Cold season 2, bonus 2: Location, Location, Location – Full episode transcript

Dave Cawley: I’m standing at a gravel pull-out on the side of the Old Snowbasin Road. I’ve just finished putting a microphone on Terry Carpenter, tucking it under his collar in a futile effort to shield it from the breeze.

Terry Carpenter: He says this is where it was. Right up in here.

Dave Cawley: It’s May of 2021 and I’ve met Terry here on a bluebird Saturday so he can show me where Doug Lovell claimed to have buried the body of Joyce Yost. We walk a path between thick patches of oak brush, up and over a berm a hundred feet or so from the road.

Terry Carpenter: This is one of the first places that he, this was all flat. These, these have been added since then.

Dave Cawley: We come to a clearing. I can see the east face of Mount Ogden four miles off in the distance, the ski runs carved through the trees below the peak still decked with winter snow. To my left, the ground drops away to a valley. To my right, it rises to a ridge. I’m impressed in this moment how much smaller the terrain makes the search area seem compared to what I’d pictured. It’s still large — say, three or four acres — but not so expansive as to make a search impossible.

Terry Carpenter: Anything that would indicate there was a disturbance there, we dug in those areas and we, with the permission of the Forest Service we dug that area to try to locate what we thought might be Joyce’s grave.

Dave Cawley: There are signs of recent use all over the place: campfire rings, beer cans, shell casings. I pick my way into the oak brush at one point and find a rusted out metal drum surrounded by partially burned scrap lumber. It’s obvious people come here with some regularity. Terry’s eyes grow distant as he talks about that search back in the summer of ’93.

Terry Carpenter: We, we just exhausted every effort we could think of hoping that we could come across something that might produce Joyce.

Dave Cawley: What’s most frustrating is the uncertainty.

Michael Bouwhuis: Let’s suppose that he did remember exactly where he’d put the body…

Dave Cawley: This is Michael Bouwhuis, the attorney who represented Doug during his 2015 murder trial.

Michael Bouwhuis: …the challenge is that after eight years there wouldn’t be hardly anything left, if anything at all.

Dave Cawley: In an interview for our companion podcast Talking Cold, Michael said he learned the police in ’93 had not consulted a forensic anthropologist before they started sticking shovels in the ground.

Michael Bouwhuis: And so if Doug left her at the spot where he took the authorities, the way that they processed the scene would have produced nothing. … He could have been telling the truth that she was here and simply was either moved from that spot — a bear certainly could have done that, a mountain lion could have done that — or through the process of disarticulation scattered to the wind.

Dave Cawley: Disarticulation is when a body comes apart. The connective tissues holding the skeleton together break down in the later stages of decomposition, leading to scattering of individual bones. With a badly disarticulated set of remains, bone chips or a single tooth might be all that’s left.

Michael Bouwhuis: So if the body had been there, eight years earlier, the scene was obliterated.

Terry Carpenter: You would’ve thought with the animals that roam the area of natural habitat, coyotes, they would’ve dug that up. That something would’ve been exposed on the surface. Somebody would have found a bone. (Sighs)

Dave Cawley: Terry asserts Joyce was never here, that Doug lied. But Michael contends that’s not the only plausible explanation.

Michael Bouwhuis: It could be that he didn’t know at all, he didn’t remember it but he thought ‘if I act like I do and I put an effort in and they appreciate that, maybe they cut me a break.’ Or it could be that he knew it wasn’t there, it was somewhere else.

Dave Cawley: Somewhere else. This is a bonus episode of Cold, season 2: Location, Location, Location. From KSL Podcasts, I’m Dave Cawley. We’ll continue after this break.

[Ad break]

Dave Cawley: Any conversation of where Joyce Yost’s remains might be — if not where Doug Lovell claimed  — requires engaging in speculation. During Cold season 2, you heard a few different places mentioned, like the ghost town of Yost, or even Causey Reservoir. But in this episode, we’re going to visit three other places where Joyce Yost’s remains might rest. They are: a cement dump site near where Doug worked in 1985, behind the cabin Doug’s family owned at Sunridge Highlands and in the Monte Cristo Range where a wildlife officer spotted Doug and Rhonda weeks or months after Joyce Yost disappeared.

If we’re going to draw any meaningful conclusions though, we need to buttress our conjecture with fact. So let’s review what we know, starting with the timeline of Joyce’s murder. When Rhonda Buttars first confessed her involvement, she said she’d dropped Doug off outside Joyce’s apartment…

Rhonda Buttars (from May 1, 1991 police recording): I’d say, I don’t know. 11, between 11 and 1.

Terry Carpenter (from May 1, 1991 police recording): Ok.

Dave Cawley: …between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. In later court testimony, Rhonda would describe seeing Joyce’s car parked outside the apartment, which would place the drop-off sometime after Joyce returned home from the officer’s club around midnight. Rhonda said she’d received a call from Doug the following morning telling her to meet him at the Wilshire, a movie theater in South Ogden…

Rhonda Buttars (from May 1, 1991 police recording): Umm, I would say 4 to 5 in the morning.

Dave Cawley: …between 4 and 5 a.m. Rhonda based this on her observation that the sky was dark at the time of the call but just starting to get light when she’d made it to the Wilshire.

Rhonda Buttars (from May 1, 1991 police recording): What time does the sun come up? 6?

Terry Carpenter (from May 1, 1991 police recording): I’m not really sure, then. I think maybe around 5.

Dave Cawley: I’ve checked an almanac. Sunrise in Ogden, Utah on August 11, 1985 was at 6:34 a.m. The sky would’ve been fully light by then, so we need to wind back the clock about an hour to get to the start of the pre-dawn twilight. That would likely place Doug’s phone call between 5 and 5:30.

Rhonda’s account, if accurate, tells us Doug window’s of opportunity was open a maximum of five hours, from 12:30 to 5:30. I stress, this is the max. What was Doug doing during that time? By his own account, he entered Joyce’s apartment, scuffled with her on the bed, cut her, bandaged her bleeding wound, stripped the bedsheets, flipped the blood-stained mattress, remade the bed and packed her suitcase. Rhonda said Doug had told her this all took “quite awhile.”

Rhonda Buttars (from May 1, 1991 police recording): So he said that took quite awhile and that he was in her apartment for quite awhile.

Dave Cawley: But what’s awhile? 15 minutes? An hour? Rhonda wasn’t specific, so we have to make an assumption. As a rough guess, let’s say Doug’s activities in the apartment took half an hour. I’d consider that a conservative estimate. That leaves, at most, four-and-a-half hours for Doug to take Joyce out to her car, travel to wherever he took her, conceal her body, then drive back and find a payphone in order to call Rhonda. Doug had premeditated Joyce’s murder, so we can assume he knew in advance where he was headed and drove straight there and back.

Terry Carpenter (from May 1, 1991 police recording): How was, what’s he acting like, what’s he, how is he coming across to you?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 1, 1991 police recording): He’s kinda nervous, kinda not, not really nervous.

Dave Cawley: Trim off a little more time to account for Doug’s actions at the drop site and we’re left with a maximum of four hours for travel, round-trip. Which means the drop site was likely within a roughly two-hour drive one-way from South Ogden. The Old Snowbasin Road site Doug identified as being the place he left Joyce’s body is a 30-minute drive from Joyce’s apartment. One could argue it’s too close. It would’ve left Doug with too much time.

Remember as well that Rhonda said Doug’d told her he’d taken Joyce “up by Causey.” And Doug told Rhonda in the second wire recording at the prison Joyce was in the mountains, at a place where she was covered by years of accumulated leaves. With all that in mind, let’s take a look at our first alternate theory for the location of Joyce Yost’s remains: the cement dump site.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Let me introduce you to “Dangerous” Dan and his wife LuAnne.

“Dangerous” Dan: You’re playing on an old fart’s memory.

LuAnne: (Laughs)

“Dangerous” Dan: Good Lord. Let’s get it straight for the record. I’m almost 70.

Dave Cawley: You don’t look it.

“Dangerous” Dan: Oh yeah, you funny guy too.

Dave Cawley: I’m not using Dan’s last name, at his request. But I can tell you he and LuAnne were neighbors of Doug Lovell’s dad and step-mom back in the early ’80s. In fact, they were in a bowling league with Monan and his second wife, Dorothy.

“Dangerous” Dan: We were on the same team. We went to, at the time it was called Davis Lanes in Layton. … On a regular weekly basis we were going bowling so, it was a mixed-doubles. Husband and wife and husband and wife. Or boyfriend and girlfriend or nowadays boyfriend and boyfriend or girlfriend and girlfriend.

Dave Cawley: To look at Dan now, you might not peg him for a bowler.

“Dangerous” Dan: For missing that finger, I carried a 202 average.

Dave Cawley: Yes, Dan is missing his right pinky and left ring fingers as a result of a mishap when he was a teenager in the ‘60s.

“Dangerous” Dan: When I was a younger kid I played with explosives. And it blew off two of my fingers, split my hand in half, got a scar on my right leg from my knee clear up to my crotch. Busted both of my eardrums. That’s why occasionally I go ‘eh.’

Dave Cawley: That’s also the origin of his nickname “dangerous.”

“Dangerous” Dan: It was my friend that convinced me to make the little bomb.

Dave Cawley: I don’t have enough time to tell you the whole story of how Dan lost his fingers. Suffice it to say, he liked to make rockets as a teen, but had more understanding of chemistry than safety procedure.

“Dangerous” Dan: The powdered aluminum that was in this with it just burnt the holy hell out of my face. I didn’t even feel that until I walked, was in the hospital. … That’s when they told me that the finger’d blown off and the neighbor found the finger stuck on the wall.

LuAnne: Oh my gosh.

“Dangerous” Dan: I thought ‘oh my God.’ (Laughs)

LuAnne: Gross.

Dave Cawley: Dan found more constructive outlets for his chemistry hobby as he grew. In the mid-‘70s he took a job at the Ideal Ready Mix cement plant in Layton, Utah. He and his new bride, LuAnne, bought a house. They joined the bowling league where they met the Lovells, who lived just up the street. Monan was 20 years older than Dan — literally old enough to be his father — but they became friends. LuAnne told me back then, the Lovells never talked much about Doug.

LuAnne: I do know that the problems that Monan was having with Doug, Dorothy was very reluctant to speak about him in front of Monan because Monan was always very defensive of him.

Dave Cawley: And maybe that’s because around this time Doug landed in prison for armed robbery. A little while after Doug got out, probably sometime in ’84, Monan and Dorothy brought him to meet Dan and LuAnne at their home. Monan had been urging Doug to get his life right and to stop committing crimes. The first step to going straight was getting a job.

“Dangerous” Dan: So they asked me if I could possibly get their son — which is Monan’s son, not Dorothy’s son — a job up at where I worked which was at the time Ideal Ready Mix.

Dave Cawley: Multiple people who’ve spoken to me on condition of anonymity have described feeling baffled by the hold Doug seemed to have over his father. They’ve said Monan was a good man who struggled to understand or accept the deceitful decisions of his youngest son.

“Dangerous” Dan: I know when Dorothy asked me to, when they asked us to, if I could get him a job up there that he had been a problem child but I don’t recall if they ever came out and said what kind of problems.

Dave Cawley: Doug was a terror as a teen. One anonymous source told me “Doug’s high was seeing other people suffer.” I’ve heard from multiple sources Doug was credibly accused of a sexual assault — independent of the Joyce Yost case — but that it never resulted in a criminal charge. People who knew Doug in the 1970s are still terrified of him today.

LuAnne told me when her friends the Lovells brought Doug over to her home to ask for help finding him a job, Doug’s step-mother took her aside with a warning.

LuAnne: She just basically was saying ‘beware.’

Dave Cawley: Yeah. Ok.

“Dangerous” Dan: But back then I was a pretty strong, healthy little feller. So could I whomp him around? I’m sure I could.

Dave Cawley: In any event, Dan agreed to see what he could do for Doug.

“Dangerous” Dan: Yes, I got him a job up there.

Dave Cawley: By that point, Dan had nearly a decade of experience driving and delivering concrete. He knew how to route his jobs and time the mix so he showed up on site ready to pour. He did what he could to pass that knowledge on to Doug.

“Dangerous” Dan: I was the actual one that trained him. … He seemed to be dependable at the time that when he did get the job up there.

Dave Cawley: Remember, this was a time before turn-by-turn navigation. Cement truck drivers had to know the roads and developments for miles around.

“Dangerous” Dan: We had paperwork of subdivision plats and where the addresses were. … I’m sure Doug had one of those so that, give him a fairly good knowledge of the area in Davis County. North and south, east and west.

Dave Cawley: Dan and Doug had a lot of time to talk during those weeks of training. At one point, Dan’d heard a restaurant a few miles up the road…

“Dangerous” Dan: That was called the Dew Drop Inn.

Dave Cawley: …had been robbed…

“Dangerous” Dan: I thought ‘uh oh, we got problems.’

Dave Cawley: He wondered if his new apprentice might’ve had a hand in the heist.

“Dangerous” Dan: And when I asked him, he didn’t really come out and say yes or no but man, was the sweat pouring down his head so I assumed — so just that’s my assumption — that he did.

Dave Cawley: To be clear: Doug Lovell was never arrested or charged in connection with a robbery at the Dew Drop Inn. Dan told me Doug didn’t seem to make many friends at the cement plant. Dan wasn’t able to spend much time with him either, once the training period ended.

“Dangerous” Dan: He was more or less a loner from what I recall.

Dave Cawley: Dan stopped seeing Doug at all after several months. Dan didn’t know it, but Doug had been arrested for DUI and had faked an injury and gone out on worker’s comp to avoid being fired. Dan told me he doesn’t remember when he first discovered Doug was no longer working at Ideal Ready Mix. But he does recall the other drivers talking when they heard their former coworker was a murder suspect.

“Dangerous” Dan: I don’t know if they were ever approached by the police to talk to management but us drivers did talk and discuss a few things.

Dave Cawley: One of those “things” was the possibility Doug might’ve used his knowledge of subdivision plats and concrete pours to find a perfect hiding place for the body of Joyce Yost.

“Dangerous” Dan: You go out to a construction site. You pour footings and foundation. Well, you know the floor and the garage floor’s gonna about be poured as well. So if the middle of the night, could you go out and dig a hole in the graded floor and then grade it out and make it look nice?

Dave Cawley: The problem with this idea is Doug went out on worker’s comp at the start of June. Joyce didn’t disappear until mid-August, so the likelihood of Doug knowing where a pour was happening that much later is pretty low. But the drivers did have another theory.

“Dangerous” Dan: A lot of us assumed that he could have buried her in where we, the cement truck drivers, were dumping our excess concrete at the end of the day which was directly south of South Weber Basin.

Dave Cawley: Back in the ‘80s, Dan and his fellow drivers knew of a place about a mile-and-a-half up the road from the cement plant where they’d unloaded their leftovers.

“Dangerous” Dan: I’d have no damn clue how many yards would be there. Thousands and thousands of yards of concrete. Thousands of ‘em.

Dave Cawley: When Dan says a “yard” of concrete, he’s talking about a cubic yard. Dan took me to the general location, but there’s no sign of the concrete dump site today. That’s because a subdivision has been built on top of it. I was able independently verify the story of the dump site though by contacting the son of the former owner of that property. For decades, this man’s family had owned a large field just south of Utah State Highway 193. At the far southwestern corner of the field, the family had excavated a pit. You can actually see the pit on aerial photos from ‘70s. I’ve posted one such image at so you can see for yourself. At some point, the family had given permission for the cement truck drivers to fill in the pit with their leftovers.

“Dangerous” Dan: People’ll over order, your tax dollars at work, by 10 yards of concrete. … And is it heavy? Each yard of concrete weighs a little over 5,000 pounds. So yes. And does it get hard? You’re not going to dig through it. No way in hell you’re going to.

Dave Cawley: The theory goes, Doug would’ve known about the pit from having dumped there himself. He could’ve placed Joyce in the pit on the night of the murder. Later the next day — and for who knows how many days afterward — drivers like Dangerous Dan would’ve poured concrete over top of the body.

“Dangerous” Dan: Be a hell of a tombstone. … But that’s not the way people should be buried.

Dave Cawley: It’s a creative idea and one that might explain why Doug might not take police to the site, even today: there’d be no way to recover the body. But a couple pieces don’t line up.

First, the timing. From Joyce’s apartment to the concrete pit is a drive of only 10 to 15 minutes. Remember, Doug had upwards of four hours to fill, presumably by driving. This theory would’ve left him with hours of idle time. Second, Doug had told Rhonda he’d left Joyce’s body out in the open. He’d worried hunters might find her, so he’d returned to bury Joyce sometime later. This doesn’t make any sense if Joyce had already been covered over by hardened concrete. And third, the risk of discovery. Ideal Ready Mix used what are known as Rite-Way trucks that pour from the front. So a driver emptying excess concrete into the pit would’ve been looking straight into it while doing so.

“Dangerous” Dan: It’s hard to recall back that far ago. And when you do hear of the evil that Doug did, you try to put it aside and forget it. … I mean, it’s gonna come to a time that he has to meet his maker. And he ain’t going to take too kindly. That’s one thing we’ve been taught. Murder is not good in the eyes of the Lord.

Dave Cawley: Yeah, I seem to remember there a commandment about that one.

“Dangerous” Dan: Thou shalt not kill.

Dave Cawley: Dan didn’t tell me he believes Joyce’s body is at the concrete dump site, only that it could be. He’s aware it could just as easily be at another place, perhaps one he and LuAnne once visited with Monan and Dorothy Lovell.

“Dangerous” Dan: They’d invited us up to their cabin and we went there what, once or twice?

LuAnne: Yeah.

Dave Cawley: The Lovell family cabin.

“Dangerous” Dan: It’s a little bit of a bugger to find.

LuAnne: Couldn’t find the place now if we wanted to.

“Dangerous” Dan: No. I just remember the long road to it and then once we get inside hang a left. Go up the other side and then hang another left and they’re off to the right.

LuAnne: Yeah.

“Dangerous” Dan: Where those turns are at out of, have no clue of it now. Been so doggone long.

Dave Cawley: He might not remember, but I know exactly how to find the cabin. Because now I’ve been there, too.

[Scene transition]

(Sound of wind through leaves)

Dave Cawley: A light breeze rustles the tops of the aspen trees.

Anthropogist: Uh, the good news really for the dogs, because when we’re in situations where bone might be exposed in the sunlight, the odor’s so low they don’t pick it up but they will in the shade. Lots of shade provided. So I like that for the noses.

Dave Cawley: It’s about 7:30 a.m. on July 9, 2021 and I’m sitting on the deck of a cabin in the Sunridge Highlands area of northern Utah. A forensic anthropologist is providing an informal briefing of what’s about to happen: a search for the remains of Joyce Yost.

Anthropologist: So, uh, if you’re comfortable in discussing, y’know, what we’d be looking for it would now be skeletal material. And likely skeletal material that’s been scavenged and scattered and chewed on.

Dave Cawley: A search by cadaver dogs of the property Doug Lovell’s dad Monan owned, prior to Monan’s death in 2014. It feels a bit surreal standing here, knowing its a place many people believe Doug might have taken Joyce, a place that for decades has been off-limits to police. But whatever I’m feeling, it must be tenfold for retired police Sgt. Terry Carpenter. We drove up together as guests of the searchers, here to observe and to share whatever input we can.

Officer: Terry, how you been?

Terry Carpenter: Good. Good, good. How ‘bout you?

Officer: Just happy to be here.

Dave Cawley: The drive from Joyce’s apartment to this cabin takes about an hour and fifteen minutes. That’s within range for Doug on the night of the murder. But the last eight miles are on a bumpy dirt road and you have to pass through two locked gates. No key, no access. Terry and I watch as staff from the Weber County Attorney’s Office unload gear. With them are search and rescue team members, CSI specialists and four dog teams from a non-profit organization called “Colorado Forensic Canines.”

Bryan Bennett: Colorado Forensic Canine specializes in clandestine graves or old, old burials, old umm, y’know years-old type stuff. Their dogs are trained to look specifically for small amounts of odor, small particles, small pieces of bone. So that’s what we’re doing.

Dave Cawley: That’s Brad Bennett. He’s volunteer commander of Weber County’s search and rescue team and himself a former search dog trainer.

Bryan Bennett: Y’know, moisture and shade is a better, is better for preserving that odor than just laying out in the sunlight. So, y’know if it’s been buried it could uh, produce odor for awhile.

Dave Cawley: The Colorado Forensic Canines website says they don’t accept any payment for their services. I’m told they drove seven hours to be here on their own dime, with Weber County and the Utah Cold Case Coalition pitching in to cover their lodging and food expenses. Colorado Forensic Canines maintains a strict “no media” policy, so I’m not allowed to interview their team.

(Sound of dog whimpering)

Dave Cawley: The closest I get is just dangling my microphone over one of the dogs.

Officer: I don’t know what the dog has to say this morning.

Dave Cawley: Hey, that’s the one I want to talk to the most.

Officer: (Laughs)

Dave Cawley: Bryan Bennett says the dog teams did a lot of homework prior to making this trip. They consulted a geologist to get an idea how odor from a buried body might travel through the types of soil found on this particular mountain.

Bryan Bennett: Human decomposition is what it is. So… a body decomposes into the ground, that ground absorbs the human decomposition odor.

Dave Cawley: They studied the types of vegetation that grow here.

Bryan Bennett: That’s what this area is, is an aspen grove, it’s just all aspens.

Dave Cawley: When the searchers deploy, their dogs disappear into the waist-high underbrush. I can only keep track of where they are by listening for the bells the dogs each wear.

(Sound of bell on dog)

Dave Cawley: There’s a ravine that runs behind the cabin. That’s where the search is focused, the theory being it would’ve been an easy place for Doug to conceal Joyce’s body thanks to thick tree and ground cover there.

Bryan Bennett: The slope of the hill that we’re working on will, starts off fairly gradual, maybe 20 degrees but then it slopes off to about 38, 40 degrees y’know, as it gets farther down the hill.

Dave Cawley: If you talk to enough people about the Joyce Yost case, you’ll eventually hear some interesting stories about the Lovell family cabin. Like this one, Joyce’s daughter Kim Salazar shared when she recently visited Sunridge Highlands.

Kim Salazar: Some neighbor said that they’d seen him here in a truck, he had something large enough that it was wrapped in a tarp in the back of his truck and he left. And when he came back later that day whatever was in the tarp in the truck was no longer there. The truck was muddy, the shovels were muddy.

Dave Cawley: Sourcing is a problem here. Without knowing who said this originally, it’s just folklore.

Kim Salazar: I don’t think we have any peace until we have something.

Dave Cawley: I’ve heard another variation on this, which was attributed to the owner of a cabin on the opposite edge of the ravine behind the Lovell cabin. That man, who unfortunately died many years ago, supposedly used to tell a story of sitting out on his back deck which overlooked the ravine. He’s said to have seen Doug and a woman walking up the ravine carrying a large, black plastic bag. Take from that what you will.

Back to the dog search. The ground in the ravine is littered with deadfall, scattered at odd angles, which the dogs and handlers have to go around, over or under.

Bryan Bennett: Y’know, one deviation left or right around an obstacle is the difference between a find and a miss. Y’know, and that’s where the dogs come in, right? I mean, if the wind is carrying the odor and the dog’s downwind, that little deviation doesn’t mean a thing. But, but if all’s we’re relying is our, is our vision, you can miss pretty easy.

Dave Cawley: Yeah, right on top of it and you walk over—

Bryan Bennett: That’s why the dogs are so amazing.

Dave Cawley: Yeah.

Bryan Bennett: Yeah.

Dave Cawley: Each dog wears a radio collar, which ties back to a GPS unit carried by its handler. And each handler is accompanied by a second person, whose job it is to scan the ground for any visible evidence, like tiny bone fragments. That’s easier said than done. The thick, leafy understory makes that visible search practically impossible because the searchers can’t even see their own feet.

(Sound of dog moving through vegetation)

Dave Cawley: After a time, the dogs come out of the brush panting.

(Sound of dog panting)

Dog handler 1: Yeah as much as anything, he’s tired from jumping logs.

Dog handler 2: Oh yeah.

Dog handler 1: Yeah it’s uh, it’s hard.

Bryan Bennett: We did divide the areas up into, into little less than one acre. So to tell you how methodical the dogs were performing, are performing, y’know, it’s taking them almost two hours to search that area.

Dave Cawley: The handlers pick burrs out of their pant legs and pour water for the pups.

Dog handler 1: No, don’t put your paws in it.

Dog handler 2: Oh but c’mon mom, it’s puppy swimming pool.

Dave Cawley: After the animals have cooled down, the dog teams head back out into the thick.

Bryan Bennett: And the handlers are still coming out telling us that their probability of detection is pretty low so we rotated the areas.

Dave Cawley: They re-check the same areas, but using different dogs in each zone.

Bryan Bennett: I mean, I saw the GPS tracks and there’s, there are some holes but not like you’d think.

Dave Cawley: The breeze that’d rustled the trees when we’d first arrived has now settled. The air grows still. The handlers do what they can to keep their dogs from overheating.

Bryan Bennett: If you’re working a dog you prefer a little wind. That way your dog doesn’t have to run right over the top of it. The wind will carry the odor.

Dave Cawley: Hours pass as the rest of us sit and wait. There’s no cell service so we swap stories, gathering in shrinking patches of shade as the daytime temperatures climb. I picture Doug and Rhonda doing the same here one summer day in ’85, as Doug used a family gathering at this very cabin for an alibi. Maybe he’d sat on this same porch as he’d tuned in to the radio, hoping to hear a story on the news about a murder in South Ogden carried out by his hired hit-man, Tom Peters. A hit that hadn’t happened. The heat is turning into a real problem. In Salt Lake City today, the temperature reaches 101 degrees Fahrenheit, the fifth day out of nine so far in July with a triple-digit high temperature. When the breeze returns in the afternoon, it feels uncomfortably warm.

Bryan Bennett: Probably wasn’t the best timing, y’know, to bring dogs in for this but it was scheduled and, and we figured if we could get started early we could get a couple of half-days out of the dogs.

Dave Cawley: The search comes to an end for the day. We receive word the dogs haven’t detected any odor. It’s a disappointment, but not a surprise. Once off the mountain, I call Joyce’s daughter Kim Salazar and give her the news. The dog teams aren’t done, I tell her. They want to try again the next morning.

Bryan Bennett: So they’ll go back tonight and they’ll debrief. And they’ll figure out ‘ok, what’d we do right, what’d we do wrong, how, how can we improve it tomorrow?’ … There’ll be some holes. We have some GPS tracks and there’ll be some holes and we’ll focus on those holes that we didn’t, that we didn’t get to today.

Dave Cawley: But the result on day two is the same: no indication. Which isn’t the same as saying “Joyce isn’t here.” It just means the dogs didn’t detect that very faint odor in the very specific part of the ravine behind the cabin, in the challenging July heat.

On a later follow-up visit to the cabin, I walked down the ravine myself. There’s a spot at the bottom where the ravine meets the road. An excavator recently dug a small trench there to access a water line. In the pile of disturbed earth beside the trench I came across a few bones. Bones that had been buried: a femur, a tibia. And a couple of crushed Budweiser cans, the kinds with pull tabs from ‘70s or early ‘80s. Investigators gathered the bones and determined they had come from an animal, likely a deer. But who would’ve buried a deer in the thick willow patch at the base of the ravine below the Lovell family cabin? One possible explanation: perhaps this deer had been poached.

Which brings me to our final location: the place where Doug and Rhonda encountered a wildlife officer in the nearby Monte Cristo mountains after Joyce Yost disappeared. I’ll take you there after the break.

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Dave Cawley: Dan Cockayne looks at home in this country. He’s wearing a blue plaid shirt, suspenders and pale-colored straw cowboy hat, all of which would’ve been just as in style here a century ago as today.

I have followed Dan on a drive east out of the city of Ogden over the top of the Monte Cristo mountain range, to our third and final location, a spot beside Utah State Highway 39. It’s just shy of an hour-and-a-half away from Joyce Yost’s apartment, approaching the outer edge of Doug Lovell’s possible travels on the night he murdered her. Here, in a gully identified on topographic maps as Walton Canyon, the road cuts through stands of sagebrush, following a tiny stream as it is descends toward the town of Woodruff 10 miles to the east.

Dan Cockayne: And this is where Von Thomas stopped Rhonda Buttars and talked with her and then later found Doug Lovell in the truck with her.

Dave Cawley: The poaching stop. It occurred right here. Dan was chief deputy for the Rich County Sheriff’s Office at that time in 1985.

Dan Cockayne: There was 8 or 10 inches of snow on the ground and her truck was parked right there. And he was just right here.

Dave Cawley: This is cattle country, a fact made plain as we step off the pavement into a mess of bleached cow bones and desiccated dung piles. They’re leftovers from the drives ranchers make up and down this stretch a couple times each year, moving their stock between winter pastures and summer range in the nearby national forest.

Dan Cockayne: The last ranch is probably three or four miles down and so yeah, there’s just not a lot going on up here.

Dave Cawley: Dan and I have to swipe at horseflies as we talk to keep from getting bit.

Dan Cockayne: Yeah, I, I don’t, too late? Got ya? (Laughs)

Dave Cawley: But it’s well worth it, because Dan is probably the last person who remembers with any clarity the events surrounding the poaching stop, aside from Doug and Rhonda, that is.

Dan Cockayne: There was only two game wardens in the whole county.

Dave Cawley: I described Rhonda’s meeting with the wildlife officer in episodes 4 and 5. But my account of it was based on fragmentary records. None of the surviving paperwork had included the date, precise location or name of the wildlife officer. Thankfully, Dan heard those episodes and sent me a message.

Dan Cockayne: I’ve listened to both of your podcasts and it’s interesting and I believe it’s important.

Dave Cawley: Dan suspects as I do that the wildlife officer’s chance encounter could be a significant clue in the search for Joyce Yost’s remains.

Dan Cockayne: Oh, I’ve been up here quite a few times looking. Yeah.

Dave Cawley: Rich County was home to only about 2,000 people in ’85, a number that’s hardly changed over the last century. The county has only four towns: Woodruff, Randolph, Laketown and Garden City. The sheriff’s office has never had a huge workforce.

Dan Cockayne: Probably three of us, plus jailers and dispatchers.

Dave Cawley: Dan knew both state wildlife officers assigned to work the county back then. He told me the one who’d seen Rhonda here was named LaVon Thomas. Unfortunately, LaVon — or Von, as he was better known — died several years ago. But I learned he’d been a fish and game cop since before Doug Lovell was even born.

Dan Cockayne: Von was an old-school conservation officer. I think until like 1981 when Claude Dallas killed the game wardens in Idaho, the game wardens weren’t required even to carry a weapon. And he didn’t often.

Dave Cawley: Okay, hang on, because I’m about to take a long tangent to explain who Claude Dallas is. It’s important background that illustrates just how dangerous what happened between Rhonda, Doug and Von Thomas was.

Dan Cockayne: Yeah, I always felt that we were lucky that something bad didn’t really happen right here.

Dave Cawley: It requires we jump back in time to January of ’81 and move 280 miles west to the desolate stretch where the borders of Idaho, Oregon and Nevada meet. It’s a high desert region known as the Owyhee.

A pair of Idaho conservation officers visited a camp on the South Fork Owyhee River on January 5th of ’81. Claude Dallas, a former cowhand-turned-trapper, was living there for the winter. A rancher had told the officers Claude was trapping bobcats out of season. The officers — Bill Pogue and Conley Elms — confronted Claude. They disarmed him of a handgun he wore in a shoulder holster, but failed to notice the .357 revolver strapped to his hip.

At one point, Elms ducked into Claude’s tent to confiscate several animal pelts. Claude drew his hidden revolver and shot Pogue, then spun and fired on Elms. After both men were down, Claude retrieved a rifle and shot each man in the back of the head, to make sure they were both dead.

John Hollenhorst (from March 8, 1987 KSL TV archive): The crime was stunning because it seemed all out of proportion. Two game wardens were merely trying to enforce fish and game laws. They paid with their lives.

Dave Cawley: A friend of Claude’s had been at the camp delivering supplies at the time of the shootings. Claude enlisted his help in dumping Elms’ body in the river. They’d then used a mule to haul Pogue’s body out of the canyon to the friend’s truck. Claude drove Pogue’s body to a place called the Bloody Run Hills, where he’d stuffed the deceased wildlife officer into a coyote den. The friend confessed the killings to police the next day, but by then Claude had disappeared into the desert.

Frank Weston (From January 9, 1981 KSL TV archive): He’s a very, a mountain man type. Loves to live off the land. Uh, he can lived days without uh, without anything other than just a little place to lay down and possibly just live off of the, what he can gather to eat and stuff from the land.

Dave Cawley: Nevada sheriff’s deputies recovered Elms’ body from the river two days after the shooting. But they weren’t able to find Pogue. Investigators began to believe Claude had fled the Owyhee. They offered a $20,000 reward. Possible sightings of Claude poured in from across the country in the months that followed. The manhunt came to an end in April of ’82, with an anonymous tip that Claude was living in a trailer on the outskirts of Paradise Valley, Nevada, not far from where he’d last been seen more than a year earlier.

Chuck Smith (from April 19, 1982 KSL TV archive): On Sunday afternoon, 18 officers including a SWAT team and men in a helicopter converged on the trailer. When the officers pulled in from the road, Dallas was in front of the trailer in his truck, driving it back and forth. Apparently he’d just repaired it. And when Dallas saw the officers he drove the truck east across this field and the officers pursued.

Dave Cawley: The officers and agents peppered the truck with bullets. Claude surrendered. He waived extradition and later that year stood trial in Idaho for charges that included two counts of murder. Claude’s lawyers portrayed him as a man who’d feared for his life when an overzealous officer had come unannounced into his camp and threatened to haul him to jail just for living off the land.

Paradise Valley resident (from March 9, 1987 KSL TV archive): I only met him once and he seemed like he was real nice. A real nice guy.

Dave Cawley: Claude told the jury he’d felt threatened. He said Pogue had drawn his weapon and fired first. He claimed to have returned fire in self-defense. But that couldn’t explain why Claude had then shot both officers in the head, execution-style. Or why he’d spent hours concealing Pogue’s body, which had still not been found. The mythology of mountain man Claude Dallas continued to grow. He’d become something of a folk hero among anti-establishment types during his time on the run.

Paradise Valley resident (from March 9, 1987 KSL TV archive): He’s just that type of person. He was born too late. Y’know, he should have been born, y’know, a hundred years ago or something.

Dave Cawley: Even the jury seemed to sympathize. They convicted Claude, but not for murder, instead finding him guilty on lesser charges of manslaughter. A judge sentenced him to a term of 30 years in prison. Only then did Claude reveal where he’d hidden Pogue’s remains.

The Old West-style killings of the two Idaho wildlife officers sent shockwaves through Idaho’s fish and game department, as well as other wildlife agencies across the West. It highlighted the dangers inherent to the job. Wildlife officers, like Utah’s Von Thomas, often interacted with people who were armed and possibly intoxicated, in places where backup was far, far away.

Dan Cockayne: So he was up here by himself in a place with no radio contact so we kind of watched out for him.

Dave Cawley: Dan Cockayne told me Von had been by himself when he’d spotted Rhonda in this canyon in late ’85, just a few years after the capture of Claude Dallas.

The way Dan remembers the story, Von was coming down the canyon when he’d seen Rhonda pulled off to the side of the road facing the opposite direction, westbound, pointed toward Ogden. It was an odd place for a woman to be parked alone, especially that time of year. Von had stopped to check on Rhonda, but she had brushed him off.

Von had continued on down the canyon but at some point pulled over. Lo and behold, there came Rhonda, driving eastbound now toward Woodruff as if following him down the canyon. And Von could see a man in the cab of the truck with her. He pulled the truck over. That’s when Rhonda had lied, telling Von the man was a hitchhiker. There were no dead animals in the truck that Von could see and no gun either. He hadn’t had probable cause to detain the pair, so he’d let them go. Then, once out of the canyon and back in radio range, Von had called Dan.

Dan Cockayne: Something wasn’t right. Didn’t know what wasn’t right. … I had a K9, and so we came up and searched the area. Just looking for evidence, didn’t know what was going on at the time so we just came up and looked around, found the tracks in the snow where he’d been, where he’d actually been hiding just right over here while Von was talking with Rhonda.

Dave Cawley: As Dan says “right over here,” he points to large piece of sagebrush alongside the road. It’s no more than 15 to 20 feet from where Von would’ve been standing when he’d stopped to talk to Rhonda the first time. Her hitchhiker — who was actually her husband Doug — had likely watched that encounter unfold from just feet away.

Dan Cockayne: If all these things that we learned later are true, if he was indeed moving a body or he’d poached deer, Von had no idea he was here.

Dave Cawley: Dan and his dog didn’t find anything during that search, which isn’t surprising considering the ground was covered with snow. It wasn’t until later — days or months, it’s not clear just how long — that Von came across the carcasses of two deer on the opposite side of the road, across the creek and partway up the hill.

Dan Cockayne: I mean he was an investigator so I’m sure he was up here every day watching for birds and finally found those deer.

Dave Cawley: But how did Von connect his case with the Joyce Yost murder investigation? I’m not sure, but it’s probable he would’ve taken Rhonda’s information when he’d pulled her over. He might well have made a few phone calls after finding the deer, discovering in the process who Rhonda’s hitchhiker had actually been.

Von and the South Ogden police had to have known their evidence couldn’t support a poaching charge. But they’d worked with a prosecutor to file one anyhow. When detectives Brad Birch and Terry Carpenter grilled Rhonda after her arrest in March of ’86, she had denied involvement in any poaching. She’d said she and Doug had simply been headed to Woodruff to meet friends and go snowmobiling. She’d explained she’d lied about Doug’s identity because she’d been embarrassed: Doug had been relieving himself in the bushes when Von had first rolled up on her.

Dave Cawley: Take a second and just kinda glance through there then we’ll talk about what you see in there.

Dave Cawley: I had Dan read the detectives’ reports from their interrogation of Rhonda.

Dan Cockayne: That’s about how I remember the story.

Dave Cawley: Is it?

Dan Cockayne: Yeah.

Dave Cawley: But those reports left out a lot of detail, like the actual date when Von had seen Doug and Rhonda in the canyon. That’s an important thing to know, if the encounter has any connection with the location of Joyce Yost’s body. Here’s why: the highway over Monte Cristo is seasonal. It’s only open from around Memorial Day to Thanksgiving each year. The state blocks it with metal gates once there’s enough snow up top for snowmobiles.

Dan Cockayne: It’s remote. The time of year that they were up here, the chances of a deputy or game warden coming up the canyon might be once a week.

Dave Cawley: Rhonda had told the detectives she and Doug had driven over the top, meaning the gates were still open. But Dan’s description of snow on the ground at the time of Von’s encounter suggests it happened just before the gates would’ve closed.

Dan Cockayne: I’m sure it was after all the hunts had ended, which would be first of November. But it hadn’t closed the road yet. Which, which means, going to Woodruff snowmobiling is not a thing. That didn’t happen.

Dave Cawley: Dan told me he remembered the detectives bringing Rhonda to his jail after they’d arrested and interrogated her.

Dan Cockayne: She was pregnant at the time and I wouldn’t let her smoke. (Laughs)

Dave Cawley: The facilities weren’t equipped to house women, so Dan had shipped Rhonda to neighboring Cache County.

Dan Cockayne: I rode to Logan with her. Tried to talk her into telling us about this. But she wouldn’t. Didn’t want to say anything about it. She was really loyal, to him, at that time. Really loyal.

Dave Cawley: Dan wasn’t surprised six weeks later, when a judge dismissed the poaching case.

Dan Cockayne: ’Cause it was weak. Y’know, if you don’t have a weapon and you don’t have, ever can show them touching that deer and… I suspect the reason that the case was not a very good one was, umm, it was used for leverage.

Dave Cawley: It hadn’t worked. Rhonda had stood by her man.

Dan Cockayne: There’s a reason to be here. If it’s just poaching then, y’know, they weren’t able to make a very good case.

Dave Cawley: You might remember that in June of ’86, a prison snitch told South Ogden police Doug had been revisiting Joyce’s body when Von had first talked to Rhonda. I was perplexed when I first came across that, because there are no records in the Joyce Yost case files to suggest detectives followed up on that lead. But Dan told me they did. South Ogden detectives had come to visit him in the summer of ’86. The snow had by that time melted.

Dan Cockayne: We met right here. Talked about this, searched again with the dog. Y’know, in those days we’d never even heard of a cadaver dog.

Dave Cawley: Dan’s dog had a skilled nose, but wasn’t trained to detect the odor of human decomposition. The officers didn’t have handheld GPS units to record precisely where they’d walked. They didn’t know if they were looking for a body out in the open, possibly scattered by animals, or a shallow grave.

Dan Cockayne: Y’know, we did the best we could. But… I would think that if it was a matter of life-and-death, which it is to Doug Lovell, that you would want to make sure that things were good, covered, whatever.

Dave Cawley: Another five years passed before Rhonda confessed her role in Joyce’s murder to Terry Carpenter. Her account of the poaching stop changed at that point. Rhonda told Terry Doug had, in fact, shot the two deer. But she said he’d done it the night before they’d bumped into Von.

Dan Cockayne: It’s just quiet that time of year. No one really up here.

Dave Cawley: Rhonda said Doug had wanted to retrieve the antlers. That’s why they’d gone back up the next day. Dan told me that’s a common modus operandi for poachers.

Dan Cockayne: If he would have caught him right here with a gun, then he’s a convicted felon, he’s got that problem and he’s got a dead animal. But he drives up the next day and finds a dead deer on the hill and cuts the horns off and tells the game warden ‘I found a dead deer and cut the horns off.’

Dave Cawley: If this version of Rhonda’s story was true, it would mean Doug had likely shot the deer from the road using a spotlight. The canyon walls would’ve provided him cover.

Dan Cockayne: Good place to do it. You don’t notice, unless you’re right here, a spotlight like you would close to town.

Dave Cawley: As far as I know, Rhonda’s never been questioned in detail about this. She’s never testified to it from the witness stand.

Dan Cockayne: I think that’s why you dare shoot a deer on the side of the hill. ‘Cause the odds of getting caught are lower.

Dave Cawley: I do wonder though, would shooting two deer have been Doug’s sole reason for driving so far in the middle of the night, at a time he was under suspicion for murder and was just weeks away from standing trial for rape? When he knew the eyes of police were on him? Or were the deer just an opportunity that’d popped up while Doug was in the area taking care of other business?

Dan Cockayne: I would say most of the poaching incidents like this that are, those people that are arrested have all kinds of different offenses on their record.

Dave Cawley: The deer Doug had shot were covered by snow within hours. Which means it could’ve been snowing when he’d shot them. With that in mind, consider the words Doug used when negotiating a plea deal in ’92. He’d told his defense attorney he’d be able to find Joyce’s body in the dark and even in a blinding snowstorm.

The entire trip from Joyce’s apartment to the site of the poaching stop is on pavement. There’s a Forest Service campground 10 miles back along the highway, but at the time of night Doug was transporting Joyce in August of ’85, few if any drivers would’ve gone beyond the campground down into Walton Canyon.

Dan Cockayne: From basically the Monte Cristo campground to Woodruff at night in the summer, there’s no people.

Dave Cawley: If Doug had come here on the night he killed Joyce, he might’ve feared returning during the hunting season shortly after because of the greater risk of being spotted. He might’ve waited until after the deer hunt ended in November before taking the risk of revisiting Joyce’s body. Then, under dark of night with snow swirling, he could’ve scraped out a shallow hole and buried her. On his way out of the area, he might’ve spotted a couple of deer on the hillside and shot them from the road. If so, while taking Rhonda on that same drive the following day, might he have pointed out the spot to her?

Dan Cockayne: Maybe he wouldn’t share that with Rhonda.

Dave Cawley: Yep.

Dan Cockayne: But he shared quite a bit.

Dave Cawley: I stress this is only a hypothetical. I’ve not been able to ask Rhonda about this theory, as she did not respond to my inquiries.

Dan Cockayne: Yeah, I wish that, yeah I wish she’d, if she’s gonna clean her soul, clean her soul.

Dave Cawley: Doug Lovell is likely the only one who really knows where he left Joyce Yost. He claimed to have already pointed out that spot. But Dan Cockayne doesn’t buy the idea Doug left Joyce along the Old Snowbasin Road.

Dan Cockayne: If he told me the sun was up I’d have to call NASA and make sure.

Dave Cawley: The site of the Monte Cristo poaching stop is an open, and by my estimation, promising lead in the search for Joyce Yost. It checks a lot of boxes. It fits the timeline. It fits Doug’s descriptions of the murder site. It’s up past Causey. It’s never been searched by cadaver dogs. With what we know now, maybe it’s time that it is.

Cold season 2, bonus 1: Satanic Panic – Full episode transcript

Dave Cawley: South Ogden police were on a literal witch hunt. It was the summer of 1990. An informant was telling detectives a satanic coven had killed Joyce Yost. Sgt. Terry Carpenter had heard a version of this story once already, a couple of years earlier, from an anonymous caller who’d asked to go by the false name “George.”

“George” (from March 28, 1998 police recording): And then her body was burned.

Terry Carpenter (from March 28, 1998 police recording): Her body was burned.

Dave Cawley: “George” had refused to reveal the source of her information about Joyce Yost’s death. If this sounds familiar, it’s because I shared much of this already in Cold season 2, episode 5. But there are parts I didn’t tell you, like how that informant in 1990 told police who “George” really was. The informant said “George” was actually a psychologist named Peggy who worked with victims of satanic ritual abuse.

“George” (from March 28, 1998 police recording): I think that both of us believe that folks that engage in that sort of activity ought not to be running loose.

Terry Carpenter (from March 28, 1998 police recording): Yes.

Dave Cawley: Police needed to verify this, so an officer called Peggy while posing as a concerned parent in order to prove “George” and Peggy were the same person.

Officer (from August 22, 1990 police recording): I’ve got a child that’s been involved, having some problems and they gave me your name that you might be someone I could look to to get some help for him.

Peggy (from August 22, 1990 police recording): Uh huh.

Officer (from August 22, 1990 police recording): Seems like there’s some strange things that I’ve heard a little about satanism and that’s kind of what I think what he’s involved in.

Peggy (from August 22, 1990 police recording): Uh huh.

Officer (from August 22, 1990 police recording): So, and I didn’t know if you handle anything like that or—

Peggy (from August 22, 1990 police recording): I have, I have worked with that—

Officer (from August 22, 1990 police recording): Uh huh.

Peggy (from August 22, 1990 police recording): —kind of a problem, actually quite a lot.

Officer (from August 22, 1990 police recording): Okay.

Dave Cawley: Police came to understand Peggy, in her anonymous phone call as “George”, had been relaying information provided by one of her patients, a woman named Barbara. Barbara had been undergoing therapy related to some severe childhood trauma. In the process, she’d recovered memories of a seeing woman raped and murdered by a satanic cult. Barbara at first believed that woman had been Joyce Yost.

Terry Carpenter (from undated police recording): And you believed that it happened and I believe that it—

Barbara (from undated police recording): I don’t believe that a murder occurred.

Terry Carpenter (from undated police recording): You did for a long time.

Dave Cawley: But by the time Terry Carpenter interviewed Barbara, she’d come to distrust her own memories.

Barbara (from undated police recording): Part of me would like to say ‘ok, it’s this person and this person and this person and this person’s involved and go find out what you can find out.’ But part of me just wants to, I don’t know.

Dave Cawley: Peggy had diagnosed Barbara as having multiple personalities. Because of this, Barbara’s credibility was compromised. But for Terry Carpenter, Barbara’s account was the only lead he had in a murder case that’d gone cold. And so he’d pushed her to name the members of the coven.

Barbara (from undated police recording): ‘Kay, I’ll give you some names but I want a statement made that I feel that it was a mind game and I don’t put much credence in it.

Terry Carpenter (from undated police recording): I agree a thousand percent and I will do that with you however you want to do it. We will write it down on a piece of paper if you want and have you put those names on that piece of paper. I, I have no problem with any agreement you want to make that way. Until we work them out and understand what they are. You feel good about that?

Barbara (from undated police recording): Yeah. But I want it made because I really feel like you’re going the wrong the direction.

Terry Carpenter (from undated police recording): Ok.

Dave Cawley: Terry took the list of names Barbara provided and started tracking down the suspected satanists. This next clip comes from an interview with one of them, a man named Dave, who was at the time incarcerated in the Utah State Prison.

Terry Carpenter (from undated police recording at Utah State Prison): Dave, were you ever involved in anything associated with the occult?

Dave R. (from undated police recording at Utah State Prison): No.

Terry Carpenter (from undated police recording at Utah State Prison): Weren’t you?

Dave R. (from undated police recording at Utah State Prison): No.

Terry Carpenter (from undated police recording at Utah State Prison): Well, the information that we’ve got is that you were. You were involved in a—

Dave R. (from undated police recording at Utah State Prison): Well you better check your [expletive] sources because I’m just, I don’t even know, I don’t read science fiction. If it ain’t got something to do with auto mechanics, I don’t even read it.

Dave Cawley: Every effort to verify the existence of the coven had run into a roadblock but Terry hadn’t given up. He’d assembled a task force and pushed even harder, refusing to let his only lead die.

Mike King: And I remember the Yost case very well. I remember walking through fields with Terry Carpenter looking for pieces of bone fragment or something else that would somehow support this testimony that they had a ritual and they burned a sacrifice right here and buried ‘em over here.

Dave Cawley: That it is Mike King, who was at the time an investigator for the Weber County Attorney’s Office. Mike didn’t know it then, but his career was about to take a wild turn, thrusting him into the center of a national debate about satanism.

Mike King: And we found ourselves in the early days getting spun up, much like the public was, with the Satanic Panic. Umm, could this really be happening? Is Satan out there abusing children. Are there cults that are sacrificing and doing things? And if you look back in time, I mean the stories were horrendous.

Dave Cawley: This is a bonus episode of Cold, season 2: Satanic Panic. From KSL Podcasts, I’m Dave Cawley. Back with more right after this break.

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Dick Nourse (from May, 1986 KSL TV archive): The practice of devil worship has existed in various cultures for centuries but recently it has become a very real part of what psychologists are calling the adolescent or teenage subculture.

Lynn Bryson (from May, 1986 KSL TV archive): We have become so uninformed that we are playing their music and their doctrines for our kids to dance to.

Dave Schmertz (from May, 1986 KSL TV archive): Lynn Bryson lives in Provo. He’s a songwriter and singer by trade. During the past 3 years, Bryson has been speaking at LDS churches across the nation. His message is clear: Satan is working overtime and our teenagers are his prey. We caught up with Bryson here in Champagne, Illinois.

Lynn Bryson (from May, 1986 KSL TV archive): If we’re gonna talk about witchcraft, we have to talk about some of the doctrines and how they’re preaching them. And I know of no other way than to tell it like it is. You cannot practice witchcraft unless you practice murder, cannibalism and the like.

Dave Cawley: Widespread panic over the perceived dangers of satanism and all things occult ran rampant in America during the 1980s. Comic books, Dungeons and Dragons and heavy metal music all made easy scapegoats for concerned parents of wayward teens.

Lynn Bryson (from May, 1986 KSL TV archive): All you have to do is play the record backwards by recording it onto a reel-to-reel tape deck, turning the reels around and listening to it backwards and it says, right were it says ‘another one bites the dust’ it now says ‘start to smoke marijuana.’

Dave Schmertz (from May, 1986 KSL TV archive): In Bryson’s view of satanism, the last front in the war against devil worship lies in the home.

Lynn Bryson (from May, 1986 KSL TV archive): Forbid it.

Dave Schmertz (from May, 1986 KSL TV archive): Who?

Lynn Bryson (from May, 1986 KSL TV archive): Forbid the youth from dabbling with it. Forbid it. In other words, parents have the strongest arm there. I can’t worry about the people who are calling me alarmist because I have seen too much.

Dave Cawley: The concern seems a bit parochial by today’s standards, but many people took this all very seriously back then, including obviously many news reporters and police officers.

Shelley Thomas (from May, 1986 KSL TV archive): Last March, Utah County police acting on a tip found evidence that a small bird had been killed on a granite stone as part of a sacrificial rite. Investigators also found several papers with handwritten symbols and a prayer.

Jim Tracy (from May, 1986 KSL TV archive): The prayer states ‘our father who art in hell, hallowed be thy name. We place before thee this sacrament in appreciation and recognition of thou, the divine. Make pure this offering and sanctify our souls. Blessed be the blood of our enemies and make us one with thee. Amen.’

Dave Cawley: These news reports come from a series aired by KSL TV in 1986 called “Satanism in Utah: A Teenage Underworld.”

Shelley Thomas (from May, 1986 KSL TV archive): There are people in Utah who practice satanic worship. Most of them are teenagers who’ve been drawn to the occult for a variety of reasons and for most it is only a passing fancy, a brief flirtation with morbid curiosity but for others satanism can be very real and very serious.

“Tina” (from May, 1986 KSL TV archive): Satan rules and anybody that believes in god or has anything to do with god should be killed, should die.

Dave Cawley: The series aimed to be more educational than alarmist.

Con Psarras (from May, 1986 KSL TV archive): While most teenagers are mildly amused by signs and references to Satan in the popular culture, others can be deeply intrigued. Some kids turn to devil worship as a way of seeking an identity, belonging to a group.

Richard Ferre (from May, 1986 KSL TV archive): When a group meets together for a special kind of rite or a special kind of involvement in something that’s very symbolic such as this, it’s like a club.

Dave Cawley: Adolescent experimentation with what you might call alternative religious ideologies is pretty normal and usually harmless. But there’s a darker side to the satanic panic scare of the ‘80s and early 90s than just this generational hand-wringing. It involved widespread reports similar to the one Barbara had provided in the Joyce Yost case: claims of secret cults that tortured and killed people without consequence.

Duane Cardall (from January 29, 1992 KSL TV archive): The woman we call Jane remembers horrific things happening in this canyon near Kamas. She believes her father and others raped, tortured and killed people in their worship of Satan.

“Jane” (from January 29, 1992 KSL TV archive): I know it happened because I was forced to commit murder. I committed several sacrifices myself and umm, I became very good at it.

Dave Cawley: These reports of satanic cult activity tended to take one of two forms: children confessing current satanic sexual abuse at the hands of adults, or adults recovering repressed memories of past satanic worship and human sacrifice. Both forms often arose in similar fashion.

Duane Cardall (from January 29, 1992 KSL TV archive): Jane’s memory of ritual abuse came out during psychological therapy. One day she simply remembered bad people hiding in the trees.

Janice Marcus (from January 29, 1992 KSL TV archive): I wasn’t going after that information. I had no clue that this had happened to her. I knew that she had been abused, that she was a victim of abuse and that’s all I knew.

Duane Cardall (from January 29, 1992 KSL TV archive): Janice Marcus diagnosed in Jane a multiple personality disorder or MPD. She says the details surfaced naturally through Jane’s various personalities including a seven-year-old and a 12-year-old.

Dave Cawley: This comes from a January, 1992 KSL TV special called “Ritual Abuse – The Unthinkable.”

“Jane” (from January 29, 1992 KSL TV archive): Oh god, they had a furnace here. They had a furnace here they put bodies in.

Duane Cardall (from January 29, 1992 KSL TV archive): The memory of people dying and disposing of bodies in a furnace stunned Jane. This day there was no furnace and we don’t know if one ever existed there. Jane understands why stories of ritual abuse are hard to believe. She wishes it weren’t true.

Jane (from January 29, 1992 KSL TV archive): I feel like everything that I held dear, that I believed in has been ripped away. I’m not what I thought I was, my parents aren’t what I thought they were. I don’t want a witch-hunt to happen. I just want the abuse of the children to stop.

Dave Cawley: The more bizarre instances even involved claims these secrets satanists were grooming young women, raising them to be “breeders” who as adults could then be impregnated. The breeders would give birth, only to have their newborn babies taken away and killed in sacrificial ceremonies.

Covens were sometimes said to include hospital workers or morticians, professionals who knew how to cover up the disappearance of a human body. They conveniently left no evidence. Skeptics argued these memories were false, perhaps unintentionally so, a result of pressure or outright coercion employed by social workers and psychologists who were intent on rooting out satanic influences.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Let me briefly tell you about one such case. It centered around a social worker named Barbara Snow. Snow led an organization called the Intermountain Sexual Abuse Treatment Center. In ’85, she began interviewing several children from a neighborhood in the city of Lehi, Utah about possible sexual abuse at the hands of a babysitter, who happened to be the daughter of a local church leader.

Tom Walsh (from December 18, 1987 KSL TV archive): State officials took bishop Keith Burnhams children from the home and LDS Church relieved Burnham of his duties.

Dave Cawley: The accounts started out simple — older children molesting younger children — but through repeated interviews with Snow, the accusations grew more severe. Snow elicited stories about adults in the neighborhood coordinating to prey on children, using costumes, masks and satanic imagery. These shocking stories weren’t supported by any other physical evidence. In fact, prosecutors declined to file charges and the bishop’s children were returned to him. But the accusations had already done tremendous damage. Soon, other parents from the neighborhood were bringing their children to see Snow, hoping to learn if their kids had been targeted by this secretive occult child sex ring. One of them was a man named Alan Hadfield.

Tom Walsh (from December 18, 1987 KSL TV archive): Hadfield testified he became an accuser when his daughter said members of his LDS bishop’s family had sexually abused her. Hadfield said he was upset and confused.

Dave Cawley: Snow repeatedly interviewed Hadfield’s 10-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son. The daughter’s initial disclosure of abuse was narrow, but over time both kids would go on to say as many as 40 people in the neighborhood were involved in bizarre and grotesque instances of child sex abuse that included satanic ritual.

Tom Walsh (from December 18, 1987 KSL TV archive): Hadfield says therapist Barbara Snow told him this thing is really big. This case will draw national attention. But Hadfield says things just didn’t add up. ‘How could this happen without me knowing about it?’ He says Snow told him the abusers are sneaky. They’ll move through fields and crawl over fences at night. Ironically it was Hadfield who began pushing for the Attorney General’s Office to do an investigation. He then realized ‘I was the only man left in our neighborhood group who wasn’t accused.’ In May of 1986, Alan Hadfield turned from accuser to accused.

Dave Cawley: That’s when Hadfield’s children told Barbara Snow in graphic detail that their father had sexually abused them. In July of 1987, the state of Utah filed seven felony counts of sodomy and sex abuse of a child against Hadfield. He stood trial and his children both testified. So did Barbara Snow, whose methods came under attack.

Tom Walsh (from December 16, 1987 KSL TV archive): A Utah County detective says Snow’s questioning technique was aggressive and she would often ask leading questions of the children about possible abuse.

Dave Cawley: Alan Hadfield maintained his innocence. But the kids did not recant. So who was the jury to believe? In closing arguments, the prosecutor said the children had no motive to lie.

Tom Walsh (from December 18, 1987 KSL TV archive): Hadfield’s defense attorney Brad Rich countered by saying ‘children have been accusing parents falsely since the Salem Witch Trials.’

Dave Cawley: The jury found Hadfield guilty on all counts.

Joel Munson (from December 19, 1987 KSL TV archive): While Hadfield’s friends and family wandered in a state of shock, prosecutors voiced satisfaction with the verdict. They said the key to the case was the testimony of the children. But Hadfield’s supporters argued child therapist Barbara Snow coerced the youngsters into pointing the finger at their father. Defense attorneys said they’ll appeal the verdict while Hadfield’s family vowed to take Snow to court.

Hadfield supporter (from December 19, 1987 KSL TV archive): We are going to see that this man is innocent and we’re going to see that Barbara Snow is the one behind bars because she has abused these children. And we see that justice is done.

Dave Cawley: I don’t know the truth of whether Alan Hadfield abused his children or not. But no evidence ever surfaced to support the broader stories of a covert neighborhood child sex ring practicing satanic ritual abuse.

In his appeal, Hadfield noted Barbara Snow had brought forward strikingly similar stories in at least two other cases in different cities. The Utah Supreme Court overturned Hadfield’s conviction in 1990, due to lingering doubt about Snow’s techniques. In a separate but similar case, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later called Snow’s conduct “disturbing and irresponsible.”

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Similar storylines were unfolding in communities across the U.S. during the ‘80s. One of the most famous cases occurred in Los Angeles, California, where the McMartin family operated a preschool. A therapist there uncovered claims of child sex abuse against the McMartins, some of which involved satanism. A sprawling investigation ensued, with more than 300 potential victims identified.

Members of the McMartin family were arrested in 1984 and charged with hundreds of criminal counts. The court case dragged on for years and concluded without a single conviction. Afterward, it came to light the statements of many potential child victims might’ve been coerced.  Other people were accused, charged and even convicted on some pretty flimsy evidence in cases around the globe because of the panic surrounding satanism at the time.

I want to be clear here: child sex abuse is real. It does happen. And it’s important we not dismiss the disclosures of potential victims. At the same time, we need to recognize the fallibility of memory. Kids are impressionable and trauma can affect how they perceive the world. Child sex abuse cases can be notoriously difficult to prosecute for this reason. This is even more true when those cases include a ritual aspect.

Mike King: And ritualism isn’t satanism. Now, the Legislature, the media, the public want, every time you say ‘ritual’ even today, immediately think ‘satanism’ and it absolutely isn’t.

Dave Cawley: That again is Mike King, a former cop and an expert when it comes to the investigation of ritual abuse. He’s making an important point. Ritual abuse can mean different things to different people depending on how it’s defined. “Ritual” by itself doesn’t necessarily mean satanic or occult. It just means rites or ceremonies that are repeated. Those can be religious rites just easily as satanic ones.

Mike King: Never in the beginning did I think of the Zion Society as a ritual crime because I didn’t even know what that really was. We looked at it as child sex abuse.

Dave Cawley: The Zion Society. We’ll get into what that was in just a moment. First, let me set the stage. Mike King had spent the better part of a decade working as a cop in Ogden, Utah in the 1980s, before accepting a job as an investigator at the Weber County Attorney’s Office. In July of ’91, he was heading up an undercover operation aimed at busting car theft rings and chop shops.

Mike King: One day I walked into the county attorney’s office and the receptionist grabbed me and said ‘there’s a woman who’s been waiting to talk to an investigator but nobody’s available. Can you just talk to her for a moment?’ So I walked over. Just an attractive 20-year-old woman sitting there who stood up very confidently and introduced herself and the first words out of her mouth was ‘I’ve been involved in a cult that’s sexually abusing children. Do you have a minute to talk to me?’ And so I invited her back to the office where we could get a tape recorder out and start interviewing and my mind was racing. I’d never investigated sexual crimes other than as a patrol officer and then it was handed off to detectives. It was completely out of my wheelhouse and after that first interview I went into the county attorney and I laid it on the table and said ‘you’ve gotta get somebody.’ And he said ‘guess what, buddy? You’re gonna do this one.’

Dave Cawley: The informant had told Mike about a group of people called the Zion Society, who were practicing polygamy and child sex abuse as part of a religious philosophy. The county attorney, a man named Reed Richards, saw that Mike had managed to built a rapport with this informant.

Mike King: When I laid this out with the county attorney, I remember Mr. Richards’ first comment was ‘if this is true, we have to move quickly because children are being injured.’ And so the dictate from him was to drop everything, assemble a team that I needed to be successful and day-and-night investigate. And we were putting in 18, 20 hour days for a month just because we were so terrified that if it was true, children were being raped and sexually assaulted daily.

Dave Cawley: Mike conducted several follow-up interviews with the informant. She provided detailed information about the inner workings of the Zion Society and also described how she’d fallen into the orbit of its leader, a self-proclaimed prophet named Arvin Shreeve.

Mike King: The very first words out of her mouth were ‘I joined this group to get away from a failing marriage and I’d never planned on joining a cult.’ Once she got inside and realized that they were teaching polygamist practices which she didn’t believe in but frankly was saying, ‘y’know, if I’ve gotta live that way to have a safe place to live and a roof over my head, maybe I can do that.’ But as the doctrine perverted, she then got word and started witnessing that it wasn’t only women who were having relationships with the leader of the group, Arvin Shreeve, but that he was then dictating that they should have relations with each other, a same-sex relationship, all in what he believed was his god’s approval. And then it continued to pervert, as always it seems these sexual predations do, and it soon became ‘now the children need to be involved.’ And then she became involved in the instruction of how to prepare these children to have relationships with Arvin or the adult women and men in the group.

Dave Cawley: Shreeve didn’t outwardly appear like a suave, charismatic cult leader. He was short, double-chinned and had receding hair that was gray at the temples. He wore thick glasses. But he could talk the talk when it came to the language of Utah’s predominant religious culture. Arvin had grown up as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a faith that back then embraced the nickname the Mormons.

But Arvin had been kicked out of the church for publicly advocating his personal beliefs favoring polygamy. It was then he’d taken his philosophy underground. He’d held “scripture study” meetings with friends and neighbors, perfecting his pitch that he’d received personal revelation about a pathway to exaltation. That’s how the Zion Society was born.

Mike King: Knowing that Shreeve was  a Latter-day Saint in the early days of his life — he’d been excommunicated almost 30 years before his arrest — he was taking what he had learned as a youth and again, in my opinion, corrupting that and turning it into something else. And so that’s a term that he picked up and designed.

Dave Cawley: Arvin exerted extreme control over the lives of his flock. The women all had to wear dresses and heels. The men needed to keep their suburban yards meticulously landscaped. All of Arvin’s edicts tied back to his own personal gratification.

Mike King: He took seemingly intelligent people who had likeminded beliefs of wanting to just be a little better than anyone else, to have more light and knowledge than the next guy and slowly crafted and groomed them to the point that they believed that this, okay as distasteful as it might be, is my pathway to heaven. I guess I better do it.

Dave Cawley: Mike’s informant explained Zion Society members — who were said to number more than 100 — mostly lived together in a single subdivision.

Larry Lewis (from August 2, 1991 KSL TV archive): Neighbors describe the people on this street as a tight-knit group. Some call them polygamists, an accusation they deny.

Stan Belnap (from August 2, 1991 KSL TV archive): We don’t consider ourselves a cult, a church of any kind.

Mike King: We started looking at the neighborhood as a group. And there were up to 14 homes in this neighborhood that were all working together. They were interconnected by alarm systems. They were stockpiling semi-automatic weapons and food storage and medical supplies. … The thing that became so troubling to us is that two of the homes we identified as you enter the neighborhood were security residents. And their responsibility was to watch 24 hours a day. Any traffic, foot or vehicle, that came in through this narrow pipeway into the neighborhood. And if they saw something, they would then notify leadership. … We had that information, we had information from our informant that the members were being trained in anti-sniper and how to use weapons and that one day we’re going to have to defend our space. … And so as we started to put this doomsday belief system and the reality of what had been revealed by this informant, we realized that, that we had to get in there and serve search warrants.

Larry Lewis (from August 2, 1991 KSL TV archive): According to court records, someone within that very group came forward complaining that the adults were showing children a pornographic video tape. The tape was described as sexually explicit and used as an instructional tool for the children.

Dave Cawley: The informant described how Shreeve and one of his lieutenants had created manuals for the others, instructing them on how to abuse children.

Mike King: In one case, a couple revealed that they witnessed probably 50,000 dollars worth of pornography that Shreeve had purchased over the years and then systematically cut out to be presentation material during his instruction of what to do. And so we knew that we could potentially find a treasure trove of evidence to support. … Along the way, we learned some odd things that really were troubling. And one of those was that an individual had been purchasing sex from children in the group and that the adult leaders in the group were, were in effect prostituting the children out to people that were not cult members. Well, this was so far beyond the belief system that they were purporting that we had to follow up. And I actually took the county attorney with me on this particular one and we went and found the individual in Logan who later confessed that yes, he was involved in this. So every time I would walk in and say ‘you’re not going to believe this one, Reed.’ We would be able to prove that it was true. And so the informant’s credibility continued to grow which made it much more easy to go into a judge and justify an affidavit.

Dave Cawley: Just weeks after his first encounter with the informant, Mike went to court to obtain a series of warrants. He sought permission not only to raid the Zion Society homes, but also to arrest Arvin Shreeve and to take up to 32 children into protective custody.

Mike King: We knew that we had to get in and go with a show of force so that we could quickly get control. But we knew that with that, there would be a price to pay because that would be traumatizing to children who we needed to take into custody. So we also reached out to the Utah Division of Family Services and got case workers on hand with vans so that we could immediately get the children into professionals to get help. And if you think back, this was July and August of 1991. We had just opened a brand new children’s justice center — the first one in the state of Utah. And it was in its first month of infancy. And we notified them ‘get ready. We’re not going to tell you why, but get ready.’

Dave Cawley: The Children’s Justice Center concept was a new invention, meant to avoid some of the pitfalls observed in cases like the Alan Hadfield prosecution a few years earlier. Staff there received special training in how to conduct forensic interviews with child victims of crime. They took great care to avoid tainting memories or coercing confessions.

Raiding the Zion Society compound took a lot of coordination and manpower. Mike arranged a strike team composed of roughly half the entire Ogden city police force. They executed the raid just before sunrise on August 2, 1991.

Larry Lewis (from August 2, 1991 KSL TV archive): Police raided five homes in this North Ogden subdivision, removing four children from one home and five from another. The children range in age from four to 11 years old. Stan Belnap’s house was one of the five raided.

Stan Belnap (from August 2, 1991 KSL TV archive): They took my kids a little before 8 o’clock. They were still in bed.

Mike King: I remember walking out of the judge’s office after getting the warrant signed, and uh, and I remember the judge saying ‘happy hunting.’ And as I walked out I thought ‘I’ve put my credibility on the line’ because this, this is kind of a big deal. And, and when I got inside the homes and started seeing the secret passageways, the food storage, the medical supplies which were incredible. They had been going into area hospitals, faking injuries and then stealing all of the supplies they could to, to build up their medical facility inside the cult. It was incredible. I was so troubled because we weren’t finding the weapons that they spoke about. And I remember sitting on the floor in the corner of one room with my map that my informant had drawn, saying ‘here’s where there are some guns’ and thinking ‘she missed the mark on this one. There are no guns here.’ And subconsciously I was tugging on the shag carpet and I felt the carpet give way and I heard a ripping of velcro and I peeled back the velcro and panels of uh, wood piled up, in there were stacked fully-loaded mini 14 semi-assault rifles. It was surreal.

Dave Cawley: No one fired a shot that morning. The children were whisked away to be interviewed. The parents, caught unprepared, stood aside as officers scoured their homes. But the search teams found no trace of the pornographic instruction manuals or training videos the informant had described.

Mike King: Yes, in fact what we believe happened is when this informant left the cult, uh it took her a couple of weeks until she got the courage to come into the county attorney’s office and confess that the cult was smart enough to realize that we might be into a little bit of trouble. And what they did, they burned boxes and boxes of pornography, according to the victims and the people who were later testifying. Uh, got rid of as much information as they possible could and so we did lose a treasure trove, even though we moved at breakneck speed.

Larry Lewis (from August 2, 1991 KSL TV archive): The children will remain in protective custody through the weekend. A hearing is scheduled for early next week to determine whether they’ll remain wards of the state or be returned to their parents.

Dave Cawley: The children were slow to open up to the investigators. police in time came to learn Zion Society members had coached them to instill a fear of police. During the raid Arvin Shreeve was nowhere to be found.

Mike King: We had warrants for Arvin. He was not there on the morning of the raid and was, we later learned was traveling, either in Arizona or California. Some of us — me — believe that he was hiding in a bunker that we couldn’t get a search warrant for.

Larry Lewis (from August 9, 1991 KSL TV archive): Wednesday, an Ogden judge issued an arrest warrant for Shreeve, charging him with aggravated sexual assault and sodomy on a child after two children told police Shreeve told them to perform a sex act. The accusations follow a lengthy investigation into Shreeve and others in his neighborhood who allegedly practice polygamy and have group sex.

Dave Cawley: Arvin surprised everyone by surrendering. A week after the raid, he walked into the police headquarters in Cedar City, Utah, nearly 300 miles to the south of Ogden.

Larry Lewis (from August 9, 1991 KSL TV archive): Shreeve walked into the police station, identified himself and told police he was wanted. A friend of Shreeve’s who was contacted by police apparently convinced him to give up.

Dave Cawley: Prosecutors waged a series of court battles against both Shreeve and a number of his adult followers, in the months that followed. The state lost custody of the children, most of whom were returned to the very parents who stood accused of facilitating their abuse. Time and again, the young victims were hauled into court to testify during preliminary hearings.

Mike King: We made a conscious decision that we can’t continue to force the children to testify because back then, if you remember, the courts required that the child testify in a preliminary hearing. Well, defense attorneys could get away with a whole lot more aggression in a prelim without a jury than they would ever dare try in front of a jury. And it was so distressing to us to see the children go through this badgering during the questioning phase.

Dave Cawley: The prosecutors believed they had evidence to support more than 700 felony counts of child sex abuse, but they filed only the most egregious. In the end, all but one of the people charged as a result of the Zion Society raid took plea deals and admitted to the abuse. Arvin Shreeve included.

Gary Gale (from December 23, 1991 KSL TV archive): What he was trying to avoid was a sentence of 15 years to life to run consecutively. That’s what he was trying to avoid, that’s what we were trying to avoid, that’s what we’ve avoided.

Dave Cawley: He spent the rest of his life in prison and died there in 2009, at the age of 79. Arvin had used zealotry and religious rituals to coerce his followers into doing the unthinkable. It was ritual abuse, but not satanic.

Mike King: They were using religion or a belief system as a guise for power. They were using it as a guise for intimidation and control. They were using it as a way to justify what was wrong and make it something special because we can’t really wrap our minds around deity or things like that. … I mean, I had some real struggles thinking of the horrors. It was impacting my own life. I had children the same age as these victims were at the time. And uh, for anyone to think that a police officer can just isolate the job is, is really unfair.

Dave Cawley: Mike recently published a memoir of his work on the Zion Society case. The book, titled “Deceived,” goes into more depth about the investigation and aftermath than I have time to explore here. And that’s because we still need to talk about the next phase of Mike’s career.

Mike King: It was way outside of normal police work to say we’re gonna pursue Satan.

Dave Cawley: That’s after the break.

[Ad break]

Dave Cawley: In March of 1990, Utah’s governor established a task force to study to the issue of ritual abuse. Leading the task force was a psychologist named Noemi Mattis, herself a firm believer in the stories of secret satanic ritual abuse. The group included members from the fields of mental health, law enforcement, education, the courts and religion. The task force’s stated goal was to study ritual abuse and educate both professionals and the public about it.

At the same time, Utah’s predominant religion — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — was also conducting an internal study about claims of satanic ritual abuse. This comes from an October, 1991 KSL TV news report, after a confidential church memo validating the idea of widespread satanic activity became public.

Jane Clayson (from October 25, 1991 KSL TV archive): Jody is one of the victims LDS Church general authority Glenn Pace interviewed for the internal, confidential church memo printed in an anti-LDS Church newsletter yesterday. The year-old memo estimates up to 800 people may be involved in such abuse along the Wasatch Front. Church members, some church leaders. Jody says LDS doctrine was twisted and distorted in the ritual ceremonies.

“Jody” (from October 25, 1991 KSL TV archive): There was a lot of violence and sexual perversion that went along with different scriptural settings.

Dave Cawley: The task force issued a report in 1992. It acknowledged the members had at first differed about whether they believed widespread ritual abuse was taking place. Some were skeptics. But, the report said, all had read literature on the subject. A bibliography attached to the task force report showed among the reading was an article titled “Ritualistic Child Abuse in a Neighborhood Setting,” co-authored by none other than Barbara Snow, the social worker who as I described earlier in this episode had been accused of coercing Alan Hadfield’s children into making disclosures of ritualistic abuse.

I should note, the prosecutor from the Hadfield case, Robert Parrish, was also a member of the governor’s ritual abuse task force. A task force that spent a lot of time hearing from people who claimed to have been victims of satanists.

Robert Parrish (from October 25, 1991 KSL TV archive): With those reports, it’s very difficult, even though it’s currently happening, to find any corroborative evidence. If it’s happening, these people are extremely careful and maybe the best at keeping quiet about what they do.

Dave Cawley: There was no mention in the task force report of the very real ritual abuse that’d been exposed just a year earlier in the Zion Society case. It didn’t fit the mold because it hadn’t involved satanism.

The task force said groups that ritually abused children were typically satanists, pagans or practitioners of ceremonial magic. The report also said satanic abuse was sometimes carried out by secretive generational cults. These cults were said to have existed for centuries, with practitioners being born and raised into them. The report said “members are often well-known and respected within their larger communities” and “their continued existence as successful, prestigious and powerful persons in outer society depends upon absolute secrecy of the inner group activities.”

Noemi Mattis, the task force’s figurehead, explained away the lack of firm evidence backing this up when interviewed about the report.

Noemi Mattis (from May 20, 1991 KSL TV archive): Very difficult to prove any cases in a court of law which involve ritual abuse simply because the people who are involved with it have real expertise at hiding their tracks.

Dave Cawley: Mattis and the task force members were hardly alone. A January, 1992 public opinion poll showed a stunning fraction of Utah residents — 90 percent — believed satanic ritual abuse of children was occurring. The task force recommended the creation of a new unit within the Utah Attorney General’s Office, which would have statewide jurisdiction to root out ritual abuse and generational satanism.

Here’s where Mike King comes back into our story. He was at the tail end of the prosecutions in the Zion Society case when the governor’s task force made its recommendations.

Mike King: So, I was reached out to by the attorney general and invited to come to the Attorney General’s Office having what they considered to be probably one of the more robust backgrounds now in organized, cultic behavior.

Dave Cawley: The Utah Legislature allocated a quarter of a million dollars to the AG’s Office. The money came with a mandate: investigate these ritual abuse reports. If satanists were sacrificing babies and burning bodies, Mike was supposed to find the evidence.

Mike King: There was so much going on and there were allegations all across the state that the local police departments were, frankly, ill-equipped to manage.

Dave Cawley: Mike and his new partner at the AG’s Office spent the next two years digging into the reports.

Mike King: And I can’t tell you how many wild goose chases I went on. I can’t even tell you how many times I went into, into central Utah to look at cows that were dead because an alien or Satan or something else came down and, and dissected this cow and carefully removed its eyes or whatever else. And I remember on one occasion I was with a fish and game officer and I was getting sucked into this. I’m looking at this cow and it was surgically, perfect around the eyes where the eyeballs had been removed. … I was laser-focused on this and I’m going ‘what do you think here’ and the fish and game cop just bursts out laughing and he says ‘well, I think two things: number one, birds and predators go for the softer squishy parts’ and he said ‘all of this magpie mess around the fur by the eye should be an indication to you.’ And it was like, we all were getting so focused on the tree that we were missing a big forest.

Dave Cawley: Time and again, Mike went looking for hard evidence to support the accusations, only to return empty-handed.

Mike King: It took us awhile to figure out we need to pull back on the reins a little bit and we need to investigate these the way we know how to investigate. We need to investigate the child sexual abuse and then bring that ritualism in as an aggravating factor during sentencing or at the appropriate time during the trial. But quit allowing, uh, the courts and the public to drag us down into the weeds to talk about Satan when it really is about children being sexually assaulted.

Dave Cawley: This was something Mike had learned from the Zion Society case.

Mike King: So there were a number that resulted in prosecution for a number of different things as we identified the sexually assault. We were only able to truly get confessions where someone had used satanism or satanic beliefs or doctrine as part of their control mechanism in about three or four.

Dave Cawley: Three or four instances of satanism out of hundreds of reports. And even then, the form satanism in those cases wasn’t the generational kind, infiltrating through every facet of society. It wasn’t black masses or human sacrifices. It was instead a show: the use of scary imagery to terrify a victim into silence.

Mike King: It’s bunch of smoke and mirror and a bunch of terror.

Dave Cawley: Mike and his partner put together a report of their own, detailing their findings. They published it in 1995.

Duane Cardall (from April 25, 1995 KSL TV archive): Mike King and another investigator have been looking into what some call the satanism scare. This governor’s task force wanted it done and the Legislature came up with $250,000 to support it.

Mike King (from April 25, 1995 KSL TV archive): We started with about 225 cases over the course of that period.

Duane Cardall (from April 25, 1995 KSL TV archive): Cases of alleged abuse of adults remembering horrific stories from their youth of mutilations, torture, even human sacrifice.

Mike King (from April 25, 1995 KSL TV archive): We found sites all across the state, not in great numbers, but all across the state that support the fact that there are dabblers out there.

Dave Cawley: More than 25 years have passed since Mike’s report went public. You can still find it online — I’ve included links to it in the show notes and at — and it’s an interesting read.

Mike King: Because the Latter-day Saint population is so prominent here in Salt Lake and in Utah, many of the allegations were that this person would pray like a Latter-day Saint or something else. Well, what we found so interesting is that if we talked to our peer investigators in Chicago that were doing this, where the Catholic Church was strong, they prayed like Catholics. If they were down in the South they prayed like a Christian down there. And so we started to also recognize that this is geographically and historically going to be influenced. I don’t know why that wasn’t picked up on before but we felt like that was an incredibly important point.

Dave Cawley: Mike’s report walked a fine line. It didn’t call out the satanic hysteria, but it also didn’t validate it. At least, not much.

Duane Cardall (from April 25, 1995 KSL TV archive): So what about all the people who have been coming forth in recent years with sudden memories of being involved in ritual abuse as children and recalling that Satan worship was involved?

Mike King (from April 25, 1995 KSL TV archive): My personal belief is that we have pedophiles who are using this as one of the ways to keep their crimes secret.

Dave Cawley: Mike’s report invoked to the Zion Society case to make this point. Arvin Shreeve had used religious ritual to manipulate his victims.

Mike King: I mean it’s theatrics. It’s power, dominion and control and how am I going to accomplish that? For some people it’s brute force. For others its emotional pressure. I mean, we see it in domestic violence cases where we see people who stay in a relationship that others would walk away from screaming.

Dave Cawley: There’s a huge gulf though between the concept of secret generational satanic sex abuse cults and one-off abusers who simply use occult imagery to keep their victims quiet.

Duane Cardall (from April 25, 1995 KSL TV archive): Yes, their 58-page report concludes there are isolated, verifiable accounts of people doing horrible things to others, sometimes in the name of Satan. But they also conclude it is not widespread.

Mike King (from April 25, 1995 KSL TV archive): We found absolutely no evidence that would support that there are generational cults or members of cults that have infiltrated every level of government or religious organizations or community organizations.

Dave Cawley: Let me underline that. No evidence of generational satanic cults. That part wasn’t real.

Mike King: Is it possible we missed a coven or a group of people that were dressing up in robes and, and worshipping Satan? Absolutely. But by focusing on the crime we were able to solve and make arrests and get help for children, umm, and then hopefully learn lessons along the way.

Dave Cawley: This was a tricky thing to communicate in the report, because Mike didn’t want to invalidate the experiences of child sex abuse victims who believed they’d witnessed or been a part of satanic ritual abuse. But the fact was, ritual abuse allegations involving human sacrifice, generational satanism and a widespread conspiracy could not be corroborated.

Mike concluded the report by writing “the investigation of ritual crimes may be in its infancy today, as child sexual abuse investigations were 25 years ago.” It seems to me this left the door open for true believers of the satanic abuse myth to say “just because you didn’t find evidence, doesn’t mean it’s not there.” But what we see from the Zion Society case — or even the sex abuse scandals that have engulfed the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of America and other trusted organizations — is that child sex abuse rarely involves pentagrams, demons and blood sacrifice.

Mike King: Hopefully we took enough of a fact-based delivery into account that people see how we backed up what we said. But to a true believer for us to say ‘we didn’t find it’ is really troubling. And again, to me it goes back to that notion of if we believe something, we’re going to twist everything we can to make it look real.

Dave Cawley: That twisting had huge consequences for people who were accused on the basis of coerced confessions or implanted memories. With the satanic panic, investigators were often tasked with hunting for evidence that would support the public’s or even a psychologist’s pre-determined conclusion: that satanic ritual abuse was occurring, even if it wasn’t.

Mike King: And you don’t want to allow those things to drive the investigation. A police officer’s responsibility is to just gather facts.

Dave Cawley: Which takes us full circle back to the Joyce Yost case. The unfounded report that a satanic coven had killed Joyce came very near to knocking that investigation permanently off track. Had Rhonda Buttars not confessed the truth of her ex-husband Doug Lovell’s actions, Sgt. Terry Carpenter would’ve continued on searching for evidence to support the idea Joyce’d died in a ritual ceremony. That evidence, of course, didn’t exist because that’s not what’d happened. At some point, the trail would’ve gone cold and the truth of what Doug did to Joyce might never have come to light.

Mike King: The real wisdom that came from that ritual crime report, from looking at the Zion Society, looking at Joyce Yost’s case and the amount of tentacles that that case had, imagine how much more could have happened if we’d have focused on the elements of the crime rather than all the tertiary stuff that was just kind of sexy and needed to be chased.

Cold season 2, episode 13: Last Chance – Full episode transcript

Dave Cawley: Sean Young, one of the attorneys who’d represented Doug Lovell during his 2015 capital murder trial, met with the attorney handling Doug’s appeal of his death sentence in March, 2019.

That second attorney, Colleen Coeburgh, made an audio recording of their conversation.

Sean Young (from March, 2019 recording): I don’t care what happens to Doug. I used to care. I don’t care anymore.

Colleen Coebergh (from March, 2019 recording): Ok. And I appreciate that.

Sean Young (from March, 2019 recording): He’s a manipulator and a sociopath and I’m done with him. You can tell him I said that. Hi Doug.

Dave Cawley: If you didn’t catch that, Sean called Doug “a manipulator and a sociopath.” But I’m getting ahead of myself here, so let’s a take a moment and review.

Doug Lovell’s rape and murder of Joyce Yost in 1985 had created a legal mess. His guilty plea to capital murder in ’93 — followed by his conviction for the same crime at trial in 2015 — meant he’d twice received a death sentence. But by 2017, the case had once again become bound up by an appeal. Doug’d had claimed Sean Young had torpedoed the 2015 trial by failing to call many people Doug’d identified as potential character witnesses. He’d also claimed lawyers for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had interfered with the testimonies of several people Sean had called to the witness stand.

Doug also opened a second front on Sean by filing a complaint against him with the Utah State Bar, which he mentioned in this letter to Judge Michael DiReda.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): The Utah State Bar investigated Mr. Young and on March 2, 2017, voted to direct the Office of Professional Conduct to file a formal complaint against Mr. Young in District Court.

Dave Cawley: Doug’s wasn’t the only bar complaint pending against Sean. There were others rising out of at least 20 different cases. Sean reached an agreement during the summer of 2018 to settle all those complaints. As part of that agreement, he signed a statement admitting fault in Doug’s case.

The statement said Sean had failed to screen all but two of the 18 witnesses assigned to him during Doug’s trial; that he’d failed to question the witnesses who did testify about their beliefs Doug was a remorseful man and that he’d capitulated to the church’s lawyers. A judge suspended Sean’s law license for a period of three years. Sean told the Deseret News at the time he didn’t agree with the claims in the statement, but had signed it simply to put the matter behind him.

Meantime, Doug’s new appellate attorney, Colleen Coebergh, was dogging Sean. She’d learned he possessed hundreds of emails that could be relevant to Doug’s appeal. In a sworn affidavit, Colleen wrote Sean had repeatedly told her he would provide them, then repeatedly failed to do so. She had to ask Judge DiReda to issue a court order demanding Sean surrender his emails, which the judge did. And so that’s why Sean and Colleen met at a courthouse in Salt Lake City, to make that exchange in March of 2019.

Colleen Coebergh (from March, 2019 recording): Ok, you’ve given up every document that you have?

Sean Young (from March, 2019 recording): To Sam, yeah.

Colleen Coebergh (from March, 2019 recording): Ok.

Dave Cawley: Sean told Colleen he disagreed with any suggestion his representation of Doug had been ineffective.

Sean Young (from March, 2019 recording): I did my best to help him. I actually cared about Doug. I did my best I could. I gave him advice. I said, ‘hey, waive your jury, waive the jury and go back to Judge DiReda like you did with judge uh, the original judge on the case.’ I forgot. And he didn’t want to do that—

Colleen Coebergh (from March, 2019 recording): Taylor.

Sean Young (from March, 2019 recording): Judge Taylor. And he said ‘no, Judge Taylor already sentenced me to death one time. I’m not going to waive my jury. I want a jury.’ He said, ‘no jury’s going to convict me.’ And I told him to take the stand. Those were my two pieces of advice that we talked about the whole time. And last thing he backed out. So he, he manipulated me the whole time. And I’m done with him. I’m done.

Dave Cawley: Sean said he refused to spend any more time on Doug.

Colleen Coebergh (from March, 2019 recording): I sit and waste hours and hours on this case. I haven’t been paid a dollar. I’m out $100,000 on this case and I’m kind of done with it. I’m frustrated. You guys get paid, Sam got paid, everyone gets paid except me. I’m kind of sick of it.

Dave Cawley: Sean said he wouldn’t get his law license back, even if the court decided his work for Doug had been up to par.

Sean Young (from March, 2019 recording): You’re not going to help me. You’re not there to help me.

Mitigation expert (from March, 2019 recording): Well we’re, we’re trying to help Doug.

Sean Young (from March, 2019 recording): I don’t care about Doug. He’s a manipulative sociopath. I’m kind of done with him. He manipulated me. He manipulated Sam. He manipulated you. He’s manipulated everybody. It’s what he does. That’s all he does. He’s manipulative.

Dave Cawley: Doug Lovell hadn’t been able to convince a single juror he deserved a chance for parole, but he was about to work his way out of maximum security at the Utah State Prison and one step closer to his ultimate goal: freedom. 

This is the finale of Cold, season two, episode 13: Last Chance. From KSL Podcasts, I’m Dave Cawley. Back after this break.

[Ad break]

Dave Cawley: Doug Lovell happened to be listening to the radio on April 3, 2019 when he heard a woman named Candice Madsen on the airwaves of KSL NewsRadio.

Candice Madsen (from April 3, 2019 KSL NewsRadio archive): With your kids, you want to be the hero, right? You want to be in charge of everything. I think it’s okay for your kids to see you be vulnerable and to let your kids know that you struggle but that you got help.

Dave Cawley: Candice worked as a producer for KSL TV and was promoting a documentary called “Hope in Your Darkest Hour.” The 22-minute program profiled several people affected by suicide, including some who described their first-hand struggles coping with thoughts of self-harm.

Candice Madsen (from April 3, 2019 KSL NewsRadio archive): Life is hard. We can’t do it alone. We just need to reach out and support each other and validate without judgement. I think people are so afraid of being judged.

Dave Cawley: Doug wrote Candice a letter that same day.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): Dear Ms. Candice Madsen, I just got done listening to you talk about suicide on KSL radio. I thought your comments were spot on.

Dave Cawley: The letter wasn’t the only item Doug put in the envelope.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): Enclosed is a pamphlet which has a story about a little mouse I crossed paths with here at the prison many, many years ago. I decided last year to write about my experience with the mouse in the hope that it could be used to help prevent suicide here in Utah and elsewhere.

Dave Cawley: The front of the pamphlet included an illustration of a rather plump gray mouse holding a small cube of yellow cheese. Above the mouse were printed the words: Unforeseen Angel. Candice opened the pamphlet and started to read.

Candice Madsen: It was pretty basic. It didn’t give very much information about him other than that he was an inmate.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): When I was a little boy, our family of five moved out to the country to live on a small farm. I found that I had a love for animals and a special way of connecting with them.

Dave Cawley: Let’s fast-forward through the bits where Doug described his parents’ divorce, his brother’s death and his descent into drug and alcohol abuse.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): Eventually, I did the unthinkable, for which I was sent to prison — taking the life of an innocent person.

Dave Cawley: He did not bother to say who this person was, or why he’d killed her, but said his arrival at the prison had sent him into a well of depression and “spiritual darkness.”

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): One day, a little, furry-faced mouse came wandering into my cell clearly looking for trouble or an easy snack. This was the happiest moment on A-block. I was happy to give the little guy anything he wanted.

Dave Cawley: Doug spent the next four paragraphs detailing his interactions with this mouse, describing how he’d lured the critter by rubbing peanut oil between his fingertips. He said he’d talked to the mouse, finding it an attentive listener.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): May sound strange to most people, but that little creature that God put on this earth distracted me just long enough to help get me through the darkest, loneliest, most unstable time in my life.

Dave Cawley: He concluded with a proclamation that all people are children of God with value and purpose. He offered suicide prevention resources.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): If you find yourself in a very dark place struggling to find hope or purpose in life, please take the first step toward a brighter, happier, more fulfilling life.

Dave Cawley: Doug used the word “I” 30 times in this narrative. The name Joyce Yost did not appear once.

Candice Madsen: This pamphlet was so well produced. Y’know, it was professionally done. So I was kind of, was he able to do that in prison? And so, I just thought that was interesting.

Dave Cawley: Candice turned the pamphlet over and saw a logo on the back. It read “Rising Star Outreach.” Candice showed the pamphlet to a friend, who asked if she knew who Doug was or what he’d done. A quick search through the KSL archives refreshed her memory. She discovered the evidentiary hearing tied to Doug’s appeal had not yet happened, but was just around the corner.

Candice Madsen: And I started thinking, ‘I wonder if he’s just trying to kind of get character witnesses.’”

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Utah 2nd District Court Judge Michael DiReda spent most of the month of August, 2019 on that evidentiary hearing.

Michael DiReda (from August 5, 2019 court recording): Alright, let’s turn to the matter of State of Utah versus Douglas Lovell. This is case 92-1900407. Counsel, will you state your appearances for the record, please?

Dave Cawley: Doug’s appeal of his 2015 death sentence revolved around the idea his defense team hadn’t done a good job. This is a typical step in many death penalty appeals. But the Utah Supreme Court had wanted more information before making a ruling on Doug’s claims of ineffective counsel, so it’d sent the appeal back to Judge DiReda on what’s known as a Rule 23B remand.

Russell DiReda (from August 5, 2019 court recording): This is the time scheduled for evidentiary hearing … On an order from the Supreme Court to this court under Rule 23B.

Dave Cawley: I’ve reviewed hours of this testimony but rather than plow through it all chronologically, I’m going to jump around a bit to better focus on a few particular points. I’ll start with Doug’s mouse. During the hearing, former prison guard Carl Jacobson recalled Doug having once befriended a rodent, but it wasn’t a mouse.

Carl Jacobson (from August 13, 2019 court recording): He had a pet squirrel once — Clusters — trained it and had it in his room for the whole summer. And one day I confronted him and said, ‘y’know Doug, this, this is disgusting. You and your roommate Chewy have done things wrong and you’re in jail for a reason. This squirrel has done nothing. It needs to be out chasing girl squirrels and it needs to be gathering nuts.’ And I says, ‘you keep it in a prison as your little pet. You are disgusting.’ And I left. Next day I come back. Doug Lovell, I go, ‘where’s the squirrel?’ He’d let it go.

Dave Cawley: Kent Tucker, who was married to one of Doug’s cousins, also brought up Doug’s treatment of animals.

Kent Tucker (from August 16, 2019 court recording): So, I’ve always, y’know, you hear about bad, bad guys and usually they don’t want nothing to do with animals. They’ll kill animals and stuff like that. Doug is never, that’s never been his nature. He’s, he just got a kind heart.

Dave Cawley: Kent said he’d seen that kindness all the way back in Doug’s earliest years, when he was just a boy on the farm.

Kent Tucker (from August 16, 2019 court recording): I mean he’s had skunks and squirrels and down at the prison they even had a mink come in that they brought to him and asked Doug if he was interested in this mink which, it was a wild animal, and Doug actually got it to where he could put it in his pocket and he was working at the print shop at the time and he was taking this mink with him to work.

Dave Cawley: So was the mouse mentioned in the pamphlet a real thing? Or was it an amalgam: part squirrel, part mink, part story borrowed from the movie The Green Mile? Doug’s character witnesses painted him not just as a protector of animals, but also as a shepherd of men. Leon Denney, who’d served time in the Utah State Prison in ’88, described how Doug had helped him overcome his anger.

Leon Denney (from August 5, 2019 court recording): I think I stopped hating so much. I was really filled with, with hate. Because … it made me start looking at myself and realizing that, y’know, I had to, I had to step up to the plate.

Dave Cawley: Leon had not testified at the trial, but said he would have gladly done so had Doug’s defense team bothered to ask. Other witnesses told of how Doug had cared for fellow inmates when they were ill or despondent.

Becky Douglas (from August 12, 2019 court recording): He encouraged them and he’d say ‘you can still go back to God, you can still get your life right.’ And how do I know that? Because he would say to them ‘if you don’t believe me, write Becky Douglas.’ Well I have had more than 40 prisoners writing to me because Doug Lovell said to them ‘there is a way spiritually for you to come back to the Lord.’ I have been writing to these people.

Dave Cawley: Becky Douglas had discovered in Doug an enthusiastic booster for her non-profit, Rising Star Outreach.

Becky Douglas (from August 12, 2019 court recording): The more I got to know Doug, the more I was very impressed with how remorseful he was, how much he wanted to do good, how much he cared about the children at Rising Star.

Dave Cawley: Doug had spent the last decade talking up Rising Star to anyone who would listen. In fact, several of his witnesses — including his bishops — confessed he’d talked them into contributing. Becky said Doug had spent years taking correspondence classes on religion. He’d watched a TV series about the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and another about the New Testament, then sent her letters explaining how each had strengthened his faith.

Becky Douglas (from August 12, 2019 court recording): These aren’t the actions of a person who’s pretending to be suddenly come-to-Jesus or religious in order to get a light sentence.

Dave Cawley: And yet, one of the bishops who’d ministered to Doug — a man named Brent Scharman — admitted deep discussion of spiritual matters had been the exception rather than the rule during their Sunday visits…

Brent Scharman (from August 28, 2019 court recording): It was more typically about everyday issues and what was going on in his life and my life and in the world at large.

Dave Cawley: …which led the state’s attorney to ask if Doug’s turn to religion might’ve been an act.

Brent Scharman (from August 28, 2019 court recording): If it’s an act, it’s a very good act.

Dave Cawley: Doug had once told his ex-wife Rhonda you “can’t be in control unless you manipulate. Russell Minas, the attorney who’d helped Doug arrange visitation with his son in the late ‘90s, said he didn’t see their friendship that way.

Mark Field (from August 5, 2019 court recording): You don’t think he’s manipulating you.

Russell Minas (from August 5, 2019 court recording): No.

Mark Field (from August 5, 2019 court recording): And that’s on the basis of telephone calls.

Russell Minas (from August 5, 2019 court recording): Right.

Mark Field (from August 5, 2019 court recording): That he controls.

Dave Cawley: One of those phone calls had come shortly after Doug had received the death verdict in 2015. Doug had called Russell, upset, wanting to know why he’d turned his back on him.

Russell Minas (from August 5, 2019 court recording): He thought that I had changed my mind about appearing to testify. He had no idea why I hadn’t, why I wasn’t there. He felt that I’d betrayed him. I did everything that I could to reassure him that I wasn’t there because nobody ever called me to testify.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: I noticed a pattern as I listened to all this testimony. Day after day, witness after witness, the questioning almost seemed to follow a script. Appellate attorney Colleen Coeburgh would start, eliciting answers that suggested trial defense attorney Sean Young had dropped the ball.

Colleen Coebergh (from August 16, 2019 court recording): Had you had any communications with Mr. Young before he called you to the witness stand such that he would understand and know what you were even going to say when he asked you questions?

John “Jack” Newton (from August 16, 2019 court recording): No.

Dave Cawley: She asked the witnesses who’d dealt with the attorneys for The Church of Jesus Christ to explain what the church’s lawyers had said and done.

Colleen Coebergh (from August 16, 2019 court recording): And what do you think their focus was?

John “Jack” Newton (from August 16, 2019 court recording): Well, I think they were interested in protecting the good name of The Church.

Dave Cawley: Assistant Utah Attorney General Mark Field would then take over. He’d use cross-examination to reveal how little any of these people knew about what Doug had done to end up on death row. That was true even for Leon Denney, who’d met Doug in prison when Doug was still denying having raped Joyce.

Aaron Murphy (from August 5, 2019 court recording): Is it possible that Mr. Lovell really was falsely accused of rape?

Leon Denney (from August 5, 2019 court recording): I, he never told me that. I, I’ve never sat down with him and discussed what he was in for. Ever. … Y’know, it isn’t something you go around asking people what they’re in prison for it can cause just some problems, okay?

Dave Cawley: Mark Field would also point out how none of the witnesses who’d met Doug since he’d received the original death verdict in ’93 had ever interacted with him outside of maximum security.

Mark Field (from August 28, 2019 court recording): Have you ever seen how Doug Lovell reacts when a woman refuses his advances?

Brent Scharman (from August 28, 2019 court recording): No.

Mark Field (from August 28, 2019 court recording): Wouldn’t you think that someone who is capable of murdering another person in order to not go back to prison would be at least as capable of feigning remorse in order to get out of prison?

Brent Scharman (from August 28, 2019 court recording): Sure.

Mark Field (from August 28, 2019 court recording): Ok.

Dave Cawley: The point Mark was making here was that the trial defense team might’ve had good reason not to deeply probe all of Doug’s supporters in front of the jury.

Mark Field (from August 5, 2019 court recording): Because you don’t want to call people who are going to testify that Lovell should have life without parole. Right? You can’t call those people. You can only call people who will say unequivocally ‘Doug Lovell should be out.’ Because if they say anything different, then they’re say— then, the way Doug Lovell’s set it up, it’s got to be death.

Dave Cawley: Remember, Doug had refused to allow the jury the option of life without parole. Mark suggested Doug had for years intentionally kept his supporters in the dark with the singular goal of someday getting out of prison.

Mark Field (from August 16, 2019 court recording): You know, you said that Mr. Lovell is honest. And I want to kind of get to the bottom of that because you’ve also said that you never talked about the crime. Is that right?

Kent Tucker (from August 16, 2019 court recording): That’s right. I think he would have told me if I’d have asked him.

Mark Field (from August 16, 2019 court recording): Well, did he ever volunteer it?

Kent Tucker (from August 16, 2019 court recording): No.

Dave Cawley: This meant each witness was vulnerable to facing those facts for the first time on cross-examination.

Mark Field (from August 5, 2019 court recording): You would let him out of prison because you think—

Russell Minas (from August 5, 2019 court recording): Well, I certainly have heard things here today that I haven’t heard before. So, as you indicated and I acknowledged, it gives me some reason for pause.

Dave Cawley: Mark exposed other vulnerabilities, like how Gary Webster, the former bishop and parole board member, had actually signed the papers that let Doug out of prison early in the armed robbery case.

Mark Field (from August 12, 2019 court recording): That was when you were there at the Board of Pardons and Parole, is that right?

Gary Webster (from August 12, 2019 court recording): Yeah, yes.

Mark Field (from August 12, 2019 court recording): So, I mean, I guess what I’m saying is, how are, how do you know that Doug Lovell won’t do the same thing when he gets out this time?

Gary Webster (from August 12, 2019 court recording): I don’t.

Dave Cawley: What would the jury have made of that statement in 2015, when weighing the choice of giving Doug a chance at parole? I’m going to focus for a moment on the testimony of Becky Douglas, to provide a better sense of how the state’s line of attack worked. Mark asked Becky if she knew about Doug’s conviction for armed robbery in ’78. She said no.

Mark Field (from August 12, 2019 court recording): So, you didn’t know that he’d been released in three years. Right?

Becky Douglas (from August 12, 2019 court recording): Right.

Dave Cawley: This queued up a string of follow-up questions.

Mark Field (from August 12, 2019 court recording): Do you know what he did two years later, three years later?

Becky Douglas (from August 12, 2019 court recording): No, I’m sure you’re going to tell me.

Mark Field (from August 12, 2019 court recording): He raped Joyce Yost.

Becky Douglas (from August 12, 2019 court recording): ‘Kay.

Dave Cawley: He drew out each detail of the crime, starting from when Doug had first seen Joyce at the Pier 3.

Mark Field (from August 12, 2019 court recording): He watched her come out of that restaurant. And when he saw her get in her car, he followed her home. Did you know that?

Becky Douglas (from August 12, 2019 court recording): Umm, I knew that. Could I say that what he did was unbelievably heinous and atrocious and horrible. And as a woman, I think as women we all live in fear of this exact kind of thing happening. And I feel for what happened to Joyce Yost. And I feel, and I don’t think I need to know the details of what happened to Joyce Yost. What I need to know is what happened to Doug Lovell after that happened.

Dave Cawley: But Becky was not in control of this narrative. Mark continued, describing what’d happened when Joyce had arrived home.

Mark Field (from August 12, 2019 court recording): Did you know that he then looked at her and said ‘you’re attractive, do you want to go have a drink with me?’ Did you know that?

Becky Douglas (from August 12, 2019 court recording): No. I think I’ve made it very clear that I didn’t know what happened at that time.

Dave Cawley: Mark forced Becky to acknowledge what she knew — or didn’t know — never flinching away from the facts.

Mark Field (from August 12, 2019 court recording): Well did you know that after he did that he was aroused enough to then sodomize her? Did you know that?

Becky Douglas (from August 12, 2019 court recording): No, I didn’t know that.

Mark Field (from August 12, 2019 court recording): He didn’t tell you that, did he?

Becky Douglas (from August 12, 2019 court recording): I think I’ve been very clear about that.

Mark Field (from August 12, 2019 court recording): Is that ‘no, he didn’t tell you’?

Becky Douglas (from August 12, 2019 court recording): Seriously? You don’t think that’s a no? (Laughs) Of course it’s a no. I mean, this is almost, this is almost an insult, right? Can you just simply tell me what you want me to say no to and I’m happy to say no.

Dave Cawley: He asked about Doug’s efforts to hire a hitman who’d then failed to follow through. Becky said that, she knew.

Mark Field (from August 12, 2019 court recording): Did you know that he hired a second person?

Becky Douglas (from August 12, 2019 court recording): I knew that also.

Mark Field (from August 12, 2019 court recording): And do you know that that person said no?

Becky Douglas (from August 12, 2019 court recording): Yes, I read all this on the internet.

Dave Cawley: Mark described the night of Joyce’s murder, how Joyce had begged for her life as Doug force-fed her Valium and drove her into the mountains.

Mark Field (from August 12, 2019 court recording): And he choked her until she was unconscious. Were you aware of that?

Becky Douglas (from August 12, 2019 court recording): No, but I think if you’ll turn around you’ll see that there is remorse. The man that you’re talking about is crying.

Mark Field (from August 12, 2019 court recording): Your honor, your honor, this is not responsive.

Becky Douglas (from August 12, 2019 court recording): As you talk about these terrible, horrible things that he did, he’s over there weeping. And you ask me how I know he’s remorseful. I think that answers, that’s one answer to your question.

Mark Field (from August 12, 2019 court recording): So tears to you indicate sincerity?

Becky Douglas (from August 12, 2019 court recording): Well, I think tears show sorrow.

Mark Field (from August 12, 2019 court recording): Well, I guess that’s your opinion.

Dave Cawley: Becky came through this gauntlet, only to then face perhaps the most critical question.

Mark Field (from August 12, 2019 court recording): Wouldn’t you agree that there’s at least some risk that if Doug Lovell gets out, he may harm another person?

Becky Douglas (from August 12, 2019 court recording): I think that risk is so low, it’s negligible.

Mark Field (from August 12, 2019 court recording): Ok, but it’s not zero.

Becky Douglas (from August 12, 2019 court recording): It’s not zero for me either or you either. We all have the possibility of harming another person.

Mark Field (from August 12, 2019 court recording): Well, but we know that Doug Lovell raped and murdered another, murdered a woman, don’t we?

Becky Douglas (from August 12, 2019 court recording): Yes we do.

Dave Cawley: Doug’s character witnesses were not unified in their responses to this final question. Some said their newfound knowledge of Doug’s crimes did give them pause in supporting his bid for parole. Others, like former bishop John Newton, equivocated.

Mark Field (from August 16, 2019 court recording): Wouldn’t life without parole just satisfy, be the safest alternative?

John “Jack” Newton (from August 16, 2019 court recording): Well, y’know, you’re saying ‘safest.’ Would it be a safe alternative?

Mark Field (from August 16, 2019 court recording): The safest.

John “Jack” Newton (from August 16, 2019 court recording): Well, that implies that you know how Doug’s going to act in the future. And I don’t and you don’t.

Mark Field (from August 16, 2019 court recording): Yes, but you know Mr. Newton, one of your daughters is now the age that Joyce Yost was when that man raped and took her life. Do you understand that?

John “Jack” Newton (from August 16, 2019 court recording): Y’know, give me the dignity of being a professional. Of course I do.

Dave Cawley: On one point though, the witnesses all seemed to agree: the Doug they knew was not the same man who’d killed Joyce all those many years ago.

Becky Douglas (from August 12, 2019 court recording): Doug and I have not spoken about this so I think all this is—

Mark Field (from August 12, 2019 court recording): Is what?

Becky Douglas (from August 12, 2019 court recording): Irrelevant. I’ve already testified—

Mark Field (from August 12, 2019 court recording): I’m sorry, did you just say—

Becky Douglas (from August 12, 2019 court recording): —that we haven’t spoken about it.

Mark Field (from August 12, 2019 court recording): —did you just say it’s irrelevant?

Becky Douglas (from August 12, 2019 court recording): Yes. Because, because I don’t know that Doug. I only know the Doug that I met in 2007.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: One final point before we move on. During the evidentiary hearing, several of Doug’s witnesses said something like this:

John “Jack” Newton (from August 16, 2019 court recording): And I know on more than one occasion he’s declined an opportunity to be interviewed because he’s concerned that somehow the publicity of this will reach his victim’s family and he feels, in my opinion, a great amount of remorse and is aware of the, at least to some degree, the suffering he’s put them through and doesn’t want to make that worse.

Dave Cawley: Candice Madsen, my colleague at KSL TV who’d received that pamphlet from Doug in the mail, attended parts of the evidentiary hearing. She noted how much older Doug looked compared to his appearance in ’85 or even ’93.

Candice Madsen: And then the other thing that was kind of heartbreaking is, Joyce’s daughter was in that courtroom alone.

Dave Cawley: I asked Kim Salazar about this idea Doug not talking about Joyce was somehow meant to spare her family additional pain.

Kim Salazar: If he were trying to minimize our pain and suffering at this point, we wouldn’t still be on a 23B remand 35 years later. He’d be done. This thing would be done.

Dave Cawley: But it’s far from done.

Kim Salazar: He hasn’t even scratched the surface of the appellate process. We’re still arguing about ineffective assistance of counsel. It’s ridiculous. So he is not trying to spare us anything.

Dave Cawley: Candice wrote a letter of her own to Doug in the fall of 2019.

Candice Madsen: And umm, I just said basically that I was interested in interviewing him. I wanted to bring a producer. … And sent it. I think it was only a paragraph long.

Dave Cawley: Doug’s reply arrived soon after.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): I appreciate your offer to come to the prison to interview me, but I must decline. When ever I am in the news, I know that it is very upsetting to the family and loved ones of Ms. Yost. Each time I am in court, I believe it is very difficult for them.

Candice Madsen: Well, I wrote back and made it clear that Joyce’s family knew that I had reached out to him and I never heard back.

Dave Cawley: Doug had included another full-color pamphlet containing a different inspirational message about his life in prison published again by Becky Douglas’ charity, Rising Star Outreach.

Candice Madsen: I mean, I believe in redemption and that people in prison should have an opportunity to do good, but I question his motives.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: I’d been working as a radio news producer at the time of Doug’s 2015 trial. I was aware of it then, but only superficially, as the story of a very old murder which had been solved but was back in court on technicality. It wasn’t until Candice came to me and talked about receiving the letter from Doug that my interest was piqued. Like Candice, I dove into the archives. The stories I found all seemed to focus on Doug. It became clear to me that Joyce’s story — like Susan Powell’s — had not been told. I couldn’t shake the feeling Joyce deserved better. So I spent more than a year tracking down sources, digging up old audio, pouring over court transcripts and searching for a secluded mountain gravesite.

Bill Holthaus: Like I say, the only thing I believe is she’s not where he took us.

Dave Cawley: Yeah.

Bill Holthaus: Got to be somewhere else. I can’t believe that he, I refuse to believe that she doesn’t know where she’s at.

Dave Cawley: Bill Holthaus doesn’t believe cougars or coyotes are to blame for Joyce not being on the mountain below Snowbasin. Neither does former South Ogden police sergeant Terry Carpenter, for that matter.

Terry Carpenter: He went back there how long after he killed her and buried her. He knows exactly where she’s at. He knows exactly where she’s at.

Dave Cawley: Joyce’s son Greg Roberts is likewise skeptical.

Greg Roberts: I mean, it’s such an intense situation I know he could take you right to the spot immediately.

Dave Cawley: But where is that “spot?” Police and prosecutors showed with the Joyce Yost case they could prove a murder without a body. But their inability to bring Joyce home has left some deep scars.

Terry Carpenter: My wife and my two little kids went up one time to Snowbasin area to, on a picnic, if you will. And we’re having lunch and I says ‘why don’t we just walk down this area.’ And my wife looked at me and says (pause) ‘you’re still looking, aren’t you?’ I says ‘yeah, I was just walking.’ So we’ve got our little kids and we’re just walking and I’m looking, y’know and all the sudden my wife yells at me and says ‘Terry, what if we find something?’ We tried. She’s not there.

Dave Cawley: Terry is a Christian. He told me he believes in a resurrection. He expects to see Joyce again.

Terry Carpenter: Someday we’ll know. I look forward to that day and wonder if it’s not something that I missed.

Dave Cawley: But the question of where to find Joyce, if not along the Old Snowbasin Road, isn’t the only one still in need of answers. You’ve heard Terry say in this podcast he believes Doug might have killed other people. There are others who call this is far-fetched. And they may be right. I don’t have firm evidence linking Doug Lovell with Sheree Warren, for instance. But Sheree’s case is, like Joyce Yost’s, long overdue for a fresh look. I’ll have more to say about that in the future.

Kim Salazar told me she believes the discovery of her mother’s remains — if it happens — will be a matter of random chance.

Kim Salazar: I don’t believe that even at the 11th hour, if we ever were to reach the 11th hour, that Doug would be the one that would give us that information and I truly in my heart believe that he won’t. So I do think we’re going to have to get there by some other means.

Dave Cawley: Perhaps, as I tend to suspect, Joyce is not far off the side of the highway that crosses the Monte Cristo Mountains, where a wildlife officer observed Doug and Rhonda together in late 1985. That’s a piece of the puzzle that hardly anyone knew about before this podcast.

Bill Holthaus: I did not know about that at all.

Dave Cawley: I’ll show you some documents and—

Bill Holthaus: That’s, that’s, no that’s interesting.

Dave Cawley: I suggested to Bill Holthaus Joyce might be in one of those aspen groves, buried under branches and leaves, out of sight of the hunters who frequent those hills, waiting for someone to step in the just the right spot. Or maybe not. I made a vague reference to this theory in a letter of my own to Doug Lovell. Doug did not respond.

Candice Madsen: And it’s a pattern with him that, y’know, he doesn’t, y’know, wanna disrespect the family or disrespect Joyce’s memory. You’re disrespecting Joyce by not saying her name. By not remembering her. She’s not, I mean we, she is a person. She was a living person. And it’s just, when you read that letter, I don’t think he got it. And I still don’t think he gets it.

[Ad break]

Dave Cawley: The Utah Supreme Court’s order sending Doug’s appeal back to the trial court for an evidentiary hearing had carried a 90-day deadline. The hearing had not taken place until more than two years later. Judge Michael DiReda had told both sides at the conclusion to submit their proposed findings to him by the end of January, 2020. Doug’s appellate attorney Colleen Coebergh asked for a one-month extension with just days remaining, due to a death in her family. She requested another delay in February, citing “attorney health and workload.” Then, March happened.

Announcer (from March 11, 2020 KSL TV archive): This is breaking news from KSL.

Dave McCann (from March 11, 2020 KSL TV archive): Good evening, we’re following breaking news tonight. Jazz All-Star Rudy Gobert is confirmed to have the Coronavirus, prompting the NBA to suspend the season indefinitely.

Deannie Wimmer (from March 11, 2020 KSL TV archive): This comes as international health officials have declared the coronavirus a pandemic…

Dave Cawley: The Utah Jazz — the state’s premier professional sports team — became a flashpoint in the global spread of Covid-19. Much of American society went into lockdown within hours of that announcement.  A magnitude 5.7 earthquake rattled northern Utah a week later. It dealt damage to the building that houses the Utah State Archives.

Garna Mejia (from March 18, 2020 KSL TV archive): Luckily no one was injured. Officials say damages are primarily cosmetic and the building is closed as authorities continue monitoring the aftershocks.

Dave Cawley: Colleen requested another extension, citing these unforeseeable circumstances. Month by month, delay by delay, the goalposts moved farther into the future. Doug lost touch with his lawyer, as he revealed in a letter to the court that July.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): I have had no contact with my attorney for some time. I have no idea as to what is going on? Please send me a copy of my court docket for the last 90 days.

Dave Cawley: The Utah Attorney General’s Office submitted its proposed findings that fall. Colleen again asked for more time, prompting another letter from Doug in November.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): I ask this court to not grant Ms. Coebergh any more extensions. Enough is enough. I am very frustrated.

Dave Cawley: Judge DiReda allowed one final delay, but warned if Colleen didn’t submit her proposed findings by the end of January, 2021 — a full year after the original deadline — he would go ahead and issue his ruling without her input. Doug’s attorney did get her proposed findings in, after the deadline. A few weeks later, at the end of February, Judge DiReda released his conclusions.

The nearly 170-page document went against Doug on every point. In short: trial attorney Sean Young had not acted deficiently. A full point-by-point analysis would take more time than I have, so just a few observations.

First, Judge DiReda said he’d found many of Doug’s witnesses lacked credibility and exhibited bias, brought on by their disappointment at the outcome of the 2015 trial. He said many of them had become “hesitant or outright evasive” when confronted with the facts of Doug’s crimes at the evidentiary hearing.

Second, Judge DiReda found no evidence that Church lawyers had threatened any witnesses or interfered with their testimonies.

Third, the judge said the settlement agreement Sean had signed over Doug’s complaint to the state bar after the trial was “unreliable” and contained “numerous factual inaccuracies.” He placed little, if any, weight on what it’d said.

And fourth, Judge DiReda noted it was Doug’s own insistence on refusing to allow the jury the option of life without parole that caused most of his defense team’s problems. Michael Bouwhuis and Sean Young had repeatedly pressed Doug to reconsider. They’d known the best chance of saving his life was to push for life without parole. By denying them that strategy, Doug had effectively limited the value of his own witnesses.

So where does all this leave us now? Doug’s appeal is now back in the hands of the Utah Supreme Court. If the justices allow the latest death verdict to stand, it won’t mean a quick end to the case. Years, if not decades, of additional appeals will likely follow. These could potentially drag the case into the federal courts. And, if Doug loses every step of the way there, he will still have a chance to beg for commutation from the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole. If, on the other hand, the Utah Supreme Court overturns the death verdict, it will pave the way for yet another trial.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: The tragedy is, this all could’ve been prevented right from the start, in the summer of 1985. Doug repeatedly slipped through the fingers of police, the courts and jail staff. But it was Joyce who paid the price for those failures. Utah created a state office for victims of crime two years after Joyce’s rape and murder, in part because it recognized people like her had too often been left to fend for themselves.

Gary Scheller: There would have been much more care and safety wrapped around Ms. Yost to prevent this.

Dave Cawley: That’s Gary Scheller, the head of the Utah Office for Victims of Crime.

Gary Scheller: She didn’t have any knowledge. She didn’t have the opportunity to protect herself.

Dave Cawley: In ’94, the year after Doug’s first death sentence, Utah voters ratified a crime victims bill of rights.

Craig Wall (from October 12, 1994 KSL TV archive): Supporters of proposition number one say it’s an important first step in making the court process more victim friendly.

Paul Cassell (from October 12, 1994 KSL TV archive): What we’ve seen with crime victims in the state of Utah is that they’re treated like pieces of evidence. They’re not really given any dignity at all.

Craig Wall (from October 12, 1994 KSL TV archive): The amendment says victims have the right to be treated with fairness, dignity and respect. They also have the right to be notified of important court hearings. But supporters say most importantly, the amendment says victims don’t have to testify at preliminary hearings. Someone else such as a police officer could do that for them.

Dave Cawley: This point strikes me as significant. It’s a bit of a balancing act, because Bill Holthaus told me the entire rape case might have fallen apart in 1985 had Joyce not testified.

Bill Holthaus: I don’t think if she hadn’t been to the prelim and they hadn’t allowed … the Davis County Attorney secretary to read that, he, he might not have been convicted on the rape.

Craig Wall (from October 12, 1994 KSL TV archive): The argument is, if victims don’t have to take the stand it eases some of the trauma. There is some opposition to the amendment from criminal defense attorneys. But the only aspect they’re really against is the one that would eliminate the need for victims to testify at preliminary hearings.

Richard Mauro (from October 12, 1994 KSL TV archive): A police officer testifying from what a third person told him that’s written in a report doesn’t always accurately tell us what happened in the case. And live witness testimony is the best mechanism available for discovering the truth.

Dave Cawley: The amendment passed in spite of that opposition. But Gary Scheller told me these rights, which are now enshrined in Utah’s Constitution, are largely symbolic.

Gary Scheller: They’re important and they’re critical but at the same time they’re just kind of warm and fuzzy and feel good and have no teeth.

Dave Cawley: What did have teeth was a massive federal crime bill passed into law by the U.S. Congress that same year, spearheaded by a senator who is now serving as President of the United States: Joe Biden. Much can — and has — been written about the more controversial provisions of this crime bill in the years since.

Charles Sherrill (from September 13, 1994 KSL TV archive): The legislation provides $8 billion for new prisons, $7 billion for crime prevention and outlaws 19 types of assault weapons.

Bill Clinton (from September 13, 1994 KSL TV archive): We will finally ban these assault weapons from our street that have no purpose other than to kill.

Dave Cawley: That ban on the possession, manufacture and sale of some semi-automatic firearms has since expired.

Charles Sherrill (from September 13, 1994 KSL TV archive): Lots of new cops can soon be hired with funds from the bill but Salt Lake’s mayor admits it might be hard to meet the payroll when federal funding expires.

Deedee Corradini (from September 13, 1994 KSL TV archive): I’m always concerned about that but I’m willing to take that risk. I think we can do it, I’m quite confident we can do it and we will be applying. We need those officers right now.

Dave Cawley: That bulking up of police ranks has come under increasing scrutiny since the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. The crime bill expanded the death penalty, making many more federal offenses eligible for capital punishment.

Charles Sherrill (from September 13, 1994 KSL TV archive): Fulfilling the President’s promise to get tough on crime will make lots of new work for Utah’s U.S. Attorney.

Scott Matheson (from September 13, 1994 KSL TV archive): We’ve got to get on top of the provisions in this bill very quickly and there are many that could potentially affect our work.

Dave Cawley: But most relevant for the purpose of our story is a portion of that crime bill known as the Violence Against Women Act.

Joe Biden (from August 25, 1994 U.S. Senate recording): We have significant penalties in here to deal with, uh, providing women with some genuine, uh, protection, particularly women who are battered and abused by their spouses, their loved ones quote-unquote, uh, those with whom they’re familiar.

Dave Cawley: Joe Biden, then a Democratic senator from Delaware, had personally authored that part of the package.

Joe Biden (from August 25, 1994 U.S. Senate recording): The only thing in this bill that I wrote from scratch was the Violence Against Women Act. That is a small part of this, maybe that’s why I was so emotionally attached to it.

Dave Cawley: Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch had railed against the crime bill, calling it stuffed with pork.

Orrin Hatch (from August 25, 1994 U.S. Senate recording): There are a lot of us who are just plain sick of trying to stop this gravy-sucking hog called the federal government and its liberal friends from eating us alive.

Dave Cawley: But Hatch had supported one small piece — the Violence Against Women Act — even crossing the aisle to co-sponsor that bit with Biden. The Act aimed to close gaps that existed between police, prosecutors, courts and non-profit service providers in their support of victims of domestic abuse, stalking and sexual violence. Its method of doing so came largely in the form of grants: federal money handed off to the states.

Over the past two-and-a-half decades, Violence Against Women Act grants have helped fund domestic violence hotlines and rape crisis centers. They’ve allowed colleges and universities to crack down on stalking and sexual assaults. They’ve provided legal support to survivors. States have come to depend on these funds to provide critical services to women. But those grants are not eternal. They only continue if Congress votes to keep funding them every five years or so. At the time I’m recording this, Violence Against Woman Act funding has lapsed and lawmakers have so far failed to reauthorize it.

Joyce’s experience proves one of the most critical needs for any survivor is information. Think back to that question she asked only hours after her rape: how safe am I?

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): He, he kept threatening me that if I didn’t cooperate and if I didn’t go with him, it was going to be the end of it for me.

Rob Carpenter (from April 4, 1985 police recording): That’s exactly how he put it, it was just going to be the end of it for you?

Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Yeah, he was going to rip my vocal cords out here.

Dave Cawley: Joyce’d had no way of tracking Doug Lovell in the weeks and months after his arrest. Was he in jail, out of jail? She didn’t know.

Gary Scheller: For a long time, that was really kind of treated as none of the victim’s business, what we’re doing with this person.

Dave Cawley: Again, that’s Gary Scheller from the Utah Office for Victims of Crime. He told me most states now use a system called VINE to keep people like Joyce informed about their attacker’s status.

Gary Scheller: They can receive a notification if they’re going to be released, if they have a hearing coming up with the Board of Probation and Parole, if they’re moved from one facility, correctional facility to another they get a notification. So they can have some, some piece of mind knowing that they’re at the moment safe.

Dave Cawley: Technology also now allows cops, courts, probation officers and the like to more easily share information across jurisdictional lines. But lapses can and do still happen because people make mistakes, exhibit bias, are overworked or undertrained or just burn out and stop caring.

Joyce had trusted that the system would protect her. But her son Greg Roberts told me she’d also just wanted to move on with her life.

Greg Roberts: She didn’t tell me that she had been raped until a couple months after it happened. And then she really played it down.

Dave Cawley: Joyce’d feared the humiliation of being labeled a victim and having her private life dissected in court, as she’d seen happen on TV. That’s less likely to happen now than it was in ’85, because of state and federal rape shield laws. These laws say defendants cannot use information about an accuser’s past sexual behavior or sexual predisposition as evidence, with only a few narrow exceptions. But while shield laws have strengthened protections in the court of law, one look at social media will show they hold no sway in the court of public opinion.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Retired Clearfield police detective Bill Holthaus told me he thinks the chances of Doug ever getting out of prison are low. But maybe that’s not the point.

Bill Holthaus: I think that is the glimmer that he’ll someday get out. I personally believe that he could con people then and he can con people now.

Dave Cawley: Back in episode 8, I described how prison staff moved Doug into maximum security in ’92, after Terry Carpenter served him with the murder charge. Doug had gone from living in a dormitory setting, where he was free to work and interact with others, to spending all but three hours each day locked alone in his cell.

Doug Lovell (from May, 1992 prison phone recording): I’m hoping we can get this straightened out, y’know, pretty quick with the attorney and whatnot. ‘Cause I’d like to go back to work at the sign shop. I hear they’re keeping my job for me, but, y’know, they can’t keep it forever.

Dave Cawley: When Doug wrote to my colleague Candice Madsen in 2019, the envelope showed he’d sent the letter from Uinta 1: the maximum-security cell block at the Utah State Prison that for decades has housed the state’s death row inmates. But something interesting has happened in the time since. The Utah Department of Corrections moved Doug out of max. He’s now living in medium security. I’ve been told he has a job again, working in the prison’s welding shop. Fewer fences now separate him from the outside world.

I was curious why this change, so I asked Corrections Director Brian Nielson to explain it.

Brian Nielson: Those that have a death sentence, they’ve been in very restrictive housing traditionally for a very long time, without the option to do anything else.

Dave Cawley: Brian wouldn’t talk specifically about Doug’s case, but said the department implemented a policy in 2005 called “Last Chance.” He says it allows inmates to earn their way out of max.

Brian Nielson: So they’ve really had to demonstrate that they can function in that setting ahead of time and then we test the waters in small incremental ways to help them get there.

Dave Cawley: But something doesn’t add up, because at the time I’m recording this, the department’s own website says the policy doesn’t apply to death row inmates. The website says the only way off of max for them is to have their convictions overturned or sentences commuted. Which contradicts what Brian told me.

Brian Nielson: We’ve had a couple make it that far but it’s taken, y’know, 13, 14 years to get there.

Dave Cawley: More than a couple. Prison records show of the seven inmates under sentence of death in Utah in June of 2021, only two of them are still in maximum security at the Uinta facility.

Brian Nielson: That risk is going to be inherent in that process and we keep our guard up all the time while looking for opportunities to help people advance.

Dave Cawley: There is logic in allowing inmates a path forward. The vast majority are only in prison temporarily. It’s the goal of the department to help offenders change their ways and avoid coming back once released. Even people serving life without parole sentences might be easier to manage if given an opportunity to better their own situations in some small way. But Utah’s courts have twice said Doug should die for what he did. Which means the state now finds itself in the awkward position of simultaneously arguing in court Doug is a manipulator who’s conned people into supporting his bid for parole, while at the same time granting him additional freedoms based on his ability to convince prison staff and social workers he’s not a threat.

Bill Holthaus: And I know these are professional counselors that he’s with. Y’know, I understand that and they got a lot of training and so do I, but he’s a con artist.

Dave Cawley: I requested a copy of the Last Chance policy under Utah’s public records law. The department refused to provide it, claiming it was “protected” because release could interfere with investigations or audits. Doug Lovell murdered Joyce Yost to keep her from testifying. He tampered with Tom Peters to try and intimidate him into not testifying. He used his last stint on the outside, after convincing the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole he’d changed, to rape and to kill. How does all that balance now against Doug’s good behavior while in prison?

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Two part question. One: does he have a realistic chance of ever getting out of prison? Two: does he have a realistic chance of ever being put to death?

Bill Holthaus: One: no. Two: also no.

Dave Cawley: Bill Holthaus told me he believes it’s unlikely prosecutors will win a death verdict a third time, if Doug gets yet another trial.

Bill Holthaus: If there’s another jury here, it’s going to be a jury of people who weren’t even born when this happened and they’re not going to be able to relate. … But I think he’ll be convicted again, if we go back to trial. The evidence was good, it’s still good and I have no doubt. But I would be surprised if they once again pursued the death penalty.

Dave Cawley: Utah has not executed a death row inmate since 2010. It hasn’t added someone to death row — excepting Doug’s 2015 return — since 2008. Utah’s Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice released a report a few years back that noted public support for the death penalty in the U.S. has waned to its lowest point since 1972. The report cited a Gallup poll which showed death penalty support in the 1990s — when Doug was first sentenced to death — was near 80-percent. As of a few years ago, that had fallen to about 55-percent.

As of 2020, half of the states in the U.S. had abolished the death penalty or placed capital punishment on indefinite hold. Joyce’s family, meantime, remains steadfast in their push to see Doug Lovell die…

Greg Roberts: I don’t see it ever happening.

Dave Cawley: …even though Greg Roberts acknowledges they are swimming against the currents of culture and criminal process.

Greg Roberts: That’s why I just don’t know if they’ll ever carry it out in this case because it’s still got so many years to go.

Randy Salazar: Do I think in my lifetime that I’ll ever see Doug get the, the death penalty. Will it, will it ever go through? No.

Dave Cawley: Kim and Randy Salazar have each been ground down by the decades of never-ending court hearings.

Randy Salazar: And Doug, if you were any kind of man, you’d be dead right now because you’d ask for the death penalty just to be over with.

Dave Cawley: Neither believes Joyce’s killer will ever win parole.

Kim Salazar: Somewhere in his mind he believes he’s going to. I mean, I think he really believes that some day he could walk out of there.

Randy Salazar: The taxpayers have paid so much money for him to be down there and to get lawyers and tell his side of the story … Well, the son of a bitch is guilty. And you sentenced him to death. Get it over with.

Dave Cawley: Meaning Doug Lovell might just remain in limbo until the day he dies of natural causes, as has happened to two other Utah death row inmates in recent years.

Kim Salazar: I think that we have a better chance of him dying of old age in there than we do of him dying by the hand of the state.

Randy Salazar: Do I think that’s fair? Absolutely not. Absolutely not. But do I hope one day that he has to see Joyce again? Hell yeah. And do I hope that Rhonda has to see Joyce again? Hell yeah.

Dave Cawley: I’m not here to advocate for Doug’s life or death. It’s not my intent to take a position on capital punishment. But it’s worth considering the collateral damage of a case like Doug’s. The justice system finds itself struggling to balance the cries for vengeance from people like Joyce’s ex-husband Mel Roberts…

Mel Roberts: I’m probably the one person that could’ve got on an airplane, went up there and shot that son of a bitch, got up and left and got away with it and nobody’d have known the difference. And trust me, I thought of it. I swear to God I thought of it.

Dave Cawley: …against Doug’s civil rights and the pleas for mercy from people like Becky Douglas.

Becky Douglas (from August 12, 2019 court recording): When you talk to someone and they’re crying so hard they can’t talk to you because they feel so bad about what they’ve done, that’s, you say angry, angry with himself. Yes. He was furious with himself over what he had done.

Dave Cawley: It is, perhaps, an impossible balance to strike.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: A bit earlier I talked about how I first came to know Joyce’s story. What I didn’t tell you was the sense of dread I felt at taking on the assignment of telling it. I knew from the outset I would have to contend with a very sensitive topic. I worried about all the mistakes and missteps I might make as a man in this space, trying to share Joyce’s perspective.

It was, in some ways, similar to how I felt in season one, telling the story of Susan Powell’s abusive marriage. The difference is Susan left us a better record of her thoughts, actions and feelings. Much of what I know about Joyce’s life comes only secondhand. Yet the more I’ve learned about Joyce as a person, not just as a name in a news story, the more empathy I’ve gained for what she went through.

Look, I enjoy a place of privilege in society as a white heterosexual man. Strange guys don’t follow me home when I go out to dinner with a friend. I’ve never worried that a woman might grab me by the throat and tear my clothes off outside my own house. This privilege can breed complacency. It can make me blind to what Joyce and so many other women experience every day. And that is injustice.

This season bears a subtitle — Justice for Joyce — and I have to be honest: I don’t love it. It seems trite to me. It doesn’t capture the way I felt the first time I heard Joyce’s voice in that tape recording with Bill Holthaus just hours after her rape. It can’t convey how I hurt for her when I listen to her voice cracking saying the words “I have been raped.” How I still break down and cry when she asks a police officer “how safe am I?”

“Justice for Joyce” reduces what she went through to a tagline. And I hate that. I voiced this complaint and was challenged to come up with something better. And I couldn’t do it.

Bill Holthaus: There is no justice for Joyce. Let’s preface it by saying that. When you kill somebody, you kill somebody. There’s no such thing. It’s justice for what he did to Joyce.

Dave Cawley: Joyce hadn’t wanted to go to detective Bill Holthaus after Doug Lovell followed her home, raped her, kidnapped her and raped her again. She’d simply wanted what so many other people who experience unexpected trauma want: a return to normalcy and a restoration of safety. Joyce would have been justified if she’d chosen to stay silent. But she spoke up because she felt a responsibility to help protect whomever Doug might’ve targeted next. And for a brief moment it seemed the system might work. Bill believed Joyce. Doug landed in jail. She spoke her truth in court.

Then, all the mechanisms of law and civil society that were meant to protect her failed. The people who were closest to Doug repeatedly rewarded him — the handsome white guy from a good Christian family — with the benefit of the doubt, even after he’d proved he didn’t deserve it. They chose to believe him when he said he’d been falsely accused, or at least decided to look the other way.

Some are still doing so even today, dissociating the Doug they know from the one who chose to kill Joyce Yost.

Joyce paid for her courage with her life. So what message does that send to every other woman who’s ever been groped, catcalled, stalked, assaulted or raped and feared coming forward? Imagine the tragedy of a Joyce who’d lived by keeping the rape a secret, spending her entire life plagued by undeserved guilt and self-doubt, wondering how many others that man had gone on to terrorize.

How many men have allowed — still allow — their privilege to blind them to what so many women endure in silence? I don’t want to be one of them.

Cold season 2, episode 12: Dancing with the Devil – Full episode transcript

Dave Cawley: The penalty phase of Doug Lovell’s trial for the murder of Joyce Yost began on March 20, 2015.

Mike Anderson (from March ??, 2015 KSL TV archive): Prosecutors described in detail Douglas Lovell’s rape and murder of Joyce Yost back in 1985 and a long criminal history that started in his teen years.

Dave Cawley: Kim Salazar and Greg Roberts had each testified already, during the trial’s guilt phase. But they took the stand again in the penalty phase and were able to tell a broader story.

Greg Roberts: It was great to look at the jury and just tell our side and I mean I think it had an impact.

Dave Cawley: This was an opportunity Kim and Greg had not had during Doug’s original sentencing in ’93. They were able to tell the jurors who their mother was…

Greg Roberts: She was a great, great, great, mother. She was just a wonderful grandmother. She was so happy.

Kim Salazar: Everybody will say the same thing. ‘Oh, she was so beautiful. Oh, she was so sweet. She was the kindest woman, she,’ and she was. She was genuine.

Dave Cawley: …and they described the far-reaching — and ongoing — impacts of what Doug had done to her.

Kim Salazar: I don’t know, he’s a horrible person and he’s done horrible things. And he’s, as far as I’m concerned he’s continued to do horrible things to our family for all these years.

Dave Cawley: Kim’s children, who were by then adults, sat in the gallery as she testified. Their dad, Kim’s ex-husband Randy, was right beside them.

Randy Salazar: When Kim testified this last time … she said she wanted to apologize to her ex-husband for not being the wife she could have been and she also apologized to her kids for not being 100-percent focused on them when she should have. But you know, I mean, there was no. She, she did nothing wrong.

Greg Roberts: Yeah I think Kim’s oldest Melisa and, y’know, Melisa and Melanie, her children have a lot of resentment on what this has done to their mom’s whole life. Of where it’s become the main focus of your life.

Dave Cawley: Kim and Randy’s daughters even took the stand themselves, to describe how their young lives had changed when their grandma Joyce had disappeared.

Randy Salazar: And now my kids are older. Now they have to listen to this. And Kim and Greg, we got to go through this whole trial again. (Pause) Not fair. Not fair.

Dave Cawley: Greg’s children had not even been born at the time of Joyce’s murder.

Greg Roberts: I miss terribly that my kids couldn’t know her and get a bigger piece of her, uh, growing up. A bigger influence from her growing up.

Kim Salazar: He took all that from us.

Greg Roberts: That’s part of my biggest regrets.

Dave Cawley: This is Cold: season 2, episode 12: Dancing with the Devil. From KSL Podcasts, I’m Dave Cawley. We’ll be right back.

[Ad break]

Dave Cawley: The Weber County Attorney’s Office pushed for a sentence of death against Doug Lovell during the penalty phase of his 2015 capital murder trial. They had a proxy once again read a transcript of Doug’s own words from the earlier ’93 sentencing hearing. They played portions of the two wire recordings with Doug and Rhonda inside the Utah State Prison, focusing on portions like this one, where he’d talked about the anonymous caller who’d reported finding a body near Causey Reservoir.

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): The only thing I’m nervous about is that one time that caller called in. I remember, ah, seeing it on TV.

Dave Cawley: And they put an investigator on the stand to tell the jury how those remains had never been located or recovered. Then, it was Doug’s turn. His defense team — lawyers Michael Bouwhuis and Sean Young — made their case for a sentence of life with the possibility of parole.

The first three defense witnesses were John Newton, Gary Webster and Chuck Thompson. All three men had at various times served as bishops for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the Utah State Prison. All had ministered to Doug.

Defense attorney Sean Young led the questioning of the bishops and the results were, I’ll just say, stilted. Apologies in advance for the poor quality of this audio, it’s unfortunately the best available for this piece of testimony.

Sean Young (from March 23, 2015 court recording): And are you aware of Mr. Lovell’s current status with the Latter-day Saint church?

Chuck Thompson (from March 23, 2015 court recording): Yes I am.

Sean Young (from March 23, 2015 court recording): And what is that?

Chuck Thompson (from March 23, 2015 court recording): He’s excommunicated.

Dave Cawley: If you couldn’t make that out, Chuck Thompson acknowledged that Doug had been excommunicated from The Church.

Chuck’s testimony wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement for Doug, but that wasn’t because Chuck held reservations about Doug’s character. To the contrary. He very much believed Doug was a reformed man. So why didn’t he emphatically express that belief?

There’s a back story to these bishops that requires some explanation. Doug had identified four bishops, as well as the person above them in the church’s hierarchy — called a stake president — on his witness list.

Prior to the trial, attorneys from the law firm Kirton McConkie — acting as outside counsel to The Church — had connected with these five men to offer them legal representation if they wanted it. The church’s attorneys had advised the bishops they were not permitted to speak on behalf of the church, or about matters of doctrine or policy. But John Newton, Brent Scharman, Gary Webster and Chuck Thompson had all wanted to speak for Doug. They all believed him worthy of a chance for parole.

The Church of Jesus Christ, unlike many other Christian faiths, does not take a public position on the issue of capital punishment. The church’s lawyers communicated to Doug’s defense team that, in their view, putting all the bishops and their stake president on the stand on Doug’s behalf might lead some people to assume — incorrectly — that The Church was taking an official position on his specific case. The church’s lawyers advised Doug’s defense if they wanted to question the bishops, they would have to compel that testimony by subpoena.

Defense attorneys Michael Bouwhuis and Sean Young reached a compromise. They would subpoena just three of the bishops and in exchange the church’s lawyers agreed not to fight those subpoenas.

Sean Young (from March 23, 2015 court recording): And just for the record, you’re here under order of subpoena today. Is that correct?

Chuck Thompson (from March 23, 2015 court recording): It is. I’m under order of subpoena.

Sean Young (from March 23, 2015 court recording): Ok, no further questions at this time, your honor.

Dave Cawley: When these three bishops testified at the trial, they each made mention of Doug’s charitable giving to Rising Star Outreach. Becky Douglas, the head of that non-profit, arrived at the Weber County Courthouse the following morning. She’d traveled all the way from the Dominican Republic, where her husband was at that time serving as a mission president for The Church. Becky, in her role as “companion” to the mission president, had needed Church permission to leave that post, even temporarily. That permission had been slow in coming, and Becky had at one point told a supervisor they were welcome to excommunicate her, but she would testify on Doug’s behalf no matter what.

In a later court hearing, Becky would describe encountering a church lawyer at the courthouse on the day she’d arrived to testify.

Becky Douglas (from August 12, 2019 court recording): A man approached me and said ‘Are you Becky Douglas?’ I said ‘Yes.’ He said ‘Could I have a word with you?’

Dave Cawley: Becky said she’d told the man she intended to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, which he agreed she should do. They’d both then entered the courtroom and sat in the gallery.

Becky Douglas (from August 12, 2019 court recording): When I was called to testify I got up. He stood up so I could get out and he put his hand on my arm and he said, gave me a pat and he said ‘I’m sure you’ll do just fine.’ That actually felt a little intimidating to me.

Dave Cawley: I wanted to ask Becky about this, but she didn’t respond to an interview request for this podcast. But consider, it’s not surprising or even unexpected a lawyer for an organization that’s being discussed in court might want to be present to hear that testimony firsthand. I’ll go into more detail about whether or not this amounted to intimidation or interference in the next episode.

In Becky’s testimony, she voiced the most emphatic support for Doug of all his character witnesses, portraying him as a giving, caring man who in spite of past failures had endeavored to become a better person.

The next day, she received an email from one of Doug’s bishops, Chuck Thompson. Here’s what it read:

Scott Mitchell (as Chuck Thompson): Hello Becky, nice job on the testimony. You hit the nail on the head. I was careful to say too much with my church position. In fact, I was instructed to say as little opinion as I could and followed counsel.

Dave Cawley: Becky replied to this email, describing her own discomfort over the presence of the church’s lawyers at the trial.

Amy Donaldson (as Becky Douglas): But I felt very blessed. I had prayed for the spirit and as I took the stand I felt a calm peace settle over me. It seemed that whenever the prosecuting attorney closed some doors they were later opened by the Lord in unexpected manners and I was able to share the things I had come to share.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Becky Douglas and Doug’s bishops constituted just a fraction of the people on the defense’s witness list. But many of the others didn’t show up to testify. Defense attorney Sean Young told Judge Michael DiReda their mitigation specialist had struggled to locate some of these people.

I want to look at one of those in particular. His name was Brian Peterson. Brian had worked as a prison guard at SSD. During Doug’s first sentencing for the murder in ’93, Brian had told the story of the time Doug had washed the eyes of another guard who’d been accidentally been sprayed with insecticide.

Sean told Judge DiReda no one could find Brian. The defense had mailed a subpoena to what they believed was his address, but he hadn’t showed up as ordered. Sean asked the judge to declare Brian unavailable, which would allow the defense to simply present his testimony from transcript. Judge DiReda said this troubled him.

Michael DiReda (from March ??, 2015 court recording): I guess I’m troubled by the fact that no one has physically gone to the address to confirm that this person in fact is there or not there.

Dave Cawley: In the absence of these other character witnesses, the defense turned to its experts. They brought forward not one but two Ph.D-level forensic psychologists.

Michael Bouwhuis (from March 31, 2015 KSL TV archive): Somewhere between the age of six and eight, one of his brothers hit him in the head with a rock.

Mike Anderson (from March 31, 2015 KSL TV archive): Lovell’s attorneys described how he had a long history of head trauma, including a major construction accident as an adult.

Dave Cawley: One of the psychologists, Mark Cunningham, spent hours on the stand talking about Doug’s youth and the environment in which he’d been raised.

Michael Bouwhuis (from March 31, 2015 KSL TV archive): After the divorce came everything else, all these crimes that you’ve heard about.

Mike Anderson (from March 31, 2015 KSL TV archive): Then there was the troubled childhood. His mom’s struggle with depression.

Dave Cawley: Cunningham placed blame on Doug’s parents, saying his mother Shirley had been distant and detached. She’d been so medicated, he said, that she hadn’t nurtured her youngest son. Cunningham said Doug’s father Monan had been absent or worse, outright abusive to Doug’s mother Shirley. As a result, he said, Doug had modeled that behavior as he’d grown into a man.

There may’ve been some truth in one or both of these claims. The problem was, there weren’t any other defense witnesses with first-hand knowledge of Doug’s childhood who backed up what Cunningham said. Doug himself had, in many of his letters, described having a wonderful childhood with loving parents.

There’s one other expert witness Doug’s defense called to testify. His name was David Stoner.

David was a wildlife biologist and Ph.D-level ecologist at Utah State University. He was an expert on the topic of mountain lions. The purpose of his testimony was to provide an explanation for why Joyce’s body hadn’t been at the spot along the Old Snowbasin Road where police had searched in ’93.

David Stoner (from March 30, 2015 court recording): It’s been acknowledged by a number of authorities that animals tampering with human bodies really confounds these investigations.

Dave Cawley: The defense used this to suggest Doug had acted in good faith, that he’d made an honest attempt to lead the searchers to Joyce’s body. Prosecutor Gary Heward attacked this idea on cross-examination. Even if animals had scattered the remains, Gary asked where were Joyce’s clothes? Her necklace? Her purse?

Gary Heward (from March 30, 2015 court recording): It’s also true, isn’t it Dr. Stoner, that animals are not going to have any interest in a woman’s purse?

David Stoner (from March 30, 2015 court recording): I wouldn’t think so.

Gary Heward (from March 30, 2015 court recording): The jewelry she’s wearing, the contents of her purse?

Dave Cawley: And though it didn’t come up in court, I’ll suggest you to consider what had happened to Theresa Greaves. When police had located her remains on that hillside just a month before this trial, they’d also found animals bones and droppings in the area. Yet, in more than 30 years, scavengers had not dug up Theresa’s remains.

Defense attorney Michael Bouwhuis next put Rhonda back on the stand. Michael showed old family pictures of Doug, Rhonda and her daughter Alisha together on camping trips. He talked about how Doug had wanted to adopt Alisha. Then, he had Rhonda read portions of the loving letters she’d written to her husband after he went to prison for raping Joyce.

Rhonda Buttars (from March 30, 2015 court recording): 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: Michael’s questioning of Rhonda painted them as a happy family, with Doug a dedicated father. On cross, prosecutor Gary Heward drew a different picture of Rhonda…

Gary Heward (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Are you afraid of Doug Lovell?

Rhonda Buttars (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Yes I am.

Dave Cawley: …as a woman long plagued by conscience…

Gary Heward (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Rhonda, how did it make you feel when you, in 1991, told Terry Carpenter what’d happened to Joyce? How did it make you feel?

Rhonda Buttars (from March 30, 2015 court recording): I was very relieved.

Gary Heward (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Did defendant Douglass Lovell ever show you or take you to where he had dumped the body of Joyce Yost?

Rhonda Buttars (from March 30, 2015 court recording): No.

Gary Heward (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Did he ever tell you where he had dumped the body of Joyce Yost?

Rhonda Buttars (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Just up by Causey.

Gary Heward (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Is that the only thing he ever told you? Up by Causey?

Rhonda Buttars (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Yes.

Gary Heward (from March 30, 2015 court recording): He never told you on Snowbasin Road?

Rhonda Buttars (from March 30, 2015 court recording): No.

Gary Heward (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Never used those words?

Rhonda Buttars (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Not to me.

Dave Cawley: Rhonda dropped something of a bombshell toward the end of her time on the stand, regarding one time when she’d visited Doug at the prison in the late ‘80s.

Rhonda Buttars (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Yes, on one visit, umm, he said if he had to do a really long time in there, that he would plan an escape.

Gary Heward (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Those were his words?

Rhonda Buttars (from March 30, 2015 court recording): And I said — yes — I said ‘where would you go?’ And he said ‘up in the mountains.’

Dave Cawley: Rhonda had never said anything about this until a couple of weeks prior, when she’d revealed it to the prosecution.

Michael Bouwhuis (from March 30, 2015 court recording): And so, the times that you’ve testified previously in this case under oath, you did not, in fact, mention anything about an escape plan, did you?

Rhonda Buttars (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Nope.

Michael Bouwhuis (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Did not. Until today.

Rhonda Buttars (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Yep.

Dave Cawley: Which led defense attorney Michael Bouwhuis to wonder, what else had Rhonda never disclosed?

Michael Bouwhuis (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Well I’m going to ask you now, is there anything else that needs to come forward in this case that you haven’t said yet?

Gary Heward (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Judge, I’ll object to the form of the question. ‘Anything else?’

Michael DiReda (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Mr. Bouwhuis, you can rephrase.

Michael Bouwhuis (from March 30, 2015 court recording): I’m going to withdraw the question.

Michael DiReda (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Thank you.

Dave Cawley: A man named Kent Tucker followed Rhonda on the stand. The junior member of Doug’s defense team — attorney Sean Young — led the questioning.

Sean Young (from March 30, 2015 court recording): And what’s your current occupation?

Kent Tucker (from March 30, 2015 court recording): I’m a bus driver for Weber County School District.

Dave Cawley: Sean asked Kent how he knew Doug.

Kent Tucker (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Doug’s mother and my mother-in-law are sisters.

Dave Cawley: Kent had watched Doug grow up, from a distance.

Kent Tucker (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Doug always wanted he, he was just really hungry for somebody to pay a little attention to him and always want to know if I’d take him hunting or fishing. That’s always been one of his passions.

Dave Cawley: They’d briefly lost touch after Doug first went to prison for the rape of Joyce Yost. They’d reconnected a few years later and Kent had been paying Doug regular visits ever since. They’d grown very close and Kent said he would take Doug in, if Doug someday managed to secure his freedom.

Kent Tucker (from March 30, 2015 court recording): And I figure I could be, y’know, maybe build him up a little bit. I’ve, I, we’ve been engaged in a lot of humor down there.

Dave Cawley: That was about it. Sean’s examination of Kent and cross lasted all of 10 minutes. The defense then asked for an early lunch, so they could try and contact other witnesses who had not shown up yet. But there were no more witnesses coming. So, after lunch, Judge DiReda raised the question of whether Doug intended to testify. Sean Young had urged Doug to take the stand.

Michael DiReda (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Have you had a chance to, to discuss that right with your attorneys and have you made a decision about what you want to do with respect to that right?

Doug Lovell (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Yes sir. I have talked with both of my attorneys and I’m choosing not to testify.

Michael DiReda (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Okay.

Dave Cawley: With that…

Michael DiReda (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Mr. Bouwhuis, you may proceed.

Michael Bouwhuis (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Thank you your honor. The defense rests.

Michael DiReda (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Alright, thank you.

Dave Cawley: The state then had an opportunity to call rebuttal witnesses. The first was Jared Briggs. Doug’s defense team had fought against this, arguing the state had added Jared to its witness list too late in the process and without proper warning, but Judge DiReda decided to allow it. Jared, you might recall, had been incarcerated at the Utah State prison years earlier and had briefly bunked in the death row cell block.

Gary Heward (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Do you recall specifically where you were housed?

Jared Briggs (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Uinta One, block one, cell 104.

Dave Cawley: Jared shared the same story you heard in episode 10: how he’d met and befriended Doug, how they’d talked about hunting and fishing and eventually, how Doug had opened up and told him about the murder.

Gary Heward (from March 30, 2015 court recording): When he was describing those events in detail, and he did describe them in great detail, is that right?

Jared Briggs (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Yes.

Gary Heward (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Did he show any remorse?

Jared Briggs (from March 30, 2015 court recording): No.

Dave Cawley: On cross, defense attorney Michael Bouwhuis peppered Jared with questions designed to show his knowledge of the case was flawed, embellished and included outdated details — pieces Jared could’ve only known from having read old transcripts.

Michael Bouwhuis (from March 30, 2015 court recording): You’re aware that Doug Lovell had a lot of his legal paperwork with him in prison.

Jared Briggs (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Everybody does.

Michael Bouwhuis (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Including Doug?

Jared Briggs (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Don’t know, never was in his cell.

Dave Cawley: This was a trap and the defense closed it by calling a man named Ralph Menzies to the stand.

Michael Bouwhuis (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Are you an inmate at the Utah State Prison?

Ralph Menzies (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Yes sir.

Michael Bouwhuis (from March 30, 2015 court recording): What are you serving time there for?

Ralph Menzies (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Capital homicide.

Dave Cawley: Ralph’s criminal history stretched back nearly as far as Doug’s. Just weeks after Doug had arrived at the prison in ’86, Ralph had kidnapped a woman named Maurine Hunsaker from a convenience store. He’d robbed her, tied her to a tree in a canyon east of Salt Lake City and slit her throat. A judge had sentenced Ralph to die by firing squad in ’88. Doug and Ralph had lived next to one another for more than two decades. Which meant Ralph was also acquainted with Jared Briggs.

Michael Bouwhuis (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Was there a period of time when, in that same section, there was a Jared Briggs housed?

Ralph Menzies (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Yes sir.

Michael Bouwhuis (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Do you remember him?

Ralph Menzies (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Yes sir.

Dave Cawley: Ralph said all the death row inmates kept their case papers in their cells. But it was tough to do any meaningful work using the tiny tables inside each 14-by-7-foot cell. So, Ralph said, they would often take their papers out on the tier, the common area. One time, Ralph said, they’d been ordered into lockdown while Doug’d had his papers out on that table. Doug had left them there. The lockdown had stretched on for hours and, after a time, the guards allowed Jared Briggs out of his cell to do some work.

Michael Bouwhuis (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Do you know whether or not Jared Briggs had contact with his papers?

Ralph Menzies (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Uh yeah, Doug asked him when he come in if he would pick everything up and take it to his cell and he’d get it in the morning.

Dave Cawley: Ralph said Jared had kept Doug’s legal papers — transcripts, motions, court decisions and the like — in his own cell that night. This suggested that everything Jared knew about Doug’s case had come not from Doug himself, but instead from Doug’s files.

The state called Carl Jacobson as its final rebuttal witness. Carl had left his job at the prison at the end of 2005, concluding a 22-year career with the Utah Department of Corrections.

Gary Heward (from March 30, 2015 court recording): In the time period you were there at the Utah State Prison, did you become acquainted with the defendant here in court, Douglas Lovell?

Carl Jacobson (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Yes, I did.

Dave Cawley: I’ve mentioned Carl several times before. He’d first met Doug while working in SSD in ’87.

Gary Heward (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Did you develop a rapport with him?

Carl Jacobson (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Yes I did.

Dave Cawley: That rapport, Carl said, had benefited them both. It’d evolved into a relationship of quid pro quo.

Gary Heward (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Quid pro quo meaning what?

Carl Jacobson (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Something for something.

Gary Heward (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Okay.

Carl Jacobson (from March 30, 2015 court recording): He gave me something, I gave him something, within reason and within the authority of my position.

Dave Cawley: Carl said Doug had not been a difficult inmate. He didn’t brawl, he didn’t break rules. He didn’t cause problems. But he sometimes fed Carl information about others who did. Inmates often ratted one another out to the guards like this, either to keep from having the whole group punished for a single person’s misdeeds or to covertly take out the competition and move up in rank.

Carl Jacobson (from March 30, 2015 court recording): So there’s a motive behind that and you’ve got to weigh that balance out. And, and often times it’s dangerous and it’s difficult but it’s part of the equation. It’s part of management of a correctional facility.

Dave Cawley: Doug’s good behavior had also on occasion resulted in his receiving what are known as positive “chronological notes” or c-notes in his jacket — a sort of permanent record.

Carl Jacobson (from March 30, 2015 court recording): If it’s not in writing, it didn’t happen. An inmate jacket is from the beginning to the end of their incarceration and possibly more.

Dave Cawley: Inmates coveted positive c-notes. They were the currency with which a prisoner could prove good behavior when standing before the parole board pleading for their freedom. Doug’s jacket was replete with positive marks for actions he’d taken at Carl’s request. He had, for instance, repeatedly talked with groups of high schoolers as they took tours of the prison arranged by Carl.

Prosecutor Gary Heward asked Carl about the time in December of ’98 when he’d pulled Doug into a conference room for a one-on-one talk about Joyce’s murder. It had come following the death of Carl’s father.

Carl Jacobson (from March 30, 2015 court recording): I said ‘Joyce deserves what my father has. And you need to stop this nonsense and you need to come clean with me, and you need, I deserve the why and the what. I want to know what you did. And why you did it.’ And he proceeded to tell me.

Dave Cawley: I described this encounter once already, so I won’t spend too much time rehashing it here. But Carl did say from the stand Doug had blamed the detectives for their inability to find the body during the searches along the Snowbasin Road.

Carl Jacobson (from March 30, 2015 court recording): I responded that it was [expletive]—”

Gary Heward (from March 30, 2015 court recording): And how did he respond to that?

Carl Jacobson (from March 30, 2015 court recording): —that he’s a mountain man, he knows the outdoors. He’d went there, he’d returned and shrub oak grows this much in nine years. He knows where it’s at. He knows where that body is and why won’t he give this body up?

Dave Cawley: Carl said he believed there were three possible reasons why Doug had not — and still would not — admit to the actual location of Joyce’s remains. First, if he’d mutilated them. Second, if there were more than one body at the site. And third, a combination of reasons one and two.

Gary Heward (from March 30, 2015 court recording): How would you describe for this jury this defendant?

Carl Jacobson (from March 30, 2015 court recording): On the positive, he’s charming, cooperative, manageable, articulate, very smart. On the negative, he’s cold, calculating and controlling.

Gary Heward (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Is he a manipulator?

Carl Jacobson (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Yes.

Gary Heward (from March 30, 2015 court recording): How would you rank him as far as being cunning and smart in the people you’ve dealt with?

Carl Jacobson (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Top of the list.

Dave Cawley: Then, Gary arrived at the most important question.

Gary Heward (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Do you believe if he were paroled that he would be dangerous in the future?

Carl Jacobson (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Yes.

Dave Cawley: Defense attorney Sean Young countered this on cross, highlighting Doug’s clean behavioral record.

Sean Young (from March 30, 2015 court recording): No assaults?

Carl Jacobson (from March 30, 2015 court recording): None.

Sean Young (from March 30, 2015 court recording): No escape plans, that you’re aware of?

Carl Jacobson (from March 30, 2015 court recording): None, none that I know of.

Sean Young (from March 30, 2015 court recording): No attempted escapes?

Carl Jacobson (from March 30, 2015 court recording): None that I know of.

Dave Cawley: Sean brought up those student panels, where Doug had talked to high schoolers about life in prison. Carl said Doug’s participation had probably not been motivated by altruism.

Carl Jacobson (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Because there was something in it for him.

Dave Cawley: Those panels, Carl said, had allowed Doug an opportunity to leave maximum security, if only for an hour. He’d been able to walk between the prison buildings, feeling the green grass between his toes. A tiny, but significant, taste of freedom for someone who otherwise lived in a world of steel and concrete.

Carl Jacobson (from March 30, 2015 court recording): And so it broke his routine up, and he got to walk through the yard. He got a cigarette and he also received a positive C-note from me.

Dave Cawley: At one point, Sean suggested Carl had even treated Doug as a “friend.”

Carl Jacobson (from March 30, 2015 court recording): I wasn’t his friend.

Sean Young (from March 30, 2015 court recording): You treated him like a friend that day.

Carl Jacobson (from March 30, 2015 court recording): I was friendly all the time. I was not his friend. I knew who I was dancing with. And when you dance with the devil, you know who you’re dancing with.

[Ad break]

Dave Cawley: Doug Lovell was either an angel or a devil, depending on who you asked.

Scott Mitchell (as Chuck Thompson): Doug is a man who has repented and deserves a chance to get into society before he dies.

Dave Cawley: His bishop, Chuck Thompson, sent this email to the head of the charity Rising Star Outreach, Becky Douglas, on the final day of witness testimony.

Scott Mitchell (as Chuck Thompson): Saw Doug yesterday. He glowed. You are his angel and might be the one who saves his life.

Dave Cawley: Both Chuck and Becky had testified on Doug’s behalf. Both had seen Joyce Yost’s children Kim Salazar and Greg Roberts sitting in the courtroom.

Scott Michell (as Chuck Thompson): I still don’t understand what part of the atonement Joyce’s kids don’t understand. After 30 bitter years, it is more than time to let go and forgive Doug, a changed man.

Dave Cawley: Closing arguments began the following morning. Prosecutor Chris Shaw went first. He told the jury over the 30 years since Doug had killed Joyce, the focus had become “all screwed up.”

Chris Shaw (from March 31, 2015 court recording): It gets perversely directed back at him. When the focus should not be on him, it should be on Joyce Yost.

Dave Cawley: There can be no closure, he said, when your loved one is taken from you forever.

Chris Shaw (from March 31, 2015 court recording): Consider that weight … the weight of the human destruction … that this defendant’s conduct has had on that family. And on Joyce Yost, most importantly. Life ended at 39 years.

Dave Cawley: He asked the jurors to consider whether Doug had showed Joyce human dignity when she’d pleaded for her life. And he challenged the idea Doug’s efforts to lead investigators to Joyce’s remains had been authentic.

Chris Shaw (from March 31, 2015 court recording): Remember his manipulative, controlling and cunning nature. We have to stop and get a beer before we can take law enforcement to the place? Are you kidding me? We have to stop and get a beer. This is the same person that raped her, that kidnapped her, that kidnapped her again and murdered her and he’s squeamish about taking police to the right spot? Please.

Dave Cawley: Chris asked the jury to make its decision based on the entire constellation of Doug’s criminal behavior.

Chris Shaw (from March 31, 2015 court recording): He’s committed all of the aggravating felonies the state of Utah has to offer.

Dave Cawley: This, Chris said, justified a sentence of death. Defense attorney Michael Bouwhuis then stood and reminded the jury Doug did not contest the facts of the crimes he’d committed 30 years earlier.

Michael Bouwhuis (from March 31, 2015 court recording): The state’s right. It was a horrendous crime. Uh, there’s no excuse for it, there’s no defense for it. Which is exactly why, during the trial phase, we didn’t present a defense.

Dave Cawley: But, Michael said, there were other factors to consider: Doug’s family life, his parents’ divorce, a history of head trauma and substance abuse. And what about Rhonda? Michael called her a co-conspirator who’d needed immunity because of the active role she’d played in plotting Joyce’s death.

Michael Bouwhuis (from March 31, 2015 court recording): And of course, where we’re going with this is not that we ought to somehow bring Rhonda in and charge her. But the question is whether it’s appropriate — and that’s a decision you’re gonna have to reach at the end of this case — whether it’s appropriate and just in this case to impose the death penalty on Doug when Rhonda didn’t face any charges at all.

Dave Cawley: Michael said Doug had been earnest in his efforts to take Terry Carpenter to Joyce’s body.

Michael Bouwhuis (from March 31, 2015 court recording): Doug Lovell has the greatest incentive of anybody to lead them to the right place. If he leads them to the right place, death is off the table and he lives.

Dave Cawley: And all of the hand-wringing over that anonymous call in ’87 about human remains near Causey Reservoir? Michael said that call probably wasn’t even about Joyce. He said the person who’d called probably just wanted to goad police into looking for another missing woman, hinting at, but not actually saying the name Sheree Warren.

Michael Bouwhuis (from March 31, 2015 court recording): Is that speculation? Sure it is. But what other explanation is there for this odd behavior from this man who calls and does not give any helpful information?

Dave Cawley: Michael suggested that anonymous call was the first mention of Causey attached to Joyce’s disappearance, from which all others had spawned.

Michael Bouwhuis (from March 31, 2015 court recording): Rhonda didn’t say anything to anybody about Causey until 1991, four years later. Jared Briggs doesn’t say anything about Causey until he reads Doug’s paperwork.

Dave Cawley: Michael was calling Causey a red herring. And if that were true, he suggested, it would mean Jared Briggs was a liar. Michael summed up by saying Doug had spent 30 years in prison improving himself.

Michael Bouwhuis (from March 31, 2015 court recording): So the fact that in 1991 Doug is trying to cover up this murder doesn’t mean that he’s not on his way to becoming something better.

Dave Cawley: A slow process, but one which Michael said was well underway at the time Rhonda recorded her ex-husband while wearing a wire.

Michael Bouwhuis (from March 31, 2015 court recording): There’s a spark of humanity, there’s a spark of remorse, there’s a spark of a recognition that his behavior, his conduct, hurt other people.

Dave Cawley: You’ve heard those tapes and can judge for yourself whether or not they reveal Doug as a man who’d felt a “spark of remorse.”

Michael Bouwhuis (from March 31, 2015 court recording): Certainly in 1985 Doug fell to the bottom, no question about it. But he has tried to climb up.

Dave Cawley: Michael asked the jury to return a sentence of life with the possibility of parole. Judge DiReda then turned to the issue of allocution. Allocution is an opportunity for a defendant to make a statement to a judge or jury ahead of sentencing. It’s a chance to show remorse, to apologize to the victims of the crime, to plead for a particular punishment. To show that “spark.”

Michael DiReda (from March 31, 2015 court recording): And if you were going to elect to make a statement in allocution, it has to be made at this juncture.

Dave Cawley: Allocution is not sworn testimony. It wouldn’t open Doug up to cross examination. It would simply allow him to speak in sincere terms to the jurors who would very soon decide if he should live or die.

Doug Lovell (from March 31, 2015 court recording): I will not be making a statement.

Michael DiReda (from March 31, 2015 court recording): Okay. I appreciate that.

Dave Cawley: And so, just before 3 p.m., the jury retired for a second time. This time, they began debating the question of Doug’s sentence.

Sandra Yi (from March 31, 2015 KSL TV archive): Those two options: death, or life in prison with the chance of parole. A unanimous vote is required for the death sentence. The jury has been deliberating for about three hours now.

Dave Cawley: Back in episode 9, I talked about how state death penalty laws changed in the 1970s, as a result of a U.S. Supreme Court decision. Those changes were meant to take bias out of the sentencing process in capital cases. Utah’s law required the jury in Doug’s case to consider aggravating and mitigating factors. Part of that calculation involved looking at seven instances of alleged criminal conduct for which Doug had not previously been convicted. The jurors would determine his guilt or innocence, then use those findings to help decide if the death penalty was warranted.

Here were the seven alleged crimes and the jury’s decisions on each.

For sexually assaulting Joyce Yost in her car the night of April 3, 1985, the jury found Doug guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. You might recall, Doug had at first faced two counts of rape in ’85 but the sexual assault count which had sent him to prison was specific to what had occurred in his home. It had not covered the initial assault in Joyce’s car.

And speaking of what’d happened in Doug’s home, for forcing Joyce to perform oral sex there that night, the jury again found Doug guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crime of sodomy. This count had been dropped from the case in ’85 over Joyce’s unwillingness to talk about those humiliating specifics.

The next special verdict form focused on the claim Doug had conspired with Billy Jack to murder Joyce. The jury found him guilty. Likewise, for conspiring with Tom Peters to do the same.

The jury also said Doug was guilty of tampering with Tom Peters as a witness in ’91, while they were both in prison, when Doug had given Tom that kiss on the top of the head.

The remaining two instances of uncharged crimes both arose from claims made by Jared Briggs. Jared had testified Doug had asked him to kill Tom Peters in 2007.

Gary Heward (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Did he ask you to do anything very specifically to Tom Peters?

Jared Briggs (from March 30, 2015 court recording): Yes, to get rid of him.

Dave Cawley: And Jared had told investigators Doug had once again sexually assaulted Joyce on the night of the murder.

Jared Briggs (from December 15, 2006 police recording): He said he just wanted to hurt her and, uh, so he said he sexually assaulted her when they got everything done.

Dave Cawley: For both of these alleged crimes, the jury said Doug’s guilt had not been proven. The decision suggested the jurors felt incertitude over Jared’s credibility. So, in total, the jury found Doug guilty on five of the seven instances of uncharged conduct.

Debating all of this had taken time and no one outside of the jury room had any idea just how much longer the sentencing decision might take. All Kim, Greg and the rest of Joyce’s family could do was wait.

Sandra Yi (from March 31, 1985 KSL TV archive): Yost’s family has been in the courtroom during this long trial. They told me they’ll make a statement after the jury reaches a decision.

Dave Cawley: Shortly after 9 p.m., Judge DiReda adjourned the court and sent the jury home. They returned the next morning to continue from where they’d left off the night before. Several more hours passed before, in the early afternoon, the jurors informed the bailiff they’d at last reached a decision. Once again, Doug stood while Judge DiReda read from the form provided by the jury.

Michael DiReda (from April 1, 2015 KSL TV archive): We the jury in the above entitled case unanimously render a sentencing decision for death.

Dave Cawley: Death. The Weber County prosecutors had achieved that outcome twice in the same case, 22 years apart. First with a judge and now with a jury. Joyce’s children, Kim and Greg, felt relief.

Greg Roberts: I thought they frustrated Doug Lovell again. Big time.

Kim Salazar: Yeah.

Greg Roberts: I thought it was awesome.

Dave Cawley: Judge DiReda signed a warrant of execution bearing Doug’s name. It commanded the Utah Department of Corrections to end his life by lethal injection on May 29, 2015. This was formality because the judge next ordered a stay, putting the execution on indefinite hold pending an automatic appeal of the sentence required by state law.

Kim and Greg spoke to reporters outside the courtroom.

Greg Roberts (from April 1, 2015 KSL TV archive): We think it’s just a very, very, very good day for Joyce and a good day for our family.

Sandra Yi (from April 1, 2015 KSL TV archive): Relief for the children of Joyce Yost…

Kim Salazar (from April 1, 2015 KSL TV archive): Until you’ve walked in these shoes, you just don’t have any idea how, how difficult it is to get through.

Sandra Yi (from April 1, 2015 KSL TV archive): …who say Douglas Lovell deserves to be put to death for what he did to their mother in 1985.

Kim Salazar (from April 1, 2015 KSL TV archive): The things that he did, incredible, horrible things to do to somebody that he didn’t know, that didn’t deserve it.

Dave Cawley: Defense attorney Michael Bouwhuis had made it out of the courthouse by the time those same TV cameras caught up with him in the parking lot.

Sandra Yi (from April 1, 2015 KSL TV archive): Lovell’s attorney says Lovell hoped he would get out of prison one day.

Michael Bouwhuis (from April 1, 2015 KSL TV archive): The hope was that they wouldn’t want to, to impose a death penalty and they’d go with life with the possibility.

Sandra Yi (from April 1, 2015 KSL TV archive): Still, he doesn’t think Lovell, who is 57 years old, will ever be executed.

Michael Bouwhuis (from April 1, 2015 KSL TV archive): He’s looking at least 20 years before he runs out of appeals and probably longer than that.

Dave Cawley: This fact had not escaped Kim and Greg. In a sense, they were right back where they’d been in August of ’93.

Greg Roberts: It felt like it was too much square one.

Dave Cawley: As if to prove this point, Michael Bouwhuis filed a motion asking for a new trial.

Kim Salazar: Now you’re back to square one again. It’s all ahead of you now. The appellate process, the everything just starts over.

Dave Cawley: Michael cited five reasons why he thought Doug deserved one, all of them dealing with decisions made by Judge DiReda. They included DiReda’s refusal to sign off on the plea deal, to notify the jurors of the plea negotiations, to admit Doug’s many letters into evidence, permitting the testimony of Jared Briggs and the judge’s rejection of Doug’s pre-trial motions. Kim knew from experience this move asking for a new trial alone could result in years of legal delay.

Kim Salazar: But we have not moved an inch in all these years as far as the judicial process goes.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Doug’s other attorney Sean Young, submitted a sworn statement to the court several weeks later. In it, he made a rather stunning claim. Sean said the lawyers representing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had interfered with the trial. Sean wrote that the church’s attorneys had shown up at the courthouse on the day those three bishops were set to testify and “threatened to interfere with the testimony” if he didn’t limit the scope of his questioning.

Judge DiReda denied the motion for a new trial. The verdict would stand. Unless, that is, Doug could once again win a reprieve from the Utah Supreme Court. For that, he would need a new lawyer.

The county also had to fund Doug’s appeal. So it tapped another of the attorneys it kept on contract for indigent defense work and signed him to a second contract devoted exclusively to the appeal. That attorney’s name was Samuel Newton.

Samuel went right to work and, on August 3, 2015, filed the appeal with the Utah Supreme Court. Doug’s appeal soon hit some road bumps. Samuel Newton struggled to get a complete copy of trial defense attorney Sean Young’s case files. He ended up pursuing a court order to force the issue, an effort that chewed up almost a year.

Samuel also started talking regularly with Doug, a fact Doug himself pointed out in a letter the Utah Supreme Court.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): I have a great working relationship with Mr. Newton. I completely TRUST him with my life and in his judgment in doing what is best for my legal case going forward.

Dave Cawley: Samuel reached out to many of the people Doug had listed as possible character witnesses in the lead-up to the trial, trying to understand why so many of them had failed to show up and testify. What he heard, over and over again, was that they’d never been contacted by the trial defense team. Or, if they had, that the calls had been brief and superficial. Some told Samuel they would have happily testified, if they’d only been asked.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): Mr. Young failed to contact over a dozen witnesses for the 2015 penalty phase. Once it was learned that Mr. Young failed to contact my character witnesses, Weber County terminated his contract solely because of my case.

Dave Cawley: In May of 2016, Samuel asked the Utah Supreme Court to send Doug’s appeal back to the trial court so they could get to the bottom of this. The Supreme Court agreed to the request in March of 2017. The high court’s order instructed the trial judge, Michael DiReda, to hold what’s known an evidentiary hearing.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): As for Mr. Bouwhuis, he was lead counsel in charge of Mr. Young. I believe the upcoming hearing will clearly show that Mr. Bouwhuis failed when it came to overseeing Mr. Young’s work.

Dave Cawley: Here were the questions Judge DiReda had to answer: Had Sean Young acted deficiently in failing to prepare several of Doug’s witnesses for their testimony? Was Sean Young deficient for failing to even call 14 of the potential witnesses Doug had identified? Had Sean Young’s cross-examination of Carl Jacobson been inadequate? Did Sean Young fail to properly prepare the defense team’s mitigation specialist, whose job it had been to research and make initial contact with many of these witnesses? Should Sean Young have raised an objection to the alleged interference of The Church’s lawyers? And, if the answer to any of these questions was yes, had that, in the end, prejudiced the jury?

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): The hearing will also show there was a lot of confusion and a complete lack of communication when it came to my character witnesses.

Dave Cawley: The sheer number of potential witnesses covered by the order meant the evidentiary hearing would likely take longer than had the entirety of Doug’s trial. The remand order instructed Judge DiReda to report his findings within 90 days. He didn’t meet that deadline. Not even close. Here’s why.

Appellate attorney Samuel Newton had, by the start of 2017, expended the $75,000 allotted by the county for the appeal. He anticipated the evidentiary hearing was going to require hundreds more hours of work. He began talking with county staff and commissioners about the need for additional funding.

The county suggested Samuel was overestimating the time required. They offered an additional $15,000, but also expressed skepticism over how much time he was spending communicating with Doug.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): For the first time, I got an attorney who represented me to the fullest, who knows my case inside and out and now the county has pulled the rug on funding him.

Dave Cawley: Samuel claimed in a sworn affidavit the county had refused to pay him $120,000 for work he’d done on a different death penalty appeal. That had caused stress which had in turn exacerbated a heart condition. This drew the Utah Attorney General’s Office into the funding dispute. In a letter, an AG’s Office staff member said Samuel had developed a conflict of interest: his health and Doug’s defense were now at odds.

In a court filing, Samuel referred to his situation as “involuntary pro-bono.” He asked Judge DiReda to intervene and force the county to pay, but DiReda declined, on the grounds it was a civil matter that didn’t fall within his jurisdiction. Doug argued to the contrary. In a letter to the court, he said his very Constitutional rights were at stake.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): I have the right to effective assistance of counsel for my defense. And I had just that. I had an attorney who was competent, who actually read my entire file, who met regularly with me and who, I believe, had my best interests at heart.

Dave Cawley: Doug pointed out the county would have to hire another appellate attorney for him, if the court allowed Samuel to withdraw. That lawyer would start from scratch. The tens of thousands of dollars already spent on two years of Samuel’s work would be for nothing.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): I ask this Court to PLEASE intervene & see to it that Mr. Newton will remain as lead counsel in my case going forward.

Dave Cawley: Judge DiReda released Samuel from the case at the end of August. This drew media coverage, including editorials scathing in their assessment of Weber County’s handling of the matter. The bad publicity didn’t help as the county sought to find another qualified attorney willing to take up Doug’s appeal. In fact, it could find only one: Colleen Coebergh. She signed a $100,000 contract with Weber County at the end of September.

Weeks later, the Weber County Commission sent Samuel a letter informing him the county was terminating his contracts. The commissioners accused Samuel of making untruthful comments to the media which had harmed the county’s reputation. Samuel struck back, filing a federal lawsuit against Weber County and its commissioners, accusing them of violating his First Amendment right to free speech. And none of this had much of anything to do with Joyce Yost, a fact that wasn’t lost on her children.

Greg Roberts: I think Doug Lovell likes the limelight. He likes the attention and that’s exactly how it plays out. … Especially over time, the victim becomes much less important—

Kim Salazar: The victim gets lost in it.

Greg Roberts: —this horrible perpetrator becomes the story. And it’s rough, it is difficult. That’s difficult. So—

Kim Salazar: I don’t see any remorse.

Cold season 2, episode 9: High Fidelity – Full episode transcript

Dave Cawley: Quiet pervaded the room. No music, no chatter of voices, just the soft hum of the lights and the breathing of one man.

William Andrews (from July 29, 1992 KSL TV archive): Whatever happens, I’m ready for it. It’s that simple.

Dave Cawley: A pair of needles were inserted into the man’s arms. Tubing snaked away from them, disappearing through a hole in the cinderblock wall. The man, William Andrews, reclined on a padded plank covered with straps. Across the room were a series of windows. On the other side sat a small group of people who were there to witness William’s execution.

William Andrews (from July 29, 1992 KSL TV archive): I feel very comfortably spiritually with the aspect of dying, with the prospect of dying because I am a very spiritual man.

Dave Cawley: William had been scheduled to die at the stroke of midnight on Thursday, July 30, 1992. A last-minute plea for reprieve to the U.S. Supreme Court had delayed the lethal injection for about an hour and a half. The Supreme Court justices had just declined to intervene. So now, at 1:35 a.m., a state official signaled to an unseen executioner in the other room to push the plunger and deliver the fatal drug cocktail into William’s veins.

William Andrews (from July 29, 1992 KSL TV archive): I have come to terms with … the idea of dying. Umm, I don’t want to die but I don’t want to continue to live the way I have been living.

Dave Cawley: The rising and falling of William’s chest slowed. His fists unclenched. This man, barefoot and clad in a white jumpsuit, stopped breathing. Doug Lovell was well aware of William Andrews. And though Doug didn’t see the execution himself, he spent that night wondering if he, too, might soon face the same fate.

This is Cold, season 2, episode 9: High Fidelity. From KSL Podcasts, I’m Dave Cawley. We’ll be right back.

[Ad break]

Dave Cawley: The execution of William Andrews came just weeks after South Ogden police Sergeant Terry Carpenter served Doug Lovell with a capital homicide charge for the murder of Joyce Yost. The charging document made clear the stakes for Doug. If he were convicted, the death penalty was on the table. The execution of William Andrews showed it was not an empty threat. Yet, William’s death had proved anything but expeditious.

Protester (from July 29, 1992 KSL TV archive): The whole world has its eyes on Utah.

Deannie Wimmer (from July 29, 1992 KSL TV archive): Emotion ran high among the few hundred people who attended what they knew might be the last night of this week-long vigil at the governor’s mansion. They prayed and sang that peace would prevail on this night. Speakers at the vigil urged the crowd to keep hope and challenge what divides society.

Protester (from July 29, 1992 KSL TV archive): White people need to come out and speak against racism because it destroys children and life and dignity.

Dave Cawley: William was black. He’d been convicted by an all-white jury of capital homicide for his role in one of Utah’s most notorious crimes: the April, 1974 Ogden Hi-Fi Shop massacre.

William had been just 19 years old when he and a fellow helicopter mechanic stationed at Utah’s Hill Air Force Base — 21-year-old Dale Selby Pierre, who later changed his name to Pierre Dale Selby — hatched a plan to rob the Hi-Fi Shop. They rented a storage unit, in which they planned to stash the stolen speakers, amplifiers and turntables. They used multiple vans to shuttle the stereos to the storage unit. They had another airman act as lookout. They intended to leave no witnesses.

William and Dale were both armed when they entered the Hi-Fi shop on the evening of April 22, 1974. They rounded up the two young clerks who were inside — Michelle Ansley and Stanley Walker — and forced them into the basement. The thieves went about their work but as they did so, a teenage boy named Cortney Naisbitt came through the door. Cortney was cutting through on his way to the rear parking lot after having visited a nearby photo lab. Andrews and Pierre took him hostage as well.

Some time later, Cortney’s mother Carol Naisbitt came looking for him. Orren Walker, the father of clerk Stanley Walker, did the same. And so the number of hostages bound in the Hi-Fi Shop’s basement grew to five.

William and Dale had watched the film “Magnum Force” over and over in the days leading up to the crime. The movie, a sequel to the original Clint Eastwood crime drama “Dirty Harry,” featured a scene in which a pimp killed a prostitute by forcing her to drink drain cleaner. William and Dale had taken note of that scene. They’d purchased a bottle of liquid Drano and brought it with them to the Hi-Fi Shop. Orren Walker would later testify about how his captors sought to deliver the poison.

Orren Walker (from July 29, 1992 KSL TV archive): Pierre had the cup. Andrews poured the Drano into the cup. Pierre handed it to me to give to Michelle, Cortney and Stanley. And I just stood there. When I stood there, then Andrews pointed the gun at my head. He says, and threatened me, he said, ‘man, there’s a gun at your head.’ The thought went through my mind, ‘well, if he shoots me, he shoots me. I’m not about to take it and give it to ‘em.’

Dave Cawley: They gagged Orren and shoved him face-first onto the floor. Then, they propped up the other four hostages and poured the caustic cleaner into their mouths. Hollywood had not reflected the actual horror of what would occur. The Drano caused chemical burns and blisters, not immediate death. The men attempted to place duct tape over their victims’ mouths to quiet their screams, but their skin just sloughed off under the adhesive.

Frustrated by the delay, Dale then shot the hostages one by one. The first round he fired at Orren Walker missed and the second just grazed his head. Dale attempted to garrote Orren and when that failed, had William place a ballpoint pen against Orren’s ear. Dale then kicked the pen.

In the middle of this, Dale told William to leave him alone for a bit. He then raped the female clerk, Michelle, before shooting her in the back of the head. Orren Walker and Cortney Naisbitt survived. Carol Naisbitt, Stanley Walker and Michelle Ansley did not. Orren would go on to testify against William and Dale at their trial.

William Andrews (from July 29, 1992 KSL TV archive): When Mr. Walker testified at trial, at that time I felt he was a very sincere and I felt that he was the only person at the trial that maintained his honor. That did not mix up the facts or try to add, add anything to it. I thought he was very honorable and told the truth the way he saw it as best he could.

Dave Cawley: That is William Andrews’ own voice. It and the clips at the start of this episode come from the archives of KSL TV. William and Dale were tried and convicted together. Both received the death penalty. Dale Selby died first, in 1987, by lethal injection.

Con Psarras (from July 29, 1992 KSL TV archive): But by then, it was probably too late for William Andrews. He was locked on to the same legal track as Selby, the man who actually pulled the trigger in the basement of the Hi-Fi Shop. In the eyes of the law, Selby’s and Andrews’ cases were never separated until Selby was executed five years ago.

William Andrews (from July 29, 1992 KSL TV archive): There was never any distinction made between my participation in that crime and Pierre’s. No one can deny the viciousness of what took place there that night but I did not commit all of those vicious acts.

Dave Cawley: The fact William was going to die in spite of not having directly killed anyone himself prompted public outcry from those who believed the prosecutors and jurors had been motivated by racial bias.

Unidentified woman (from July 29, 1992 KSL TV archive): I’m going to write the story of Utah the murderer of blacks in Utah, a state that had made history for killing, murdering someone who has not killed anybody.

Man-on-the-street (from July 29, 1992 KSL TV archive): How can you kill a man for a crime that he didn’t commit?

Dave Cawley: On the other hand, the prosecutors pointed out William was the one who planned the heist. He was the brains, Dale was the muscle. William had also done nothing to prevent the murders.

Robert Wallace (from July 29, 1992 KSL TV archive): A person can be found guilty and receive capital punishment if they kill someone, if they have other intent to kill, if they attempt to kill, if they contemplate that someone will die, if they use lethal force.

Dave Cawley: The debate raged for weeks ahead of William’s scheduled execution. Protesters held a days-long vigil on the streets of Salt Lake City.

Deannie Wimmer (from July 29, 1992 KSL TV archive): Others told the crowd that no matter what happens to William Andrews, their fight will continue.

Protester (from July 29, 1992 KSL TV archive): Thank you William Andrews for bringing us all together. And we will fight on no matter what.

Rocky Anderson (from July 29, 1992 KSL TV archive): Let’s all of us insist of our political leaders that they hear this community and do away with this death penalty once and for all.

Dave Cawley: This formed the backdrop against which the death penalty prosecution of Doug Lovell was set to play out. And the attorney representing Doug in his capital homicide case was the same man who had nearly 20 years earlier represented William Andrews: John Caine.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: John Caine had lost the William Andrews case, but he’d gone on to represent defendants in other capital homicide cases. None had resulted in a death verdict. But the circumstances of the Joyce Yost murder gave him pause. Years later, Caine would say “this was one where I thought if it ever got imposed, this could be the one.”

Joyce’s disappearance had made the news at various times over the years but it’d never captured the public’s attention the way the Hi-Fi Shop murders had. Still, John recognized what’d happened to Joyce was in some ways on par with that horrific crime.

“I thought this case had things in it that made it as egregious as Hi-Fi in some respects,” John later said, noting it would “be particularly abhorrent to general citizens.”

Caine was a religious man and an outspoken opponent of capital punishment. His hopes of saving Doug from death relied on keeping Rhonda’s story out of the courtroom or, failing that, cutting a plea deal with the prosecution. He’d opened those negotiations with Weber County Attorney Reed Richards at the end of 1992. In early ’93, however, Reed left that job to become Chief Deputy Utah Attorney General.

On March 26, 1993, the Utah Supreme Court formally declined to take up Doug’s interlocutory appeal, the one challenging the admissibility of Rhonda’s testimony and the wire recordings.

Terry Carpenter (from May 1, 1991 police recording): How did he get in?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 1, 1991 police recording): He told me he went through a window.

Dave Cawley: That meant nothing more stood in the way of a trial. Judge Stanton Taylor signed an order, ordering Doug to appear on March 29th. John Caine was already in the courtroom when the bailiffs brought Doug in that afternoon.

“So today’s the day, huh,” Doug asked, apparently believing he was there to enter his guilty plea.

John told Doug he had some bad news. Their appeal had failed. The tentative agreement he’d reached with Reed Richards was now off the table.

“You’ve gotta be kidding me,” Doug said.

Doug had come clean to his family and to the other inmates in his section at the prison, telling them he was going to admit to killing Joyce Yost. Any one of them could now turn against him and testify. He was furious. John did what he could to salvage the situation. He asked for and received a two-week delay, buying time to re-open talks with the prosecutors.

Utah law provided two possible sentences for the crime of capital murder at the time when Doug killed Joyce in August of ’85: death or life in prison. But there was a huge asterisk after that word life. It meant life with the possibility of parole. Which would mean if Doug were convicted and sentenced under that law, he might some day win his freedom. That law had changed though in April of ’92…

Rep. Merrill Nelson (from Utah State Legislature archive recording): This bill creates a new sentencing option of life without parole.

Dave Cawley: …just weeks before Terry Carpenter served Doug with the charges.

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): And I, uh, would have hoped that one of the things that would have saved you the capital aspect of it would have been cooperating with me on that but obviously you refused to do that.

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Well—

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): That may be the thing that costs you your life, Doug.

Dave Cawley: The state lawmakers had talked in their debates about the hesitance jurors in some fringe capital cases might feel, if their only choices were death or life with the possibility of parole.

Rep. Merrill Nelson (from Utah State Legislature archive recording): These dangerous people are subject to parole under current law and, uh, will likely be paroled.

Dave Cawley: The new option of life without the possibility of parole — or LWOP for short — was not without controversy. Some feared it would weaken the death penalty by reassuring reluctant jurors the killers they convicted would not be set free in just five or ten years. Those concerns did not derail the bill. It became law and was in effect at the time of the initial plea negotiations between John Caine and Reed Richards in late ’92 and early ’93. But Reed’s first proposal was for the old standard of life with the possibility of parole.

Kim Salazar: I thought that in the very beginning when we discussing all this … that LWOP wasn’t on the table.

Dave Cawley: The other members of the prosecution team started the negotiations anew after Reed departed the case. And prosecutors Bill Daines and Gary Heward were not as generous. They told John Caine at the March 29th hearing if Doug returned Joyce’s remains, they’d leave it up to the judge to decide between life with or without the possibility of parole.

Doug returned to court two weeks later, on April 12th. The hearing that day ended up being postponed but as bailiffs were taking Doug out of the courthouse, he spotted Terry Carpenter who was there booking someone else on an unrelated drug case.

Doug told Terry he wanted to talk to him.

“You can’t talk to me without your attorney,” Terry said.

Terry Carpenter: And he says ‘no, that’s where you’re wrong. I can talk to you, you just can’t talk to me.’

Dave Cawley: Terry thought it over and decided this was correct, as a matter of law. They stepped aside into a small conference room and sat down.

Terry Carpenter: He says ‘y’know, I’ve wanted for a long time to get Joyce back. I just didn’t know how.’

Dave Cawley: Doug didn’t outright admit to killing Joyce, but said he’d hoped for years to figure out a way to pass the location of her body to Joyce’s family. When Doug had said his piece, Terry said…

Terry Carpenter: ‘You need to sit down with, with your attorney and make sure we do this the right way but that will be up to you completely.’

Dave Cawley: In the meantime, Joyce’s children Kim Salazar and Greg Roberts told the prosecutors they did not support any deal which would leave open the possibility of Doug ever being paroled.

Terry Carpenter: You talk with them and you say ‘okay, now this guy’s at least told us he’s killed her. We have a chance to get the ultimate penalty for him.’

Greg Roberts: I think we wanted the death penalty, death penalty, death penalty.

Dave Cawley: Terry and the prosecutors were confident they could secure that sentence even without Joyce’s body. But their best chance of bringing Joyce home was making a deal with Doug. They played hardball. No more letting the judge decide on the question of parole. Their final offer was Joyce’s body in exchange for life without the possibility of parole.

Doug learned of the new terms at his next court hearing, on April 19th. He was, once again, furious. That same day, Judge Stanton Taylor scheduled the trial to begin on June 28, 1993. It would not be delayed again.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: At the start of May, Doug mailed a pair of letters: one to John Caine and the other to Judge Taylor. In both letters, he expressed frustration over the plea negotiations and said he was firing John and intended to represent himself. Prison staff transported Doug to the Weber County courthouse for a pretrial hearing a month later, on June 1st. He entered the courthouse and found John there waiting for him.

“What are you doing here,” Doug asked. “Didn’t you get my letter?”

John explained the court was not going to allow Doug to fire his attorney in a capital case. The stakes were too high. Like it or not, they were stuck with one another. Doug’s back was to the wall. Ten days later, John told the prosecution his client would accept the offer. He would plead guilty, return Joyce’s body and take life without parole. The prosecution agreed to the terms. All that remained was to put them in writing. Would Doug really follow through? Kim Salazar and Greg Roberts had their doubts.

Greg Roberts: I think that as we were going through that, that Carpenter and even those, the prosecutors and things—

Kim Salazar: Bill Daines.

Greg Roberts: —they were letting us know that they thought that Doug was playing them.

Dave Cawley: Terry Carpenter and U.S. Secret Service Agent Glen Passey, picked Doug up from the prison a few nights later. They were transporting him up to the Weber County Jail ahead of a meeting planned for the morning of June 17th, at which time Doug would sign a formal “memorandum of understanding” outlining the plea deal.

They took a detour before dropping Doug at the jail. Terry picked up a pizza and they went to a park next to South Ogden police headquarters. John Caine showed up there as well with a six-pack of beer. They all got to talking while Doug got to drinking.

Doug said he didn’t want to be there when police recovered the remains. It was too traumatic, too emotional. But he said he could point out the spot on an aerial image. He asked for one showing the terrain below the Snowbasin ski resort on the back side of Mount Ogden.

Terry Carpenter: But he says it’s the only place where there’s a guard rail on the curve.

Dave Cawley: The more Doug drank, the more he seemed to loosen up. Sometime after 10 p.m., as the summer evening took on the veil of darkness, he changed his mind, saying he was willing to go to the spot so long as they went right then, before his courage faltered.

Terry Carpenter: You’ve got somebody who is fighting emotions, you got somebody who is wanting on one side of him to do something and maybe for the first time in his life to do something right.

Dave Cawley: Terry made a series of phone calls to the prosecutors. They told him to wait until the next day, after Doug had signed the agreement. The next morning Doug read through the memorandum of understanding at the jail. It said in order for the agreement to be binding, he had to lead investigators to human remains that could be positively identified as those of Joyce Yost. Finding just her purse, for instance, wouldn’t be enough.

“If the mountainside has moved, if the animals have carried her off,” Doug said, “if for any reason we can’t find her, I’m [expletive]ed.”

He was right. He signed his name anyway.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: A string of cars cruised east on Utah Highway 39. They entered Ogden Canyon, one after another, winding along the narrow two-lane road like a slithering snake. Doug sat in the back of the lead car, next to Terry. John Caine sat in the front passenger seat while Glen Passey, the Secret Service agent, was at the wheel.

Terry Carpenter: So, we’ve pretty well got him covered and he’s shackled and handcuffed of course.

Dave Cawley: Terry observed Doug’s body language. He noted the clenched jaw and heaving sighs. The cars passed by Pineview Dam as they exited the top of the canyon. They began to slow as they approached the right-hand turn for the access road leading to Snowbasin. This was the place Doug said he’d taken Joyce on the night he’d killed her in 1985.

“I don’t want to do this yet,” Doug blurted out. “Keep going.”

And so they continued another mile down the road. There, the cars pulled into the parking lot of a small restaurant and gas station called Chris’. Doug’s nerves were acting up again. He wanted another beer to help calm down.

Terry Carpenter: And a cigarette and a, y’know. I can tell you how many times I’ve bought beer and cigarettes.

Dave Cawley: All for Doug Lovell?

Terry Carpenter: Ah, yeah. (Laughs)

Dave Cawley: Terry doesn’t drink or smoke, on account of his religion. And so, I was a bit perplexed when I first heard this part of the story. I asked Terry why he’d allowed Doug the courtesy of beer and cigarettes. He told me it was a matter of doing everything he could to try and recover Joyce for Kim and Greg.

Terry Carpenter: They would like to be able to bury their mother. So do you, do you not do everything you can to get it out of him? He’s right there. Supposedly just up this road is where he says, or is he telling us the truth or is he lying to us? The guy’s a great liar. I don’t know. So, if him having a beer or a cigarette is going to help him have enough courage to take us up to where: yes or no. Your choice.

Dave Cawley: Doug drank and chatted with Terry and John for the better part of an hour before at last telling them he’d calmed down and was ready to go. The train of cars flipped around and headed back to Snowbasin Road. The first section of that road was steep, climbing two-thousand feet in just two and a half miles. It then crested a ridge and dropped into the small valley of Wheeler Creek. Beyond the valley, the road rose another thousand feet before reaching the parking lot at the foot of the ski resort.

Doug said the spot he remembered was near a downhill grade, at a place where the road curved. There were guard rail posts along the right-hand side of the road and beyond it a field of sagebrush and a line of trees. Joyce was in the trees.

Terry Carpenter: You know, he tells us you’ve got to go over the guard rail and then go up and then I stomp on her throat right here.

Dave Cawley: Doug and Terry walked through the brush to the spot where Doug claimed to have killed Joyce. But the story didn’t add up for Terry.

Terry Carpenter: We know from the bed, there’s no way in hell that he could have walked her over that guardrail. It just couldn’t have happened. She’s lost too much blood on the mattress for him to walk her over that guardrail. So he’s got to be carrying her all this way.

Dave Cawley: Doug described how he’d at first concealed the body with leaves and branches.

Terry Carpenter: But then he tells us, too and I mentioned to you earlier, that he goes back and moves her.

Dave Cawley: As they walked around the site, Doug told his attorney John Caine how he’d scraped out a small depression and placed Joyce’s body into it on the return visit. Calling it a grave was a stretch. John Caine had, up to that point, been under the impression Doug had done a better job of burying Joyce. Remember, Doug had promised his attorney he could find the remains in the dark or in a snowstorm. Now, John worried his client wouldn’t be able to make good. The shoddiness of the burial raised the possibility Joyce’s body might have since been uncovered and scattered.

Terry told the other officers who’d come along this was their search area. Clearfield police detective Bill Holthaus, who’d first arrested Doug for the rape of Joyce Yost in 1985, was among them.

Bill Holthaus: We kinda just followed along behind. It was South Ogden’s case, y’know, and we were just there to help.

Dave Cawley: They returned the next day, without Doug. They brought coroners from the state medical examiner’s office, covering their trucks with a phony “Joe’s Bakery” logo to avoid drawing attention to the search. The detectives worked with picks and shovels, digging a network of trenches between the trees. They brought in cadaver dogs and consulted with a botanist.

Bill Holthaus: The botanist had told us that there would be certain kinds of fresh plant — because you’re unfortunately good fertilizer — that there would be certain kind of plant life you should look for in little groves.

Dave Cawley: Day after day, they returned to the search area and carried their tools into the patch of oak trees.

Bill Holthaus: We never found any evidence of anything growing at the same time in a small group like he told us we might find up there. Everything looked like pretty much old growth. There wasn’t anything fresh.

Dave Cawley: Doug had claimed to have left Joyce’s purse with the body. Could they at least find that?

Bill Holthaus: No, we didn’t find anything like that. We had metal detectors. Supposedly she had a necklace which wasn’t found at the house.

Dave Cawley: Not a trace.

Kim Salazar: I think that was just a bunch of [expletive]. There was never, he was trying to create mitigation. She’d never been there. He’d never been there. They overturned that hillside and there wasn’t so much as a fingernail.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: The date scheduled for the trial — June 28, 1993 — arrived with no recovery of Joyce’s remains. Doug pleaded guilty to the charge of capital homicide. Judge Stanton Taylor dismissed the kidnapping and burglary counts. Another significant question faced Doug at that point. Under Utah law, he had the right to choose whether a jury or judge would decide his sentence. The jury would have to be unanimous in a finding of death. Otherwise, the sentence would revert to life without parole.

Defense attorney John Caine told Doug, Russ and Monan Lovell privately he believed winning over even one juror was unlikely. He said the smarter play was having the judge choose the sentence.

“In my professional opinion and in my experience with Judge Taylor,” Caine said later, “I don’t think he would impose the death penalty.”

Kim Salazar: He coulda had a jury or he could’ve had the judge. But he knew that that judge had never handed down a death sentence in all his years on the bench. And so he banked on that. He didn’t think Judge Taylor could do it.

Dave Cawley: John wasn’t the only one who believed Judge Taylor might show mercy. So did Kim Salazar and Greg Roberts.

Greg Roberts: I think Bill Daines kind of warned us of that. He said ‘He’s a devoutly religious person.’ Y’know, will he follow the law? Will Stanton Taylor follow the law? Will he uh, just maybe follow his religious beliefs.

Dave Cawley: Terry Carpenter brought Doug back up the mountain after the plea hearing. They watched as a team of cadaver dogs scoured area, again. Terry and Doug went up again later that night, after sundown.

Terry Carpenter: And we drive up the van and he insists on going in the dark, ‘cause that’s when he goes. And we, we do this, or we pick to do this on a night that’s a full moon so we can see well.

Dave Cawley: They parked and stood at the roadside, the sound of crickets in their ears. Doug became emotional. He fell to the ground, rolling onto his side in the gravel, and began to weep. Slobber fell from his mouth, so much so that Terry had to retrieve a towel from the car. Terry noticed something else. There were no tears falling from Doug’s eyes.

Terry Carpenter: Doug was able to, to put up a great front and able to do a lot of things that would show you he was emotional and he was sincere but just that fast it was gone.

Dave Cawley: The Deseret News published a story on July 14, 1993, detailing the search effort. Terry Carpenter told reporters he had one goal.

Terry Carpenter (from July 21, 1993 KSL TV archive): Ideally we would like to locate Joyce, be able to have her be given a decent burial and bring this thing to a close.

Dave Cawley: The search was now public knowledge.

Larry Lewis (from July 21, 1993 KSL TV archive): Investigators have spent hours using shovels and hand tools digging dozens of trenches but so far they’ve found no sign of Joyce Yost. And now they’re bringing in heavy equipment.

Terry Carpenter (from May 1, 1991 police recording):  At one point, I got a permit from the Forest Service and took a backhoe up there and we destroyed that hillside trying to find her.

Dave Cawley: Kim and her husband Randy drove up Ogden Canyon to watch it work.

Randy Salazar: And after you seen somebody coming out from the shrub and everything, you’re hoping they’re, they got some news. But it was always no.

Dave Cawley: Doug kept making suggestions.

Terry Carpenter: She’s not within an acre of where he says ‘this is, or maybe this is, oh maybe this.’

Dave Cawley: Maybe, he said, he could pinpoint the spot if hypnotized. That didn’t work. Terry even brought Doug up the mountain with a self-described psychic.

Randy Salazar: And Doug cries and says ‘I know she’s here’ and ‘I can feel her here, this is the place.’ But again, he’s full of crap.

Dave Cawley: Terry, who was already skeptical of Doug’s story, wondered if there might be another explanation.

Terry Carpenter: She’s not there. She was never there. … She’s not even at Snowbasin. She is someplace else and honestly to this day, I believe Sheree Warren’s with her. Otherwise, if we go up and dig and find Joyce and find Sheree, that negates all the agreements that we’ve had with him and not executing him. And he knows that. So he’s not going to take us to Joyce.

Dave Cawley: Still, the work continued.

Greg Roberts: The show of like manpower when they were looking for her up near that Old Snowbasin Road with dogs and horses and men and bulldozers and backhoes and everything, it was, you’d think if there was something there that, y’know, maybe they will find her but yeah I do think he was just fully leading them on a wild goose chase to, to act like he’d tried.

Dave Cawley: Someone even suggested they try truffle-sniffing pigs, which were said to have noses more sensitive than even cadaver dogs. The searchers procured pigs from Colorado but they didn’t find anything, either.

Larry Lewis (from July 21, 1993 KSL TV archive): Meantime they say, they’re running out of patience and they’ll seek the death penalty for Lovell if they don’t find Yost by the end of the month. Larry Lewis, KSL News, Weber County.

[Ad break]

Dave Cawley: I opened this episode talking about the 1974 Ogden Hi-Fi Shop murders. That case made news in its day not only because of the brutality, but because it was one of the first death penalty prosecutions in the United States following a federal moratorium on executions.

Con Psarras (from July 29, 1992 KSL TV archive): It was a time of high emotion and legal turmoil. The justice system was grappling for another approach to capital punishment that the courts and the public would accept.

Dave Cawley: The full story of capital punishment in the United States extends well beyond the scope of this podcast, but Utah has played a key role in that story, dating back to before it even became a state.

In 1877, a man named Wallace Wilkerson shot and killed another man at a saloon in the Utah Territory during a dispute over a game of cribbage. Territorial law mandated the punishment for the crime of murder was death. Prior to 1876, the law had provided for three possible methods: hanging, decapitation or firing squad. At his sentencing, the judge ordered Wallace to die by firing squad.

Wallace then appealed his sentence, arguing it amounted to cruel and unusual punishment, which is prohibited by the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The appeal made its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court which for the first time in its history weighed the constitutionality of a specific manner of capital punishment. The decision came in March of 1879 and it was unanimous. The high court upheld the sentence. Death by firing squad, it said, was neither cruel nor unusual punishment.

Wallace’s actual execution tested that conclusion. The archives of the Deseret News indicate the firing squad missed the mark. Instead of shooting Wallace through the heart, the rounds went high through his chest. Wallace shouted “Oh God” and fell forward were he remained writhing in agony for another 27 minutes before dying.

In an editorial days later, the newspaper defended capital punishment by citing biblical precedent. “The dread of a violent death is greater than any terrors of imprisonment,” the paper read. It went on to argue against life imprisonment as an alternative to death, saying, “a tender hearted Executive may at some time grant a pardon, and a bare probability at least exists for escape in some way. But the sentence of death rigidly enforced carries with it a strong deterrent.” Whether capital punishment in fact has such a deterrent effect remains a matter of debate today.

Nearly a century passed before, in 1972 the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a decision in a case called Furman v. Georgia.

Warren Burger (from U.S. Supreme Court recording): Arguments next in 69-5003, Furman against Georgia.

Dave Cawley: The decision actually covered three separate cases, all involving men sentenced to die: two for rape, one for murder. Each argued on appeal that their sentences amounted to cruel and unusual punishment.

Anthony Amsterdam (from U.S. Supreme Court recording): Capital punishment is regarded as indecent. As inconsistent with civilized standards today.

Dave Cawley: Every single justice on the high court bench wrote a separate opinion, with five of them agreeing the death penalty as imposed in the Furman cases was unconstitutional. The gist of the majority position revolved around the idea that the death penalty was too often applied arbitrarily. This meant people who were sentenced to die were more likely to be young, uneducated or a member of a minority group. All three of the defendants in the Furman cases were Black.

Anthony Amsterdam (from U.S. Supreme Court recording): The jury comes back with death. The defendant is black, the victim is white. That’s all the aggravation in the case.

Dave Cawley: Several of the justices noted judges and juries rarely applied capital punishment to rapists when they were not Black. The Furman decision had an immediate impact.

Con Psarras (from July 29, 1992 KSL TV archive): Death rows emptied all over America. In Utah, killers Myron Lance and Walter Kellback, who brutally murdered and then bragged about it, were re-sentenced to life in prison. The public wasn’t happy.

Dave Cawley: States scrambled to rewrite their death penalty laws, looking for a way to re-establish capital punishment without running afoul of the Supreme Court. Many, including Utah, coalesced around a system by which judges or juries would have to balance specific aggravating and mitigating circumstances before deciding if death was warranted. The Utah Legislature passed its revised law in 1973.

Con Psarras (from July 29, 1992 KSL TV archive): A new law was designed. A test case was necessary. And then came the murders in Ogden.

Dave Cawley: The 1974 Ogden Hi-Fi Shop killings. William Andrews and Dale Selby Pierre were tried, convicted and sentenced under Utah’s new death penalty framework. Two years later, the U.S. Supreme Court said these rewritten capital punishment laws resolved the inadequacies identified in the Furman decision. The nation’s moratorium on executions came to an end. Here again, Utah found itself in the crosshairs of history.

John Hollenhorst (from January 17, 1977 KSL TV archive): A lot of attention will be focused on Utah today. Some people will say Utah is backward, barbaric place because it put a man to death for the first time in years.

Dave Cawley: In January of 1977, Utah executed convicted killer Gary Gilmore by firing squad. Gilmore had killed two men on back-to-back nights in 1976: a gas station attendant named Max Jensen and a motel manager named Bennie Bushnell. He faced trial for only one murder — Bushnell’s — and was convicted. At his sentencing, Gilmore told the judge “you sentenced me to die. Unless it’s a joke or something, I want to go ahead and do it.”

He refused to appeal his sentence, fast-tracking his own execution. Religious groups and the ACLU attempted to intervene, against Gilmore’s wishes. The execution was twice delayed, including one time when Utah’s governor issued a last-minute stay. Gary told the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole he was not happy.

Gary Gilmore (from KSL TV archive): I’d personally decided he was a moral coward for doing that. I simply accepted a sentence that was given to me. I’ve accepted sentences all my life. I didn’t know I had a choice in the matter. When I did accept it, everybody jumped up and wanted to start to argue with me. It seems that the people, especially the people of Utah, they want the death penalty but they don’t want executions.

Dave Cawley: The actual day of Gilmore’s execution came a little over three months from the date of his sentencing. Prison staff escorted him from his maximum security cell, walking him past the neighboring cells housing the HiFi Shop killers.

John Hollenhorst (from January 17, 1977 KSL TV archive): I’m told that in maximum security, the mood there is somewhat restless. The other inmates apparently are kind of keyed up about this thing.

Dave Cawley: “Adios, Pierre and Andrews,” the Deseret News quoted Gilmore as saying on his walk out of maximum security. “I’ll be seeing you directly.”

(Sound of phone ringing)

Kenneth Shulson (from January 17, 1977 KSL TV archive): Shulson. Thank you. The order of the 4th Judicial District Court of the State of Utah has been carried out. Gary Mark Gilmore is dead.

Dave Cawley: Gilmore made history as the first person executed in the United States following the Supreme Court’s 1972 moratorium. His death was the first execution in the country in nearly 10 years. Dale Pierre’s execution wouldn’t come for another 10 years.

John Hollenhorst (from August 28, 1987 KSL TV archive): The prison warden asked for Selby’s last words. The warden wrote them down and later read them to reporters.

Gerald Cook (from August 28, 1987 KSL TV archive): ‘Ask the pastor to send any money left to William Andrews.’ I asked him if he had anything else to say, he says ‘I’m just going to say my prayers. Thank you.’

Dave Cawley: He died by lethal injection in August of ’87.

John Hollenhorst (from August 28, 1987 KSL TV archive): Less than five minutes after Selby’s last words, the beating of his heart faded away. The soles of his feet changed from healthy pink to lifeless white. A doctor quietly entered the room, checked for a sign of life. There was none and by 12 minutes after 1, the murderer was dead. A human life had been taken away as quietly as a child drifts off to sleep.

Dave Cawley: William Andrews, as you’ve already heard, followed suit in ’92. He’d been on death row for nearly 18 years by that point. News reports at the time said his was the longest active wait for any death row inmate in the country. This delay could largely be attributed to the flurry of appeals that are typical in death penalty cases. Very few condemned individuals follow the path of Gary Gilmore and spur on their own executions.

Which brings us to July of ’93 and the impending sentencing of Doug Lovell for the murder of Joyce Yost.

[Scene transition]

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): No matter what words are wrote, or decision made, no one has had it harder than Joyce’s family. Her family and loved ones lives have been changed and altered forever and more than likely will never totally heal and I’m to blame for that.

Dave Cawley: Doug wrote this letter to Judge Stanton Taylor…

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): Eight long years for them of not knowing is a hell that no one should have to go through, and I am truly sorry.

Dave Cawley: …in hopes of swaying the decision on his impending sentence.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): Sir, I tried to turn over Joyce’s body to her loved ones even before I was charged with her murder. I just didn’t know how to do it.

Dave Cawley: Fear, he said, was what had kept him from coming clean years earlier. He’d only lied to protect to Rhonda, the mother of his child. In the time since, Joyce’s body had vanished.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): The place that I have taken the police time and time again is the place where I took this young lady’s life and left her there. I can’t explain why she’s not there.

Dave Cawley: He didn’t even hazard a guess. Doug went on to talk about the painful experiences of his childhood. The source of his problems, Doug wrote, was his refusal to ever discuss his feelings.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): On the outside I may have looked OK but on the inside I was going through a haunting hell. I was so unhappy and hateful of myself.

Dave Cawley: Doug said that had changed. The therapy he’d received since entering prison had made all the difference.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): Change for me was very hard and painful. I had to work at it every minute of every day. It didn’t happen over night, it took several years.

Dave Cawley: Going forward, he said he hoped to use his experience to help troubled kids avoid falling into the same trap.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): I know that if I was able to talk openly and honestly with young people I could make a difference. I want them to know and understand that talking is the key to helping yourself, that it’s not a bad thing to admit that you’re having problems.

Dave Cawley: Nowhere in this letter did Doug make an explicit plea for Judge Taylor to spare his life. He did though, in a roundabout way, acknowledge what might await him on death row by referencing the Hi-Fi Shop murders.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): Where I am housed right now is 30 to 40 feet away from where William Andrews was executed. The night his life was taken was a night that I will never forget. I didn’t sleep all night and wasn’t able to eat for days. … I remember thinking of my children, my family and my victims family.

Dave Cawley: Who were Joyce’s loved ones? Doug either couldn’t or wouldn’t mention Kim and Greg by name.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): I asked Terry Carpenter if I could speak to Joyce’s family to allow them to vent their anger to me. I feel they have the right to do so and ask me any questions they want.

Dave Cawley: He wrapped up the letter by saying if he could, he would ask God to bring Joyce back. He called her a “young woman,” ignoring the fact she’d been more than 10 years his senior when he’d murdered her.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): I see visions of Joyce Yost each and every day and it is very painful to me to see what I have done.

Dave Cawley: He did not explain why he’d killed her. Instead, he used his final paragraph to note all of the great achievements of his own childhood: championships in wrestling, tennis and motocross.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): One of the many messages I want to get across to young people is that we are all capable of being many good things in life. I want to tell them to stay close to sports, religion, school and family.

Dave Cawley: He’d written more than 2,600 words to say, frankly, very little.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): Sir, the man you sentence today is not the same man that took this young woman life 8 years ago. I am truly sorry for what I did. Thank you, Doug Lovell.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: The date of Doug’s sentencing arrived. The three-day hearing began on July 29, 1993. The prosecutors, Bill Daines and Gary Heward, argued for a sentence of death. They began making that case by spelling out Doug’s criminal history. They put Bill Holthaus on the stand to explain the details of the rape case. They called Cody Montgomery to testify about the guns stolen from his home. They called Rhonda, who told the story of Doug’s attempts to hire hitmen before carrying out the murder himself.

Doug passed a note to his attorney as Rhonda spoke. On it were a list of questions he wanted John to ask her. John looked them over and decided they would do more harm than good. He did not ask Rhonda the questions. Joyce’s daughter Kim Salazar had a tough time with Rhonda’s testimony.

Kim Salazar: There was a recess in the court and I went outside and she was outside, she came outside to smoke and she came right over to me and, y’know, tried to talk to me and I don’t have anything to say to her.

Dave Cawley: Kim’s husband Randy likewise had strong feelings.

Randy Salazar: Back then, I thought to myself ‘Rhonda deserves more than what Rhonda ever got.’ Rhonda got off pretty darn easy.

Dave Cawley: And yet, if hadn’t been for Rhonda, Terry Carpenter would likely never have broken the case. He would’ve never learned of Billy Jack or Tom Peters.

Terry Carpenter: Tom was a pretty good dude. I ended up spending quite a bit of time with Tom Peters.

Dave Cawley: Tom testified against Doug, saying when they’d first met while Doug was in prison for robbery, he thought Doug was “just a young kid that was going down the wrong street.” That had changed. Tom said Doug scared him now.

Terry also took the stand. He went through the whole history of his investigation, culminating with the fruitless search below Snowbasin. He still gets emotional recalling it now, all these decades later.

Terry Carpenter: The times that I spent with our team, pretty frustrating.

Dave Cawley: On cross examination, John suggested the five trips Doug had taken to the mountain search area showed his willingness to help. Terry agreed.

“Doug enjoys getting out of prison to come and do about anything,” Terry said.

The defense began presenting its case on day two. John called a pair of prison guards, who talked about how easy to manage Doug had always been. He called Colleen Bartell, the social worker who’d provided group and individual substance abuse therapy to Doug. She said she’d seen great improvement in Doug’s behaviors of denial and minimization. He’d confessed the murder to her in April of ’92, she said.

Randy Salazar: I think somebody got up and testified that he was a, uh, he was an inmate that was always trying stop conflict inside the prison. Give me a break. Quit giving him credit.

Dave Cawley: Doug’s dad, Monan, took the stand and described how the overdose death of his middle son Royce had affected Doug. Monan said he believed — but couldn’t prove — Royce had been murdered, though he didn’t say by whom. He did mention though how Royce and Doug had been involved in a “brotherly fight” the day before Royce died.

“To this day I don’t know if he’s ever acknowledged that to anybody, what they fought about,” Monan said.

I described Royce’s death and this argument between Royce and Doug way back in episode 1. Remember, Royce died just six days before he was due to testify as a state’s witness in a robbery case. I’ve recently obtained old court records from that case. They show Royce received a subpoena the day before he died — the same day as this mysterious fight with Doug.

And the man who was charged in that case was not convicted. The judge dismissed the charges because the victim and primary witness — Royce Lovell — wasn’t available to testify at trial. An interesting precedent for Doug to have observed, considering what we know he later did to Joyce Yost.

Joyce’s family listened as one of Doug’s aunts and step-sisters testified. They told of how he’d tried to return Joyce’s body, how he’d written them letters expressing grief, how he’d tried to set one of his teenage step-nephews straight when the boy had developed a drug habit.

Then, Doug took to the witness stand himself.

John Caine talked Doug through his prison disciplinary record. They talked about his job at the prison sign shop, which he’d lost after Terry served him with the murder charge. Doug said he’d since accepted a new job tutoring illiterate inmates.

Under cross-examination, he at last admitted on the record to having raped Joyce. He even confessed having forced her to perform oral sex, a fact Joyce herself had not had the heart to share with her own son Greg.

Greg Roberts: It was the first that I was hearing all that and it was really something to, to go through just to listen to the person that did it and the reality of it all. Extremely painful.

Dave Cawley: Doug said he’d startled Joyce awake after sneaking into her apartment through the window on the night of the murder. They’d struggled and he’d and slashed her hand with his hunting knife.

Randy Salazar: And that’s when he’s telling her, he’s not gonna kill you. I’m, I’m just gonna take you away until the trial’s over.

Dave Cawley: Doug said he gave Joyce a handful of Valium to calm her down and keep her from crying out for help.

Greg Roberts: I remember just being blown away by him. You could tell he was trying to minimize maybe how, maybe the cruelty of the act by saying he gave her drugs and put his hand over her mouth and things over that when…

Dave Cawley: Doug said he’d taken Joyce out to her car and ordered her to get into the trunk.

“Please don’t put me in the trunk,” Joyce had begged, according to Doug’s story.

Just how honest was Doug in this testimony? Joyce’s children couldn’t be sure.

Greg Roberts: At that point in time, he felt like he had something to gain by being honest and just telling what happened.

Dave Cawley: His account was very similar to the one Rhonda had given, with a few notable exceptions. He denied having told Rhonda he killed Joyce up by Causey Reservoir, saying he’d never even been to Causey except once as a young Boy Scout. Doug said he hadn’t previously been to the place on Snowbasin Road where he’d killed Joyce, either. But he contradicted himself here, having earlier confirmed he and Rhonda had picnicked near Snowbasin a couple of times.

Greg Roberts: I mean, I don’t think he was trying to inflict more pain on us at that point, it was just painful to hear.

Dave Cawley: Prosecutor Bill Daines made his closing argument, pointing out Joyce’s children in the courtroom and noting how Doug’s actions had deprived them of their mother. But they weren’t the only victims.

“The system itself was struck in the heart with this case,” Bill said. “We cannot maintain a criminal justice system in this country if people are allowed to kill the witnesses who come before our courts.”

Defense attorney John Caine made no attempt to dismiss Doug’s actions. But he said death was not warranted for the three reasons: Doug’s efforts to return Joyce’s remains, all of the progress he’d made during his years of incarceration and what he called the “proportionality of conduct” between Doug and Rhonda. That’s a fancy way of saying it wouldn’t be right to execute Doug for a murder while Rhonda, an accessory to that same crime, escaped with no punishment whatsoever.

Here, John called back to the Hi-Fi Shop murders and to his work defending William Andrews. The evidence in that case had not shown William did the actual killing, John said, yet he’d been executed for his part in the crimes. How would it be fair to execute Doug and allow Rhonda to go free?

John said Doug Lovell was not the same man he’d been in 1985. He still had a long way to go in the journey of self-improvement, but his life had value and should be spared.

Judge Taylor did not render a decision on the spot. He wanted to think it over, so he instead told everyone to return on August 5th, at which time he would announce the sentence. He did not waste time when that day came, telling Doug to stand before him.

Randy Salazar: He says, ‘In all my years on this bench, I’ve never given out the death sentence.’ … And I remember his voice cracking. And, and I remember him telling him … ‘I sentence you to death.’

Dave Cawley: The defense’s strategy, choosing judge over jury for sentencing, had backfired.

Kim Salazar: He banked on the fact that that judge had never had a capital case in front of him before.

Dave Cawley: Relief washed over Kim and Greg.

Greg Roberts: We felt great that he followed the law.

Dave Cawley: One final question faced Doug: what manner of death would he prefer?

Randy Salazar: And he asked Doug, back at the thing, I think back then they had lethal injection and the firing squad.

Dave Cawley: John Caine said Doug would remain silent on that question, leaving the decision to Judge Taylor.

Randy Salazar: ‘Gee, this guy just don’t get it. He don’t care.’

Dave Cawley: Judge Taylor selected lethal injection. He scheduled a date, but in the next breath postponed it indefinitely, due to the automatic appeal of the sentence required by state law. Joyce’s family, including her aging sister Dorothy, were met by TV cameras as they exited the courtroom.

Larry Lewis (from August 5, 1993 KSL TV archive): Yost’s family expressed relief over the death sentence.

Dorothy Dial (from August 5, 1993 KSL TV archive): You take a life, uh, y’know, this is fair. This is fair. He planned this a long time, so it’s fair.

Larry Lewis (from August 5, 1993 KSL TV archive): Yost’s daughter thinks Lovell still knows where the body is, but isn’t telling.

Kim Salazar (from August 5, 1993 KSL TV archive): He’s gotta second judgement day still ahead. Y’know, maybe before he’s executed he’ll tell us what we need to know.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Kim wasn’t the only person hoping for answers now that Doug Lovell sat on death row. Police in the city Roy were interested in questioning him about the disappearance of Sheree Warren. So was Terry Carpenter.

Terry Carpenter: In my mind, that’s why he didn’t ever take us to where Joyce was. ‘Cause I believe they’re together.

Dave Cawley: A detective from the Salt Lake City suburb of Woods Cross also wanted to know if he’d had a hand in the unsolved disappearance of another woman named Theresa Greaves, who’d vanished in 1983.

“I don’t know either of these women,” Doug told an Associated Press reporter a couple of weeks after his sentencing.

The AP article noted some of the investigators who’d taken part in the search for Joyce’s body believed Doug might have intentionally led them away, to keep them from finding other bodies he might also have disposed of in the mountains.

Greg Roberts: Bill Daines, that Weber County attorney had expressed that theory to me a long time ago and it just seemed to make a lot of sense. I mean, he’s a smart guy.

Kim Salazar: It’s my belief that the reason that he won’t tell us where my mom is is because there’s not just one body.

Dave Cawley: “They’re making me out to be a serial killer,” Doug said, “and that’s not the case.”

Cold season 2, episode 8: Help Me, Rhonda – Full episode transcript

Dave Cawley: Doug Lovell’s relationship with his ex-wife Rhonda Buttars had soured, so much so that on Sunday, May 10, 1992 he’d told her off in an angry letter.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): I have done everything I can to be a friend to you Rhonda. I have never bad-mouthed you behind your back & I have treated you as kind as possible on the phone.

Dave Cawley: You’ve heard most of his this already, at the end of the last episode.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): As I said earlier Rhonda, you win! You don’t need to hide behind the answering machine, or ask the kids to lie, or even make up lies yourself, I won’t call, write or send anything anymore.

Dave Cawley: What you didn’t hear was the aftermath. Days later, on Wednesday of that same week, Weber County Attorney Reed Richards signed a formal immunity agreement for Rhonda. This was something South Ogden police sergeant Terry Carpenter had promised Rhonda more than a year earlier.

Terry Carpenter (from May 1, 1991 police recording): There was an agreement made between you and I that immunity would be sought for you, and that there would be no charges filed against your, per se your involvement with Joyce Yost. Is that correct?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 1, 1991 police recording): Yes.

Terry Carpenter (from May 1, 1991 police recording): Okay. And there was a condition I put on that. Do you remember what it was? That provided you didn’t pull the trigger, we wouldn’t have any problem with that.

Rhonda Buttars (from May 1, 1991 police recording): Right.

Terry Carpenter (from May 1, 1991 police recording): And the reaction was, to that, was that she hadn’t been shot. Is that right?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 1, 1991 police recording): Right.

Terry Carpenter (from May 1, 1991 police recording): Ok.

Dave Cawley: But that original verbal agreement had not carried the force of law. Rhonda had incriminated herself without a signed and sealed immunity agreement.

Terry Carpenter: That’s really the first solid lead that we had, that she knew and that Doug had done it. We knew he’d done it, but we could never prove it.

Dave Cawley: Terry’s entire case depended on Rhonda. She’d spent months assisting his investigation with no lawyer, no safety net.

Terry Carpenter: We got so much information from her that we would never have gotten without her.

Dave Cawley: She had twice worn a wire into the Utah State Prison, placing immense trust in Terry.

Rhonda Buttars (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): I don’t do court. You’re not listening.

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): You do well in court.

Rhonda Buttars (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): No I don’t.

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): Yes you do. If you look at your track record, they’ve never been able to keep you.

Dave Cawley: The time had come for Terry to reward that trust. The formal agreement signed on that day in May of ’92 promised Rhonda would receive “transactional immunity” from charges, like the capital murder case prosecutors were about to at long last file against her ex-husband.

This is Cold. Season 2, episode 8: Help Me, Rhonda. From KSL Podcasts, I’m Dave Cawley. We’ll be right back.

[Ad break]

Dave Cawley: The ink had barely dried on Rhonda Buttars’ formal immunity agreement when, on Thursday…

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): The date today is the 14th of May, 1992. It’s approximately 1602 hours.

Dave Cawley: …Doug Lovell received word he had a visitor.

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): This is Terry Carpenter. I’m currently at the Utah State Prison awaiting Doug Lovell to come and talk with me.

Dave Cawley: Terry had brought a summons, ordering Doug to appear in court to answer for charges related to the disappearance of Joyce Yost. The counts included capital murder, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated burglary.

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): I want to give him a chance to talk to me. I hope he will talk to me.

Corrections officer (from May 14, 1992 police recording): I hope so, too.

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): I’ll be surprised, but I, I want to at least give him the opportunity to.

Dave Cawley: It’d been more than seven years since Doug had first followed Joyce home and raped her, a crime that had landed him in prison. Doug was living in SSD, the prison’s special services dormitory. Colleen Bartell, a social worker at the prison, had made space for him in a group substance abuse therapy program there earlier that year. Doug was in the middle of one of those group sessions when a corrections officer came to get him. Doug headed over to the prison offices where Terry was waiting.

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): How you doing?

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): How you doing?

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): I’m doing good. Good to see you.

Dave Cawley: It was almost a year to the day since Terry had last visited Doug at the prison and told him he intended to charge him for Joyce’s murder.

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Doug, I’m keeping promises today.

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Alright.

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): ‘Kay. Uh, come down to talk to you. If you want to talk about it. I’m here to serve you with a summons on a capital murder.

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): I don’t know what to say.

Dave Cawley: Doug eyed Terry’s micro cassette recorder. Terry reassured Doug he could speak freely.

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): It’s not on. Haven’t even put a tape in it. There’s the tape. 

(Tape clatters on table)

Dave Cawley: Of course, he neglected to mention his second — hidden — recording device. The one capturing this copy of their conversation.

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): If you want to talk about it, I’d, I’ll be glad to work what I can with it. Umm, I made you a promise before if I could get the body back, I would drop the capital aspect of it. Or we would submit it that way. But those were the only terms that I would work with.

Dave Cawley: Doug had refused that earlier offer.

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): I’m gonna read it to you so you understand it, Doug. It says, the undersigned complaint upon the oath states that the complainant has reason to believe that the above named defendant on or about the 11th day of August, 1985 in Weber County, state of Utah committed—

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Have they they proven she’s even dead?

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): —committed a capital felony. To whit, aggravated murder, which is murder in the first degree, and then it gives the codes for it, as amended as follows, said defendant intentionally or knowingly caused the death of Joyce Yost under any of the following circumstances…

Dave Cawley: The circumstances included preventing Joyce from testifying, retaliating against her for testifying and hindering the government’s investigation into her rape.

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): This information is based on the information from both myself, Gordon Kaufman and Brad Birch, who are the people that gave me the information.

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Who’s Gordon Kaufman?

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Gordon Kaufman is the person who she was with on Saturday night. He was one of the last people that saw Joyce alive, ok? That’s why we used his information.

Dave Cawley: And that was just count one. Terry read the other counts: kidnapping for taking Joyce with the intent of terrorizing her and preventing her testimony and burglary for breaking into her apartment with the intent of causing her bodily harm.

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): So you’re saying they’ve found Joyce Yost?

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): I’m not saying that. What I asked was for your cooperation and you refused to give that to me, regardless.

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Well I, I don’t know anything about Joyce’s disappearance.

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Ok.

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): I didn’t then and I don’t now.

Dave Cawley: Terry whipped out his pen, signed his name on the summons and provided Doug a carbon copy.

(Sound of pen scratches)

Dave Cawley: The cogs must’ve been turning in Doug’s mind. If police didn’t possess Joyce’s body, what evidence could they have? The only person — other than himself — who knew what’d happened to Joyce was…

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): My concern is, uh, for Rhonda. Can you tell me anything that’s happened to her?

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Yep. I’m going after Rhonda right now, Doug. And I can prove her involvement, too.

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Involvement in what?

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): In the murder and death of Joyce Yost.

Dave Cawley: The two men stared at one another.

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Are you saying that I or Rhonda, I or Rhonda, or I took the life of Joyce Yost?

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): I’m saying you and that Rhonda assisted. That’s what I’m saying.

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): That Rhonda insisted in a m—, assisted in a murder?

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Assisted you in that.

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): You’re saying I killed her.

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): I am, yes. I sure am, Doug.

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): You’re wrong, Carpenter. You’re, you’re dead wrong.

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Well, I think things will prove to show otherwise, Doug.

Dave Cawley: Terry said he wished Doug had cooperated when they’d met a year earlier. His refusal would likely cost him his life. Doug seemed unfazed.

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): I’m telling you I didn’t kill Joyce Yost and Rhonda certainly wasn’t.

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): And I’m telling you I don’t believe you and I know that that is not true.

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): If you think Rhonda was involved in something, I guess you’re crazy.

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): I could tell you a whole bunch about it. It’s not gonna do me any good to tell you what I know. I wouldn’t have a warrant for you and I wouldn’t be going to pick up Rhonda if that was not the case.

Dave Cawley: This was, of course, deception on Terry’s part, but it had the intended effect. It watered the seed of Doug’s paranoia, his fear Rhonda might crack.

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): I know what I know, Doug and, uh—

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Do you, do you got a warrant for Rhonda?

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): The time for, the time for blowing smoke is all done. ‘Kay?

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Yeah, it is.

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): And I’m not gonna play anymore. Uh, I gave you a long time to do it, so I’m—

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): And to be honest with you, I’m glad it’s here. I’m glad it’s here so we can finally get it out because I’m tired of it being held over me. I honestly I am.

Dave Cawley: The cards were on the table and Doug believed he held a hand that could beat the house.

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): If you think I killed Joyce and you think Rhonda was even so much involved in a, a criminal homicide case, you’re umm, you’re wrong.

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Well, I don’t think so. And I think without any question I can prove it. So, we’ll be glad to submit it and work with it from there.

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Fine. Is that it?

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): That’s all have. Yep.

Dave Cawley: They stood…

(Sound of them standing)

Dave Cawley: …and walked out into the hallway. Terry expected to find prison staff there, waiting to take Doug over to Uinta, the prison’s maximum security building. But they weren’t there. Doug took off down the hallway, as if headed back to SSD.

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Doug, come back to me here. I don’t think they want you to go anywhere.

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Huh?

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): I don’t think they want you to go anywhere.

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Where am I gonna go?

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): I think they want you to wait right here.

Dave Cawley: Doug did as ordered and, while they stood and waited, lit a cigarette and wished Terry good luck. Terry replied this was a good chance for Doug to consider what he’d done.

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): The last time I faced you, I stood eyeball-to-eyeball with you and told you that I’d made arrangements to get you out of jail to take you to your mom’s funeral. Do you remember that?

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Yeah.

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): That was true, Doug. That was—

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): And if we would have been on the streets, you would have approached me with that, I would have took your [expletive] head right off.

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Well—

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Using my mother like that.

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): I didn’t use your mother for anything.

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Oh, the hell you didn’t.

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): That was an opportunity for you, Doug, to be able to get out of here and do something on your own. Otherwise you’d have never got it. And obviously you didn’t get it. Right?

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): If you’d have brought it to me that, that way on the streets—

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Well, if you was on the street, you wouldn’t have had to have any help to get there.

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): The way you used my mother like that, that was bull[expletive].

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Well, I didn’t use your mother. You knew about it, you was the one who commented on it.

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): You used the death of another person, my mom had just barely died you son of a bitch. We was on the streets Carpenter, I would have took your [expletive] head right off.

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Well, that would be welcome, y’know?

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): And I, and I’m not no basket mental case like I was in Joyce’s trial. You guys got a hell of a fight on your hand and I’m glad this is here.

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): That’s good. I’m glad it’s here too, Doug. And obviously nothing’s got to you, there’s no conscience involved and that probably tells me basically what I needed to know.

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): I did not take the life of Joyce Yost. If she is in fact dead, I did not take the life of Joyce Yost. Nor was I there.

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Okay.

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): And Rhonda was no way, no way involved.

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): I uh, think that will prove otherwise, Doug.

Dave Cawley: Doug doubled down.

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Well, I, y’know, it would have been nice to have gotten to the point where you’d even talk about it or give us what information you did have about it and uh, you obviously didn’t want to do that.

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): What information do you want? I don’t have none.

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): That will change.

Dave Cawley: Doug turned and walked away from Terry again. He found a prison guard and asked to go back to SSD.

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Okay, whatever. I don’t—

Doug Lovell (from May 14, 1992 police recording): I’ll see you.

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Alright, I’ll be there.

Dave Cawley: Terry was not finished, though. He went to find the duty officer as Doug headed across the yard.

Corrections officer (from May 14, 1992 police recording): How’s you doing?

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): I’m doing good. I’m doing good. Your inmate’s not doing so good though. I just served capital homicide warrants on him.

Corrections officer (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Oh, I bet he’s not a happy camper.

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): He is pissed.

Corrections officer (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Where’d you put him at?

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): He went back. I stood out here in the hall for 15 minutes with him and he walked right back and says, ‘I’m going back to SSD.’

Corrections officer (from May 14, 1992 police recording): (On radio) SSD duty officer. (To Terry) What was his last name again?

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Lovell.

Corrections officer (from May 14, 1992 police recording): (On radio) Hey Langley, send uh, Lovell back over here to the building. Yeah. He should be on his way back. Don’t even let him come in the building. Just send him right back over here.

Dave Cawley: Terry had taken the advice of a prison informant named William Babbel, whom you heard in the last episode. William had told Terry the prison would be able to place Doug in maximum security once the murder charge was filed. Terry had arranged to make that happen. Doug was losing his place in SSD, with all its privileges.

The officer-in-charge of the prison that evening was Carl Jacobson, the guard with whom Doug had for so many years watched the 6 o’clock news. Carl had by this point in ’92 promoted to the rank of lieutenant. Carl took the call from the duty officer and headed over to SSD to intercept Doug. Terry Carpenter, meantime, warned prison staff to be cautious.

Corrections officer (from May 14, 1992 police recording): He’s uh, not hostile, is he?

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Oh, he’s pretty upset, yeah.

Corrections officer (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Oh, he is?

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): He’s pissed.

Corrections officer (from May 14, 1992 police recording): He doesn’t know he’s going to three?

Terry Carpenter (from May 14, 1992 police recording): Nope. Not yet.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Doug’s brother Russ received a collect call from the prison on the evening of Friday, May 15, about 24 hours after Doug’s move out of SSD.

Operator (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): This is US West communications. You have a collect call from ‘Doug.’ Please answer the following question yes or no. Will you pay for the call?

Russ Lovell (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): Yes.

Dave Cawley: But it wasn’t actually Doug on the line.

‘Partner’ (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): Hello. Uh, hey uh, I’m a partner of Doug’s, man. They got him in a lockdown situation right now. And uh, he’s over here in Uinta 2. It’s maximum security. Before he was in Uinta 3. And uh, he asked me to call you. … Uh, I don’t know if you’ve heard the news or not.

Russ Lovell (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): Yeah, it’s in the paper. It’s supposed to be on the news in a few minutes.

‘Partner’ (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): Yeah, it’s already been on at 5:30 on 4. It should come on 5 at 6 o’clock.

Russ Lovell (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): Uh huh.

Dave Cawley: The man told Russ Doug had an urgent request. He needed his brother to call Rhonda.

‘Partner’ (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): Rhonda, yeah. He wants to know how her and the kids are doing. And he says if she isn’t home, please call the Weber County Jail and see if she’s been booked yet or not. They told him they was gonna charge her.

Russ Lovell (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): Oh really?

‘Partner’ (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): Yeah. They told him that yesterday. He says, ‘Well I’m—‘ the detective told him, ‘I’m going up there to arrest your wife now, your ex-wife now.’

Dave Cawley: The man asked Russ if he knew whether or not Rhonda had been arrested.

Russ Lovell (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): Oh, I have no idea.

‘Partner’ (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): Uh, could you call and then, if she is—

Russ Lovell (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): Sure.

‘Partner’ (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): And I’ll call back in 30 minutes and you can—

Russ Lovell (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): Okay.

‘Partner’ (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): Okay.

Russ Lovell (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): Alright.

‘Partner’ (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): Alright then.  Thank you for accepting the call.

Dave Cawley: Doug’s friend called Russ again a short time later.

Russ Lovell (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): Hello there.

‘Partner’ (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): How you doing?

Russ Lovell (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): (Laughs) I talked to Rhonda. She’s, they haven’t, they didn’t pick her up or anything. She has to be to court the same time Doug does I guess Wednesday morning.

‘Partner’ (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): Did they go talk to her?

Russ Lovell (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): Yeah.

‘Partner’ (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): And uh, they’re charging her too?

Russ Lovell (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): Well, they haven’t yet.

‘Partner’ (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): Mmmhmm. But they’re gonna charge her Wednesday?

Russ Lovell (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): Probably.

‘Partner’ (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): Uh huh.

Russ Lovell (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): Well, all she said is she had to be to court Wednesday.

‘Partner’ (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): Okay, well he just wanted me to find that out, and—

Russ Lovell (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): Yeah so, she’ll be there, probably when, I guess probably the same time he will.

‘Partner’ (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): Okay.

Dave Cawley: The man told Russ his brother wasn’t in a great state of mind.

Russ Lovell (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): Well, that’s the way Rhonda is. Tell him Rhonda’s not very good, either.

‘Partner’ (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): Uh huh. Yeah, it’s sort of a complete shock to him, y’know, but, uh, there isn’t too much I can say over the phone so—

Russ Lovell (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): Yeah, okay.

‘Partner’ (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): Okay, I better let you go.

Russ Lovell (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): Alright

‘Partner’ (from May 15, 1992 prison phone recording): Alright. Thanks you for accepting the call.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Doug’s move to the prison’s Uinta facility had triggered TRO, or temporary restrictive order. Solitary, in other words. He’d spent hours stewing alone in a cell, wondering what pressure police were then applying to Rhonda. The very first call Doug made when he came out of TRO on Saturday morning was to Rhonda’s phone. She didn’t answer. So, he called his brother Russ.

Doug Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): Hey, have you heard anything?

Russ Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): About?

Doug Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): Huh?

Russ Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): About what?

Doug Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): With Rhonda? How’s she doing?

Russ Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): Oh, she’s okay. Well, I mean, she’s not good but, she’s got to be there, oh, to that court thing on Wednesday, too.

Dave Cawley: Doug told Russ he didn’t understand what the police were doing, since neither he nor Rhonda had had anything to do with Joyce Yost’s disappearance.

Doug Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): Uh, they, they still don’t, to my knowledge, have any proof that this woman’s even deceased. Y’know, everybody down here is telling me that they’re bluffing, that there probably ain’t even gonna be any charges. Yet, Doug seemed most concerned about how his ex-wife was responding.

Doug Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): Was Rhonda ever charged?

Russ Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): No, I guess she will be Wednesday.

Doug Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): See, that’s kind of weird too, don’t you think?

Russ Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): Yeah.

Doug Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): I mean, usually when they have a warrant for someone, especially, what are they going to charge her with?

Russ Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): I don’t know.

Doug Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): Conspiracy to commit?

Russ Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): Probably.

Doug Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): That’s a serious charge. That’s a five-to-life. Y’know, they would have arrested her and took her right downtown. Booked her, questioned her, interrogated her, the whole bit. Doesn’t that seem odd?

Russ Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): Yeah.

Dave Cawley: Doug begged Russ to call Rhonda and give her one simple direction.

Doug Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): Y’know, Rhonda’s got nothing to hide and I got nothing to hide but, y’know, you need to get ahold of her, Russ, if you can and tell her not to say anything to anybody at any time.

Dave Cawley: Russ told his baby brother not to worry so much. There was nothing Doug could do about any of it until his arraignment hearing the following Wednesday. Still, Doug couldn’t help but bemoan his situation.

Doug Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): [Expletive], I’ve lost my job. Y’know? Now, if I win this, they’ve got to reinstate my job and everything but in the meantime they’ve took me from my job, they’ve took me from my facility. I’ve lost everything. I’m sitting here in a [expletive] orange jumpsuit. Looks like I want to go deer hunting. Bright orange jump suit with, with blue floppers. I’ve got nothing over here. They don’t let you smoke over here. God, it’s crazy.

Dave Cawley: Russ suggested maybe Doug should sue the police for harassing him. This made Doug hesitate and he again brought up Rhonda.

Doug Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): Well, listen. I can’t leave a message on Rhonda’s telephone machine. Would you please call, leave a message on her telephone machine and have her call you immediately? When she does call, tell her that everyone down here is telling me that this is bull[expletive]. They probably ain’t even gonna charge us. And, y’know, it, it’s a big bluff thing to see if anybody does know anything to see if they’ll crack or not. Tell her not to say nothing to the police, to nobody.

Russ Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): ‘Kay.

Dave Cawley: Doug had to get in touch with his ex-wife. In the back of his mind was the angry letter he’d sent her at the start of that week. How would she respond to it now? When Rhonda at last answered one of Doug’s calls, the letter was the first thing he wanted to discuss.

Doug Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): Did, did you get my last letter?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): Yeah I did.

Doug Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): Well, dis, disregard it for now. I had it coming at a bad timing. I mean uh, I was going through a lot of changes over the kids, Rhonda, but I think right now we need each other. Can we at least have that?

Dave Cawley: Rhonda told Doug she might soon be joining him at the prison.

Doug Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): Rhonda, you didn’t do anything. You didn’t do anything and I didn’t do anything. We got nothing to worry about. Anything they got, some reliable people have told me down here they’re shooting for the stars. They didn’t even arrest you, did they?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): No, but I’m supposed to be in court Wednesday.

Doug Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): Right, doesn’t that seem a little odd that they didn’t arrest you?

Dave Cawley: Rhonda knew full well why she hadn’t been arrested, but she conjured a different story for Doug. She said maybe detectives hadn’t wanted to haul her away in front of her two kids. Doug reminded Rhonda this was an eventuality they’d always known might come.

Doug Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): I mean, as soon as we first seen it on the TV, I says, ‘Oh my God, they’re gonna believe that I did it from, from day one. They’re gonna believe that I had something to do with her disappearance.’ So we always kind of knew that there might some [expletive] over it, right?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): I don’t know what we thought, Lovell. I’m sick of this [expletive], okay? I’m sick of it. You’d better do something about it. ‘Cause I’m out here living with the kids and what the [expletive] am I supposed to say?

Doug Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): That you didn’t do anything, Rhonda. You didn’t.

Rhonda Buttars (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): I know I didn’t but I still got to go to court, Doug.

Doug Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): I know it. But Rhonda, if they don’t have anything—

Rhonda Buttars (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): They got to have something, Doug.

Doug Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): Really?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): They won’t just take us to court because they have nothing better to do.

Dave Cawley: Doug rattled off a list of past news stories about Joyce’s disappearance, noting how none of the supposed breaks in the case had ever amounted to anything. He said he intended to go to arraignment and have his court-appointed lawyer file a discovery motion. That way, he could learn exactly what evidence the police had. Doug told Rhonda he had it under control.

Doug Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): Remember like I did on that poaching thing, Rhonda? I knew what the hell I was doing. I knew exactly what I was doing and I should have done that with John but, y’know, because of my injury to my back, y’know, I was on all those Percodan and Valium and, and stuff. Y’know, I just, I laid down, Rhonda. That’s exactly what I did is I laid down.

Dave Cawley: Doug said even if police arrested Rhonda, they’d have to give her bail. If needed, his dad or brother could arrange a property bond for her, just as they’d done for him after his arrest for rape in April of ’85.

Doug Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): If in fact Joyce is dead, they’re gonna have a hard time proving that she’s dead. First off, they have to prove that there’s, that there’s a death before they can say that there’s a murder. Don’t you understand that?

Dave Cawley: Doug, it seemed, understood well the concept of corpus delicti. He begged her to trust in him and to trust in the system. Underlying this though was Doug’s actual fear. He toed up to the brink of it, like a person easing over ever-thinning ice on a frozen lake.

Doug Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): Y’know, this has all kind of come about since you and I split up. And, y’know, it kind of makes me wonder.Not, y’know, not about you but umm, it just, I don’t know. It makes me wonder about a few things. … I hope you’ll fight this with me, Rhonda. And I, I just ask that you please trust my judgement. I, I won’t let anything happen to you.

Dave Cawley: Rhonda told Doug she didn’t want to hear it. He wasn’t in control. He couldn’t protect her.

Doug Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): I need you Rhonda. I think we need each other.

Rhonda Buttars (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): I’m gonna go, okay?

Doug Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): Honey?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): Don’t give me that, okay? I can see right through it, Doug. I’m going. I’m going now.

Doug Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): Please don’t hang up on me.

Rhonda Buttars (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): I’m gonna go. I’m not hanging up. I’m saying goodbye.

Doug Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): Rhonda—

Rhonda Buttars (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): What?

Doug Lovell (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): Please, please don’t leave me like this.

Rhonda Buttars (from May 16, 1992 prison phone recording): I don’t want to talk anymore, Doug.

Dave Cawley: If Doug’d had doubts about Rhonda’s loyalty before that call, they could have only grown more ominous afterward.

[Ad break]

Dave Cawley: Doug called Rhonda again the following day, on Sunday, one week after writing her the angry letter. Rhonda told him she wasn’t feeling well.

Doug Lovell (from May 17, 1992 phone recording): Well I feel a little better today than I did yesterday. I had a lot of time to think. That’s all you got to do over here is think. Right now nothing to do. Think or fight. Take your pick. Rhonda, I don’t know how things are going to turn out but I want you to know and, uh, and have faith that I will do the right thing. Y’know, when the time comes. Y’know? Let’s see what happens and y’know see what kind of cards are dealt to us.

Dave Cawley: Rhonda didn’t say much, even as Doug peppered her with more questions. What time was she supposed to be to court? Had the police given her a list of charges? Did they leave her any papers?

Doug Lovell (from May 17, 1992 phone recording): And it’s extremely odd how they did it to you. I mean, if they want to charge us, they would come up and say, ‘Mrs. Buttars—’

Rhonda Lovell (from May 17, 1992 phone recording): I ain’t no Mrs.

Doug Lovell (from May 17, 1992 phone recording): Well, ‘Ms. Buttars, we’re South Ogden police department. You know who we are. We have a warrant for your arrest. Uh, would you please, uh, turn around put your hands behind your, put your hands behind your back.’ You’d do that. They’d probably have a lady officer with them. They would take you down to court. They would book you, fingerprint you, take your mugshot and then they’d question you, ask you if you want an attorney. They’d read you your rights. They never did none of that. That’s why I, I question the whole thing. And I’m not saying they won’t charge us.

Dave Cawley: But, Doug said, the odds of a conviction were very low.

Doug Lovell (from May 17, 1992 phone recording): I mean, there’s probably 10 people in all of America that’ve ever been convicted on a, on a homicide charge without first proving that there’s been a murder. Y’know, a body. I mean, it’s extremely rare. It’s never been done in Utah, not on a capital homicide. It’s never been done in Utah.

Dave Cawley: That number’s not quite right. There have obviously been more than 10 no-body homicide convictions in the United States. But Doug was correct that no-body capital homicide convictions — which qualify for the death penalty — were and are rare. Rhonda was not much interested in this bit of trivia. So Doug pivoted, making an emotional appeal.

Doug Lovell (from May 17, 1992 phone recording): I miss you, Rhonda. I miss everything we had. And I’m sorry I blew it. I really am. I mean, I can’t believe what direction I have sent my life in. I just can’t believe it.

Dave Cawley: He apologized for acting selfish, for spending their money, for causing her unhappiness. Rhonda bit her tongue.

Doug Lovell (from May 17, 1992 phone recording): Is there anything you want to say to me?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 17, 1992 phone recording): No.

Doug Lovell (from May 17, 1992 phone recording): Nothing at all?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 17, 1992 phone recording): Hmmnmm.

Doug Lovell (from May 17, 1992 phone recording): I wish we hadn’t grown apart. Do you ever regret that?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 17, 1992 phone recording): What?

Doug Lovell (from May 17, 1992 phone recording): Uh, growing apart the way we have.

Rhonda Buttars (from May 17, 1992 phone recording): No. You’re the one that did it, not me.

Dave Cawley: Standing on sentiment was not a strong play for Doug.

Doug Lovell (from May 17, 1992 phone recording): Do you just want to go?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 17, 1992 phone recording): Yeah.

Doug Lovell (from May 17, 1992 phone recording): You’re sure not too talkative with me, honey.

Rhonda Buttars (from May 17, 1992 phone recording): I don’t feel good. Did you forget that part?

Doug Lovell (from May 17, 1992 phone recording): No.

Rhonda Buttars (from May 17, 1992 phone recording): Oh.

Doug Lovell (from May 17, 1992 phone recording): I feel extra bad when you don’t feel good ‘cause I know what you like. And I can be that. I can very easily be that. Do you believe that?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 17, 1992 phone recording): No.

Doug Lovell (from May 17, 1992 phone recording): You ain’t gonna give me a glimpse of hope, are you?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 17, 1992 phone recording): Mmmnmm.

Doug Lovell (from May 17, 1992 phone recording): You’re not gonna let even a little bit of light in, huh?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 17, 1992 phone recording): You had your chance.

Doug Lovell (from May 17, 1992 phone recording): And that’s, that’s it, for life, forever, for eternity?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 17, 1992 phone recording): Hah.

Doug Lovell (from May 17, 1992 phone recording): Huh?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 17, 1992 phone recording): Hmm.

Doug Lovell (from May 17, 1992 phone recording): Sounded like a perfume for a minute, didn’t it?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 17, 1992 phone recording): Yep.

Dave Cawley: Doug concluded this call by telling Rhonda no matter what, he would do the right thing in the future. The next morning, he came out of his cell for breakfast just in time to witness a brawl. He told his brother Russ about it on the phone.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 prison phone recording): Boy, they got one of these sections down here, [expletive], right at breakfast, man, a big old fist fight. [Expletive]. Y’know, like I gotta get up and go through this [expletive]. It’s crazy, man, it’s crazy. [Expletive], there’s been probably a half-dozen fist fights just, just since I’ve been over here. Since Thursday.

Russ Lovell (from May 18, 1992 prison phone recording): Really?

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 prison phone recording): It’s bizarre.

Dave Cawley: Doug vented to his brother about how much worse life was in the Uinta facility compared to SSD. He figured it wouldn’t be long before he could force the prison to send him back.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 prison phone recording): ‘Cause technically I’ve done nothing wrong, to be moved. I’ve done nothing in the institution to be moved. And technically right now they have to keep my job for me and they have to keep my spot at SSD. So, you know, I’m not too worried about all that. Because as long as I’m moved for court reasons or health reasons or something, something that has nothing to do with something that I’ve done since I’ve been in here, you know, they can’t uh, they can’t do anything. So all that’s still good, but y’know, how long that’ll be good, I don’t know. I mean, I hope this ain’t even gonna go to a preliminary hearing.

Russ Lovell (from May 18, 1992 prison phone recording): Oh yeah.

Dave Cawley: Of course, the real motive for Doug’s call was to make sure his brother would be at the arraignment hearing the next day, to support Rhonda.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 prison phone recording): To be honest with you, I’m not worried about it because I know I wasn’t involved in anything like that. And I know Rhonda wasn’t. But, you know, if they’re going to try to attack Rhonda, y’know, I don’t want my children’s lives disrupted. That’s what it boils down to.  Y’know, and Rhonda doesn’t deserve to go through this. You know what I mean?

Russ Lovell (from May 18, 1992 prison phone recording): Yeah, oh yeah.

Dave Cawley: Doug suggested if Rhonda were arrested at the arraignment, Russ and their dad, Monan, should put up a property bond to cover her bail.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 prison phone recording): Like, you know, when dad put that $25,000 for me. He didn’t lose a thing. I mean, there’s no way I’d skip out on you or dad and I know she wouldn’t. [Expletive], she’s got nowhere to go. She ain’t even got a relative that lives out of the state. And Rhonda wouldn’t do that anyway.

Dave Cawley: Russ said he wasn’t sure why they should be on the hook for Rhonda’s bail instead of her own family. And he said he didn’t understand why police would arrest her anyhow, considering she wasn’t involved in any crime. Doug told Russ it was all a ruse. The police couldn’t have anything on him, because of course, he hadn’t done anything. Neither had Rhonda. And, he said, it’d been seven years.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 prison phone recording): I can’t believe that after all this time, Russ, they’re, they’re trying to pull something.

Russ Lovell (from May 18, 1992 prison phone recording): Well, see we’ve got this kid out at work that we’d always thought he’d killed his wife a long time ago. And uh, they just charged him with it. His name’s Wetzel.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 prison phone recording): Never heard of him.

Russ Lovell (from May 18, 1992 prison phone recording): And that, goll. That was back in, oh man, that was back in, oh man, that was long before you was locked up and they just charged him with that this year.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 prison phone recording): No [expletive]?

Russ Lovell (from May 18, 1992 prison phone recording): Yeah. Jon Wetzel’s the name.

Dave Cawley: Jon T. Wetzel. Let me pause here and tell you a bit about the Jon Wetzel case. Like Doug, Jon Wetzel hailed from the Ogden area of Utah. His estranged wife, Sharol Wetzel, had served him with divorce papers on November 13, 1985. A week later, Sharol turned up dead, having been shot once in the head and left in her car parked near the Ogden River.

A month later, around the same time Doug was standing trial for the rape of Joyce Yost, Jon Wetzel’s girlfriend Kittie Eakes was pleading guilty to murder. She admitted to the crime but said she’d acted alone. She refused to implicate her lover in his estranged wife’s execution.

Kittie headed to prison in January of ’86, just like Doug. And like Doug, she entered therapy once there. It took a few years, but Kittie ended up telling the full story of Sharol’s murder to an attorney she met through Alcoholics Anonymous.

With that, let’s go back to Doug’s phone call with his brother Russ.

Russ Lovell (from May 18, 1992 prison phone recording): Well, this one lady, they found his wife dead in a car somewhere and this one lady that Jon knew I guess took the rap for it. Now all the sudden she’s sitting crying the blues and ratting on him. So I don’t know.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 prison phone recording): Hmm.

Russ Lovell (from May 18, 1992 prison phone recording): The papers just didn’t have a lot on it.

Dave Cawley: Weber County prosecutors — the same ones who were charging Doug with capital homicide — had also filed a capital homicide charge against Jon Wetzel just a few months prior. Kittie would eventually testify against Jon, saying he’d hounded her for weeks to kill Sharon, to prevent her from taking his assets in the divorce. Jon had told Kittie when and how to do it. He’d given her drugs, as well as the money she’d need to buy a gun. Kittie had gone along and even taken the fall for it, she said, because she was in love with Jon.

The parallels to Doug’s situation were striking. The timelines of the two cases were almost identical. Both involved a sort of murder-for-hire plot, an abandoned car and a female victim who’d held a position of power over a man.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 prison phone recording): God, and I know I was going to win my appeal, Russ, too. I mean, it would have took probably 18 months to two years but I know I was gonna win that. As soon as that hit the feds, they were gonna throw that thing up in the air and say, ‘Bull[expletive.’ Y’know? ‘You can’t [expletive] do this.’ Because there was so many points, man, we was gonna get them on. That I would have won on. I know it. And I don’t know if this has triggered something or what but it seems like every time my case gets in court they pull some [expletive].

Dave Cawley: Doug finished the conversation by once again imploring Russ to protect Rhonda. To post her bail, if necessary. Later that afternoon, Doug made one final call to his ex-wife ahead of the arraignment. He struck a different tone this time, as if nothing were wrong.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): How’s my kids?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): My kids are fine.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): Huh?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): My kids are fine. Two can play that game.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): It’s a joke. Please take it as a joke.

Dave Cawley: Rhonda was not laughing.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): I’ll uh, well hopefully I’ll see you tomorrow.

Rhonda Buttars (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): I’m sure you will.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): I’ll probably be, like, handcuffed. Uh, can I get a hug?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): From me?

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): Yeah.

Rhonda Buttars (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): You’re pretty brave asking that.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): Is that a possibility?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): I doubt it.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): Really?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): Put me through more changes Lovell than anybody I know.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): What if it’ll bring us together someday.

Rhonda Buttars (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): I doubt it. It brought us apart.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): Yeah, I know but all, through it all I wonder if it will maybe bond our relationship.

Rhonda Buttars (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): Well, don’t count on it.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): Well, you never know.

Rhonda Buttars (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): Yeah, I do.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): Miracles do happen.

Rhonda Buttars (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): Yeah, they do.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): I think, I think maybe if I work my butt off, what do you think?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): Nope.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): You think no way for us?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): No way.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): Why, hon?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): ‘Cause you put me through a lot of [expletive], Doug.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): Rhonda, people can change. People can honestly, sincerely change.

Rhonda Buttars (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): Well, you haven’t to me. If you’d changed, you’d be doing something right now and you ain’t doing [expletive]. It’s pissing me off. So, you haven’t changed a bit in my eyes, Lovell.

Dave Cawley: Doug complained Rhonda she wasn’t making his life any easier. She scoffed.

Rhonda Buttars (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): My life’s hell, Lovell. Hell.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): Mine is too.

Rhonda Buttars (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): Then do something.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): Oh, that’ll make it easier?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): Yep.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): For me?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): Yep.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): Really?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): Yep.

Dave Cawley: A long pause. Rhonda lit a cigarette. Its smoke hung in the air, along with all the unspoken context behind her words.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): Whether you believe me or not, Rhonda, I do love you. I have always loved you. And I, and I do care more than any person’s ever cared about you. I’ve just had an odd way of showing it.

Rhonda Buttars (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): Yeah. (Laughs) I’d say.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): Please don’t laugh at me. I’m serious.

Dave Cawley: Doug promised one day, he’d have an opportunity to “completely blow” her away.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): I know that I, I can give you the life that you deserve and the children the happiness that they need and deserve.

Rhonda Buttars (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): Doug, give up.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): I’m serious, Rhonda.

Rhonda Buttars (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): I know you are. So am I.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): Well, you, hey. You can fight it all you want.

Rhonda Buttars (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): (Laughs) I’m not fighting.

Dave Cawley: Doug had to go. It was time for count and he had to go back to his cell. He told Rhonda he would see her in the morning.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): Well uh, remember I’ll be thinking about you.

Rhonda Buttars (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): ‘Kay.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): Just remember, be strong, Rhonda. You got nothing to worry about. You didn’t do anything. Ok?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): ‘Kay.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): Give my love to the kids.

Rhonda Buttars (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): I will.

Doug Lovell (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): Bye bye.

Rhonda Buttars (from May 18, 1992 phone recording): Bye.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Doug arrived at the Weber County courthouse on the morning of May 20, 1992 for his circuit court arraignment. He was assigned a court-appointed defense attorney, a guy named John Caine. John’s name might sound familiar. That’s because John was the same lawyer who’d represented Doug 14 years earlier, during his 1978 trial for armed robbery.

The prosecutors assigned to the case were the county attorney Reed Richards, who coincidentally happened to be John Caine’s old law partner and whose father Maurice Richards also represented Doug in the ’78 robbery case, as well as a man named Bill Daines.

I know that’s a lot to keep track of, so let’s just focus for the moment on Bill Daines. Joyce’s son-in-law, Randy Salazar, told me he remembered first meeting Bill sometime around Pioneer Day. That’s a state holiday in Utah, celebrated each July 24th with parades and rodeos. Bill had entered the room dressed not in a suit, but instead in denim pants and a cowboy hat.

Randy Salazar: And I seen how he put his hands on the desk and just kind of talked to us and I just thought ‘Geez, I hope this guy…’ But I tell you what, that dude knew his… In fact, he was giving us dates and times and I was thinking ‘damn, you guys are going to do your job. You guys are going to do well with your job.’”

Dave Cawley: The first real courtroom clash between these two sides came not at the circuit court arraignment, but instead at a preliminary hearing on July 28. That’s when the prosecution put Rhonda on the stand. At that moment, Doug knew for certain who had betrayed him.

Terry Carpenter: She told me about the night that she’d taken Doug up there…

Dave Cawley: It was the same account she’d given to Terry Carpenter.

Terry Carpenter: And that he’d laid in the bushes across the street from Joyce’s house and waited for her to come home.

Randy Salazar: Can you believe she drove him up there? And then picked him up? What kind of person is that?

Dave Cawley: Joyce’s son-in-law Randy Salazar sat, stunned at what he was hearing.

Randy Salazar: Y’know, you think to yourself, ‘How the hell do you think this didn’t happen? How is this lady telling this story,’ y’know? ‘How are you still with this man? Why are you sticking up for him? What kind of lady are you?

Dave Cawley: At one point, Doug bolted upright.

“That’s a lie, Rhonda,” he shouted. “You know that’s a lie.”

The judge, Parley Baldwin, told Doug to take his seat. 

“Your honor, she is lying,” Doug said.

Baldwin again instructed Doug to be quiet, or else the bailiffs would remove him from the courtroom. Doug flung a curse word or two at Rhonda as the bailiffs approached.

“Sit down, [expletive] [expletive],” Doug said to them.

Terry Carpenter: He could let you believe that he was telling you the truth and emotional about it and the next second he was angry and mad and no remorse whatsoever.

Dave Cawley: Rhonda had told Terry she feared Doug. His courtroom outburst only emphasized that. Joyce’s son Greg Roberts told me over time, he’s come to feel sympathy for Rhonda.

Greg Roberts: Somewhere along the way I’ve forgiven her. I think Kim would rather see her pay a penalty for what happened, but I think that she was under the huge influence of this psychopath and she, she was in some sort of a fog that she, those options weren’t real for her.

Kim Salazar: My whole thing with her is that she is in my mind the one person that could have stopped it that night. She held all the cards. And I get fear. I understand fear. But my mom literally lived across the street from the police station. She could have dropped him off. She could have gone straight to the police station. And before he had a chance to do anything, they could have been there. And he’d have been locked up for a long time. She didn’t have anything to be scared of.

Dave Cawley: Rhonda’s testimony was more than enough to allow the judge to determine probable cause existed to proceed. He concluded the hearing by sending the case to the district court where, a month later, Doug pleaded not guilty to the charges. The district court judge, Stanton Taylor, scheduled a jury trial to begin on February 2, 1993.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Several weeks before the preliminary hearing I just described, Doug’s friend Ron Barney met with a Las Vegas Metro Police detective in Nevada. Ron had something to turn over to the police. Two somethings, actually: a Browning model BL22 bolt-action rifle and a Beretta M301 12-gauge shotgun. The serial numbers for both guns were listed in NCIC, the FBI’s national crime information database, as having been stolen out of Weber County, Utah on May 5, 1985. They were two of the guns taken from the home of Cody Montgomery, Sr. by Doug Lovell and Billy Jack.

Terry Carpenter: The guns went to Callao, where they were buried.

Dave Cawley: Terry Carpenter had at long last linked the stolen guns to Doug Lovell. He’d also tracked down Billy Jack in Colorado, interviewed him and in the process discovered evidence corroborating Rhonda’s account of the Mother’s Day weekend outing when they’d buried the guns.

Terry Carpenter: Coming back home, they pull off to the side of the road and have to take a leak, to be blunt. And a trooper stops and catches them at the side of the road and we’re able to verify that that happens and who they are.

Dave Cawley: But how then had the guns ended up in the hands of Doug’s old hunting buddy Ron Barney?

(Phone ringing sound)

Dave Cawley: I called him to ask that question.

Ron Barney (from May 12, 2020 phone recording): Hello, this is Ron.

Dave Cawley (from May 12, 2020 phone recording): Hey Ron, my name is uh, Dave Cawley. I’m with uh KSL, uh radio up here in Salt Lake City, Utah. Do have a sec?

Ron Barney (from May 12, 2020 phone recording): Yep.

Dave Cawley: At the time of this phone call in May of 2020, I knew quite a bit about the history of these guns.

Dave Cawley (from May 12, 2020 phone recording): I’m trying to figure out how they ended up down there with you. Can you help illuminate that for me?

Ron Barney (from May 12, 2020 phone recording): Uh no, I really can’t. I can’t remember exactly how that went by.

Dave Cawley: I knew they’d surfaced in October of ’85 when somebody had inquired about pawning them at place in Ogden called the Gift House. I described that back in episode 4. Ron Barney at that time resided in Utah’s Salt Lake Valley. He didn’t move to Logandale, Nevada until sometime after 1988. I knew Terry Carpenter had paid Ron a visit in Logandale in May of ’91. I described that in episode 6.

Ron Barney (from May 12, 2020 phone recording): Was that, Carpenter. Was that the detective’s name that came down to Las Vegas?

Dave Cawley (from May 12, 2020 phone recording): Yep, that’s the guy.

Ron Barney (from May 12, 2020 phone recording): Yeah.

Dave Cawley: Terry had asked Ron what he knew about the stolen guns. Ron had declined to disclose at that time he possessed two of them. He hadn’t conceded that fact until Terry had made a second trip to Nevada to apply additional pressure.

Terry Carpenter: And he denied up and down and we finally says ‘well, we’ll give you so long and then if we have to charge you, we’ll charge you with possession.’ And then he cooperated.

Dave Cawley: And so that’s why Ron had surrendered the guns to Las Vegas Metro police in 1992.

Terry Carpenter: No charges were ever filed against him and the guns surfaced, anyway.

Dave Cawley: My conversation with Ron didn’t last long. He told me he didn’t want to discuss his friendship with Doug, saying he’d only known him through having gone hunting together. He considered that relationship part of his past, a past he did not want to relive.

Ron Barney (from May 12, 2020 phone recording): Okay.

Dave Cawley (from May 12, 2020 phone recording): Alright.

Ron Barney (from May 12, 2020 phone recording): Good luck with your uh, your uh, research.

Ron Barney (from May 12, 2020 phone recording): Thank you Ron, appreciate your time.

Dave Cawley: Terry’s recovery of these two guns provided further evidence of Rhonda’s honesty. And they would be a compelling piece of evidence to show a jury, hinting at Doug’s intent to kill.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Defense attorney John Caine had a lot of work to do and not much time to do it. With just months to go before the scheduled trial, John attacked the prosecution’s case first by challenging the kidnapping and burglary counts, arguing the statute of limitations on them had expired. He also filed a motion to suppress the evidence gathered from the two wire recordings of Rhonda at the prison…

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): If I would have been mentally together, physically together, I wouldn’t be here. They’ll never convict me if I go back to court. There’s no way.

Dave Cawley: …as well as Rhonda’s damaging testimony from the preliminary hearing.

Autumn turned to winter. Subpoenas went out, ordering the investigators, Joyce’s family, Rhonda and the other potential witnesses to all appear at the February trial. With just a week and a half to go, Judge Taylor issued an order rejecting the motion to suppress. Rhonda’s testimony and the wire recordings, he said, were fair game.

John Caine immediately asked that the trial be delayed while he appealed that decision. He would ask the Utah Supreme Court to block the use of Rhonda’s testimony and the wire tapes. Judge Taylor agreed to the delay. The trial was placed on hold.

John told Doug if they won this appeal, he stood a very good chance of also winning the entire case. If the appeal failed, however, John warned his client they would get “hammered.” Everything hinged on Rhonda. John also started talking to the county attorney, his old friend Reed Richards. They were frank with one another. Reed said the only leverage Doug had was that Joyce’s children Kim Salazar and Greg Roberts wanted her body returned.

Greg Roberts: We definitely were willing to compromise if he really gave us her body.

Dave Cawley: And so, Reed said he was willing to take the death penalty off the table if Doug would return Joyce’s remains. It wasn’t a formal offer, more of a testing of the water. John didn’t want to commit before discussing it with Doug, so he went to the prison for a face-to-face. He posed the question: would Doug be willing to plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of life with the possibility of parole? Doug said yes. John needed more assurance. He didn’t want to get down the road with the negotiation and have it fall apart because Doug couldn’t deliver.

He asked could Doug really locate the body, given all the time that had passed? Doug said he could find it in the dark. In fact, he was willing to go do it right that moment. John reminded him it was the middle of winter. Doug told his attorney that didn’t matter. He’d be able to find Joyce’s body even in a blinding snowstorm.

Cold season 2, episode 7: Shameless – Full episode transcript

Dave Cawley: Greg Roberts saw his mother everywhere. He’d spot cars on the highway that looked like Joyce’s Oldsmobile…

Greg Roberts: Big white Delta 88. Huge car.

Dave Cawley: …and catch himself doing double-takes at stoplights, hoping to see her behind the wheel. The conversations he’d had with his mom, after her rape, replayed over and over in his mind. He agonized about what she hadn’t told him.

Greg Roberts: I talked to her real regularly but in the meantime, y’know, I was at school and she didn’t want to effect my schooling and grades and things that were going on so…

Dave Cawley: A single thought haunted Greg: he had not been there to protect her. He didn’t share this pain with anyone, save perhaps his sister and father.

Mel Roberts: He holds a lot of it inside of him.

Dave Cawley: Mel Roberts told me Greg bore this burden, the sense of guilt, in private.

Mel Roberts: The only time we’ll ever talk about it is if we’re just together alone. We don’t talk about it much when other people are around.

Dave Cawley: Greg had finished dental school and, at the end of 1990, wrapped up his residency with the Georgetown University Medical Service in Washington, D.C. He’d achieved his childhood dream and become not just a dentist, but an oral surgeon. The person who would’ve been most proud of him, who would have celebrated his achievement more than anyone, was not there. Nearly six years had passed since Greg had first faced the question of whether or not to drop out of school and move home to help search for Joyce. Mel had urged him to hold fast.

Mel Roberts: I still think it was the right decision. … There wasn’t a thing he could do by being there.

Dave Cawley: Now, at the start of 1991, Greg confronted a new choice: where to go next. Mel had settled down in Texas and he seemed likely to stay there. Kim and aunt Dorothy were both in Utah. And Joyce was, well, Greg didn’t know. Much of what he then knew about his mother’s disappearance had come to him secondhand. This was, after all, the age before Google. If you even had internet access at home, you paid for it by the minute and it tied up your phone line.

For years, Kim had cut articles about her mom out of the local newspapers and mailed them across the country to Greg. She’d promised to keep him informed of every development. This tether kept tugging Greg back toward South Ogden, toward where he’d last seen his mom in the summer in 1984, waving goodbye as he’d pulled away from her in his overloaded Honda Accord.

The time had come for Greg to return home.

This is Cold, season 2, episode 7: Shameless. From KSL Podcasts, I’m Dave Cawley. Back after this quick break.

[Ad break]

Dave Cawley: Colleen Bartell struggled to get through to Doug Lovell. She’d been working as a licensed clinical social worker at the Utah State Prison since 1979, the same year Doug had arrived there on an armed robbery conviction. But they hadn’t met until 1989, when Colleen was assigned to manage the Merit Two program at the prison’s special service dormitory, or SSD. That’s where Doug was living.

Many of the inmates enrolled in the Merit Two program were there to work through mild cognitive or behavioral issues and they demanded much of Colleen’s time. As a result, she didn’t interact with Doug much at first. She hadn’t been the one to admit Doug to program, either, but knew from his file the ostensible purpose for his presence was treatment for depression. She noted he seemed guarded. That began to change about six months into Colleen’s assignment at SSD, round about the time Doug’s wife Rhonda filed for divorce. Little by little, he started to talk. Colleen figured it had just taken time for Doug to suss out if he could trust her.

Doug told Colleen he’d been wrongly accused and convicted. He said hadn’t raped Joyce Yost. Colleen focused her efforts on helping Doug address this denial. She wanted him to understand his minimizations of his own actions were impediments to his progress in therapy.

She continued to observe Doug as the weeks and months went on. She noted he was high-functioning and stable, something she couldn’t say for all of the inmates at SSD. He was not violent. In fact, he often mediated disputes between prison staff and other inmates.

Perhaps the best example of this came in August of ’91, when Jeff Pratt — the lead corrections officer at SSD — had a dangerous accident. Jeff placed a letter about it in Doug’s jacket, or file. Here’s what it said.

Andy Farnsworth (as Jeff Pratt): Letter of appreciation for Doug Lovell, inmate number 14679. On August 11, 1991, at approximately 1712 hours in the supply room at SSD, a defective can of insecticide sprayed on me in the face and eyes, causing a burning sensation. At that point I was blinded and not sure of the direction out. Lovell grabbed my arm and led me to the bathroom speaking precise directions in a calm voice to get me there quickly. Once in the bathroom, Lovell got the water going and helped me flush my face and eyes … credit Lovell for preventing any serious harm or injury to me.

Dave Cawley: Colleen transferred out of SSD about that same time. She took over another program, doing group-oriented substance abuse counseling. Doug applied to join. This was interesting, considering Doug claimed not to be using at that time. In fact, he said he’d been off pills since first arriving at the prison in 1986. But now he wanted Colleen’s help in figuring out why he’d become addicted in the first place. It was either progress, or a ruse.

Colleen denied Doug’s application for group drug abuse counseling. Not because she didn’t think he was being honest, but because she didn’t have room. Yet.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: South Ogden police sergeant Terry Carpenter had spent the summer of ’91 working to verify information he’d received from Doug Lovell’s ex-wife, Rhonda. He also spent a lot of time transcribing — by hand — the audio recording from the wire Rhonda had worn into the Utah State Prison.

Dave Cawley: And I know the quality of the tape that first time around—

Terry Carpenter: Is horrible.

Dave Cawley: —pretty rough.

Terry Carpenter: But I laid on the floor of my living room with my stereo and would push backward and forward and play ‘em and my poor little wife would help me try to understand what they were saying.

Dave Cawley: A copy of that tape would later go through enhancement at FBI headquarters, but it didn’t help much. Still, Terry was able to make out enough. He’d heard Doug mentioned Tom Peters and Billy Jack, the two men Doug’d hired to kill Joyce. Terry had already talked to Tom once at the Utah State Prison, but dropped by to see him again on September 5, 1991.

Terry Carpenter: ‘Kay, we’re recording this now so…

Dave Cawley: And this time, he put their conversation on tape.

Terry Carpenter (from September, 1991 police recording): How you doing?

Tom Peters (from September, 1991 police recording): Oh pretty good. How about you?

Terry Carpenter (from September, 1991 police recording): I’m doing, alright.

Tom Peters (from September, 1991 police recording): (Laughs) You’re doing alright.

Dave Cawley: Listen close, because this audio comes from an old cassette tape and Tom’s voice isn’t always clear.

Terry Carpenter (from September, 1991 police recording): You getting any flak over our last visit?

Tom Peters (from September, 1991 police recording): Uh, a little. There is some concern.

Terry Carpenter (from September, 1991 police recording): Is that right? Did he talk to you about it?

Tom Peters (from September, 1991 police recording): Yeah. Well, I talked to him, actually.

Dave Cawley: Tom told Terry that on the day of his last visit to the prison, Doug had confronted Tom and asked what he’d told the detective.

Tom Peters (from September, 1991 police recording): At first he said, yeah, he said, ‘Man, I don’t know how you can do this to me,’ you know? I said, ‘I didn’t do nothing to you,’ you know? I says, ‘Really Doug, I ain’t done nothing.’ He said, ‘But you did.’

Dave Cawley: Tom had insisted he hadn’t said anything. Doug hadn’t been convinced, because Terry Carpenter had known about his having paid people to have Joyce killed. In this next clip, Tom tells Terry that Doug’d told him “When he started telling me these things, I knew it had to be you.”

Tom Peters (from September, 1991 police recording): What he said, he said, ‘Man,’ he said, ‘When he started telling me these things I knew it had to be you ‘cause you was the only one that knew.’ And he said, ‘But then he told me about some guns.’

Dave Cawley: Terry had told Doug he knew about the stolen guns. Doug had never told Tom about the guns, which he’d swiped with someone else.

Terry Carpenter (from September, 1991 police recording): He never mentions this other guy’s name?

Tom Peters (from September, 1991 police recording): No, he never mentions nobody’s name.

Terry Carpenter (from September, 1991 police recording): If you heard it, would you remember it?

Tom Peters (from September, 1991 police recording): Maybe. If I heard a name. Yeah, I mean, yeah I would probably know a man if I heard it.

Terry Carpenter (from September, 1991 police recording): Well what I’ve understood is that it was Billy Jack.

Tom Peters (from September, 1991 police recording): Yep, That’s what he said. Yeah. He did mention it. That’s right. He did say Billy Jack. Now, I said, ‘I don’t even know Billy Jack.’

Dave Cawley: This discrepancy had caused Doug a little bit of doubt, giving Tom cover. Tom said Doug had also asked him during their talk if he’d ever visited his father’s cabin.

Terry Carpenter: I think he asks him three or four times. ‘You remember my dad’s property? You remember my dad’s property?’

Dave Cawley: Tom told Terry he’d never been up to the Lovell family cabin, but speculated maybe that’s where Doug had buried Joyce.

Tom Peters (from September, 1991 police recording): Could it be up there? I don’t know.

Terry Carpenter (from September, 1991 police recording): That’s a good speculation.

Tom Peters (from September, 1991 police recording): I’ve been places with him. I mean, umm, to waterfalls. But God, I don’t know if I would even remember. But I know he hunts. He’s a—

Terry Carpenter (from September, 1991 police recording): He loves to hunt.

Tom Peters (from September, 1991 police recording): And he’s been all over the mountains.

Dave Cawley: Terry again told Tom he needed his help. Joyce deserved justice. Tom agreed and described what he’d felt when he’d first learned Joyce was missing.

Tom Peters (from September, 1991 police recording): But I remember when we found out about her, and I remember the flyers that come across me, very, like a band on my chest, you know? Because he’s already raped her once and then to go again and there he is and now he’s going to kill her, you know? So I thought, ‘That poor woman,’ you know? Her nightmare. A nightmare on top of a nightmare.

Dave Cawley: “A nightmare on top of a nightmare.” Tom said he was willing to help. In exchange he wanted Terry to pull strings and get him assigned to an inmate firefighting crew. That way, Tom could serve out the rest of his sentence outside the prison fences. Life inside had grown uncomfortable. Tom said Doug had once come up behind him in the chow hall and kissed him on the top of the head.

Tom Peters (from September, 1991 police recording): But I know it gives me chills when he puts his hands on me from behind and kisses mean top of my forehead. That does not feel good.

Dave Cawley: Tom called it the kiss of death.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Greg Roberts’ return to South Ogden allowed him to take care of some unresolved business. He went to court at the end of September 1991, and asked to have his mother declared deceased. Greg had heard from a life insurance agent in the months after his mom’s disappearance. She’d had a $10,000 policy and had listed Greg as the beneficiary. The company wouldn’t pay out though while her status remained unresolved. The judge’s order declaring Joyce deceased changed that. The insurance company wrote a check for $13,000, with the extra money being interest that had accrued on the principal. Greg would have given up every single penny of it to have his mother back.

Greg Roberts: It just changed a lot of things.

Kim Salazar: And nothing’s ever been the same.

Dave Cawley: Kim, Greg and those closest to their family held a funeral. They gathered at Washington Heights Memorial Park cemetery and placed a headstone for Joyce. The ritual helped draw them together in their ongoing grief.

Kim Salazar: She didn’t have a negative bone in her body. She was never cross. She was never foul or nasty. She was happy, she was beautiful, she was, she was the whole package. She was just wrapped up with the most beautiful bow.

Dave Cawley: They shared memories, regaling Kim’s growing kids with stories of their grandmother.

Kim Salazar: And my oldest daughter’s really the only one that has any real memories of her … because the other two were younger.

Dave Cawley: But after it was over, Kim’s husband Randy said it felt somehow hollow. They all knew their trauma was open-ended.

Randy Salazar: I remember telling Kim, like on Memorial Day and Mother’s Day, ‘Do you want to go take some flowers over to your mom?’ ‘My mom ain’t there,’ she says, ‘that’s just a rock.’ She says ‘My mom’s not there.’ I said ‘But it’s a place,’ y’know? And she said ‘No, she is not. I want to go where my mom is.’

Dave Cawley: Kim believed Doug Lovell knew right where her mom was. But prosecutors had still had not charged him with Joyce’s murder.

Kim Salazar: He had two 15 year-to-life sentences that both had a minimum mandatory, so they knew he wasn’t going anywhere.

Dave Cawley: She didn’t know Doug had a plan to beat that sentence and win his freedom.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: While Greg was going to court in September of 1991, so was Doug’s appellate attorney, Robert Archuleta. He filed a motion asking a judge’s permission to review the confidential pre-sentence report a probation officer had prepared on Doug after his conviction in the rape case. Doug intended to challenge the legality of his 15-to-life sentence by arguing the pre-sentence report had included unsubstantiated claims he’d killed Joyce Yost.

Judge Rodney Page held a hearing on Archuleta’s motion and, at the start of October, granted permission for the attorney to review the pre-sentence report. A short time later, Archuleta withdrew as Doug’s attorney. Now, I can’t say for sure — because Archuleta is deceased — but it’s possible what he saw in the pre-sentence report made him re-evaluate his decision to represent Doug. In Archuleta’s absence, Doug turned to one of his co-workers at the prison’s sign shop for legal advice. His name was William Babbel.

William Babbel (from December, 1991 police recording): I’m one of the head inmate litigators of this place. I’m suing the department every other day.

Dave Cawley: William had discussed Doug’s case with him at length, even before Archuleta’s withdrawal. He’d been helping Doug draft what’s known as a writ of habeas corpus. For that purpose, Doug had provided William with transcripts from the rape trial.

William Babbel (from December, 1991 police recording): When I first started looking at his legal stuff he said that, y’know, it was a consensual thing and I said (tape blips) … and I’ve read your transcripts. I said, ‘I’m not stupid, I can see right through this. Y’know, you might try that dodge with these guys but (tape blips) you’re gonna have to come clean.’

Dave Cawley: William said Doug did come clean, at least as far as the rape was concerned. He admitted he’d kidnapped Joyce and sexually assaulted her. He was guilty of that. On December 18, 1991, Doug had come to work at the prison sign shop with a new legal request for William. He wanted to know if it was possible to force South Ogden police to give back the pictures they’d taken from Rhonda’s apartment the prior June.

William Babbel (from December, 1991 police recording): And I asked him, ‘Well, who’s the cop that’s got the pictures?’ And he said, ‘Carpenter.’ I says, ‘That same one that come and talk to you?’ And he said, ‘Yeah.’ And I says, well,’ can’t remember exactly what it was that we were talking about that led up to that, but I says, ‘can he stick you with this?’ And he said, ‘There’s no way.’ He says, ‘When she disappeared from the O club, or when she left the O club and then when she disappeared, I was surrounded by eight witnesses. He can never stick this on me.’

Dave Cawley: William had heard enough. The following day, he phoned South Ogden police and asked to speak with Terry Carpenter. Terry didn’t know William, but he headed down to the prison and sat down with him for this candid conversation, which you’ve been hearing.

Terry Carpenter (from December, 1991 police recording): Umm, how did you know to call me?

William Babbel (from December, 1991 police recording): Because him using your name. ‘[Expletive] Carpenter, sonofabitch is bothering my wife again.’

Dave Cawley: William didn’t much care for Doug.

William Babbel (from December, 1991 police recording): I’m the inmate’s inmate but this guy’s dirty as hell and anything that he says that I think you can use, you’re going to get.

Terry Carpenter (from December, 1991 police recording): Okay.

William Babbel (from December, 1991 police recording): Because he’s slime.

Dave Cawley: Strong words, coming a guy like William Babbel. William was serving time for a crime that bore startling similarity to Doug’s. Unlike Doug, William never made good on the threat to kill the woman he’d abducted and raped.

William Babbel (from December, 1991 police recording): Y’know, I’m here on an ugly crime myself. It’s not anything like this. And it’s, y’know I’ve done my little stipend for the state and got myself straight and got away from all the dope and [expletive] and I really regret the things I did. Y’know, but I talk to this guy and just watching him, y’know, he’s pond scum.

Dave Cawley: William did not ask Terry for any favors, as Tom Peters had. He didn’t want a kind word to the parole board or a transfer to a different facility. He just wanted Doug out of the way.

William Babbel (from December, 1991 police recording): He has no conscience, he has no remorse, he has no moral values. This guy’s morally bankrupt. He’s slime. He just is. And I’ve read the transcripts and I’ve read his testimony and heard all his bull [expletive] and I’m absolutely convinced that he either arranged her murder or did it himself.

Dave Cawley: William was living in SSD undergoing sex offender treatment. He believed Doug didn’t belong in SSD. He said Doug should instead be housed in the prison’s Uinta facility — maximum security — a place for killers.

William Babbel (from December, 1991 police recording): And y’know, anything I can do to help you send him across the lawn to Uinta 2 to let him sit over there and rot, y’know, I’ll do.

Dave Cawley: Terry asked William about his conversations with Doug. Had Doug ever described how Joyce’d died? No. Had he ever disclosed where Joyce’s body was? No.  But William said Doug had possibly dropped clues.

William Babbel (from December, 1991 police recording): There’s something that sounds like her name that uh, he’d told Holthaus.

Terry Carpenter (from December, 1991 police recording): (Tape blips) Something that sounds like her name?

William Babbel (from December, 1991 police recording): Or yeah, a place where he’d gone hunting that has the same, uh, sound as Joyce Yost’s name.

Terry Carpenter (from December, 1991 police recording): There’s a prominent place where people hunt deer that’s called Yost, Utah.

William Babbel (from December, 1991 police recording): Yeah.

Dave Cawley: Yost is a ghost town, in the far north-western corner of Utah, near the Idaho and Nevada borders. It’s near a mountain range called the Raft River Mountains, a popular spot for deer hunting. Doug had told detective Bill Holthaus he remembered Joyce’s last name because it was the same as the town of Yost. Bill had testified to that during the 1985 trial. William Babbel, it seemed, had done his homework.

Perhaps the most interesting story William had to share though, involved an encounter he said he’d had with Doug the prior May.

William Babbel (from December, 1991 police recording): He said that somebody had come out and talked to him about this Joyce Yost coming up missing and he was concerned that he was gonna be questioned on, uh, this Sheree Warren’s, uh, disappearance too.

Dave Cawley: Terry perked up at the mention of Sheree Warren, the missing woman from Roy, Utah who’d disappeared just a short time after Joyce and whose car had turned up in Las Vegas. Terry had a hunch Doug Lovell might’ve had a hand in Sheree Warren’s disappearance, though he couldn’t prove it.

William Babbel (from December, 1991 police recording): Y’know, and other than that one conversation—

Terry Carpenter (from December, 1991 police recording): Is he involved in that, Bill?

William Babbel (from December, 1991 police recording): I think he is. I think he knows about it. And he says, ‘Well, they’ll never, they’ll never stick me with that because Cary Hartmann is the one that’s gonna end up eating that one.

Dave Cawley: I’ve mentioned Cary Hartmann before. He was Sheree Warren’s boyfriend at the time of her disappearance in October of ’85. But by this point in ’91, Hartmann was in prison for a series of rapes he’d committed.

Larry Lewis (from KSL TV archive): Hartmann’s conviction carries a maximum prison term of from 15 years to life. … He also faces trial on three other rape charges.

Dave Cawley: Cary hadn’t been charged and convicted until 1987, more than a year after Doug went away for assaulting Joyce.

Terry Carpenter (from December, 1991 police recording): How, why does he know so much about Sheree Warren?

William Babbel (from December, 1991 police recording): I don’t know. And that, uh, really struck me hard because I knew, uh, I was in a therapy group with Cary Hartmann—

Dave Cawley: William said he’d heard Cary’s side of the story while they were both in that sex offender therapy group in SSD. Cary had since been moved to a far-flung county jail and as far as William knew, Doug and Cary never crossed paths. William suggested if Terry wanted to get Doug talking, he should get Joyce and Sheree’s names mentioned together on the news.

William Babbel (from December, 1991 police recording): (Tape blips) Even if you could get somebody to dummy up some stories somewhere in, in print, y’know. Investigation on Sheree Warren’s top of the list. Y’know, stick it in the Tribune, have somebody stick it in the Tribune where he’s gonna see it, y’know or—

Terry Carpenter (from December, 1991 police recording): Does he go over the paper real close?

William Babbel (from December, 1991 police recording): Every day. We get the paper in the shop every day.

Dave Cawley: William said there were recorders on the phones at the prison. If police claimed to have found a woman’s body in the mountains near Ogden, Doug would probably call out and have someone go check and see if Joyce was still where he had left her.

Terry Carpenter (from December, 1991 police recording): They tie me a little bit as far as legalities of deliberately purporting something that we know not to be accurate and uh, so I have some, y’know, I have problems with that. I, I don’t know if I could slide something there or not. I don’t know.

Dave Cawley: Terry confided in William he was ready to serve Doug with capital homicide charges any day now. Prosecutors had given him the green light. William said now was the time. Anything police had on Doug, they should use as soon as possible.

William Babbel (from December, 1991 police recording): Something you might want to do is when you rock this guy, is request that Corrections, y’know because it’s a capital case and you don’t want him talking to anybody, is sequester him in max and monitor his phone calls and monitor his mail and monitor everybody he talks to. See, they can put him in max so he can’t talk to anybody.

Dave Cawley: Terry made note of the suggestion, thanked William for his time and went on his way.

[Ad break]

Dave Cawley: A series of news articles about the Joyce Yost case appeared in Utah newspapers on Friday, January 17, 1992. Stories also played on TV and radio, stating police were “reopening” their investigation into Joyce’s disappearance. The Associated Press quoted Terry Carpenter as saying “We have some new leads in the case but it isn’t appropriate for me to discuss them.” Joyce’s son, Greg Roberts, figured Terry was working an angle.

Greg Roberts: He’s always uh, playing mind games with Doug Lovell. I think he’s been good at it.

Dave Cawley: The following day, Terry met with Rhonda Buttars on the outskirts of the Utah State Prison. She’d agreed to once again wear a wire inside the fences. Terry had a couple of reasons for wanting a second go-round. Most important was getting Doug to disclose the location of Joyce’s body, something he had not done during the first wire recording the prior June. Rhonda intended to ask questions more specific to that point this time.

Audio quality was the second reason. The audio from the first wire recording had bordered on unintelligible, as you heard in the last episode. Playing that garbled recording for a jury was not likely to have the hoped-for impact.

In the months since the first wire recording, Terry had managed to scrounge up a better piece of equipment. A former colleague of his by the name of Glen Passey worked as a special agent for the U.S. Secret Service. Glen had access to legit spy gear, including a little recorder from a Swiss company called Nagra.

Glen Passey (from January 18, 1992 wire recording) Okay, you’re on. Are we running?

Dave Cawley: The Nagra unit was the Swiss watch of field audio recorders: tiny and precise.

Terry Carpenter (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): This is, ah, Rhonda Buttars, Glen Passey and Terry Carpenter. We’re all just preparing to enter the Utah State Prison. We’re currently at the Academy, which is just east of the prison, across the freeway.

Dave Cawley: The Nagra tape wasn’t exactly hi-fi but it was an improvement.

Terry Carpenter (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): Rhonda’s gonna drive over and we’re gonna follow her in. See you in a minute.

Rhonda Buttars (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): Bye.

Dave Cawley: Rhonda hadn’t been out to visit Doug in months. As she prepared to drive over, Elton John and Boy George wailed their duet of “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” over the car stereo.

(Music plays)

Rhonda Buttars (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): Think it hears, gets that? (Laughs)

Dave Cawley: The jokes and nervous laughter, as well as the music, ended when Rhonda reached the prison gate.

(Music ends)

She walked inside, her heel clicks echoing through the austere corridors.

(Sound of Rhonda walking)

Dave Cawley: Familiar ground. Rhonda knew where to go.

Prison guard (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): You’re here to see?

Rhonda Buttars: (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): Doug Lovell.

Dave Cawley: She headed into the crowded visiting area and waited for the staff to bring her ex-husband out to meet her.

Rhonda Buttars (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): Hi.

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): Hi.

Rhonda Buttars (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): How you doing?

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): How you doing?

Rhonda Buttars (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): Good.

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): In a dress?

Rhonda Buttars (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): Yeah.

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): What’s up with that? (Laughs)

Rhonda Buttars (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): Can’t I wear a dress?

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): Yeah, I like it.

Dave Cawley: They moved to a table and sat down. Rhonda told Doug she felt nervous because it’d been awhile. He laughed. He wasn’t nervous at all. They swapped some small talk, bantering about Doug’s weight. He’d dropped from nearly 200 muscular pounds down to about 175, on a diet of rice and tuna. Rhonda said eating was her favorite hobby, or maybe sleeping. Doug said his was sex. At one point, he complimented the way her legs looked in her dress.

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): Boy, I always loved your thighs. Long legs, but with meat.

Dave Cawley: If you couldn’t make that out, he said “I always loved your thighs, long legs but with meat.” Doug also brought up another of his favorite hobbies: watching country music on TV.

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): And ah, by the way, Garth Brooks last night? Was bitchin.

Dave Cawley: The prior evening, NBC had broadcast an hour-long special called “This is Garth Brooks.”

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): They interviewed his, ah, wife, Sandy last night. And she said he had long hair, beard, just, you know, ah, and you know when he sings, he’s not a stander, he runs around. He and this other guy broke a guitar, you know, and he jumped off in the audience and you thought, ‘God man, he’s crazy.’

Dave Cawley: What’d most caught Doug’s attention though was the country artist’s performance of a single song.

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): He sang that song, Shameless.

Dave Cawley: Garth Brooks’ cover of the Billy Joel song “Shameless” had appeared on his third studio album. It’d become a chart-topping hit at the end of 1991. The song included a stanza that goes like this:

“I’m shameless, shameless as a man can be. You could make a total fool of me. I just wanted you to know that I’m shameless.”

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): So anyway, ah—

Dave Cawley: Doug turned to the topic of the newspaper article, the one stating South Ogden police were re-opening the Joyce Yost case. He asked Rhonda if she’d seen it. She said she had. Doug said he thought her phone was bugged.

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): And I think that they surfaced this story out hoping that, that I would get on the phone and say, you know, something that might be, incriminate me.

Rhonda Buttars (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): Really?

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): Yeah. Yeah, I do. I don’t think there is, no person.

Dave Cawley: By “no person,” Doug meant police couldn’t have any source for information about what’d actually happened to Joyce other than himself.

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): Well they say they have, possibly somebody that can lead them, ah, to the body. Ah, to the remains. Which, ah, you know, first off, ah, you know, they don’t even know if, if she’s even deceased, you know?

Dave Cawley: He speculated the only reason police were chattering to the media about Joyce now was his writ of habeas corpus.

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): I feel really good about my writ. Real good.

Dave Cawley: Rhonda questioned just how Doug was managing to afford all of the legal fees. He said the writ wasn’t going to cost him a dime. He’d fired his attorneys and was working with an inmate who knew the law.

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): I, ah, I fired both Cook and Archuleta.

Rhonda Buttars (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): [Unintelligible]

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): And ah, I went with this inmate. He really knows his law work.

Rhonda Buttars (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): Who is it?

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): William Babble.

Dave Cawley: Ah, William Babble, the “inmate litigator” who worked with Doug at the prison sign shop. Doug felt confident in his ability to go pro se, or to represent himself. He’d done it before.

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): It’s like, you know that thing up there, that poaching thing? Nobody could have represented us better than me, because I knew what had to be said. And I’m telling you, I’m this close to saying, ‘I don’t want an attorney. I’ll do this myself.’ Because he is going to be…

Dave Cawley: If Doug decided he did need an attorney, he said he’d just use appointed counsel. And even then, he would call the shots.

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): This is another thing about my attorneys. When they give me an attorney, he is gonna speak for me. I’m not gonna listen to no more, ‘I don’t want to do this, or we’re not gonna do this.’ I’ll, I’ll stand up and I’ll fire him. I’ll say, ‘Your honor, he’s not doing what I want him to do and he does not have my special interests in mind. Therefore, I want him terminated.’ And we’ll start this all over.

Rhonda Buttars (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): Right.

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): Because John [expletive] me. John, he [expletive] me royal, you know?

Dave Cawley: By John, he meant John Hutchison, the attorney who’d defended him in the rape case. Hutchison’s actions — or lack thereof — during the 1985 trial were what Doug’s writ was all about. He contended Hutchison had made several errors that had prejudiced the jury. They included failing to object to the testimony of Sharon Gess, the woman Doug had gone to the Pier 3 to see on the night he first encountered Joyce.

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): Remember that Sharon Gess gal that got up and testified that she was being, ah, stalked around or something by a little red car? That was highly, highly, ah, that was a reversible error by itself, right there.

Dave Cawley: When Doug’s writ went before a judge, he said he wanted Rhonda to testify for him. She would say she had been driving his car — the red Mazda — and not him.

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): You had my Mazda RX-7 for awhile, but not, I don’t think during the time that Sharon said that she was being followed. Ah—

Rhonda Buttars (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): I can’t remember all that.

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): I, I know, I, I’m just, I know. I’ll go over all that with you but I’m just preparing you now for what’s coming up months down the road.

Dave Cawley: Doug wanted Rhonda to lie for him, under oath. The point of this was to undermine what Sharon Gess had testified to and suggest John Hutchison should have pursued this line of attack during the trial.

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): Sharon Gess testifying, ah, saying that she was, ah, stalked around by somebody that she didn’t even say she could identify. All she said was it was a little red car with flip-up lights. Well now, how controversial is that? I drive a little red car with flip-up lights. And she didn’t say, ah, so you know that tainted the jury. I mean, that really tainted the jury a lot. And it could have been a reversible error.

Dave Cawley: But because Hutchison hadn’t objected during the trial, the Utah Supreme Court had refused to even consider this issue on appeal. Doug hoped to get the court to address it with his writ. Doug went on a little tangent here, bringing up his 1978 trial for the armed robbery at the U-Save Market.

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): Do you remember when Sherrill and Hooker and I did that robbery?

Rhonda Buttars (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): Yeah.

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): Can you remember that gal that got up and testified that she, that she, ah, identified me?

Rhonda Buttars (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): Oh yeah.

Dave Cawley: He’s talking about Kellie, the 18-year-old U-Save Market clerk who’d bumped into Doug behind the store that night while the robbery was taking place. Remember, she’d told police she’d startled a man after spotting him ducked down by the rear bumper of what turned out to be the getaway car.

Kellie told me — and police records reflect — she had reported exchanging words with Doug.

Kellie Sherrod Farr: He actually, I said hello and so did he because I startled him and he startled me.

Dave Cawley: Kellie had testified to that at Doug’s robbery trial in ’78, helping secure his conviction. Now, in ’92, Doug told Rhonda Kellie had lied for the police, saying “she did not identify me, I know she didn’t.”

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): I know, Rhonda, that she did not identify me. I know she didn’t. I never seen her. But I know that the police had her get up and say, ‘We know this,’ you know, ‘blah blah blah, if you could just identify this, it’s the only way we can link this guy,’ ‘cause she was really the only one that could put me there.

Dave Cawley: Kellie has never heard this wire recording. When we spoke, I told her what Doug had said and asked if there was any truth to it.

Kellie Sherrod Farr: The cops didn’t coach me on anything.

Dave Cawley: Kellie had seen Doug obscuring the license plate on the getaway car.

Kellie Sherrod Farr: ‘Cause he was behind the car, crouched down.

Dave Cawley: Judge for yourself which of these two people you believe.

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): You know that’s bull[expletive] and I think it’s the same thing with Sharon Gess. For one thing, I don’t think she was ever, ever followed.

Dave Cawley: It seemed there was little Doug detested more than a woman who contradicted him. He told Rhonda Sharon Gess had also lied for the police, saying “I did hit up on Sharon where she worked, but I don’t think she was ever followed by anybody.”

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): Ah, you know, I did hit up on Sharon at, at a, you know where she worked, where she was a waitress, but I don’t think she was ever, ever followed by anybody.

Dave Cawley: Doug’s writ appealing his sentence also attacked other bits of evidence, like the blue Arrow-brand shirt Joyce said he’d given her after the rape. Doug wanted Rhonda to tell a judge he’d never owned any shirts like that.

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): But anyway, the shirt. The shirt that you’ll testify to? Ah, as soon as you see it, you’ll, you’ll, I mean, my lawyer will ask you, ‘Have you, have—’

Dave Cawley: It seemed like a lot for Rhonda to keep straight. Doug had anticipated this. He told her his buddy William Babbel drafted a statement on her behalf.

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): So, I’ll send you the state—, you won’t have to fill out a statement. I know that will save you some work. This guy already filled everything out. All you gotta do is get it signed and date it and have it notarized.

Dave Cawley: Rhonda told Doug she hated going to court for him. Stories in the newspaper always led to people asking her uncomfortable questions.

Rhonda Buttars (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): You know, I just heard from people saying, you know, ‘They have new evidence. What’s going on? Na na na.’ And I’m like, ‘I don’t know.’

Dave Cawley: Doug did show some sympathy here.

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): I do. I do know you’re going through a lot, Rhonda, I do. I, I mean every day, five days a week, I imagine the phone rings a lot.

Dave Cawley: Doug said when he got out, he wanted to take Rhonda and the kids and move, maybe to Canada. He intended to go straight and invest in ostrich farm. He apologized none of the money from his mom’s life insurance had materialized the way he’d promised.

But while Doug daydreamed of the pine-dappled mountain slopes and picturesque Pacific coast of British Columbia, Rhonda worried about more immediate concerns. She told him she feared being arrested.

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): Rhonda, I think if they ever talk to you again, or me, they’re gonna have a warrant. And it’s gonna be yours, mine’s gonna be capital homicide and yours is gonna be conspiracy to commit. … The reason they would arrest you or me because they’re certain in their minds that we had something to do with it. They’re, they’re, they don’t know whether I, I did it or I had somebody do it. But they’re certain. The weakest point that they can find is you.

Dave Cawley: Doug promised Rhonda the police didn’t have anything. No body, no evidence, no witness.

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): Rhonda, I don’t see how they can have anybody that can lead them anywhere. I am the only one that knows where she’s at.

Dave Cawley: I know that’s tough to make out. But what Doug said is “I am the only one that knows where she’s at.”

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): I told you that I would never tell anybody, remember? No matter what. And I, I haven’t. I’ve never told anybody.

Dave Cawley: As if to prove this point, Doug mentioned the anonymous caller who’d phoned police in 1987, claiming to have found a woman’s body in the mountains east of Ogden.

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): They’re, the way they projected this was, ‘We think we know where the body of Joyce Yost remains are.’ I know that’s a lie. I am the only one. The only one. You don’t!

Dave Cawley: The conversation had veered into dangerous territory for Doug. Rhonda pushed him, asking if he’d ever revisited the site. Doug said yes, to better conceal the body and to retrieve Joyce’s watch. The watch he’d tried to pawn in Salt Lake City.

“You were with me,” he said.

It’s not clear to me now, listening to this muffled audio, if Doug meant you were with me at the pawn shop or you were with me when I revisited the body. Either interpretation could be valid.

Rhonda questioned if Doug still worried, the way he used to each deer hunting season, that someone might stumble across Joyce’s remains. Doug said no, because she was high in the mountains and seven years of leaves would keep her covered. The only time he’d worried was when that anonymous caller had claimed to have found a body.

Doug ran through a list of people who might have given information to police. Roy “DJ” Droddy, he said, was a snake. Billy Jack perhaps, because he had known about the stolen guns. But Doug said Billy Jack didn’t actually know he’d killed Joyce. Neither did Tom Peters, for that matter. Rhonda was the only one who knew. The only one who could get him convicted and executed.

Visiting time was coming to an end. As Rhonda prepared to leave, Doug started questioning when she would be back with the kids. He suggested they come down the very next weekend. They began to argue.

Rhonda Buttars (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): It’s gotta be Doug’s plan. You are like that, you are.

Dave Cawley: Rhonda complained he was being pushy, controlling and manipulative.

Rhonda Buttars (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): You manipulate, Lovell.

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): I do. I do.

Rhonda Buttars (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): I mean, that’s probably the worst, being a manipulator, than, I mean even trying to be in control. That’s fine, I think I’m that way too. I mean, who doesn’t want their own way?

Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): You can’t be in control unless you manipulate.

Dave Cawley: “You can’t be in control unless you manipulate.” Finally, Rhonda stood to leave. Doug told her he worried about her. If worse came to worse, he said, the police might arrest her. If they did, the detectives would claim to have all the evidence in the world. But Doug promised there was no way they could have anything after such a long time. He was wrong. Rhonda was carrying that evidence out of the prison with her on a tiny little Nagra tape deck.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: The platen on Doug Lovell’s typewriter spun, bringing a clean sheet of white paper into place. He put his fingers to the keys, then began pecking out a message to his ex-wife.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): Rhonda, this is the hardest letter that I think I’ve ever had to write.

Dave Cawley: It was Sunday, May 10, 1992.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): I have tried in every way I know how to be nice and a friend to you and at the same time be the best father I can be to Alisha and Cody, considering where I am at.

Dave Cawley: Doug had reached his breaking point. The typewriter clattered as he rattled off a list of grievances.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): I asked you to sign and send back some papers to me that you knew were very important to my case. You said you sent them and yet I never received them, so I sent you another copy and guess what, I never received that one either. I wonder why?

Dave Cawley: Procedural blunders weren’t his real reason for writing. The intent, it soon became apparent, was more personal. He accused Rhonda of cheating on him…

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): I accepted that and went on with my life. But that doesn’t seem to be enough for you. You want to continue to make it hard, why?

Dave Cawley: …a rather brazen point of contention coming from a man convicted of sexually assaulting a woman while he and Rhonda were still married. He had other gripes.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): I have written or sent a card to the kids every week for 2 1/2 years now, missing only two. I have sent money, Christmas & Birthday presents to the kids. I have tried in vain to call and arrange visits with them, only to be disappointed time after time. … The kids don’t write me, according to you they don’t want to come down & see me, our conversations on the phone are so distant I hardly even know them.

Dave Cawley: Doug couldn’t comprehend why.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): But I have no chance of having any kind of relationship with them as long as you remain to be the type of person you are. … For the life of me Rhonda I’ll never understand why you act the way you do. I have done nothing to deserve the way I have been treated by you, nor has my family.

Dave Cawley: Doug had spent the better part of the prior year worried his ex-wife would crack. He knew she was the strongest possible witness against him if police made good on their threat to charge him with the murder of Joyce Yost. Yet, Doug had also become frustrated with Rhonda. So, he said, they were done. No more visits. No more phone calls.

Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): This has been damned hard for me to write Rhonda but I won’t and can’t let you roller coaster my life anymore by using our children.

Dave Cawley: The roller coaster car that was Doug’s life was at that moment perched at the very top of a precipitous drop, primed for the fall.

Cold season 2, episode 6: Here We Are – Full episode transcript

Dave Cawley: South Ogden police sergeant Terry Carpenter drove into downtown Ogden on the afternoon of April 10, 1991. He headed to a building on Washington Boulevard, which housed the offices of the Utah Department of Social Services. The offices where Doug Lovell’s ex-wife Rhonda worked.

Terry Carpenter: Kind of out of the clear blue went into work one day … and said ‘Rhonda, y’know, let’s level with each other.’

Dave Cawley: Terry saying this came out of the “clear blue” was perhaps an oversimplification. So let’s back up just a step. Terry was at that time in the spring of ’91 pursuing a longshot lead in the Joyce Yost case. It centered on a claim Joyce had died at the hands of a satanic coven. This tip had come from a woman named Barbara, as I described in the last episode. In this next clip, you’ll hear Barbara say she knew a contract had been put out on Joyce by a guy named “Love.”

Barbara (from April 1991 police recording): I was told that she, that there had been a contract and that her name was Joyce Yost and that I shouldn’t tell anyone or it would be pretty serious trouble.

Dave Cawley: Terry had spent weeks trying to verify this. He’d scoured a gravel pit, searching for bones. He’d told Barbara her information was the most valuable and pressing available in the case. There were no other leads.

Terry Carpenter (from March, 1991 police recording): If I had other leads that were more valuable and more pressing, those would be the areas I’d be concentrating on. Do you think I would have set on this group that you’re involved with for the last several weeks if I had something better that I had to work on? I don’t. This is the most prominent thing that is here right now and it’s very realistic and it’s very feasible.

Dave Cawley: But in truth, the coven lead was fast turning into a dead-end. Which is part of what prompted Terry’s impromptu visit to Rhonda’s work.

Terry Carpenter: You talk to both of them hoping at some point they may cross or that there might be some ties there or that there might be some indication that yes, Barbara’s telling you the absolute truth.

Dave Cawley: Rhonda and Terry sat down in the office break room. She told Terry about her divorce. They reminisced about the time — five years earlier —  when Terry had taken Rhonda to jail on the poaching warrant. Her story of that poaching situation had evolved somewhat in the time since. She now told Terry Doug had gone up to Monte Cristo the night before their encounter with the wildlife officer and shot two deer. He’d wanted to retrieve the antlers, so he’d dragged her up there the next day for that purpose.

Rhonda insisted again, as she had before, she had no knowledge of what’d happened to Joyce Yost. Terry fixed her with a stare. Then, he said…

Terry Carpenter: ‘We know that Doug killed Joyce. We know that you’re involved. We know that you helped him, to some extent. And provided that you didn’t pull the trigger, we can get you immunity.’ And she says ‘oh, he didn’t shoot her. He just stomped on her throat.’ And then she went ‘oh,’ like ‘I really blew it.’

Dave Cawley: This was not at all the break Terry might’ve expected. He had sudden clarity. The story Barbara had told about the coven was in no way true.

Terry Carpenter: She thinks Joyce Yost was killed by her dad and the coven and just didn’t happen.

Dave Cawley: It didn’t happen because Doug had killed Joyce himself. Rhonda had kept that secret for years. It’d gnawed at her. Ever since her divorce, she’d considered coming forward. But how could she do that without ending up in prison herself?

Terry Carpenter: And she almost immediately started to cry. And I says, ‘Rhonda, we can help you.’

Dave Cawley: Terry repeated his promise. He would do everything he could to secure immunity.

Terry Carpenter: And so we talked, and we talked and we talked and she got 2,000 pounds off of her chest.

Dave Cawley: Terry’s breakthrough with Rhonda had not come by way of intimidation, technology or clever tactics. It’d simply resulted from his offer of empathy and her willingness to trust.

Terry Carpenter: She’s (sighs) I mean, she’s, y’know I’ve interviewed hundreds of people and know she’s cleaning her soul. She’s telling me what the truth is.

Dave Cawley: That was no small step on Rhonda’s part. She knew what Doug’d done to the last woman who’d crossed him. Terry promised not to let that happen again.

This is Cold, season 2, episode 6: Here We Are. From KSL Podcasts, I’ve Dave Cawley. We’ll be right back.

[Ad break]

Dave Cawley: Terry Carpenter had knocked the frost off the cold case of Joyce Yost’s disappearance. He took his breakthrough to the Weber County Attorney the day after his meeting with Rhonda Buttars.

Terry Carpenter: They’re excited. They’re finally willing to say we’ve got enough evidence now to go forward. But they still have to prove it.

Dave Cawley: That was complicated by the fact Rhonda and Doug had been husband and wife at the time of the Joyce’s murder. Utah law provided Rhonda spousal privilege, which meant…

Terry Carpenter: We can’t compel her to testify. She has to do that of her own free will.

Dave Cawley: Rhonda I should mention, did not respond to an interview request for this podcast. Neither did her children. But Rhonda showed her free will by meeting with Terry again on the evening of May 1, 1991, for an on-the-record interview.

Terry Carpenter (from May 1, 1991 police recording): Has anyone pressured you into doing this, Rhonda?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 1, 1991 police recording): No.

Terry Carpenter (from May 1, 1991 police recording): Have I made any threats against you?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 1, 1991 police recording): No.

Terry Carpenter (from May 1, 1991 police recording): Or promises to you, except the immunity?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 1, 1991 police recording): No promises except immunity.

Terry Carpenter (from May 1, 1991 police recording): Okay.

Dave Cawley: They went step-by-step through the events of the night Joyce Yost died. Rhonda described driving Doug over to Joyce’s apartment in her blue Pontiac 1000 hatchback sometime between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. Her daughter Alisha, then four years old, had been in the back seat, asleep.

Terry Carpenter (from May 1, 1991 police recording): Can you tell me why you dropped him off?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 1, 1991 police recording): ‘Cause his intentions were he was going to break in Joyce’s apartment to kill her.

Terry Carpenter (from May 1, 1991 police recording): ‘Kay. Did he tell you that?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 1, 1991 police recording): Yes.

Terry Carpenter (from May 1, 1991 police recording): You knew that that’s what he had planned to do.

Rhonda Buttars (from May 1, 1991 police recording): Yes.

Dave Cawley: Rhonda said she and Doug had been there before. She’d taken her husband by Joyce’s apartment at least twice during the summer of ’85. He’d discovered the broken lock on window during one of those visits. On the night of the murder, Rhonda said she’d driven east on 40th Street to the intersection with Evelyn Road. She’d flipped around and come to a stop about 350 feet up the street from Joyce’s apartment. Doug had popped open the passenger door and stepped out into the dark, telling Rhonda he would call her later. So, Rhonda went home. She put Alisha to bed, then went to sleep herself. Her phone rang hours later. Rhonda said it was probably sometime between 4 and 5 a.m. She answered. It was Doug. He told her he was “in the canyon.”

Terry Carpenter (from May 1, 1991 police recording): ‘Kay. Is that what he told you? ‘I’m in the canyon.’

Rhonda Buttars (from May 1, 1991 police recording): Mmmhmm.

Terry Carpenter (from May 1, 1991 police recording): You remember that?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 1, 1991 police recording): Yes. Because he said, ‘I’m in the canyon and by the time you get to the Wilshire,’ you know, ‘I’ll be there. We’ll probably meet there at the same time.’ And he said ‘I want you to follow me so I can ditch the car.’

Dave Cawley: The Wilshire Theater was a three-screen movie house, a kind of old community landmark in South Ogden, right on the main drag of Harrison Boulevard. The Wilshire was only two miles away from Doug and Rhonda’s apartment.

Rhonda Buttars (from May 1, 1991 police recording): But, okay, and then like I got dressed. Got my little girl, put her in the car and went to the Wilshire and he was already at the Wilshire, in the parking lot waitin’ for me. And so I pulled up to him—

Terry Carpenter (from May 1, 1991 police recording): What was he driving?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 1, 1991 police recording): Joyce’s car.

Dave Cawley: Doug had a nylon stocking pulled over his hair and was wearing gloves.

“What took you so long,” he asked. “I beat you here and I came clear from the canyon.”

Doug ordered Rhonda to follow him. He started east, through a quiet neighborhood at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains, headed up the hill. Rhonda followed the red glow of taillights up Combe Road to Melanie Lane. The street climbed until it could go up no more. They were at the edge of the city. Nothing above it but mountain: 4,000 vertical feet of scrub oak and scree.

Rhonda parked her car and waited while Doug steered Joyce’s car off of the asphalt onto a dirt track that disappeared into the brush. The track, out of sight of the road, climbed up to a squat water tank.

Rhonda Buttars (from May 1, 1991 police recording): He drove up by the water tower and I stayed on the road and waited for him to come down.

Dave Cawley: A car went past, leaving Rhonda to wonder what she’d say if anyone stopped to ask her what she was doing there. But that car didn’t stop. When Doug returned, he was on foot and carrying a large blue suitcase. He stuffed that into the back of the Pontiac before settling into the passenger seat. He instructed Rhonda to head back down to Highway 89 and go south. Rhonda noted her husband seemed a little nervous, but not much, considering what he’d just done. And yes, he told her the story as she drove.

Rhonda Buttars (from May 1, 1991 police recording): He said he broke in the apartment and she was laying on her bed and she was asleep. And it was, I think he said the TV was on and a light was on. It was like she fell asleep watching TV and he said he had a knife with him and when he and went to reach over to grab her by the mouth, so she wouldn’t scream that he cut her hand. And so, umm, he said he got her up and he was, umm, washing her hand and trying to get all the evidence and the blood and everything, so no one would know that she had been bleeding.

Dave Cawley: Rhonda said Doug had made Joyce strip the sheets after wrapping her hand. When he’d tried to mop up the blood on the mattress with the washcloth, he found it simply made the stain even larger. So, he’d flipped the blood-stained mattress and remade the bed with a fresh set of sheets.

Rhonda Buttars (from May 1, 1991 police recording): And she was, you know, begging him, y’know, ‘Let’s just call Birch and I’ll tell him whatever you want me to say, that you really didn’t rape me’ or whatever. But Doug was afraid that she would call Birch and then say that he was trying to rape me again. So Doug was just telling her, ‘It’s okay, I’m just gonna take you to some people and hide you out for awhile,’ ‘cause there was a court date coming up and he didn’t want her to be there, I guess.

Dave Cawley: Rhonda said Doug had made Joyce pack some clothes and makeup into a suitcase as if she were just going on a trip.

Rhonda Buttars (from May 1, 1991 police recording): Doug kept telling her that, you know, ‘I’m not gonna hurt you, I’m just gonna take you to these people.’ So then, umm, I guess after he got her hand wrapped, umm, he got in her car and he said he made her drive up the canyon and they went up by Causey and he said, umm, he didn’t go far off the road. He just stopped the car and got out of the car and walked up this hill and it wasn’t very far off the road. And, umm, grabbed her neck and was choking her and then I think he stepped on her neck and stomped on it and smashed it.

Dave Cawley: By Rhonda’s account, Doug had killed Joyce with his own bare hands.

Terry Carpenter: How much of that’s true? I don’t know.

Dave Cawley: Terry told me he believed Rhonda was being honest with him.

Terry Carpenter: Rhonda’s a, a meek, mellow person and there’s no way that she was making any of that up.

Dave Cawley: But he doubted Doug had been completely honest with her.

Terry Carpenter: We know that’s not how he killed her because of all the blood that was between the mattress. He killed her in the apartment. He didn’t take her up on the mountain to kill her.

Dave Cawley: But which mountain? Where was Joyce? Rhonda didn’t seem to know, aside from it being somewhere near Causey Reservoir.

Rhonda Buttars (from May 1, 1991 police recording): And said he, umm, buried her as best he could and he didn’t have any, anything to really bury her, y’know, like a shovel to dig a hole that I recall. And he said he didn’t bury her very deep. He just, you know, like put leaves or shrubbery or dirt over her. And she had her purse at the time, he said, and he dumped all of her stuff out by her, her purse and then just left it. And he was saying, ‘You know, that was a mistake.’ He shouldn’t have left her purse and her ID, everything that was in her purse was right there by her body.

Dave Cawley: Rhonda said Doug acknowledged he would have to go back and fix that mistake.

Terry Carpenter: And then he went back a week or so later because it was bowhunting season and was afraid somebody’d find her laying on the ground and that’s when he buried her.

Dave Cawley: But let’s not get too far ahead. As the eastern sky started to take on the soft hue of impending sunrise on the morning after the murder, Rhonda had chauffeured Doug to a vacant lot at the intersection of Highway 89 and Oak Hills Drive in the city of Layton.

Rhonda Buttars (from May 1, 1991 police recording): And then he got out and umm, there was a camp area and where there’s a fire he started the suitcase on fire. I don’t know if he did the suitcase. I can’t remember because the suitcase seemed like it would take forever to burn. I just remember the clothes, for sure. He burned the clothes.

Dave Cawley: Rhonda waited in her car as Doug tended the fire, the growing light of dawn gaining in intensity with each passing minute. Rhonda said she then drove him to a spot along the Weber River, where he tossed the suitcase into the water. Then, they went home. At some point that morning, Doug’d discovered his pants and shoes were stained with Joyce’s blood. So he and Rhonda had left the apartment and drove to a place where Riverdale Road crosses the Union Pacific Railroad’s Riverdale Yard. Doug ducked under the viaduct, where he found a large drum or barrel. He put his bloodstained Levis in it, then set fire to them and walked away.

Terry Carpenter (from May 1, 1991 police recording): You indicated that Doug told you he was going up to get rid of Joyce. You knew that that’s why he was going up there. Had he ever talked about doing that before to anyone else?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 1, 1991 police recording): Yes. He talked to his friend, Billy Jack.

Dave Cawley: Further evidence of Rhonda’s forthrightness.

Terry Carpenter (from May 1, 1991 police recording): Rhonda starts to talk about the fact that he’s paid people to do this. And so other names come out.

Dave Cawley: Rhonda told Terry how Billy Jack had sawed the barrel off of a stolen gun, chickened out and buried the weapon in a field near Joyce’s apartment. She told Terry about meeting with Tom Peters at his girlfriend’s place in Salt Lake City, how Doug had turned an entire workman’s comp check over to Tom in the hopes he would “take care” of Joyce. How Tom had taken the money but failed to do the job.

She described how Doug ended up trying to pawn Joyce’s wristwatch, the one he’d left with her body but later retrieved. No pawnshop would offer him more than 50 bucks, so he’d tossed it out the car window while driving down State Street in Salt Lake City one day. Terry asked Rhonda if she was concerned at all about what they’d discussed.

Rhonda Buttars (from May 1, 1991 police recording): I’m worried about, if Doug finds out. I’m really scared.

Terry Carpenter (from May 1, 1991 police recording): What would Doug do?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 1, 1991 police recording): He’ll have someone come after me.

Terry Carpenter (from May 1, 1991 police recording): And what do you think they’d do?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 1, 1991 police recording): Kill me.

Terry Carpenter (from May 1, 1991 police recording): ‘Kay. You believe that, Rhonda?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 1, 1991 police recording): Mmmhmm. Yep.

Dave Cawley: Rhonda took a polygraph, which showed she was being truthful. And she continued to feed information to Terry. She told him Doug had not stopped calling her, in spite of their divorce. Terry asked if she would be willing to record those phone calls. Rhonda said yes.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Shirley Lovell — Doug’s mom — died as a result of a pulmonary embolism on Friday, May 17, 1991. She was 55 years old. The family planned funeral services for the following Tuesday, May 21st, in Oak City, Utah, the tiny rural community where both she and Doug’s father had been raised and where Doug had spent his own early years.

Doug made an immediate request to the prison staff. He wanted to attend the funeral. The Utah Department of Corrections at that time classified Doug as a “level three” inmate. The medium-security ranking meant he had to remain within the prison perimeter at all times. Only level fives could leave the grounds. Still, Doug believed he had a strong case for an exception. His file, also known as his jacket, didn’t include any write-ups for serious violations. He was neat and polite. He didn’t brawl, he’d never tried to escape and he worked hard at his job in the prison sign shop. He’d become a leadman, with his own office.

Carl Jacobsen, who’d been one of his Doug’s guards when he’d first arrived at SSD back in ’86, often introduced him to visitors there. Carl had developed something of a rapport with Doug over the years. He’d since promoted to the rank of lieutenant. Managing visitation inside and outside the prison fell within Carl’s new responsibilities. Carl might’ve been the closest thing to an ally Doug had among the prison staff. But when he received the request for an off-site visit, it gave him pause. Doug, Carl believed, presented a flight risk. If given the opportunity, he might use the funeral to stage an escape.

While prison managers debated the question of whether to approve the funeral trip, Doug received a visitor at the prison. On the morning of Monday, May 20th, his boss at the sign shop told him his attorney was waiting to speak with him. Doug was at that time working to appeal his sentence in court. A new lawyer, Robert Archuleta, had signed on to help him. But that’s not who was waiting for Doug when he made his way over to the prison offices. It was Terry Carpenter.

Terry Carpenter (from May 20, 1991 police recording): Doug was advised of his rights per Miranda at which time Doug was asked if he understood each of these right and he stated that he did.

Dave Cawley: Terry didn’t make a tape recording of the conversation itself, but he did record these notes afterward.

Terry Carpenter (from May 20, 1991 police recording): I asked him with these rights in mind would you be willing to talk with me and he stated no.

Dave Cawley: Terry told Doug that was fine, he should just sit and listen. He then explained new information had come to light about the death of Joyce Yost. He now knew enough to secure a capital homicide charge.

Terry Carpenter (from May 20, 1991 police recording): Doug refused to talk about it and I told him that I knew that he was involved in this and he stated, ‘No, you’re wrong I don’t have anything to do with it, there is absolutely nothing that I know about the disappearance of Joyce Yost.’

Dave Cawley: Terry said he knew Doug had arranged to have Joyce killed and that a “payment was made.”

Terry Carpenter (from May 20, 1991 police recording): Doug shook his head, again denied any knowledge of it and stated he would gladly go to trial.

Dave Cawley: Terry had one other tactic to try. He told Doug the Department of Corrections was not going to let him attend his mother’s funeral. But he could make it happen.

Terry Carpenter (from May 20, 1991 police recording): The time that I approached him, I approached him uh knowing that his mother had just passed away and hoping that there may be some feelings there of remorse or that he may be in a frame of mind more willing to talk to me regarding the death of Joyce Yost, knowing that she was also someone’s mother.

Dave Cawley: Terry said if Doug wanted to go, he had to first give up the location of Joyce’s body.

Terry Carpenter: He just flat adamantly denies anything. He doesn’t have anything to do with it. He has no knowledge of it and just flat tells me that I’m wrong.

Dave Cawley: Doug responded by saying, “[expletive] you.”

Terry Carpenter: You sit and look at him and know without a question that he’s lying to you and you can just flat see the devil in his eyes.

Dave Cawley: Doug told Terry he couldn’t keep him there then he stood and walked out of the room. Terry wasn’t done at the prison, though. He had the guards haul in another inmate: Tom Peters. He’d only just learned of Doug and Tom’s friendship from Rhonda.

Terry Carpenter (from May 1, 1991 police recording): How did he know Tom?

Rhonda Buttars (from May 1, 1991 police recordings): He knew Tom from last time when he was in prison.

Dave Cawley: Terry proceeded to tell Tom he was aware Doug had paid him to “take care” of Joyce Yost. Tom, in response, suggested a hypothetical. Suppose, he said, a friend came to another friend and offered to pay to have a woman taken care of. The second friend agrees to the point of taking the money, but with no intention of ever killing anyone.

Terry Carpenter (from May 20, 1991 police recording): And then Mr. Peters’ tense changes and he says, ‘I took the money. At the time I was h—, I mean,’ and he says it just that way. ‘I mean this person at that time was a heroin addict and he took the money for the purpose of getting high on heroin and that’s exactly what I did. My girlfriend and I—’ and then he realizes again that he has changed tenses. He stops and he says, ‘This person and his girlfriend then took the money and went out and got high on heroin with no intentions whatsoever of having anything to do with the murder.’

Dave Cawley: Terry asked Tom if he would tell that story from the witness stand.

Terry Carpenter (from May 20, 1991 police recording): And Tom thought for a minute and said, ‘No, I can’t deny it, it’s true but I will invoke my right.’ And I says, ‘you mean your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent to avoid incriminating yourself?’ And he said, ‘Yes.’

Dave Cawley: Tom said he had good reason to worry. Doug Lovell was not his friend.

Terry Carpenter (from May 20, 1991 police recording): Tom indicated to me that he was afraid of problems from Doug. He says, ‘If I can see him coming I’ll be ok, but Doug’s the type that he will come up and get you from behind.’

Dave Cawley: Shirley Lovell’s funeral came and went. Doug did not attend.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: The swelter of the southern Nevada afternoon had started to recede from the Moapa Valley. Heat radiated from the scorched ground, even as twinkling stars emerged in the violet blanket of the clear desert sky. Ron and Deb Barney were at home in Logandale, a small community between I-15 and Lake Mead, about 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Just after 9 p.m. on May 23, 1991, they heard a knock at the door. When they answered, they found two men standing on the doorstep: sergeant Terry Carpenter and lieutenant Val Shupe of the South Ogden, Utah police department. The Barneys invited the officers inside to talk. Terry had learned Ron was one of Doug’s closest friends. He told Ron he’d soon be arresting Doug for the murder of Joyce Yost.

Terry Carpenter (from May 23, 1991 police recording): Mr. Barney indicated to me that he didn’t believe in any way, shape or form Doug Lovell was involved, that he was a good person.

Dave Cawley: Terry did not record the conversation, again, only these notes after-the-fact.

Terry Carpenter (from May 23, 1991 police recording): We talked in some detail about the fact that this good person had committed a series of armed robberies, that this good person had committed a very brutal rape upon a woman, that this good person had been poaching.

Dave Cawley: Deb scooted their kids to bed as it became clear the conversation was turning to more sensitive matters.

Terry Carpenter (from May 23, 1991 police recording): He had some question about whether he raped the woman or not. Doug had told them that they actually had just had sex together and the woman wanted the relationship to go further and Doug said no and she got mad and screamed rape.

Dave Cawley: Terry countered this, explaining in some detail how the evidence showed Doug’s assault on Joyce had not been consensual.

Terry Carpenter (from May 23, 1991 police recording): And I made the comment that, ‘Yeah, whenever Doug is on dope, that that’s what happens to him.’ And uh, Debbie immediately made the statement that, ‘Doug doesn’t do drugs.’

Dave Cawley: Terry said yes, Doug did do drugs, the prescription kind. There was the matter of Doug’s phony back injury during the summer of ’85, for which he’d obtained several prescriptions.

Terry Carpenter (from May 23, 1991 police recording): Also indicated that the night that Joyce disappeared that Doug was taking a very strong drug at that time allegedly for his back which there is much in question as to whether the back problem is a legitimate deal or just a guise for him to receive some kind of drugs while he is in prison.

Dave Cawley: And how about the issue of the stolen guns, the ones Doug and Billy Jack had taken from the home of Cody Montgomery in May of ’85? The ones they’d buried behind the cabin near Callao.

Terry Carpenter (from May 23, 1991 police recording): I asked Mr. Barney if he had any knowledge about Doug burying some guns. Ron paused for probably 10 seconds and stared at the table and then says, ‘Well yeah, he did tell me about some stolen guns, he buried them someplace. I’m not sure where he buried them.’

Dave Cawley: Terry already knew where the guns had come from and where at least some had ended up.

Terry Carpenter: And Ron was very hesitant to talk about them.

Dave Cawley: Doug had told the Barneys he expected a judge would soon overturn his sentence. They’d discussed having him come stay at their place in Nevada once he won his freedom. Terry asked if that’s really what they wanted, considering how Doug had been convicted of armed robbery, how he’d kidnapped and sexually assaulted a woman, how he’d stolen guns and cars, how he’d poached deer.

Terry Carpenter (from May 23, 1991 police recording): With that understanding they began to think and Debbie made the comment that she was concerned about her children, that they had become fairly good friends with Doug and that they had some major concerns about Doug coming to live with them.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: In the week following his mother’s funeral, Doug Lovell came across a newspaper story that caught his attention. It dealt with another inmate at the Utah State Prison, a man named James Carlos Foote. Foote had been charged with sexually abusing a child in ’84, when he’d touched a six-year-old girl while lifting her into his truck. Foote, who had no prior criminal history, cut a plea deal and received a sentence of one-to-15 years in prison.

Parole board guidelines suggested the punishment for Foote’s crime should’ve been two years of incarceration. He’d gone before the board three times since arriving at the prison, and was each time peppered with questions about other cases of child sex abuse in which he might have been involved. Foote denied having any sexual contact with any other children. As a result, the board determined he was not being forthcoming and declined to grant him a release date.

Foote filed suit against the board, claiming his estranged wife — who worked for the Utah Department of Corrections — had added unfounded accusations about him abusing other neighborhood children to his file. He said the board was essentially punishing him for crimes he’d not been convicted of, depriving him of his constitutional right to due process. His lawsuit had made its way to the Utah Supreme Court in November of 1990. In its ruling in March of ’91, the high court justices unanimously agreed due process rules did apply to the board of pardons, same as to the courts.

In other words, Foote had a right to know what was in the file and to challenge it. So, in May of ’91, after serving more than six years, Foote filed a second lawsuit. That’s what’d landed his story in the paper and before the curious eyes of Doug Lovell. Doug saw parallels to his own situation. He believed Judge Rodney Page had sentenced him for murdering Joyce, not for kidnapping and sexually assaulting her. And Doug had not been able to review the pre-sentence report Page relied on when making his decision.

Doug had a friendly prison guard make a copy of the newspaper story. He placed it in an envelope and addressed it to Rhonda. Then, he called her… and Rhonda rolled tape, starting this recording.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Hello?

Operator (from recorded 1991 phone call): Hi, will you pay for a collect call from Doug?

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Uh huh.

Operator (from recorded 1991 phone call): Thanks, go ahead.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): Hi.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Hi.

Dave Cawley: …not to discuss his own mother’s funeral, which Rhonda had attended without him days earlier, but to share the good news.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): Because see now when I go to the board, they can’t even ask, they can’t even, they can’t even make a mere statement, y’know, ‘What do you know about Joyce?’ They can’t even ask that anymore because of what’s been ruled.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Yeah?

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): And a lot of things are swinging now in my favor. And I think they’ve always been hoping that umm, y’know, that when I eventually went to the board, if I lost my appeal, if I went to the board, the board could say, ‘Hey, y’know, what about this?’ Y’know, and then keep me here for X amount of years longer. And now that can’t happen.

Dave Cawley: Doug had more good news for Rhonda. He told her about his new attorney, Robert Archuleta. Robert was already trying to track down a copy of Doug’s pre-sentence report, so they could go about challenging what was in it. That wasn’t the only update he had to share.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): I guess Carpenter’s been assigned to the case.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Who?

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): Carpenter. Terry Carpenter.

Dave Cawley: Rhonda did not let on she was by then well acquainted with Terry Carpenter. Doug didn’t bother to ask, continuing right on describing their meeting the day before the funeral.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): I said uh, ‘I got nothing,’ y’know, ‘I got no statement.’ Y’know, I told him, ‘If you want to turn the recorder on, I’ll tell you that, y’know what I’m gonna tell you right now. I don’t know anything about it. I wasn’t involved, directly or indirectly, in it.’ And I says, ‘And I don’t know and I don’t think anybody else even knows that this woman is deceased.’ I says, ‘Now, if you want me to make that kind of a statement, I will.’ And he says, ‘Well, that’s not what I’m looking for.’ I says, ‘Well then what you want is for me to say something that’s not true. Y’know, what you want me to do is say that I was involved in something that I wasn’t. And I can’t do that.’

Dave Cawley: Rhonda mentioned a detective had dropped by her apartment on the day of the funeral, but she wasn’t at home.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): So they’re probably trying to look for me, too.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): Yeah, well and I’m, I’m surprised they haven’t got ahold of you by now. I figured you would have been the first one that they got ahold of.

Dave Cawley: At no point during any of this did Doug take a moment to express grief or sadness over the loss of his mother. The following week, after Memorial Day, he called Rhonda again. This time, he did want to talk about his mom, or at least her life insurance. Doug said it appeared he and his brother Russ were poised to split about $81,000. The money would mean he was all set for when he got out. Rhonda told Doug Carpenter had showed up at her apartment with a search warrant.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Well, I got a visit last night.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): Did you?

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Yep. They came and, they came and, uh, searched the house and went through everything.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): Did you let them?

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Yeah, they had a warrant.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): Did they really?

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Yep.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): What’d they find, what did they take?

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Uh, some pictures.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): What kind of pictures?

Dave Cawley: Hunting pictures. Polaroids of Doug, Rhonda and Billy Jack at the cabin near Callao.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): I don’t know how many they took but they took some. I’m not sure which ones. I think, well, I think of, like, well, everybody. Y’know, your friends. They wanted to know their names and stuff.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): No kidding?

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Yep.

Dave Cawley: Doug didn’t seem to like this one bit.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): Huh. Did they try to question you?

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): No, not really. They just said they’d get back with me. They just wanted to do a search. That was basically what they were doing.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): Huh.

Dave Cawley: The topic of the pictures would come up again and again in the days that followed. At one point, Rhonda told Doug his life would be easier if he just told the truth. He brushed off that suggestion, saying he wanted the photos back as soon as possible.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Well, I don’t think they’ll keep them. Why you worried?

Dave Cawley: He didn’t answer the question. But he did urge Rhonda to come visit him that weekend. All of this action in the case had him wanting to talk to her, face to face. Not over the phone, where they might be monitored. So, it came as a disappointment when he called Rhonda on Sunday, June 2nd. The weather was bad in Utah and Rhonda told Doug she wasn’t going to drive down to the prison for a visit. Maybe next week. Doug couldn’t wait. He took a risk and brought up, in a round-about way, the topic of Joyce.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): But umm, y’know you shocked me by something you said the other day.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): What?

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): About the truth?

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Why?

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): I, I just couldn’t believe you said that. It still blows me away, totally away.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Why, what do you mean?

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): That you would ask me to do something like that.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Well, why?

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): Do you know what you’re asking?

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Huh uh. I guess not.

Dave Cawley: There was a lot of static on this part of the call and it’s difficult to understand, even after aggressive noise reduction. What Doug said there was shocked by Rhonda’s suggestion that he tell truth. He asked if she knew what she was asking. Rhonda said “I guess not.”

In this next clip, Rhonda tried a different approach, telling Doug she wondered how he lived with it. You’ll hear Doug say “in all honesty Rhonda, what I’ve been living with for years is far worse than that.” 

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): I don’t know, I just wonder how you live with it.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): Well, in all honesty Rhonda, you know, what I’ve been living with for years is, is far worse than that.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): What does that mean?

Dave Cawley: What could Doug have possibly been referring to? Doug said he didn’t want to talk about it. It was a subject he only addressed with Kate Della-Piana, his prison therapist. Listen again and you’ll hear Doug say “on a scale of 1 to 10, this doesn’t even rate and I’ve lived with it for a long time.”

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): But I can assure you that, that this, doesn’t even, y’know on a scale of 1 to 10, doesn’t even, doesn’t even uh, doesn’t even rate. Y’know, and I’ve lived with it for a long time.

Dave Cawley: What ever this other mystery problem was, he didn’t provide specifics. He only would say it caused him a great deal of shame and guilt. At this, Rhonda again said it was perhaps time to spill his guts, to get it all out. Doug said “Get what out? I didn’t do anything.” This triggered an argument, with Doug telling Rhonda he worried about her and what she might do.

Doug Lovelll (from recorded 1991 phone call): I mean uh, you’ve never been through this, Rhonda.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Well, excuse me. So should I do it just to experience it or what?

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): No, no. Hey and umm, don’t try to fight with me—

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): I’m not, man. Don’t try and fight with me.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): I’m not.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Yeah, you are.

Dave Cawley: In frustration, Doug told Rhonda he didn’t know her anymore. She agreed, saying they just weren’t on the same wavelength. Time apart, she said, does that to people.

[Ad break]

Dave Cawley: Doug Lovell’s new attorney called Rhonda Buttars late in the day on Friday, June 14th, 1991.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Hello?

Robert Archuleta (from recorded 1991 phone call): Is this Rhonda?

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Yes.

Robert Archuleta (from recorded 1991 phone call): Oh Rhoda, this is attorney Robert Archuleta.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Uh huh.

Robert Archuleta (from recorded 1991 phone call): How are you?

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): I’m good, how are you?

Dave Cawley: Robert apologized for not having his notes in front of him, a fact made clear when he referred to Joyce Yost as Janet Riost. He explained he’d talked to Terry Carpenter about his recent visit to Doug at the prison.

Robert Archuleta (from recorded 1991 phone call): I did get some information out of this detective Carpenter. He said he’d talked with four people who’d had discussions with uh, with uh, with uh, Mr. Lovell about, I suppose, having her executed or murdered.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Hmm.

Robert Archuleta (from recorded 1991 phone call): And, y’know, this guy, I think he’s lying to me about that.

Dave Cawley: That’s because Robert said Doug had consistently denied any involvement with Joyce’s disappearance.

Robert Archuleta (from recorded 1991 phone call): Doug seems like a pretty nice guy to me.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Yeah, he is. He’s a good guy. Nice guy.

Robert Archuleta (from recorded 1991 phone call): Yeah, that’s what I think, too. I mean, I don’t know anything about your relationship but otherwise he seems like a pretty good guy and he insists he didn’t do this. He says, ‘No, I didn’t kill anyone.’

Dave Cawley: Robert asked Rhonda if she’d ever been questioned by the police.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Ever? Yeah. Birch, umm, did years and years ago.

Robert Archuleta (from recorded 1991 phone call): And what’d you tell him, you didn’t know anything?

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Yeah.

Robert Archuleta (from recorded 1991 phone call): And that’s pretty much true, isn’t it?

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Uh huh.

Robert Archuleta (from recorded 1991 phone call): I mean, you didn’t know any more than you’ve told me.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Right.

Dave Cawley: Rhonda didn’t tell Robert about her more recent conversations with Terry Carpenter. She only mentioned Terry had showed up at her apartment with a search warrant. She explained how Terry had seized photos of Doug and his friends.

Robert Archuleta (from recorded 1991 phone call): And who were your friends?

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Umm, they took some of Tom Peters, Billy Jack, Deb and Ron—

Robert Archuleta (from recorded 1991 phone call): Tom Peters, that’s it. That’s the one that they alleged. Uh, Billy Jack did you say?

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Uh huh.

Robert Archuleta (from recorded 1991 phone call): Who else?

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Deb and Ron Barney.

Dave Cawley: Robert told Rhonda if Terry came back around asking any more questions, she should refuse to answer. He said the police were simply shaking the tree to see what might fall out.

Robert Archuleta (from recorded 1991 phone call): See they made some pretty outlandish things about them. They told me they think Doug has killed two people.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Oh really?

Robert Archuleta (from recorded 1991 phone call): Uh huh. Then somehow they, they’ve alleged in somewhere that he was part of this automobile theft ring.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Hmm.

Dave Cawley: Rhonda played ignorant, saying Doug hadn’t really been in trouble with the law that much prior to the rape case.

Robert Archuleta (from recorded 1991 phone call): ‘Kay. Otherwise, did you have a pretty good marriage?

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Yeah.

Robert Archuleta (from recorded 1991 phone call): It was alright?

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): It was alright, yeah.

Dave Cawley: Later that same night, Doug called Rhonda. She told him about her conversation with Robert.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): I feel like I was on trial. God, 20 questions, man.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): From him?

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Yeah.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): The attorney?

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Yeah.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): Yeah, he’s, he’s, he’s good, Rhonda.

Dave Cawley: Doug said Robert wanted to represent him, if South Ogden police made good on the threat of filing a capital homicide charge. He’d given Robert marching orders, if that were to happen.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): ‘I want you to represent my ex-wife.’ I says, ‘I’m not worried about myself.’ I says, ‘I want her taken care of. I don’t want her to spend a night in jail. If, if bail, uh, if she’s arrested, I want bail, I’m going to get with Russ and dad, I want bail immediately arranged.’ And uh, and I told him, I says, ‘Don’t worry about defending me.’ I says, ‘I want her defended.’ And he says, ‘Well, y’know—’

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): So what’re you trying to say, that’s where I’m going?

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): No, no, no.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): [Expletive]

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): No, Rhonda, I’m not. I am—

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): I can’t deal with this [expletive], Lovell. I told you before. I can’t deal with it again. The nightmare, the hash over all this [expletive]. If they come and do that, I swear to God, I’m gonna freak out.

Dave Cawley: Doug promised Rhonda if she were arrested, she would be out of jail within hours.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): I don’t care. It’s, it better not happen. I’ll be so friggin’ mad, you won’t even, oh God. See sparks coming out of my face. ‘Cause he’s scaring me. My voice started shaking, man. He says, ‘Hey, y’know, they sound like, y’know, they got something.’ And they told, that cop told him, ‘Hey, I’m arresting his ex-wife and three other friends.’ And I just went, ‘Oh that’s, that’s good to know.’

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): Well—

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): And goes, ‘Well, what’d they say to you?’ And I go, ‘Nothing.’

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): Rhonda, you had nothing to do with it. I had nothing to do with it. None of my friends had anything to do with it. You have nothing to worry about. All they’re trying to do is shake something. They’re trying to shake a tree and seein’ if an apple falls.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Oh God, you sound like him.

Dave Cawley: Doug couldn’t reassure his ex-wife, try as he might.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): And I’m making all the arrangements for, for him to be there for you and for, y’know, to be bailed out.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Oh, well that’s comforting, Doug.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): Well, Rhonda, it may happen. It may happen.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): I know, and that’s real comforting to know. I want to go there again, [expletive].

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): Rhonda, I, y’know I was hoping you’d be, at least be comforted to know that I’m trying to do everything I can for you.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): No you’re not.

Dave Cawley: Doug told Rhonda they could talk about it more in person on Sunday, when she came to visit him. Their conversation was cut off anyhow. But he dialed Rhonda again first thing the next morning.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): What’re you wearing?

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Huh?

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): What’re you wearing?

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): When?

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): Now.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): My jammas.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): Really?

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Mmmhmm.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): Hmm.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Why?

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): I just always like knowing what you’re wearing when I talk to you. I like to picture you.

Dave Cawley: This time around, he didn’t mention the attorney, his appeal, or Joyce Yost. He simply reminded Rhonda of her plan to come down and visit that weekend. And, he told her to tune into his favorite TV show later that night to see country music videos. Doug’s favorites were Lorrie Morgan and Patty Loveless. But he’d also just heard the Alabama song “Here We Are” from their 1990 album “Pass It on Down.”

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): I listened to the words to it really close yesterday and it’s you and I to a T except for one line.

Dave Cawley: The chorus of that song goes: “We had to break it all down to build it back up, lean on each other when the times got rough, how we survive going through so much, baby you and I could write a book about love.” As for that one line that Doug said didn’t fit? “We’re still together after all this time.”

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Rhonda followed through on her promise to visit Doug that Sunday, June 16, 1991. Doug was almost up to 200 pounds, the extra weight in the form of muscle. Rhonda complimented him saying, “You look good.” He said, so do you. Then, he asked if she’d watched the country music videos. Rhonda said she had. He said Patty Loveless was beautiful and Rhonda resembled her.

Terry Carpenter: It’s kind of interesting ‘cause Rhonda’s pretty nervous.

Dave Cawley: Doug didn’t know it, but Terry Carpenter was also hearing his sweet talk. Rhonda had agreed to wear a recording device into the prison.

Terry Carpenter: I have one that we have hidden up in a bra strap on Rhonda.

Dave Cawley: It transmitted in real-time to a receiver, which Terry had with him in an observation room just above the prison’s outdoor visiting area.

Terry Carpenter: The location that I’m in, I’m able to be up above them and looking down into the room that they’re in.

Dave Cawley: Terry had also wired Rhonda with a backup, standalone recorder that was strapped to one of her thighs.

Terry Carpenter: There’s a couple of times that Doug would try to put his arm around her and she’d slap his arm away and he’d try to reach over and put his arm on her leg and she’d slap it away and wouldn’t. He’d look at her like ‘What’s the matter with you?’

Dave Cawley: Rhonda went on chatting. This was mostly performative, a show of normalcy, of boring routine for the other people scattered around in the visiting area. Doug dropped the pretense, once it seemed no one was paying them any attention. He leaned in and asked Rhonda, if he were charged with Joyce’s murder, would she testify?

Doug Lovell (from June 16, 1991 wire recording): In all honesty Rhonda, you know, it, I mean, it crossed my mind, but I didn’t believe it, you know? I mean, I just couldn’t picture you sitting on the stand testifying against me. Uh, and I couldn’t see Tom doing it either.

Dave Cawley: I know that’s pretty garbled, but Doug said “I just couldn’t picture you sitting on the stand testifying against me. And I couldn’t see Tom doing it either.” Much of this audio from this wire recording will be difficult to understand. I’ll interpret as necessary.

Doug reassured Rhonda he had never and would never tell anybody the truth of what he’d done to Joyce. In fact, he said he’d lied to his therapist, Kate Della-Piana, to throw her off the scent. And he said if the police tried to arrest Rhonda, he’d take care of it, just as he had with the poaching charge. Rhonda said she didn’t want to go through it, to have everyone at work talking about her.

Rhonda Buttars (from June 16, 1991 wire recording): I don’t want to go through it. Do you hear me? I don’t want to go, I don’t want them coming to work again, or even if it’s home. Everybody’s going to find out again and I’m going to be the talk at work. I can’t deal with this, Lovell.

Dave Cawley: An exasperated Doug asked Rhonda just what she wanted him to do about it. How could he reassure her? Her answer was simple: tell the truth. Doug said that was not an option. If he came clean and admitted what he’d done to Joyce — both the rape and the murder — it would mean his life.

Doug Lovell (from June 16, 1991 wire recording): I committed a first-degree felony to cover another felony. It’s the death penalty. At the very least, they’re going to give me life without parole. If I cooperate with them, and go to them, they’re going to give me life without parole.

Dave Cawley: “I committed a first-degree felony to cover another felony. It’s the death penalty.” Rhonda said she didn’t understand. After all, murderers cut deals all the time. He’d probably just do an extra five years or something. No, Doug said. There’s a big difference between something like manslaughter, say when two guys are in a brawl and it goes too far, and what he’d done to Joyce.

Doug Lovell (from June 16, 1991 wire recording): I premeditated, premeditated. I planned to kill Joyce. I planned to end Joyce’s life. That’s premeditated capital homicide.

Dave Cawley: “I planned to kill Joyce, I planned to end Joyce’s life. That’s premeditated capital homicide.” Doug had just confessed to murdering Joyce Yost on tape. Rhonda asked if Doug believed in an afterlife. He said he did.

Terry Carpenter: And Rhonda says to him ‘Doug, you realize that your mom now knows that you killed Joyce.’ And his comment is ‘my mom knows now a lot worse about me than just Joyce.’

Doug Lovell (from June 16, 1991 wire recording): Mom knows. Mom now knows far worse about me things than that, Rhonda. And I, and I, I know I at least have the satisfaction of knowing that when mom passed on, that I was correcting my life. I was doing everything I could, Rhonda, to correct my life, you know? And mom knew that I was pretty happy, you know? And I believe that she believed that.

Dave Cawley: “Mom now knows far worse about me things than that.” For the second time in just a matter of weeks, Doug seemed to imply his raping and murdering Joyce was not the worst thing he’d ever done.

Terry Carpenter: You tell me what can be worse than killing somebody, if he hasn’t killed multiple people.

Dave Cawley: What about Joyce’s body? Rhonda asked if someone might have found it. No chance, Doug said. He alone knew where it was. He said he hoped to someday share that location with his therapist, Kate, so Joyce’s family could have closure. But only if he could do it on his terms, in a way where he’d be protected. Otherwise, it would be the death penalty. Which brought Doug back around to the question of who could possibly testify against him. So, what about it, Rhonda?

Doug Lovell (from June 16, 1991 wire recording): I want to. I want to know straight up. If, you know, [unintelligible] hits the fan, I mean, and it could get heavy, Rhonda, are you gonna ever testify against me?

Dave Cawley: “Are you gonna ever testify against me?” Rhonda said no, unless she had to. If she ended up in jail, he had better start talking. At this, Doug laughed. Police were fools, he said. He’d embarrassed them after the poaching arrest and he would do it again. But this was good. He felt reassured. He’d looked Rhonda in the eyes and heard her say she was not going to talk.

Doug Lovell (from June 16, 1991 wire recording): But I, I just wanted to hear from you, y’know? Look at you, to hear it, you won’t testify.

Dave Cawley: Soon, he promised, everything would be back to the way it was before. He wanted to be out with her. He was sorry for their hard times, but he was correcting himself and would be back to the nymphomaniac he was at 17 years old.

Doug Lovell (from June 16, 1991 wire recording): I want to be out there with you, Rhonda.

Rhonda Buttars (from June 16, 1991 wire recording): I want you out there too, D.L.

Doug Lovell (from June 16, 1991 wire recording): I mean, I want us out there. I want to be husband and wife again. And ah, I’ll be honest with you. It would break my heart if you ever got married again, because I know that no two people were more right for each other than you and I. And I know I’ve had some hard times out there and I know that I took some bad things out on you. And I’m sorry. All I can tell you is that I’m correcting all that now, and ah, will be back to myself where I was when I was 16, 17 years old. Yeah, I was a nymphomaniac back then.

Rhonda Buttars (from June 16, 1991 wire recording): I remember Lovell.

Dave Cawley: Doug vowed to shower her with sweet, sweet romance. He told his ex-wife, the woman who alone could undo him with her testimony, she was his future. Rhonda responded by saying “then tell.” Doug said if he told the truth, they wouldn’t have a future together. Telling the truth was his “final straw.”

Rhonda Buttars (from June 16, 1991 wire recording): Then tell.

Doug Lovell (from June 16, 1991 wire recording): Tell the truth? Rhonda, then we would never have a future.

Rhonda Buttars (from June 16, 1991 wire recording): Yes we would. Aren’t you willing to find out what would happen if you say, what if by chance something comes out? I mean, make it vague, you know, ‘What if, what if I did do it? What would happen?’

Doug Lovell (from June 16, 1991 wire recording): Okay. That’s, that’s a final straw. That isn’t something I have to deal with now.

Dave Cawley: If it came down to that, if Doug were cornered and forced to admit he’d killed Joyce, he promised Rhonda he would not reveal her role.

Doug Lovell (from June 16, 1991 wire recording): Now, if I came forward and tell the truth, then I’m gonna be on the news. I don’t want that. If I ever did tell the truth, Rhonda, I would never say that you knew anything about it. Ever. Okay?

Dave Cawley: What’s more, when he got out, Doug said he would be a reformed man. No more sleeping around, no more girlfriends, only Rhonda.

Doug Lovell (from June 16, 1991 wire recording): Y’know, I feel more loving and I feel more romantic.

Rhonda Buttars (from June 16, 1991 wire recording): I’ll believe it when I see it.

Doug Lovell (from June 16, 1991 wire recording): Well I, well I’m coming to you, Rhonda. Like I said, like a freight train.

Dave Cawley: “I’m coming to you … like a freight train.”  When they stood to leave, Doug planted Rhonda with a kiss.

[Scene transition]

Dave Cawley: Later that night, after Rhonda had returned home from the prison, she received a phone call.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): I want to treat you like a lady and make you feel like a woman, 24 hours day and night.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Hmm, scary.

Dave Cawley: It was Doug.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): Well listen, thanks for coming down today. I, uh, did it help you any?

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Yeah.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): It helped me tremendous, ‘cause there’s a couple things I needed to hear from you and uh, and I, I believe it. And it helped me a lot. And uh, I meant everything I said to you, Rhonda.

Dave Cawley: That included, Doug said, a promise to be together with Rhonda, Alisha and Cody as complete family.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): Get ready for a train, okay?

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Hah. Yeah, your kiss blew me away.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): You’re gonna have a loose one on your hands.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Huh?

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): ‘Cause you’re gonna have a loose one on your hands.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Your kiss blew me away.

Dave Cawley: The kiss.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): And the kiss was nice. And uh, I got goosebumps.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): (Laughs)

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): I did, I honestly did.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Yeah, it made me sweat.

Dave Cawley: The following weekend, on Saturday, June 22nd, he phoned Rhonda again.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): When you gonna come down and see me again?

Cody (from recorded 1991 phone call): Umm, maybe tomorrow.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): Maybe tomorrow?

Cody (from recorded 1991 phone call): Yeah.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): Alright, that’d be neat, huh?

Cody (from recorded 1991 phone call): Uh huh.

Dave Cawley: The recordings Rhonda made of these phone calls captured many conversations like this between Doug and the kids. I’ve chosen not to share almost any of that, out of consideration for their young ages and personal privacy. The clips I’m using here are only included because they provide important context regarding Doug, his methods of persuading Rhonda to visit him and his knowledge of the backcountry. To that last point: Doug asked Alisha if she’d enjoyed her time with her biological father the prior weekend. She said, “Not really.”

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): Did you go up Ogden Canyon to camp?

Alisha (from recorded 1991 phone call): Huh uh, we went, I don’t know. But we went up there and umm, couldn’t find a place to camp so we just went back to his house.

Dave Cawley: Doug presumed it must have been too crowded for Alisha’s father. Doug said it would’ve gone differently had he been there. He knew how to get off the beaten path, away from other people.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): Can you remember ever camping with me when you was little?

Alisha (from recorded 1991 phone call): No.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): Can’t you really, honey?

Alisha (from recorded 1991 phone call): Mmmnmm.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): That’s too bad. Gosh, we use to, me and you and mom used to go up to some doozy places, honey. We used to four-wheel drive all the way up the mountain.

Alisha (from recorded 1991 phone call): I remember some of them. Like going up there and getting stuck.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): (Laughs) Yeah, we did that too. Do you remember spending the night in the creek?

Alisha (from recorded 1991 phone call): Nuh uh.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): Remember, the truck got stuck in the middle of the creek, this, this little river and we had to spend the night in the truck and we was right in the middle of the creek?

Alisha (from recorded 1991 phone call): Mmmhmm and we had to sleep on the, in the truck. Mmmhmm.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): That was, that was a time I’ll never forget, honey. Believe it or not, I had a lot of fun. That was uh, that’s camping to me. I hate being around other people when I leave the, when I get up in the mountains I don’t like being around other people. That’s not, that’s not like camping.

Dave Cawley: Doug told Alisha he would try to arrange for her to go visit his dad’s cabin, just as soon as the rest of the family could get together. When Rhonda came back on the phone, Doug asked if she’d read the articles he’d sent to her.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Yep.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): What’d you think?

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Sounds good.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): It does, huh?

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Yep.

Dave Cawley: As I explained earlier, they dealt with a Utah Supreme Court decision and a lawsuit filed by a state prison inmate. Taken together, Doug believed they meant the state’s board of pardons would not be able to ask him about or even consider Joyce’s disappearance when he came up for a parole hearing.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): They don’t have, they don’t have the power anymore. The Supreme Court took it away from them. It’s like they held it, it’s like, ‘Na na na.’ And they went, ‘Whoa!’

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Yeah. They had too much, I think.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): Yeah, they got way too much. Man, what they been doing with people here is [expletive].

Dave Cawley: Getting the articles to Rhonda, and getting her to read them, had taken no small effort on Doug’s part. Now, he wanted the newspaper clippings back for his own files.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): Can you send me those articles back though?

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Yeah.

Dave Cawley: And in parting, he reminded Rhonda of his favorite Saturday night event.

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): Hey, you know what comes on at 10?

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): Oh God, what?

Doug Lovell (from recorded 1991 phone call): My country videos, Rhonda.

Rhonda Buttars (from recorded 1991 phone call): I know, what? Who?

Dave Cawley: Doug said Restless Heart would be on, but they probably wouldn’t play his favorite song. Roseanne Cash would sing her latest. Her hit single at the time was a song titled “What We Really Want.” Rhonda would like it, Doug said. The opening verse went like this:

“We tried to make ourselves pay for something we’ve never done. We threw the best parts of life away on street talk, strangers and drugs. What we really want is love what we really need is love.”

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.

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.