argued a lot. She would take Alisha and leave when their fights became heated. Sometimes for a day, sometimes for a week. But he always lured her back.

Late on the evening of January 14, 1983, Doug, Rhonda and Alisha were together in that little apartment watching TV when they heard a pounding at the door. Doug leapt up as the door jamb splintered around the deadbolt. A final thump sounded and the door swung inward, revealing a man standing on the threshold: Rhonda’s husband.

Doug and Rhonda’s extramarital relationship was not a secret to Ryan Scullin. But, according to police reports, he’d had a few drinks that night and decided to confront them about it. They grappled, rolling out of the apartment into parking lot.

Clearfield police, responding to reports of a domestic dispute, arrived minutes later to separate the two men. They arrested Ryan on suspicion of burglary, disturbing the peace and assault on a police officer. Official reports listed Doug Lovell as the victim.

Later that same year, Doug and Rhonda moved out of his little apartment. They upsized, renting a little house near the border of Clearfield and the neighboring city of Sunset. They’d been there a few months when, in October of ’83, Rhonda went in to Clearfield police headquarters. She told an officer Doug had told her he intended to kill her ex-husband. She took the threat seriously because of their fight back in January, as well as Doug’s criminal history.

According to a police report, Rhonda explained she’d moved out of Doug’s house and back in with her ex. The officer warned Rhonda it could prove difficult securing a restraining order, due to the different jurisdictions. They arranged to talk with the city attorney about that issue the next day.

That meeting never happened. The officer called Rhonda a little while later to find out why. She told him she’d changed her mind. She no longer believed Doug was a threat, or that he intended to kill her ex. Police closed the case as unfounded.

Rhonda’s reunion with Ryan Scullin didn’t last long. Doug Lovell lured her back. On January 22, 1984, Doug and Rhonda married in Elko, Nevada.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Kim Salazar delivered her third child — a son named Michael — just days after Christmas in 1983. Joyce Yost now had three grandchildren.

Kim Salazar: Oh man, it just made her whole world. She was so excited.

Dave Cawley: Her first grandchild, Melisa, was growing old enough to accompany grandma Joyce on trips into downtown Ogden.

Kim Salazar: She had got her one of those little furry muff things for your hands ‘cause ladies didn’t put their hands in their pockets and, y’know, just always trying to make her be just, just right.

Dave Cawley: Joyce had become good friends over the years with a man named Gordon Kaufman and his wife, Terry.

Greg Roberts: They’d go to lunch at the Tiffen Room at ZCMI and they all just became real tight friends.

Dave Cawley: Gordon was a fixture of the downtown Ogden business community. He’d managed a Morgan Jewelers location near Joyce’s work for 20 years before opening his own store. Joyce sometimes took Melisa there to show her off.

Kim Salazar: She remembers the big chandelier when you’d walk into the jewelry store and she knew better than to touch anything in there.

Dave Cawley: The Kaufmans weren’t the only people to whom Joyce expressed pride over her grandkids.

Greg Roberts: One of my favorite photos is that picture of mom holding Melisa.”

Kim Salazar: At the parade.

Greg Roberts: Downtown Ogden—

Kim Salazar: She used to drive her convertible car.

Greg Roberts: The Ogden temple is in the background and she’s just glowing with holding, holding Melissa in her arms.

Dave Cawley: Joyce owned a 1976 Oldsmobile Delta 88 convertible.

Randy Salazar: And she used to drive around town with that, with that car that probably weighed, oh hell, I don’t know how much it weighed but it probably only got like five miles to the gallon.

Kim Salazar: Sometimes the top wouldn’t work and—

Greg Roberts: (Laughs)

Kim Salazar: She wasn’t going to be late for work. She would literally drive that car with the top down—

Greg Roberts: Holding onto it.

Kim Salazar: —in the rain holding an umbrella. She was crazy. She did some funny stuff.

Dave Cawley: These kinds of little setbacks were nothing compared to the blow that landed on Joyce when ZCMI informed her the company was terminating her employment after 12 years of faithful service.

Kim Salazar: She always thought that that was why they let her go was just because she, she was just about to be eligible for their retirement plan.

Dave Cawley: A more bittersweet heartbreak came in the summer of ’84. Her son Greg had completed his undergraduate studies and was accepted into dental school, out of state.

Randy Salazar: And I’ll tell you what, she was so proud of him.

Dave Cawley: Greg packed his things into a little U-Haul trailer, which he hitched to the back of his Honda Accord for the 2,100 mile drive to the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond.

Greg Roberts: I just remember pulling away from her, y’know? (Cries)

Dave Cawley: Joyce and Greg had always been close but they’d grown especially so during those two years he’d spent living with her while in college.

Randy Salazar: After he left, I think she was a little lonely, y’know? She, I mean those two were like buddy buddies.

Dave Cawley: She filled that void by deepening her social life. Joyce dated several men — none of them seriously — and found a new job working for the Weinstock’s department store in the Fashion Place mall, 40 miles south in the city of Murray.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Doug Lovell went to the Ogden Main branch of America First Credit Union on Saturday, January 26, 1985 with his wife Rhonda and her then-three-year-old daughter, Alisha. He was there to secure financing on a car. And he knew just the person to see: Susan Yerage. Doug told Susan he wanted to buy the car from a dealership in town called Lincoln Auto.

Susan Yerage (from 1992 police interview): It was a red RX-7.

Dave Cawley: This audio, I should mention, as well as the earlier bits from Susan in this episode, came from a later police interview recording. Susan knew cars from Lincoln Auto were sometimes problematic. Lincoln dealt with a lot of wrecked and salvage vehicles.

Susan Yerage (from 1992 police interview): And I went out and looked the car car and inspected it to make sure that the car existed and the serial number matched.

Dave Cawley: Doug, Rhonda and Rhonda’s little daughter Alisha followed Susan into the parking lot. Susan could see the car was all there: a small, sporty Mazda coupe with flip-up headlights.

Susan Yerage (from 1992 police interview): And he just talked about how excited he was about having the car.

Dave Cawley: The car wasn’t the most practical choice for a family, but Doug didn’t mind. He could afford it, as well as the home he was renting, thanks to a job he’d secured with the help of his father. His dad had pulled strings to land Doug a gig driving a cement truck. Susan determined the Mazda was in good shape.

Susan Yerage (from 1992 police interview): I booked out the vehicle for 9,400 dollars and he only needed 7,000 dollars to purchase it.

Dave Cawley: The credit union cut Doug a check for $7,000. But his name wasn’t the only one on the “pay to the order of” line. Below it was the name Marvin Fluckiger.

I’ll get back to Marvin in a later episode. For now, just know the calendar turned from January to February. That month, Doug arrived at the credit union with his paycheck. He strolled into the lobby, made his deposit and applied some of the money toward the car loan. While there, he dropped by Susan’s desk and noted the huge array of yellow roses arranged on her credenza.

“Oh, I see you got the flowers,” Doug said.

Realization dawned on Susan just who her secret “friend” was.

Susan Yerage (from 1992 police interview): He told me he was the one that sent them. And I told him it was ridiculous, that he had a family. It was stupid for him to be spending his money like that.

Dave Cawley: A small thank you gift was one thing, but two straight weeks of roses every other day was over the top. It’d freaked her out. Susan told Doug she had a mind to call his parents and tell them what he’d done.

Susan Yerage (from 1992 police interview): Oh yeah. Oh, he knew about it. I mean, I could have wrung his neck for it.

Dave Cawley: Doug seemed crushed, as though he didn’t understand why Susan hadn’t seen the flowers as the nice gesture he’d intended.

Susan Yerage (from 1992 police interview): I let him have it from one end to the other and first place why are you spending money and that was stupid to be doing that and he scared the living bejesus out of me.

Dave Cawley: Little did she know, Doug was about to do something far worse.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Rays of sunlight scattered across the waters of the Great Salt Lake’s Farmington Bay. A little to the east, a big boat of a car pulled into a parking stall outside of a strip mall in the city of Clearfield. Joyce Yost stepped out of her convertible and headed for the door of a supper club called the Pier III. It was midweek, a Wednesday evening, and she was stopping off on her way home from work to meet a friend.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police interview): A gentleman friend at the Pier 3 at approximately 7 o’clock for dinner.

Dave Cawley: That’s Joyce’s own voice, from one of the only known recordings of her, describing what happened on this night of April 3, 1985. And let me say, this season will include a lot of rough audio like this from old analog tapes. Some were made under less-than-ideal circumstances. Others are second or third generation copies. I’ve done my best to clean them up. Alright, back to the story.

Joyce and her friend, a man named Lex Baer, spent the better part of three hours that April evening at the Pier.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police interview): We had a couple of drinks and we had dinner and we danced a couple of times.

Dave Cawley: Lex was 62 years old to Joyce’s 39. The age gap didn’t bother her. Many of her closest friends were older, including her sister Dorothy as well as Gordon and Terry Kaufman. And Joyce had dated older men before, like her ex-boyfriend Nails. As the evening waned, Joyce and Lex prepared to leave. They walked out of the Pier III together at about a quarter after 10.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police interview): And the gentleman I was with had his own vehicle and I had my mine own, my own vehicle and he walked me to my car, in fact he gave me a kiss at my car, said ‘Goodnight.’

Dave Cawley: She pulled out of the parking lot and headed for South Ogden. She went from stoplight to stoplight, her mind on the events of the day and on the social outing she’d just enjoyed.

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police interview): Not realizing anybody was following me. Not really paying any attention to see if anybody was following me.

Dave Cawley: Somebody was following her. A little red Mazda with flip-up headlights bobbed in the rearview.

Ep 1: The Type that Sends Roses

The only Joyce Yost picture most people have ever seen, if they’ve seen any at all, is an image captured on film shortly before her disappearance in August of 1985.

Joyce had sat for a series of professional portraits that summer at a photo studio in Ogden, Utah where she was then working with her daughter, Kim Salazar.

One of the last photos of Joyce Yost prior to her disappearance in August, 1985.
One of the last photos of Joyce Yost prior to her disappearance in August, 1985. Family members provided this Joyce Yost picture to police and the media. Photo: Joyce Yost family

This Joyce Yost picture was the one appeared in news paper stories and TV reports about her disappearance.

“They weren’t her favorite pictures of herself at all,” Joyce’s son Greg Roberts told me. “But there’s not a lot of other ones we have.”


“Binky” from Bemidji

Joyce was born on January 3, 1946 to George and Hulda Figel. She was the third of three children in the family, though her older sisters Dorothy and Edna were 19 and 18 years her senior, respectively.

Joyce Figel (right) with her sisters Edna (center) and Dorothy (left), date unknown. Photo: Joyce Yost family

Joyce earned the nickname “Binky” as a child, thanks to her fondness for that particular brand of pacifier.

The Figel family lived on a farm on the outskirts of Bemidji, Minn., a college town near the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Joyce was still a child when her parents divorced, leaving her to be raised by her mother and sisters.

When in junior high school, Joyce met a boy named Mel Roberts.

Mel, who was three years older than Joyce, remembered her as a “typical northern Minnesota country girl” who took great care to keep up her physical appearance.

“She was always dressed to the nines, hair was always impeccable.”

Mel Roberts

Mel graduated high school and enrolled at Bemidji State College while still dating Joyce. He hadn’t been there long before his younger girlfriend delivered some life-changing news: she was pregnant.

The announcement came as a shock to Joyce’s mother, Hulda Figel.

“We were all raised Lutherans and she was gonna put her in a Lutheran home and give the baby up for adoption,” Roberts said of Figel’s reaction.

Mel proposed a different solution. He would drop out of college, find a steady job and marry Joyce.


Family album of Joyce Yost pictures

Mel Roberts and Joyce Figel wed in January of 1962.

Joyce Yost and Mel Roberts at their wedding
Mel Roberts and Joyce Figel at the church on their wedding day in 1962. Photo: Joyce Yost family

Mel began knocking doors at businesses in the hopes of finding work. He ended up in the office of a manager at a metal stamping company.

“He said ‘do you have a girl pregnant?’ And I looked at him like he was on Mars,” Mel said. “Come to find out his son was in the same circumstances. Similar age to me. And honest to God, I think that’s probably why he hired me.”

Their first child, a daughter they named Kim, arrived that May. Joyce was, by that time, 16 years old. Mel was 19. He, his young bride and their baby girl relocated to an apartment in Minneapolis.

Mel Roberts, Joyce Yost, Kim Salazar and Greg Roberts
Mel and Joyce Roberts holding their children, Kim and Greg, likely on the day of Greg’s baptism in 1963. Photo: Joyce Yost family

Joyce soon became pregnant again and in June of 1963, she and her husband welcomed their second child: a son whom they named Greg.


Sun goddess

Mel and Joyce Roberts led busy lives, even at such young ages. He worked full time during the days while she watched the children. They made friends with their neighbors in Minneapolis, but found their responsibilities left them little time for socializing.

“We didn’t even know what day it was back then,” Roberts said. “You look back on how you survived and it was pretty amazing.”

Joyce Yost ironing board sunbathing
Joyce enjoyed spending time sunbathing or, as in this undated photo, doing her laundry in the sun. Photo: Joyce Yost family

Mel remembered Joyce as a dedicated mother. He said she would sometimes drag the ironing board out onto the lawn so she could press the laundry in the sun.

“She was a sun goddess,” Roberts said. “She’d lay out in the sun when it was 40 degrees out.”


Joyce’s divorce

The strain of their situation began to mount.

“I would work during the day and then she had a job in the evenings,” Mel said.

Joyce mostly waited tables. She didn’t make much, finding her earning power limited due in part to her having dropped out of school. Yet she was diligent in her efforts to help provide.

“Had we not been so young, I’m pretty sure the relationship would have been far more successful,” Mel said.

“He loved her then and he loves her now. He’s always loved her. If they hadn’t been so young, they would have had a great life together.”

Kim Salazar, née Roberts

Mel and Joyce divorced after only a few years. They remained cordial, however. Mel had grown close not only with Joyce but also with her sisters. Yet Joyce’s sisters had each relocated away from Minnesota, leaving her with little support in her home state.

Mel remembered Joyce struggling during the years following their split.

“Struggling financially and I think she was struggling emotionally as well,” Mel said.

The Vietnam War was underway and the U.S. Army drafted Mel. By 1968 he was deployed to Korea, leaving Joyce without a reason to remain in Minnesota.


Joyce’s move to Utah

Joyce’s oldest sister, Dorothy “Dot” Dial, had by that point in the late 1960s moved to Utah and settled in the city of Clearfield, just west of Hill Air Force Base. Joyce decided to make a fresh start by following Dorothy to Utah.

“We were just barely school age,” Joyce’s son Greg Roberts said. 

They lived for a time with Dorothy before Joyce found a place of her own in the neighboring community of Sunset.

Joyce Yost, Kim Salazar and Greg Roberts in Utah
Joyce and her children, Kim and Greg, lived in Sunset, Clearfield and Roy, Utah during the 1970s. Photo: Joyce Yost family

Joyce had not been in Utah long before she met and married her second husband, a man named George Yost.

“Her and George bought a home together,” Greg Roberts said. “George had a big Buick Electra 225. We could swim around the back of there.”

George Yost, Joyce Yost and a Buick Electra 225
George and Joyce Yost pose in front of their Buick Electra 225, date and location unknown. Photo: Joyce Yost family

Joyce’s marriage to George Yost lasted only a few years. She and her children, Kim and Greg, found themselves on the move again after the divorce. They lived for a time in the city of Roy, where Kim and Greg attended school.

Joyce worked constantly to support herself. She secured a position selling cosmetics at the ZCMI department store in downtown Ogden during the day and supplemented her income working as a cocktail waitress at night.

“All the time we were growing up, she worked two and three jobs at a time,” Joyce’s daughter Kim Salazar told me. “We never wanted for anything except maybe her.”

That want would only intensify after Joyce Yost disappeared.


Hear how a mysterious barrage of roses relates to Joyce Yost’s disappearance in Cold episode 1: The Type that Sends Roses.

Episode credits
Research, writing and hosting: Dave Cawley
Audio production: Nina Earnest
Audio mixing: Trent Sell
Additional voices: Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell)
Cold main score composition: Michael Bahnmiller
Cold main score mixing: Dan Blanck
KSL executive producers: Sheryl Worsley, Keira Farrimond
Workhouse Media executive producers: Paul Anderson, Nick Panella, Andrew Greenwood
Amazon Music team: Morgan Jones, Eliza Mills, Vanessa Rebbert, Shea Simpson
Episode transcript: https://thecoldpodcast.com/season-2-transcript/the-type-that-sends-roses-full-transcript/
KSL companion story: https://ksltv.com/459341/the-cold-podcast-returns-where-is-joyce-yost/
Talking Cold companion episode: https://thecoldpodcast.com/talking-cold#tc-episode-1