Bonus 2: Location, Location, Location

Joyce Yost’s children and grandchildren have waited decades for an answer to the one lingering question that remains following their mother’s August, 1985 murder: where did the man who killed her bury her body?

This bonus episode of Cold season 2 examines three possible answers to that question, aside from the one already provided by the killer, Douglas Lovell.

The sites are: a concrete dump site in the city of Layton, Utah (because Doug drove a cement truck nearby); a cabin in the Sunridge Highlands area of Weber County, Utah (which Doug’s father owned at the time Joyce disappeared); and the slopes of the Monte Cristo Range in Rich County, Utah (where a wildlife officer encountered Doug and his wife weeks after the murder).

Locations of interest related to Cold season 2, bonus episode 2.

Overview of the Joyce Yost murder

Douglas Lovell abducted Joyce Yost from outside her apartment in South Ogden, Utah on the night of April 3, 1985. He sexually assaulted her and threatened to kill her if she reported what he’d done.

Joyce promised not to go to police and convinced Doug to release her. Then, she went to police anyway. Doug was arrested and charged with felony crimes that carried prison sentences of up to life if he were convicted.

Joyce Yost apartment Utah
Joyce Yost stands in her kitchen in this undated image. Photo: Joyce Yost family

Then, Joyce disappeared. It happened 10 days before she was scheduled to testify at Doug Lovell’s trial. From the start South Ogden police suspected Doug had murdered Joyce to prevent her from testifying. But they were unable to arrest or charge him due to a lack of evidence. Detectives were unable to locate Joyce’s body.

The case went cold. Then, in April of 1991, police Sgt. Terry Carpenter made a breakthrough. He succeeded in convincing Doug Lovell’s ex-wife, Rhonda Buttars, to talk. She admitted she’d helped Doug cover up evidence of his crime: Doug had murdered Joyce.


Rhonda Buttars’ account

In her interview with Terry Carpenter, Rhonda said she’d dropped Doug off outside Joyce Yost’s apartment between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. on the night of August 10, 1985. Rhonda had then returned home, where she’d remained until receiving a call from Doug between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. on the morning of August 11.

Doug had told Rhonda on the telephone to meet him at The Wilshire, a movie theater in South Ogden.

“It was getting light when he called you,” Terry asked Rhonda during a May 1, 1991 interview.

“No. Not when he called,” Rhonda replied.

In later court testimony, Rhonda explained it’d been dark out when Doug had called her from “up in the canyon.” But she said the sky had lightened by the time they’d each arrived at The Wilshire.

“It was light enough I could see Doug,” Rhonda said. “The sun wasn’t over the mountains yet.”

Doug had Joyce’s car when he and Rhonda met at The Wilshire. Then, they’d taken Joyce’s Chevy Nova in the foothills at the eastern edge of town and ditched the car there.

Rhonda told police Doug had described driving Joyce “up by Causey” Reservoir. She said he’d walked Joyce up a hill next to the road, choked her and stomped on her neck until she was dead.


Doug Lovell’s account

The story of Joyce’s murder as Doug Lovell remembered it came out in sworn court testimony in 1993.

He said Joyce had been asleep when he’d entered her apartment through an unlatched bedroom window on the night of the murder. He’d startled her awake, scuffled with her and cut her hand with a hunting knife.

Joyce had bled from the knife wound and Doug had needed to stop the bleeding, bandage the wound, strip the blood-stained bed sheets, flip the bloody mattress and remake the bed. Doug had also packed a suitcase full of Joyce’s clothes in an attempt to make it appear as though she’d left of her own accord.

A prosecutor suggested the clean-up and packing had taken as long as 45 minutes.

“I’m not sure how long I was there,” Doug replied, according to a court transcript.

Joyce Yost's apartment carport evidence exhibit
In sworn court testimony, Doug Lovell said he took Joyce Yost from her apartment early on the morning of August 11, 1985 and out to her car, which was parked in this carport. Photo: Weber County Attorney’s Office

Doug did admit to giving Joyce the tranquilizer Valium to keep her calm while he was busy cleaning the apartment. He’d then walked Joyce out to her car and told her to get into the trunk.

Doug denied having taken Joyce anywhere near Causey Reservoir, as Rhonda had claimed he’d said.

“I don’t ever remember telling Rhonda anything about Causey,” Doug said.


Doug Lovell’s window of opportunity

The two accounts provided a rough timeline for the murder.

In court testimony, Rhonda clarified that Joyce’s car had been parked in the carport outside Joyce’s apartment when she’d dropped Doug off on the night of the murder. That detail suggested the drop-off occurred after midnight, as Joyce hadn’t returned home from the Hill Air Force Base officer’s club until about midnight.

Sunrise in Ogden, Utah on the morning of August 11, 1985 occurred at 6:34 a.m. By Rhonda’s account, Doug’s call to her that morning had come before first light. That suggested the call occurred sometime prior to 5:30 a.m.

By that logic, Doug had roughly five hours — from about 12:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. — in which to carry out the murder and to conceal Joyce Yost’s body. Subtracting time for the events inside the apartment and at whatever place he left Joyce whittles that down to about four hours during which Doug was unaccounted for.

That timeframe becomes important when evaluating potential burial locations, as it provides a limit on how far Doug might have traveled. Cut the four-hour window in half and you’re left with two hours. This is the maximum amount of time Doug Lovell could have reasonably spent traveling one-way from Joyce Yost’s apartment to the place where he left her body.


Return to Joyce Yost’s body

Rhonda Buttars had told police in 1991 that Doug hadn’t initially buried Joyce Yost’s body on the night of the murder.

“He didn’t have anything to really bury her,” Rhonda told Sgt. Terry Carpenter. “He just, like, put leaves or shrubbery or dirt over her.”

Rhonda said Doug had also dumped out the contents of Joyce’s purse next to her body. He’d grown concerned about this afterward, over fears someone might stumble across Joyce’s body and identify her using her driver license. Doug had resolved to return and bury Joyce to ensure that didn’t happen.

In January of 1992, Rhonda visited Doug at the Utah State Prison while wearing a hidden recording device. She’d received a promise of legal immunity in exchange for her cooperation with prosecutors.

The investigators hoped Doug would reveal the location of Joyce Yost’s body to his trusted confidant, not realizing that she had turned on him.

A portion of an audio recording made at the Utah State Prison by Rhonda Buttars on Jan. 18, 1992. Buttars was speaking to her ex-husband, Doug Lovell, about his 1985 murder of Joyce Yost. This video includes both the original South Ogden, Utah police transcription and a new transcription from the COLD podcast team.

An audio recording of the prison wire recording obtained by Cold through an open records request includes a portion where Doug referenced the place where he’d left Joyce Yost’s body as being covered over by seven years of “leaves.”

“I mean, we’re talking mountains,” Doug said in the recording. “There’s snow on the ground down here. What do you think’s on her up there?”

During plea negotiations at the end of 1992, Doug told his court-appointed defense attorney that he would be able to locate the site again in the dark or in a blinding snowstorm.


The Old Snowbasin Road site

  • One-way travel time from Joyce Yost’s apartment (via shortest route): 30 minutes
  • Elevation above sea level: 5,710 feet

Doug Lovell took South Ogden police to a spot four miles east of Mount Ogden in June of 1993 and told them that was where he had killed Joyce Yost and buried her body. He made the admission in an effort to avoid a death sentence.

Old Snowbasin Road possible Joyce Yost's body location
The trail leading to the area along the Old Snowbasin Road where Doug Lovell told South Ogden police in 1993 that he’d buried the body of Joyce Yost. Photo: Dave Cawley, KSL Podcasts

The site, which sits near a hairpin curve along the Old Snowbasin Road, became the subject of an intensive search that summer. Detectives used a variety of tools and techniques at the site, including metal detectors, cadaver dogs, hand tools, a track hoe and an excavator. They found no indication Joyce Yost’s body was ever there.

Doug insisted during a sentencing hearing that summer he’d taken police to the correct spot. He had no explanation for why their search had failed to result in the discovery of human remains. A judge determined the plea deal was invalid and sentenced Doug to death.

On appeal, Doug succeeded in having his guilty plea withdrawn. He stood trial for Joyce’s murder in 2015. His defense team called a wildlife biologist as an expert witness. The biologist testified a black bear, mountain lion or coyote could have moved and scattered Joyce Yost’s body in the eight years between the murder and the police search.

“It could be that he knew it wasn’t there, it was somewhere else.”

Defense attorney Michael Bouwhuis

The lead attorney for Doug’s 2015 trial, Michael Bouwhuis, told Talking Cold he believed Doug could have been telling the truth and that there were legitimate explanations for the absence of Joyce’s remains. Bouwhuis contended the police search in ’93 had not followed best practices for crime scene processing.

“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,” Bouwhuis said.

But Bouwhuis also conceded it was possible Doug had lied, even to him.

“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,’” Bouwhuis said. “Or it could be that he knew it wasn’t there, it was somewhere else.”


Alternate site 1: Cement dump

  • One-way travel time from Joyce Yost’s apartment (via shortest route): 15 minutes
  • Elevation above sea level: 4,855 feet

The first alternate site for Joyce Yost’s body examined in this Cold podcast bonus episode is a subdivision in the city of Layton, Utah where cement truck drivers were known to dispose of excess concrete during the 1980s.

Cold podcast host Dave Cawley points out the location of a concrete dump site where some people have speculated Doug Lovell might have hidden the body of Joyce Yost following her murder.

Doug Lovell had worked at the Ideal Ready Mix cement plant at the time he’d raped Joyce Yost in April of 1985.. The plant sat along Utah State Highway 193, just south of Hill Air Force Base. He’d secured the job with the help of a family friend nicknamed “Dangerous Dan.” Doug’s father, Monan Lovell, had asked Dan to get his son a job driving a cement truck.

“Doug Lovell’s [step]mom and dad bowled with us on a bowling league and they were actually on our team,” Dan said in an interview for Cold. He asked that his last name not be used, out of concern for his privacy.

Dan not only helped get Doug hired but also trained him. Operating the cement truck required an understanding of how and when to mix the components of concrete, as well as how to route the deliveries so as to arrive at a job site ready to pour.

It was common for Ideal Ready Mix drivers to finish a pour with excess concrete still in the hopper.

“People will over-order, your tax dollars at work, by 10 yards of concrete,” Dan said. “That’s just one day, one truck. And is it heavy? Each yard of concrete weighs a little over 5,000 pounds.”

Ideal Ready Mix Layton Utah
This 1985 aerial photo shows the locations of the Ideal Ready Mix cement plant in Layton, Utah where Doug Lovell worked, as well as a gravel pit where Ideal drivers were allowed to dump excess concrete. Both sites are adjacent to Utah State Route 193. Photo: Idaho Air National Guard via Utah Geological Survey (notations added by Cold team)

Dan said the cement plant did not at that time have a reclaimer, meaning the excess concrete needed to dumped. A man who owned property east of the cement plant had given them permission to unload into a pit on the edge of his field. Dan said rumors spread after Joyce Yost disappeared. Ideal drivers wondered if Doug might have placed Joyce’s body in the pit. If so, Joyce would’ve been covered over with concrete.

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

The pit Dan referenced is visible in historical aerial imagery dating as far back as the 1950s. The imagery shows that by the early ‘90s the pit appeared to have been completely filled. Since that time, the site of the pit has been covered by residential development.

Layton Utah Hobbs Reservoir cement dump site concrete pit
Historical aerial imagery shows the evolution of the gravel pit drivers for the Ideal Ready Mix cement plant in Layton, Utah filled with excess concrete. Photos: Utah Geological Survey (top-left and top-right), Idaho Air National Guard (bottom-left), U.S. Department of Agriculture (bottom-right) (notations added by the Cold podcast team)

A rancher named Jerry Jaques was the owner of the field prior to its conversion into a subdivision. Jerry is deceased. His son, Bob Jaques, independently confirmed Dan’s account. He remembered Ideal Ready Mix drivers dumping concrete in what he called a “little old hole.”

The cement dump site has never been searched in connection with the Joyce Yost case.


Alternate site 2: Lovell family cabin

  • One-way travel time from Joyce Yost’s apartment (via shortest route): 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Elevation above sea level: 7,350 feet

The second alternate site for Joyce Yost’s body examined in this Cold podcast bonus episode is a two-acre property in the Sunridge Highlands cabin community of northeastern Weber County, Utah.

The Lovells were among the first people to build at Sunridge Highlands. Property records show Doug Lovell’s father Monan Lovell built his cabin in Sunridge’s first phase in 1979. Doug was known to visit the cabin in the early ’80s, following his early release from prison on an aggravated robbery conviction.

Retired South Ogden police Sgt. Terry Carpenter told Cold investigators were interested in searching the cabin property, due to its seclusion and Doug Lovell’s knowledge of area. However, Terry said Monan Lovell would never provide consent for police to come on the grounds after Joyce Yost disappeared.

Lovell cabin Sunridge Highlands possible Joyce Yost's body location
The cabin Monan Lovell built in 1979 in the Sunridge Highlands cabin community in Weber County, Utah. The cabin changed hands following Monan Lovell’s death in 2014 and is no longer owned by the Lovell family. Photo: Dave Cawley, KSL Podcasts

The Lovell cabin changed hands following Monan’s death in 2014. Sunridge managers provided consent for law enforcement to search the property in 2021. The Weber County Attorney’s Office carried out a search on July 9 and 10, 2021. The County enlisted the help of a non-profit organization called Colorado Forensic Canines. Its teams are trained in the detection of clandestine gravesites.

“Their dogs are trained to look specifically for small amounts of odor, small particles, small pieces of bone,” Weber County Search and Rescue volunteer commander Bryan Bennett told Cold during the search.

The cadaver dogs focused on a heavily wooded ravine adjacent to the cabin property.

Volunteer Weber County Search and Rescue commander Bryan Bennett describes conditions during a cadaver dog search for the remains of Joyce Yost on July 9, 2021. Weber County requested the assistance of Colorado Forensic Canines in searching for possible remains near a cabin once owned by the family of Doug Lovell.

Conditions proved challenging for the dogs and handlers. The steepness of the slope and the heavy ground cover both caused problems. Heat also limited the effectiveness of the search. It both exhausted the dogs and limited the likelihood of faint odors being carried on the breeze.

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

Cold podcast host Dave Cawley cadaver dog
Cold podcast host Dave Cawley gathers sound of a cadaver dog at the site of a search for the remains of Joyce Yost on July 9, 2021. Photo: Terry Carpenter

The search of the ravine concluded without any indication on the part of the dogs.


Alternate site 3: Monte Cristo poaching stop

  • One-way travel time from Joyce Yost’s apartment (via shortest route): 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Elevation above sea level: 7,045 feet

The third alternate site for Joyce Yost’s body examined in this Cold podcast bonus episode is a place where a Utah Division of Wildlife Resources conservation officer encountered Doug and Rhonda in late 1985.

The precise date and location of that encounter were not known when that situation was previously described in Cold season 2, episodes 4 and 5. After the release of those episodes, a man named Dan Cockayne contacted Cold with additional details.

Dan was serving as chief deputy for the Rich County’s Sheriff’s Office in 1985. He assisted DWR conservation officer LaVon Thomas in the investigation of a suspicious circumstance in November of that same year.

LaVon had come upon Doug Lovell’s wife, Rhonda Buttars, sitting alone in a truck alongside Utah State Highway 39. A short time later, LaVon had seen Rhonda in the area again. She was at that time accompanied by a man whom she claimed was a hitchhiker.

Monte Cristo Walton Canyon SR39 possible Joyce Yost's body location
This June 24, 2016 aerial image shows Walton Canyon on the eastern slope of the Monte Cristo Range. Utah State Route 39 crosses the center of the image. The S.R. 39 winter closure gate sits at the bottom-left corner of the frame. Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency (notation added by Cold team)

Dan showed Cold the spot where LaVon’s initial encounter with Rhonda occurred. It happened in a place called Walton Canyon. The canyon sits on the eastern slopes of the Monte Cristo Range, about 10 miles west of the town of Woodruff.

“Von, the game warden, had a suspicion that something wasn’t right,” Dan said. “Didn’t know what wasn’t right. So we came up, found the tracks in the snow where someone had been over here in the sage brush.”

Dan and his K9 searched the area where Rhonda’s passenger, who was later identified as her husband Doug Lovell, had been standing at the time of the initial encounter.

Former Rich County Sheriff Dan Cockayne describes his role in investigating a suspicious circumstance between Joyce Yost murder suspect Doug Lovell and a Utah Division of Wildlife Resources officer in the Monte Cristo Range weeks after Yost’s disappearance in 1985.

“I always felt that we were lucky that something bad didn’t really happen right here,” Dan said. “Von had no idea he was here.”


A changing story of the poaching stop

Dan said some time later, LaVon located two deer that had been illegally shot. The deer were on the hill opposite from where LaVon’s initial encounter with Rhonda took place. Investigators believed Doug and Rhonda Lovell had poached the deer. They worked with a prosecutor to file criminal charges against the pair.

As previously described in Cold season 2, South Ogden police arrested Rhonda on that warrant in March of 1986. They interrogated her. Rhonda said she and Doug had been traveling to Woodruff to meet friends for a snowmobiling outing, but Doug had been in the bushes defecating when LaVon had first seen her. She insisted they had not been involved in any poaching.

Rhonda Buttars jail booking fingerprint card
Rhonda Buttars’ fingerprint card from her March 19, 1986 jail booking on suspicion of poaching carried Dan Cockayne’s signature.

The South Ogden detectives transported Rhonda to Rich County to be booked into jail at the conclusion of her interrogation. Rhonda’s booking sheet bore Dan Cockayne’s handwriting. Her fingerprint card carried his signature.

“She was pregnant at the time and I wouldn’t let her smoke,” Dan said, “because she was pregnant. Not because it was against the rules.”

Doug and Rhonda Lovell succeeded in having the poaching charge dismissed by a judge several weeks later.

Then, an informant told South Ogden police Doug Lovell had been revisiting Joyce Yost’s body at the time of LaVon Thomas’ encounter with Rhonda in Walton Canyon.

Monte Cristo Walton Canyon SR39 possible Joyce Yost's body location
Walton Canyon on the eastern slope of Utah’s Monte Cristo Range is a conduit for cattle drives. Ranchers use Utah State Highway 39 to move stock between summer and winter range, meaning animal bones are often present alongside the road. Photo: Dave Cawley, KSL Podcasts

So, detectives went back to that site with Dan Cockayne in the summer of 1986 to search once again. They didn’t know if they were searching for a gravesite or scattered remains that had been left out in the open.

“In those days we’d never even heard of a cadaver dog,” Dan said. “We did the best we could.”

Rhonda Buttars admitted to Sgt. Terry Carpenter in April of 1991 that her ex-husband Doug Lovell had, in fact, shot the two deer the night prior to their encounter with LaVon Thomas in ’85. He’d wanted to retrieve the antlers, which Rhonda explained was the actual reason for their late-season trip into Walton Canyon.

“If [LaVon] would have caught him right here with a gun, then he has a convicted felon, he’s got that problem and he’s got a dead animal,” Dan said. “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.’”

The stretch of Utah State Highway 39 through Walton Canyon is dark, isolated and infrequently traveled at night.

“I think that’s why you dare shoot a deer on the side of the hill. ‘Cause the odds of getting caught are lower,” Dan said. “But it’s always troubled me that maybe this lady’s laying up here.”


Hear more about the three alternate sites for the body of Joyce Yost in a bonus episode of Cold season 2: Location, Location, Location

Episode credits
Research, writing and hosting: Dave Cawley
Audio production: Nina Earnest
Audio mixing: Trent Sell
Cold main score composition: Michael Bahnmiller
Cold main score mixing: Dan Blanck
KSL executive producers: Sheryl Worsley, Keira Farrimond
Workhouse Media executive producers: Paul Anderson, Nick Panella, Andrew Greenwood
Amazon Music team: Morgan Jones, Eliza Mills, Vanessa Rebbert, Shea Simpson
Episode transcript: https://thecoldpodcast.com/season-2-transcript/lovell-cabin-poaching-full-transcript

Bonus 1: Satanic Panic

A trend began to emerge in communities across the United States during the 1980s and early ‘90s: people recovering repressed memories during therapy of satanic ritual abuse including human sacrifice, cannibalism and other horrifying crimes.

Many of these reports made their way to police, who were flummoxed by the assertion secret satanists might be operating under their noses.

Investigators spent untold hours attempting to verify the terrifying stories but supporting evidence proved elusive. Critics also questioned whether overzealous psychologists or social workers might be driving the panic, planting the ideas in the minds of their patients.

This period has come to be known as the Satanic Panic.


Joyce Yost and the Satanic Panic

The Satanic Panic came very near to knocking the South Ogden, Utah police investigation into Joyce Yost’s 1985 disappearance permanently off track. In March of 1988, police had received an anonymous call from a woman who went by the pseudonym “George” who reported Joyce had died at the hands of a satanic coven.

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South Ogden police Sgt. Terry Carpenter’s notes and transcription of an anonymous call in 1988 from “George,” a woman who said a satanic coven was behind the disappearance of Joyce Yost.

In 1990, South Ogden police Sgt. Terry Carpenter learned “George” was actually a psychologist, who’d called on behalf of a patient named Barbara. Barbara had recovered memories during therapy of having witnessed a blond woman killed in a ritual ceremony involving her father and several of his associates.

Terry invested a great amount of time and effort attempting to verify Barbara’s account. It was, at the time, the only lead he had in a case that had gone cold.

“I can’t tell you the hours that we put in to trying to prove it or disprove it,” Terry said in an interview for Cold. “She thinks Joyce Yost was killed by her dad and the coven and, just didn’t happen.”

These events were described in Cold season 2, episodes 5 and 6.


Satanic scare in Utah

The satanic coven lead in the Joyce Yost case might seem far-fetched to people looking back now, especially to younger people who didn’t live through the cultural moment of the satanic panic. But it’s important to understand how pervasive these kinds of accounts were at the time.

A January 17, 1992 Deseret News story cited a poll that showed 90% of Utah residents “believe in the existence of satanic or ritualistic abuse of children, even the sacrifice of babies.”

This bonus episode of Cold uses archival news recordings to help explain development of that public perception.

This May, 1986 KSL TV news story comes from a special series called Satanism in Utah: A Teenage Underworld. It features a man named Lynn Bryson, who during the 1980s traveled across the country giving “fireside” talks to young members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, warning them of satanic messages hidden in popular media.

It follows two significant criminal cases involving claims of ritualistic abuse that were occurring contemporaneous to the Joyce Yost investigation: the 1987 prosecution of a Lehi, Utah man named Alan Hadfield and the 1991 raid of an Ogden, Utah polygamist group called the Zion Society.


Mike King and the Zion Society

Mike King was working as an investigator for the Weber County Attorney’s Office in the summer of 1991 when a woman came forward to report she’d been involved in a cult that was sexually abusing children. The informant had fallen into orbit of the group’s leader, a man named Arvin Shreeve, after fleeing a failing marriage.

Shreeve had cultivated a group of followers, telling them he’d received personal revelation about how to attain exaltation in the afterlife.

“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,” Mike said in an interview for Cold. “It continued to pervert, as always it seems these sexual predations do, and it soon became ‘now the children need to be involved.’”

Mike King Zion Society ritual abuse
Retired investigator Mike King led the 1991 raid on a fundamentalist group called the Zion Society that was involved in ritualistic abuse of children. He later co-authored a report about ritual abuse in the state of Utah. Photo: Dave Cawley, KSL Podcasts

Mike said the Zion Society’s abuse of children was ritual abuse, even though Shreeve’s religious teachings did not include satanism or the occult. Instead, the rituals Shreeve employed were a perversion of Christian theology.

“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,” Mike said.

Ogden police raided the neighborhood where the Zion Society had taken root in the summer of 1991. Mike led that operation and subsequently took part in criminal prosecutions against Shreeve and several other Zion Society members.

“Ritual abuse is happening,” Mike said. “I don’t believe ritual abuse means satanic abuse.”


Ritual abuse task force

As the Zion Society case was unfolding, forces within Utah’s government and culture were pushing to legitimize the notion of widespread satanic ritual abuse.

In 1990, the Utah Governor’s Office created a special task force to gather information about ritual abuse and educate both the public and professionals on the issue. A psychologist named Noemi Mattis, a believer of the recovered memories accounts rising from therapy patients, led the group.

“Perpetrators maintain prolonged concealment, not only of their acts, but also of their membership in the secret society which is united in the commission of crimes.”

Utah State Task Force on Ritual Abuse

The task force issued a report in 1992. It described “generational” satanic cults which were believed to be operating in secret.

“Some scholars are convinced that such groups have existed for centuries,” the report read. “Their abusive cult activities may co-exist side by side with traditional worship; that is, members may publicly practice an established, respected religion. The members are often well-known and respected within their larger communities.”

Noemi Mattis explained away the lack of corroborative evidence supporting this claim when interviewed by KSL-TV about the report in May of ’92.

“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,” Mattis said.


Utah Ritual Abuse Crime Unit

The task force recommended Utah’s Legislature invest money to further investigate reports of secret satanic cults.

Lawmakers set aside $250,000 to fund the creation of a ritual abuse crime unit within the Utah Attorney General’s Office. The attorney general invited Mike King to join, due to his experience investigating cult activity in the Zion Society case.

“It was way outside of normal police work to say we’re going to pursue Satan,” Mike said. “We were actually given almost 300 cases of ritual sexual abuse where it was determined that children were sexually abused and satanism was involved, either in the controlling aspects or in rituals or in other ways.”

Dead cow ritual abuse
Mike King described responding to reports across Utah involving claims pets or livestock had been killed in satanic rituals. Closer examination revealed the animals had died from natural causes or depredation by coyotes or other predators. Photo: Dave Cawley, KSL Podcasts

Mike and his partner, another experienced investigator named Matt Jacobson, spent the next two years attempting to track down evidence to support the claims made in those cases.

“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,” Mike said.


Ritual Crime in the State of Utah

Mike and his partner summarized their findings in a 1995 report titled Ritual Crime in the State of Utah. Their report tossed cold water on the concept of generational satanic cults.

“Allegations of organized satanists, even groups of satanists who have permeated every level of government and religion were unsubstantiated,” the report read.

Mike did conclude though it’s possible and even likely that there were isolated instances of child sex abusers using satanic or occult imagery to scare victims into silence.

“We wanted to give a true assessment that after looking at this many cases, there’s only a small subset that were even close to being possible and none of those would support that some mystic being was showing up, only that they were using satanism as a guise to have power over the children,” Mike said.


Hear more from Mike King about investigating ritual abuse in a bonus episode of Cold season 2: Satanic Panic.

Episode credits
Research, writing and hosting: Dave Cawley
Audio production: Nina Earnest
Audio mixing: Trent Sell
Cold main score composition: Michael Bahnmiller
Cold main score mixing: Dan Blanck
KSL executive producers: Sheryl Worsley, Keira Farrimond
Workhouse Media executive producers: Paul Anderson, Nick Panella, Andrew Greenwood
Amazon Music team: Morgan Jones, Eliza Mills, Vanessa Rebbert, Shea Simpson
Episode transcript: https://thecoldpodcast.com/season-2-transcript/satanic-panic-full-transcript/

Ep 13: Last Chance

Let me tell you of how I first came to hear Utah death row inmate Doug Lovell’s mouse story.

In April of 2019, as I was wrapping up production on the first season of Cold, a colleague of mine went on the airwaves of KSL NewsRadio to talk about a suicide prevention documentary she’d produced called “Hope in Your Darkest Hour.”

“Life is hard. We can’t do it alone,” Candice Madsen said in the radio interview with KSL’s Dave and Dujanovic. “We just need to reach out and support each other and validate without judgement.”

Douglas Lovell was among the people listening to Candice’s words. From his cell in Uinta 1, the Utah State Prison’s maximum-security facility, Doug took note of the message. And he decided to share his reaction with Candice in a hand-written letter.

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Doug Lovell wrote this letter to KSL’s Candice Madsen on April 3, 2019.

“I thought your comments were spot-on,” Doug wrote. “Enclosed is a pamphlet which has a story about a little mouse I crossed paths with here at the prison many, many years ago.”


Doug Lovell’s mouse story

The pamphlet included with Doug’s letter was titled “Unforeseen Angel.” The front page featured an illustration of a plump gray mouse with a piece of cheese. The inside pages of the pamphlet told of his arrival at prison.

“When I first arrived, I was in very bad shape mentally, emotionally, physically, and in grave spiritual darkness,” Doug wrote. “I was separated from my family and the free world, addicted to drugs and alcohol, angry, frustrated, and in denial.

Doug Lovell's mouse story, written while he was on death row, tells of his arrival at the Utah State Prison.
Doug Lovell has lived at the Utah State Prison continuously since arriving in January of 1986, following his conviction for the rape of Joyce Yost. Photo: Utah Department of Corrections

Doug went on to describe how he’d encountered a mouse and lured it to his cell with bits of food.

“This was the happiest moment on A-block,” Doug wrote. “I was happy to give the little guy anything he wanted.”

It appears you don’t have a PDF plugin for this browser. No biggie… you can click here to download the PDF file.

Doug Lovell’s mouse story is contained in this pamphlet printed by the non-profit organization Rising Star Outreach.

Doug wrote that his interactions with the mouse had helped him endure a difficult adjustment to prison life and his feelings of remorse for having taken an innocent life.

“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,” Doug wrote.

Doug Lovell’s mouse story omitted the details of his crime. The pamphlet did not identify Doug by name. It also did not identify the person he’d killed, Joyce Yost, or explain how he’d kidnapped and sexually assaulted her before returning months later to kill her.

Joyce Yost Utah
Doug Lovell murdered Joyce Yost in 1985 to prevent her from testifying against him in court. The pamphlet containing Doug Lovell’s mouse story did not mention Joyce by name or explain why he’d killed her. Photo: Joyce Yost family

The back page of the pamphlet included information about suicide prevention resources, along with a logo for the Utah-based non-profit Rising Star Outreach.


Rising Star Outreach

Rising Star Outreach’s tax filings describe the organization’s mission as empowering “individuals and families to rise above the stigma associated with leprosy, and to live healthy and productive lives through quality education, medical care, and community development.” Suicide prevention work did not fall under that umbrella. Neither did working with death row inmates.

Doug Lovell had first become aware of Rising Star in 2007, after seeing a PBS documentary about the organization and its founder, Rebecca Douglas, called “Breaking the Curse.” He’d started contributing a small amount of money each month to her cause. They’d exchanged letters and Doug had eventually invited Rebecca to visit him at the prison.

I don’t know that Doug. I only know the Doug that I met in 2007.

Becky Douglas

That’s how Rising Star Outreach had come to champion the account of a man who’d kidnapped, raped and murdered a woman. Rebecca Douglas had not only tapped a sanitized version of Doug Lovell’s story for the Unforeseen Angel pamphlet, she’d also written about her experiences with him for Meridian Magazine.

Rebecca testified at an evidentiary hearing tied to Doug’s death penalty appeal on August 12, 2019. She said she and Doug had never discussed the details of the crime that’d resulted in his twice receiving a death sentence.

“I don’t think I need to know the details of what happened to Joyce Yost,” Rebecca said from the witness stand. “I think all this is irrelevant … because I don’t know that Doug. I only know the Doug that I met in 2007.”


Character witnesses

Doug Lovell’s 2019 letter to KSL’s Candice Madsen seemed designed to spark a similar connection. She wrote back to him later that year.

“I just basically said that I was interested in interviewing him,” Candice said. “I think it was only a paragraph long.”

Doug Lovell responded in another letter dated November 9, 2019.

“I appreciate your offer to come to the prison to interview me, but I must decline,” Doug wrote. “Whenever 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.”

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Doug Lovell wrote this letter to KSL’s Candice Madsen on November 9, 2019, declining an invitation to speak about the murder of Joyce Yost.

Candice had by that point already been in contact with Joyce Yost’s daughter Kim Salazar and informed her of KSL’s intention to produce an in-depth podcast series about her mother’s murder.

“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,” Kim said during an interview for Cold. “We’re still arguing about ineffective assistance of counsel. It’s ridiculous. So he is not trying to spare us anything.”


Hear how Doug Lovell’s mouse story plays into his death penalty appeal in Cold episode 13: Last Chance.

Episode credits
Research, writing and hosting: Dave Cawley
Audio production: Nina Earnest
Audio mixing: Trent Sell
Additional voices: Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell)
Cold main score composition: Michael Bahnmiller
Cold main score mixing: Dan Blanck
KSL executive producers: Sheryl Worsley, Keira Farrimond
Workhouse Media executive producers: Paul Anderson, Nick Panella, Andrew Greenwood
Amazon Music team: Morgan Jones, Eliza Mills, Vanessa Rebbert, Shea Simpson
Episode transcript: https://thecoldpodcast.com/season-2-transcript/last-chance-full-transcript/
KSL companion story: https://ksltv.com/464974/douglas-lovell-seeks-to-reverse-second-death-sentence-in-joyce-yost-murder/
Talking Cold companion episode: https://thecoldpodcast.com/talking-cold#tc-episode-13

Ep 12: Dancing with the Devil

Doug Lovell stood trial for his crime.

A jury had convicted him. A judge had sent him to prison. He’d behaved himself once there and served his time, or at least some of it. He’d convinced the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole he was a changed man, deserving of a second chance.

And so Doug Lovell re-entered society, backed up by people who loved him and believed in him. People who trusted him, even though he’d hurt many of them in the past.

Doug Lovell mug shot car theft
Douglas Lovell’s July, 1985 mugshot following his arrest on a warrant for car theft. Doug had been involved in the transfer of two vehicles stolen off of Salt Lake City car lots during 1984. Photo: Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office

Doug did well on parole. He stayed out of trouble long enough to free himself of the onerous supervision of an overworked parole officer after about a year. He got a job and maybe, a few loved ones thought, he’d finally gone straight.

This was no clean break. In reality, Doug went right back to what he’d been doing before. Only now, his network of criminal associates was larger. He’d used his time in lock-up to make new connections.

It was 1983. Within a matter of months, Doug would see a woman he’d never met leaving a supper club. He would wait for that woman — Joyce Yost — to drive away in her car. Then, he would follow her home.


Joyce Yost’s sexual assault

Doug Lovell’s attack on Joyce Yost under cover of darkness on that April night in 1985 did not happen in isolation. It was an escalation, the latest in a long string of criminal acts. Though just 27 years old, he’d already spent more than half of his young life taking from others to satisfy his own wants.

But Doug didn’t just steal money or property from Joyce. He robbed her of her safety. He exhibited callous disregard for her wellbeing, for her humanity.

Joyce Yost (right) poses with her daughter Kim Salazar (second from right), niece Cathy Thoe (second from left) and sister Dorothy Dial (left). Photo: Joyce Yost family

Joyce was resilient, composed and courageous in her response. She made the difficult choice to report what Doug had done to her, enduring multiple interviews and a physical examination. She took to the witness stand at Doug Lovell’s preliminary hearing and spoke her truth.

Doug Lovell’s trial was coming. Joyce would have to testify again. She should’ve been protected. But the criminal justice system — comprised of judges, lawyers, police officers, jailers — repeatedly fumbled in dealing with Doug. It provided him chance after chance to leave custody, summon aide from his criminal associates and ultimately, to kill Joyce himself.


Douglas Lovell’s plan for freedom

With every second chance Doug Lovell was ever given in his life, he’d pressed his luck. He’d behaved when the heat was on, and went wild when nobody was watching.

“You have no feeling for the people that you’re hurting or watching get hurt. You just go dead inside.”

Doug Lovell

Doug Lovell began plotting a path to freedom upon returning to prison in January of 1986. He did not intend to serve out the 15-years-to-life sentence he’d earned for sexually assaulting Joyce Yost. Whether through a successful appeal or by once again convincing the parole board of his contrition, he would evade responsibility.

“I’m thankful for being here. I’m not thankful for the length of time that I’ve had to be here,” Doug told his ex-wife Rhonda Buttars in January of 1992.

Doug had not yet learned Rhonda had betrayed him. She’d confessed her role in the murder of Joyce Yost to South Ogden police Sgt. Terry Carpenter. He didn’t yet know she’d recorded his phone calls and twice worn a wire into the prison to gather evidence against him.

In that second wire recording, Doug had told Rhonda he would’ve destroyed many lives if he weren’t imprisoned. He’d described a “dysfunctional” state within himself.

“It’s robotic. You just, you’re able to just do it. You don’t feel anything. You don’t sense anything. You have no feeling for the people that you’re hurting or watching get hurt. You just go dead inside and you become really cold and just kind of a robotic state and you can function really fine. And I’ve been that way for quite a while,” Doug said.


Capital murder for killing Joyce Yost

The calculation changed for Doug Lovell once Terry Carpenter served him with a capital murder charge in May of 1992. He was no longer finagling for his freedom. Instead, he was fighting for his life. Conviction would likely carry a sentence of death.

Doug’s sole bargaining chip was a piece of information he alone possessed: the location of Joyce Yost’s body. He told his attorney he’d be able to find the spot even in a blinding snowstorm.

Doug agreed to a plea deal. He admitted to the murder and promised to lead police to Joyce’s remains. In exchange, they’d ask the judge to spare his life.

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Doug Lovell’s letter to Utah 2nd District Court Judge Stanton Taylor, written ahead of his 1993 sentencing hearing for the murder of Joyce Yost.

Yet when the time came to lead police to that spot, Doug seemed to struggle. Emotion overcame him. He portrayed a persona wracked with guilt, far from the robotic, “dead inside” state he’d described to Rhonda.

“I don’t know what happened to Joyce’s body,” Doug wrote in a letter to Utah 2nd District Judge Stanton Taylor, the man tasked with sentencing Doug for the crime of capital murder. “I know the place that I have taken the police time and time again is the place where I took this young ladies [sic] life and left her there. I can’t explain why she’s not there. It’s also very important to me along with the family to see her have a proper funeral, and layed [sic] to rest.”

The gravity of what Doug had done was not lost on Judge Taylor. He sentenced Doug to death.


Doug Lovell’s trial

Within a matter of days, Doug Lovell went to work attempting to undo that sentence. He asked to withdraw his guilty plea. Seventeen long years of court hearings and appeals followed.

In the summer of 2010, the Utah Supreme Court ruled Judge Taylor had made a critical error when advising Doug of his rights at the time he’d entered his guilty plea. The high court set the stage for Doug to stand trial.

Doug Lovell’s trial occurred in March of 2015, almost 30 years after his original rape of Joyce Yost. His court-appointed defense team didn’t bother arguing innocence. Their entire strategy revolved around saving Doug’s life.

Doug Lovell trial 2015
Douglas Anderson Lovell listens to his attorney, during proceedings in Judge Michael DiReda’s 2nd District Court in Ogden, Friday, March 27, 2015. Photo: Rick Egan/The Salt Lake Tribune, court pool

Doug himself made this difficult. He refused to allow the jury the option of sentencing him to life without parole. Doug’s goal wasn’t just the preservation of his own life. It was the resumption of his previous life outside of prison. If he could convince just one of the 12 jurors to vote against a sentence of death, he would get that opportunity.

“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,” defense attorney Michael Bouwhuis said in closing arguments. “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.”

Would that “spark” be enough to convince the jury to grant Doug Lovell yet one more in a long string of second chances?


Hear what what the jury decided in Doug Lovell’s trial in Cold episode 12: Dancing with the Devil

Episode credits
Research, writing and hosting: Dave Cawley
Audio production: Nina Earnest
Audio mixing: Trent Sell
Additional voices: Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell), Scott Mitchell (as Chuck Thompson), Amy Donaldson (as Becky Douglas)
Cold main score composition: Michael Bahnmiller
Cold main score mixing: Dan Blanck
KSL executive producers: Sheryl Worsley, Keira Farrimond
Workhouse Media executive producers: Paul Anderson, Nick Panella, Andrew Greenwood
Amazon Music team: Morgan Jones, Eliza Mills, Vanessa Rebbert, Shea Simpson
Episode transcript: https://thecoldpodcast.com/season-2-transcript/dancing-with-the-devil-full-transcript/
KSL companion story: https://ksltv.com/464454/actions-deprive-joyce-yost-family-of-time/
Talking Cold companion episode: https://thecoldpodcast.com/talking-cold#tc-episode-12

Ep 11: Rising Star

Theresa Rose Greaves’ life revolved around music.

Though described by her friends and acquaintances as quiet, shy and “emotionally immature” for her age, Theresa enjoyed connecting with other people through their shared passion for popular musical groups. Her favorites included The Oak Ridge Boys and The Osmonds.

Theresa Rose Greaves missing woman Utah
Woods Cross police were able to obtain only a small number of photos of Theresa Rose Greaves following her disappearance on August 5, 1983. Photo: Woods Cross, Utah police

On July 20, 1983, Theresa wrote a letter to a fellow member of The Oak Ridge Boys fan club, a stranger who’d previously written to her after seeing an ad she’d placed in the fan club’s newsletter.

“Like the ad in the newsletter said, I answer all,” Greaves wrote.

Exactly two weeks later, on August 3, 1983, Theresa would leave her rented room at a mobile home in the Salt Lake City suburb of Woods Cross. She wouldn’t be seen again until almost 32 years later, when on February 5, 2015 a man walking his dog along Mountain Road near the border of Farmington and Fruit Heights, Utah spotted her skull at the bottom of a wooded hill.


Theresa Rose Greaves cold case

The skull sat on a piece of unincorporated land, placing jurisdiction over the discovery in the hands of the Davis County Sheriff’s Office. Detectives and crime scene technicians soon located a shallow gravesite at the top of the hill, which contained additional skeletal remains as well as clothing fragments. Coroners used dental records, which Theresa’s grandmother had provided to Woods Cross police in 1983, to identify the remains.

The discovery also added a significant new wrinkle to a decades-old mystery. The location and nature of the burial led Woods Cross police to reclassify Theresa’s disappearance from a missing persons case to an unsolved homicide. In the years that followed, detectives struggled to ascertain who killed Theresa and buried her on the hillside, a literal stone’s throw away from busy U.S. Highway 89.

Then and now: these two images show U.S. Highway 89 at the border of Farmington and Fruit Heights, Utah as it appeared in 2018 (left) and 1985 (right). The red x shows the approximate location of the gravesite where the remains of Theresa Greaves were recovered in February of 2015. Photos: U.S. Department of Agriculture (left), Idaho Air National Guard (right)

The recovery of Theresa’s remains in 2015 happened to occur just weeks before a man who’d killed a different woman — Joyce Yost — in 1985 was set to stand trial for capital murder.

Douglas Lovell had at one point during the early 1990s been a person of interest in the Greaves case as well, though detectives never found a connection between Lovell and Greaves. After being sentenced to death for capital murder in the Joyce Yost case in ’93, Doug had told a reporter he didn’t believe he knew anybody named Theresa.


Theresa Greaves move to Utah

Theresa had been born and raised in Woodlynne, a small New Jersey town between the cities of Camden and Collingswood, across the Delaware River from Philadelphia. Her birth mother had left Theresa as a baby, passing her off to be raised by her grandmother, Mary Greaves.

As a teenager in the 1970s, Theresa encountered missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and began attending church meetings. She met and befriended two other young women. One of them, Bo Colozzi, soon moved to Utah in order to be closer to the headquarters of the church.

Theresa followed suit soon after, in 1980, not only to immerse herself in Mormon culture but also to indulge her obsession with Donny Osmond. She drove her red Ford Mustang across the country with a friend, pulling a U-Haul trailer. Theresa had no family connections in Utah. She didn’t have much in the way of employment prospects there, either.

Woods Cross police records obtained by Cold through an open records request show Theresa lived upon arriving for a short time at an address near 5760 South 1150 East in South Ogden.

Theresa Greaves Utah driver license
Theresa Rose Greaves obtained a Utah driver license after moving to Utah from New Jersey in 1980.

Theresa obtained a Utah driver license in September of 1980. It listed her address as 3765 Harrison Boulevard, an apartment building just west of Weber State University.

One of Theresa’s friends soon began working for the Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind in Ogden. Theresa is believed to have spent time there as well, though investigators have had difficulty confirming that.


Theresa’s time in American Fork  

By August of 1981, Theresa had secured a job as a housekeeper at a motel in Provo, Utah. She and her friend Bo Colozzi relocated from the Ogden area to American Fork, where they each rented rooms in an apartment building at 159 West Main Street.

Friends would later recount that Theresa spent much of her free time staking out locations in nearby Orem, where The Osmonds were then operating a TV studio. She carried a camera, hoping to catch photos of the famous performing siblings.

Theresa Greaves Osmonds fan club
Theresa Greaves (left) spent free time in Utah engaged in fandom for The Osmonds, the family music group made famous by their appearances on The Andy Williams Show in the 1960s and ’70s. Photo: Woods Cross, Utah police

Her car soon broke down and she sold it, leaving her to rely on public transportation or rides from friends in order to get around.

Police records show that on August 6, 1981, Colozzi reported Theresa missing after Theresa and her roommate left their apartment with two men from South America who did not speak English. Colozzi told police Greaves had met the men at the Star Palace in Provo, a popular dance club frequented by students at nearby Brigham Young University.

Theresa returned to her apartment the following day, after being unaccounted for for more than 24 hours.


Theresa Greaves’ move to Woods Cross

Theresa at some point lost the job in Provo. She began receiving unemployment benefits and entered the job market.

In June of 1983, Theresa responded to a classified ad seeking a roommate. She rented a room in a mobile home at 620 South 900 West in Woods Cross, Utah. She also opened the P.O. Box at the Bountiful post office and continued her correspondence with fellow fans of The Osmonds and The Oak Ridge Boys.

“I needed a change, but I miss American Fork,” Theresa had written in her July 20, 1983 letter. “I’m unemployed but hope it won’t be that way much longer.”

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Theresa Rose Greaves wrote this letter to a fellow fan of The Oak Ridge Boys on July 20, 1983, two weeks before she disappeared.

Theresa continued searching for steady work. Toward the end of July she responded to an ad placed by a doctor who was looking to hire a live-in babysitter. The doctor resided in the Bennion region of the Salt Lake Valley, in what’s now the city of Taylorsville.

Theresa had such high confidence she would receive the job that on August 1, 1983, she filled out a change of address form listing her potential employer’s home as her new mailing address.

Change of address form Bennion Utah
Theresa Rose Greaves filled out this change of address form days before she disappeared. She apparently believed she’d secured a live-in babysitting job in what’s now Taylorsville, Utah. She did not end up getting the job.

That job fell through, however. The doctor informed Theresa she would not be hired, but suggested she speak with another doctor who lived in the Avenues neighborhood of Salt Lake City.


Bus trip to Salt Lake City

Theresa’s grandmother Mary Greaves, who lived in New Jersey, would later tell police she’d spoken to Theresa on the phone on the morning of August 5. Mary said Theresa had intended to take a bus from Woods Cross into Salt Lake City for a job interview.

Mary recalled Theresa mentioning “State Street,” which is a primary road that runs across the Salt Lake Valley. A detective’s notes also suggest Mary mentioned “job services,” a likely reference to the Utah Department of Employment Security where Theresa would’ve been visiting for updates on job opportunities.

Woods Cross police speak about the disappearance of Theresa Rose Greaves on August 5, 1983 in this news story from the archives of KSL TV.

Theresa’s roommate told police Theresa had called her at about 10 a.m. on August 5. The roommate, who was at work at the time at the University of Utah, said Theresa had planned to meet a couple at the Rodeway Inn in Salt Lake City that afternoon for an interview about a business opportunity.

It’s not clear if Theresa ever made it to the bus stop or to the supposed interview. When contacted by police, the second doctor with whom Greaves had spoken about a live-in babysitting job said he’d received a call from Theresa at about noon on August 5. He’d told her at that time he did not intend to hire her.

The doctor told police he did not know where Theresa was when she’d called him. That phone call was Theresa’s last known contact with anyone prior to her disappearance.


Theresa’s letters

Theresa’s roommate reported her missing on Sunday, August 7, 1983, two days after she was last seen.

Woods Cross police searched Theresa’s room at the mobile home in the days that followed. None of her personal property appeared to be missing, with the exception of a pair of beige heels, her purse and Theresa’s 1977 Collingswood High School class ring.

Police also learned that Theresa had visited her bank on the morning of August 5, depositing $98. There was no suspicious activity on the account after August 5. Theresa had possessed just $12 in cash at the time of her disappearance.

Theresa’s P.O. box continued to receive mail in her absence. Police collected those letters and wrote back to the people who’d written to Theresa, asking them to share any of their correspondence with her.

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Woods Cross police mailed this letter to people whom Theresa Greaves had been writing, based on addresses they located among Theresa’s mail and personal belongings.

The people with whom Theresa had exchanged letters appeared primarily to be fans of The Oak Ridge Boys or The Osmonds who had provided their addresses in fan newsletters.

From the responses, investigators were able to learn Theresa typically opened her letters with “howdy.” She’d used the nickname “Resa.” She’d also tended to close her letters with music-related salutations, such as “sailing away” or “Oslove,” the latter in reference to The Osmonds.

Theresa Greaves letter
Woods Cross, Utah police reached out to people who’d been pen pals with Theresa Greaves following her in August of 1983. Some wrote back, expressing shock over learning she’d disappeared.

However, none of the pen pals were able to provide much in the way of information about Theresa’s life or, more importantly, her whereabouts.


The discovery

The investigation into Theresa’s disappearance sputtered out in the months that followed. Police had not uncovered any evidence of foul play, but also had no reason to believe Theresa had left of her own accord. Theresa’s grandmother, Mary Greaves, remained in touch with Woods Cross police for several years by way of occasional letters.

“I have not heard from anyone concerning the missing relative my granddaughter Theresa Rose Greaves so I guess neither have the Woods Cross Police,” Mary Greaves wrote in 1988, five years following Theresa’s disappearance.

Mary Greaves died in 1997. Police then lost touch with Theresa’s few remaining relatives. The investigation became a cold case and languished for decades, due to a lack of leads for police to follow. Woods Cross police re-opened the investigation in 2012 but soon bumped up against many of the same dead-ends that had hindered the case in 1983.

Then, on February 5, 2015, a man walking his dog spotted Theresa’s skull against the trunk of a tree on a hillside adjacent to U.S. Highway 89, pumping new life and urgency into the case.

Theresa Greaves skull
An evidence marker sits next to a human skull as Davis County search and rescue members and crime scene investigators search a hillside Friday, Feb. 6, 2015, for more evidence. The skull was later determined to be that of missing woman Theresa Rose Greaves. Photo: Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

In the years since the recovery of Theresa’s remains, Woods Cross police and the Davis County Sheriff’s Office have worked together to review the original work done in the case. They’ve re-interviewed witnesses, conducted forensic testing on evidence gathered from the gravesite and attempted to re-establish contact with Theresa’s family. Case records reviewed by Cold show police have investigated whether a suspected criminal syndicate being operated out of the Utah State Prison and a halfway house in Salt Lake City might be connected with Theresa’s disappearance.

Theresa’s missing class ring remains one major loose end in the investigation. If the ring was stolen and pawned, locating it would provide critical information.

Collingswood High School class ring 1977
Theresa Greaves’ 1977 Collingswood High School class ring has never been found. Theresa’s ring had a blue stone, unlike this yellow one owned by one of her classmates. Photo: Woods Cross, Utah police

Police are also still hoping to fill in gaps regarding her life in Utah between 1980 and 1983, including the times when she lived in Ogden and American Fork. They’re hopeful people who were fans of The Osmonds or The Oak Ridge Boys back in the early 1980s will search through their old fan club mailers.

“We are interested in talking to anyone who knew Theresa,” Woods Cross police Assistant Chief Adam Osoro said. “Even if they were a part of the Osmonds fan club and did correspond, please look through your old letters. It might be something very small that could help us in this case.”


Cold also reached out to Merrill Osmond, to share details of Theresa’s life and the plea for help from Woods Cross police. Merrill shared this message:

I was deeply saddened to hear the news of Theresa Greaves. I understand Theresa had moved to Utah with many hopes and dreams but her life was tragically taken. … I will be reaching out to members of The Osmond Family to see if we can be of any help with the nationwide appeal. If you have any information please reach out to your local police department. My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Theresa.

Merrill Osmond, Lead singer of The Osmonds

Find out how Joyce Yost’s family reacted to the discovery of Theresa’s remains in Cold episode 11: Rising Star.

Episode credits
Research, writing and hosting: Dave Cawley
Audio production: Nina Earnest
Audio mixing: Trent Sell
Additional voices: Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell), Annie Knox (as Theresa Greaves)
Cold main score composition: Michael Bahnmiller
Cold main score mixing: Dan Blanck
KSL executive producers: Sheryl Worsley, Keira Farrimond
Workhouse Media executive producers: Paul Anderson, Nick Panella, Andrew Greenwood
Amazon Music team: Morgan Jones, Eliza Mills, Vanessa Rebbert, Shea Simpson
Episode transcript: https://thecoldpodcast.com/season-2-transcript/rising-star-full-transcript/
KSL companion story: https://ksltv.com/463958/criminal-syndicate-in-utah-state-prison-may-have-played-role-in-theresa-greaves-murder/
Talking Cold companion episode: https://thecoldpodcast.com/talking-cold#tc-episode-11

Ep 10: Buyer’s Remorse

Doug Lovell had a bad case of buyer’s remorse, at least in the eyes of the Utah Attorney General’s Office.

He’d pleaded guilty to the murder of Joyce Yost and received a sentence of death. Within weeks, Doug was asking to withdraw that plea and take his case to trial before a jury. The request languished nearly for two decades due to a convoluted series of procedural arguments and court decisions.

Joyce Yost Greg Roberts
Joyce Yost (right) sits with her son Greg Roberts (center) and niece Cathy Thoe (left) in this undated picture. Photo: Joyce Yost family

Which meant the death warrant signed by Utah 2nd District Court Judge Stanton Taylor on August 5, 1993 also remained in limbo.

To understand how Doug’s request to withdraw his plea went unresolved for so long, it’s important to have a bit of background on the events that led to Doug pleading guilty to capital murder.


Circumstances of Doug’s guilty plea

The guilty plea Doug Lovell entered came at the conclusion of months of discussion between his court-appointed defense attorney, John Caine, and prosecutors with the Weber County Attorney’s Office. By that point, Doug was aware South Ogden police had captured audio recordings of him admitting his guilt to his ex-wife, Rhonda Buttars.

The secret wire recordings and Rhonda’s likely testimony at an eventual trial made it unlikely Doug would be able to sway a jury into finding him not guilty of the murder. So, on June 17, 1993, Doug signed a memorandum of understanding stating he would lead police to Joyce Yost’s body. In exchange the prosecutors would not seek the death penalty.

That afternoon, Doug brought South Ogden police to a spot along the Old Snowbasin Road on the slopes below Mount Ogden and told them it was the site where he’d killed Joyce on the night of August 10, 1985.

Old Snowbasin Road Joyce Yost
A trail leads through sagebrush and trees near the spot where Douglas Lovell claimed to have killed and buried Joyce Yost. Mount Ogden and the Snowbasin Resort are on the horizon. Photo: Dave Cawley, KSL Podcasts

Police began an intensive search but failed to immediately locate any indication of human remains at the site. The failure to locate Joyce’s body nullified the memorandum of understanding Doug had signed, meaning there was no plea deal in effect. Yet, when he returned to court for the beginning of jury selection in the case on June 28, 1993, he informed the judge he would still be changing his plea to guilty.

Judge Taylor agreed to delay sentencing for a month, providing additional time for police to search the mountainside for Joyce’s remains. The prosecutors promised to honor their original agreement and to not seek the death penalty, so long as the police search surfaced Joyce’s body prior to the sentencing hearing.

That did not happen.

Doug’s sentencing hearing began on July 29, 1993. At that time, Doug was presented a choice of either having a jury decide his sentence or Judge Taylor. Defense attorney John Caine had encouraged Doug to select the judge, suggesting that in his opinion Judge Taylor was unlikely to choose a sentence of death. Doug followed this advice.

On August 5, 1993, Judge Taylor sentenced Doug to die for the murder of Joyce Yost.


Doug Lovell’s request to withdraw

Doug sent Judge Taylor a letter on August 25, 1993, 20 days after receiving the death sentence. In it, he complained about the advice he’d received from his attorney, saying his preference had always been sentencing by a jury. He asked to fire John Caine. He also asked to withdraw his guilty plea and to instead stand trial.

John Caine was unaware of Doug’s letter to the judge. Five days later, he filed a formal appeal of Doug’s sentence. Because of delays in processing mail at the Utah State Prison, Doug’s letter did not arrive at the court until after the filing of the appeal.

At a later hearing, Judge Taylor granted Doug’s request to fire John Caine. The request to withdraw the plea was placed on hold, however, while the court sought new representation for Doug Lovell.

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This transcript from a hearing before Utah 2nd District Court Judge Stanton Taylor on Dec. 13, 1993 shows the effort to find new legal counsel for Doug Lovell following his sentence of death delayed Doug’s effort to withdraw his guilty plea.

From there, the procedural history of Doug’s appeals grows increasingly complex. It can perhaps be best simplified by breaking it down into three phases, each punctuated by a decision from the Utah Supreme Court.


Three bites of the apple

The original direct appeal, from 1993 to 1999, primarily revolved around an argument of ineffective counsel on the part of John Caine. Among other things, Doug claimed his lawyer’s past relationship with one of the original prosecutors on his case, Reed Richards, had amounted to a conflict of interest.

The issue of Doug’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea was not raised in the direct appeal. Doug attempted to raise that issue with the court while the appeal was pending, but the trial court judge would not consider it, stating he’d lost jurisdiction when the appeal was filed.

The Utah Supreme Court heard oral argument on the original appeal and, on April 23, 1999, issued a decision affirming Doug’s conviction and sentence.


Rule 11

The second phase began in October of 2002, when Doug filed a renewed motion to withdraw his guilty plea. Here, for the first time, he claimed his 1993 guilty plea had not been made knowingly and voluntarily because Judge Taylor had failed to strictly follow what’s known as Rule 11.

Rule 11 is a portion of the Utah Rules of Criminal Procedure that spells out the rights judges are supposed to communicate to defendants when they plead guilty. The text of Rule 11 had changed a short time before Doug’s August, 1993 sentencing hearing and Judge Taylor had referred to the older, outdated version in his conversation with Doug at the time of his sentencing.

In his renewed motion to withdraw, Doug argued the judge’s error warranted a reversal of his plea.

Doug Lovell Utah State Prison
This April 7, 2006 image shows Doug Lovell at the Utah State Prison. At the time this photo was taken, Doug was engaged in an effort to withdraw the guilty plea to the murder of Joyce Yost he’d entered 13 years prior. Photo: Utah Department of Corrections

A different judge, Michael Lyon, had by then taken over the case. Judge Lyon ruled against Doug, on the grounds the Utah Supreme Court in its 1999 decision had stated “all of Lovell’s claims fail.” Judge Lyon also said Doug’s original motion to withdraw had not been made within a 30-day window mandated by state law.

Doug appealed Judge Lyon’s decision and once again ended up before the Utah Supreme Court. He argued the 30-day clock should not have started from the date of his guilty plea, as Judge Lyon had contended, but instead from the date of his sentencing.

This is really about buyers remorse and this is exactly the thing or the kind of gamesmanship that we should be trying to avoid in the plea process.

Laura Dupaix, Assistant Utah Attorney General

In their May 27, 2005 decision, the high court justices sided with Doug. They ruled his original request to withdraw his guilty plea had been made in time and was still pending. Which meant Judge Lyon would need to consider the request on its merits.


Doug Lovell: Buyer’s remorse

Judge Lyon held an evidentiary hearing in November of 2005 and subsequently ruled the sentencing judge, Stanton Taylor, had properly complied with Rule 11. Even if he hadn’t, Judge Lyon said, the error hadn’t resulted in any prejudice to Doug.

Doug once again appealed to the Utah Supreme Court.

Utah Supreme Court chambers
The historical chambers of the Utah Supreme Court at the Utah State Capitol. The Supreme Court relocated to the Matheson Courthouse in Salt Lake City in 1998, just as the first of Douglas Lovell’s direct appeals of his death sentence was coming up for oral arguments. Photo: Dave Cawley, KSL Podcasts

During oral arguments on February 3, 2009, Assistant Utah Attorney General Laura Dupaix said the entire debate amounted to regret on Doug’s part over his having received the death penalty.

“This is really about buyer’s remorse and this is exactly the thing or the kind of gamesmanship that we should be trying to avoid in the plea process,” Dupaix said. “His reason for pleading guilty was hoping to avoid it. And when he found out that he couldn’t avoid it and that he didn’t avoid it, that’s when he wanted to withdraw from this plea.”

Doug’s appellate attorney, David Finlayson, pushed back on that idea while pointing blame for the situation back at the courts.

“You’re going on this expedition of trying to figure out what was in the defendant’s mind back then,” Finlayson said. “This case should have been decided 15 years ago.”

The Utah Supreme Court issued a decision on Doug’s third appeal in July of 2010. It said Judge Stanton Taylor had failed to strictly follow Rule 11 by informing Doug of his rights to the presumption of innocence and the right to a trial by an impartial jury. As a result, Doug had good cause to withdraw his plea.

With that, the guilty plea was undone. Doug’s death sentence was vacated. He would receive the trial he’d long been asking for.


Hear how Joyce Yost’s family reacted when they learned Doug Lovell’s plea was withdrawn in Cold episode 10: Buyer’s Remorse

Episode credits
Research, writing and hosting: Dave Cawley
Audio production: Nina Earnest
Audio mixing: Trent Sell
Additional voices: Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell)
Cold main score composition: Michael Bahnmiller
Cold main score mixing: Dan Blanck
KSL executive producers: Sheryl Worsley, Keira Farrimond
Workhouse Media executive producers: Paul Anderson, Nick Panella, Andrew Greenwood
Amazon Music team: Morgan Jones, Eliza Mills, Vanessa Rebbert, Shea Simpson
Episode transcript: https://thecoldpodcast.com/season-2-transcript/buyers-remorse-full-transcript/
KSL companion story: https://ksltv.com/463478/cold-a-prison-informant-reported-douglas-lovells-death-row-confessions-to-investigators-did-either-tell-the-truth/
Talking Cold companion episode: https://thecoldpodcast.com/talking-cold#tc-episode-10

Ep 9: High Fidelity

South Ogden police Sgt. Terry Carpenter sat and watched as Doug Lovell placed a cold can of beer to his mustachioed lip, tilted it back and took a swig.

Doug, dressed in his orange prison jumpsuit and shackled at the wrists, had not been able to enjoy a frosty beverage like this in the nearly seven years since he’d gone to prison for kidnapping and sexually assaulting Joyce Yost. He’d not sat out in the sun on a warm June day and enjoyed the scent of mountain air, or heard the sound of ski boats buzzing around on nearby Pineview Reservoir.

But here Doug and Terry were, parked outside of Chris’, on June 17, 1993. The gas station and restaurant sat at the side of Utah State Highway 39 in the Ogden Valley. About a mile to the west was the old road to the Snowbasin ski resort and the site where Doug claimed to have taken the life of Joyce Yost.


Cigarettes and beer for Doug Lovell

Doug had signed a memorandum of understanding earlier that morning. It’d outlined the plea agreement he’d reached with the Weber County Attorney’s Office. Doug would admit to murdering Joyce Yost in August of 1985 to prevent her from testifying against him.

He would also lead investigators to Joyce’s remains, a spot he’d told his defense attorney he could find in a blinding snowstorm. In exchange, the prosecutors would not seek the death penalty.

Doug had already pointed out the location where he’d claimed to have killed Joyce on an aerial photograph, saying it was right off the side of the Old Snowbasin Road.

“He says it’s the only place where there’s a guard rail on the curve,” Terry Carpenter said during an April, 2021 interview for Cold.

This cropped portion of the 1986 revision of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Snow Basin 7.5 minute quadrangle topographic map shows a segment of the Old Snowbasin Road and the Wheeler Creek drainage. The general area where Doug Lovell told police in 1993 that he’d left the body of Joyce Yost is circled. Highlight added by the Cold team.

While driving up Ogden Canyon on their way to the site, Doug had become emotional and told Terry he was too agitated to go directly to the site. He’d asked to make the detour to Chris’, so he could have a beer to calm his nerves.

Terry, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and does not drink alcohol or smoke, obliged.

“I can tell you how many times I’ve bought beer and cigarettes,” Terry said with a laugh, adding he’s only ever purchased beer for Doug Lovell.


Why buy beer for Doug Lovell?

I asked Terry to explain the reasoning behind this indulgence of Doug’s desire for a drink, at a time when it seemed Doug’s back was to a proverbial wall.

Failure to return Joyce’s remains would nullify the plea agreement and likely result in Doug receiving a sentence of death. Terry at the time believed that might not prove incentive enough for Doug to be honest.

“You’ve got somebody who is fighting emotions, you got somebody who is wanting on one side of him to do something right and maybe for the first time in his life,” Terry said.

Providing Doug a drink and a brief taste of freedom seemed a small trade-off for Terry to make in that moment, if it resulted in the long-awaited recovery of Joyce Yost’s remains.

Doug Lovell and Terry Carpenter stopped at Chris’, a restaurant and gas station along Utah State Highway 39, before driving to the site where Doug claimed to have killed Joyce Yost. Photo: Dave Cawley, KSL Podcasts

Terry had spent years developing the evidence needed to prove Doug’s guilt. He’d pieced together a strong case for prosecutors, even in the absence of Joyce’s body. But he also knew the relief recovering Joyce’s remains would provide for her children.

“They would like to be able to bury their mother. So do you not do everything you can to get it out of [Doug]? 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,” Terry said. “If him having a beer or a cigarette is going to help him have enough courage to take us up to where … to give them their mom to bury her, I would do that.”


Terry and Doug’s drive up Old Snowbasin

Doug spent the better part of an hour drinking and chatting outside of Chris’ before at last telling Terry he’d calmed down sufficient to finish their drive. They backtracked to the turnoff for the Old Snowbasin Road, then drove to where the road crested a ridge and began to descend toward the Wheeler Creek drainage.

After some initial confusion, Doug pointed Terry to a place where the road made a tight curve on the downhill grade. The guardrail Doug had remembered was gone, but the posts that’d once held it were still in place.

“It’s been a long time since he’s been there, but then when we get up there, he says it’s right here,” Terry said.

Doug Lovell told Terry Carpenter he’d walked Joyce Yost over a guardrail that was once fixed to these posts at the side of the Old Snowbasin Road. Mount Ogden and the Snowbasin Resort are visible in the far distance. Photo: Dave Cawley, KSL Podcasts

Terry said Doug told him he’d walked Joyce over the guardrail and away from the road a short distance. There, he’d claimed to have strangled her to death.

“But then he tells us too that he goes back and moves her,” Terry said.

Doug told the officers he’d become concerned in the days and weeks following the murder. He’d worried a hunter would stumble across Joyce’s body, so he’d returned to the site to bury her and cover the spot with leaves and branches.

The location where Doug Lovell told Terry Carpenter he’d buried Joyce Yost’s body is surrounded by patches of Gambel oak. Doug had also told his ex-wife Rhonda Buttars he’d concealed Joyce’s body under leaves and branches. Photo: Dave Cawley, KSL Podcasts

The location Doug indicated sat within the boundaries of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. Terry and a team of detectives spent weeks scouring the surrounding terrain, searching for any sign of Joyce Yost. They came up empty.

Former South Ogden police Sgt. Terry Carpenter visits the site where Douglas Lovell told him in June of 1993 that he’d killed and buried Joyce Yost. An intensive search of the area along the Old Snowbasin Road failed to uncover any evidence. Joyce Yost’s remains have never been located.

I revisited the location with Terry nearly 28 years later.

“She is not here,” Terry told me while standing at the site. “He didn’t bring us to where Joyce is, or we would have found her.”

Locations of interest related to Cold season 2, episode 9.

Hear what happened when Doug Lovell returned to court after failing to return Joyce Yost’s remains in episode 9 of Cold: High Fidelity.

Episode credits
Research, writing and hosting: Dave Cawley
Audio production: Nina Earnest
Audio mixing: Trent Sell
Additional voices: Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell)
Cold main score composition: Michael Bahnmiller
Cold main score mixing: Dan Blanck
KSL executive producers: Sheryl Worsley, Keira Farrimond
Workhouse Media executive producers: Paul Anderson, Nick Panella, Andrew Greenwood
Amazon Music team: Morgan Jones, Eliza Mills, Vanessa Rebbert, Shea Simpson
Episode transcript: https://thecoldpodcast.com/season-2-transcript/high-fidelity-full-transcript/
KSL companion story: https://ksltv.com/462957/she-was-never-there-detective-reflects-on-search-for-joyce-yost-28-years-later/
Talking Cold companion episode: https://thecoldpodcast.com/talking-cold#tc-episode-9

Ep 8: Help Me, Rhonda

South Ogden police Sgt. Terry Carpenter’s April, 1991 breakthrough with Rhonda Buttars had re-ignited the investigation into the disappearance of Joyce Yost. It had also allowed him to piece together the path of Doug Lovell’s stolen guns.

Rhonda’s ex-husband, Doug, attempted to have two separate hitmen kill Joyce on his behalf during the summer of 1985. A major part of that plot involved a May 5, 1985 theft of multiple guns from a home in the rural town of Liberty, Utah.

Doug and one of his would-be hitmen, a man he’d met while incarcerated at the Utah State Prison named William “Billy Jack” Wiswell, had swiped several rifles and shotguns from a home there. Weber County Sheriff’s Office detectives were made aware of the theft at the time, but had not been able to link the theft to Doug or even identify him as a suspect prior to Rhonda’s confession.


Mother’s Day outing to Callao

Rhonda told Terry that she, Doug and Billy Jack had taken a trip over Mother’s Day weekend in 1985 out to a cabin near Callao, a small farming community in the desolate expanse of Utah’s West Desert. There, Doug and Billy Jack had buried all but one of the stolen guns.

Beretta shotgun
One of several guns stolen by Doug Lovell and William “Billy Jack” Wiswell in May of 1985 is pictured here. Doug and Billy Jack concealed this Beretta shotgun by burying it for a time near a cabin in the Deep Creek Mountains. It was later recovered. Photo: Dave Cawley, KSL Podcasts

Rhonda had later observed Billy Jack sawing the barrel off of that one remaining gun. Doug had wanted Billy Jack to use the sawed-off shotgun to kill Joyce, in order to prevent her from testifying in court about how Doug had repeatedly raped her on the night of April 3, 1985.

Billy Jack had instead disposed of the stolen and illegally modified shotgun by burying it a short distance west of Joyce’s apartment. He’d then skipped town without having carried out the killing.

Rhonda also informed Terry that her ex-husband had later returned to the cabin to exhume the remaining guns.


Tracing Doug Lovell’s stolen guns

Terry went to work tracking down as many of Doug Lovell’s stolen guns as he could. He soon learned from reading Weber County Sheriff’s Office reports that two of the stolen guns had briefly surfaced in October of 1985, after Joyce Yost had disappeared in August but before Doug was convicted of sexually assaulting her and detained in December.

A man identified in police records as “Scott” had called dispatch from a pawn shop called The Gift House on Ogden’s 25th Street on October 24, 1985 and asked to have serial numbers from a couple of guns checked.

The Gift House Doug Lovell's stolen guns
The Gift House pawn shop on Ogden, Utah’s 25th Street came up multiple times as police investigated the case of several guns stolen from a home in the town of Liberty, Utah in May of 1985. The stolen guns were later linked to Doug Lovell. Photo: Dave Cawley, KSL Podcasts

The dispatcher ran the serial numbers against NCIC, the FBI’s National Crime Information Center database. The serial number check revealed the guns in question, a Browning 22-caliber rifle and a Beretta 12-gauge shotgun, were both listed on NCIC as having been stolen from a home in the town of Liberty, Utah the prior May.


25th Street Pawn

Another of Doug Lovell’s stolen guns surfaced five years later, in June of 1990 at a different pawn shop. Police records obtained by Cold show an officer with the Ogden police department was conducting a check of pawn shop records when he discovered a business called 25th Street Pawn had purchased a Browning 12-gauge shotgun. The serial number on that shotgun also revealed it was among those stolen from the home in Liberty in May of 1985.

Stolen guns 25th Street Pawn
Weber County Sheriff’s detective Jeff Malan wrote this report detailing the recovery of one of Doug Lovell’s stolen guns from 25th Street Pawn in June of 1990. Investigators at the time had not yet connected Doug to the theft of the firearm.

A Weber County Sheriff’s Office detective made contact with the man who had pawned the Browning shotgun. The detective’s notes, also obtained by Cold, show the man who’d pawned the shotgun had obtained it from a woman with whom he was living. She’d received the gun from her teenage son, who had in turn received the gun from his his father prior to his parents’ divorce. The boy’s father had purportedly purchased the stolen shotgun from The Gift House in 1986.

The discovery linked at least three of Doug Lovell’s stolen guns to The Gift House. But the first two — the Browning rifle and Beretta shotgun — had still not been recovered.


Ron Barney

South Ogden police Sgt. Terry Carpenter had learned from Rhonda Buttars the two guns which had first surfaced in the October, 1985 call from The Gift House had subsequently ended up in the hands of one of Doug Lovell’s old hunting buddies, a man named Ron Barney.

Doug Lovell friends hunting
This photo, provided to South Ogden police by Rhonda Buttars, was marked on the reverse side “Ron, Rick, Pat, Bill at Callao first day of bow hunting Aug. 84.” The men pictured were friends of Doug Lovell. Photo: Weber County Attorney’s Office

Terry had visited Ron at his home in Logandale, Nevada on May 23, 1991.

“I asked Mr. Barney if he had any knowledge about Doug burying some guns and Ron paused for probably 10 seconds and stared at the table, then says, ‘well yeah, he did tell me about some stolen guns. He buried then someplace but I’m not sure where he buried them,’” Terry’s official report on his interview of Ron Barney said.

Ron did not volunteer at that time that he was in possession of two of Doug Lovell’s stolen guns.

“We finally says, ‘well, we’ll give you so long and then if we have to charge you, we’ll charge you with possession,’” Terry said in an April, 2021 interview for Cold.

A year later, in May of 1992, Terry served Doug with a capital murder charge at the Utah State Prison. The Weber County Attorney’s Office had by that point gathered sufficient evidence to tie Doug to Joyce Yost’s presumed death, even in the absence of her body.

Las Vegas Metro Police stolen guns
Archived records obtained from Las Vegas Metro Police in Nevada by way of a public records request confirm Ron Barney possessed two of the guns stolen by Doug Lovell in May of 1985. Highlights added by the Cold team.

A week and a half later, Ron Barney surrendered a Browning 22-caliber rifle and a Beretta 12-gauge shotgun — his friend Doug Lovell’s stolen guns — to Las Vegas Metro Police.

“No charges were ever filed against him and the guns surfaced,” Terry said.


Finding Billy Jack

Terry had by that point in the summer of 1992 located three of the stolen guns. But he had not been able to find or interview Billy Jack. He at last made that connection in July of 1992, just days before Doug was scheduled for a preliminary hearing on the capital murder charge in Utah’s 2nd District Court.

“There was a ton of time and effort and energy and a lot went into that,” Terry said.

Billy Jack was at that time residing in Grand Junction, Colorado. Terry traveled to Grand Junction to confront and interview him. In a written report, Terry noted Billy Jack was “apprehensive” about talking and “is very fearful of Lovell getting out of prison and coming after him or sending someone to kill him.”

It appears you don’t have a PDF plugin for this browser. No biggie… you can click here to download the PDF file.

South Ogden police Sgt. Terry Carpenter’s report of his interview with William “Billy Jack” Wiswell in July of 1992 indicates Billy Jack was reluctant to talk about his role in Doug Lovell’s plot to kill Joyce Yost.

Billy Jack also expressed concern that he might face criminal charges for his role in the plot. Terry had assured Billy Jack that was not his intent.

“I had no intention of charging him with anything,” Terry said. “He didn’t do anything, other than assist with the burglary.”

Billy Jack told Terry how he’d buried the sawed-off Winchester shotgun in a cardboard box beneath a pine tree to the west of Joyce Yost’s apartment after refusing to follow through on the murder-for-hire plot. Terry asked if he’d shown Doug the spot.

“I pointed it out one day when we was driving by it,” Billy Jack said, according to a transcript of the interview obtained by Cold. “If Doug never got it, it’s still in that cardboard box, I believe.”


Hear what Ron Barney had to say about the stolen guns in Cold episode 8: Help me, Rhonda

Episode credits
Research, writing and hosting: Dave Cawley
Audio production: Nina Earnest
Audio mixing: Trent Sell
Additional voices: Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell)
Cold main score composition: Michael Bahnmiller
Cold main score mixing: Dan Blanck
KSL executive producers: Sheryl Worsley, Keira Farrimond
Workhouse Media executive producers: Paul Anderson, Nick Panella, Andrew Greenwood
Amazon Music team: Morgan Jones, Eliza Mills, Vanessa Rebbert, Shea Simpson
Episode transcript: https://thecoldpodcast.com/season-2-transcript/help-me-rhonda-full-transcript/
KSL companion story: https://ksltv.com/462464/recording-between-investigator-douglas-lovell-surfaces-in-yost-case/
Talking Cold companion episode: https://thecoldpodcast.com/talking-cold#tc-episode-8

Ep 7: Shameless

Rhonda Buttars dropped by the Utah State Prison on January 18, 1992 to visit an inmate: her ex-husband. She carried a concealed audio recorder past the fences, making a secret audio recording of her meeting with Doug Lovell.

Rhonda had done this once before. She’d made the first Lovell wire recording in May of 1991, just weeks after first confessing her knowledge of Joyce Yost’s murder to South Ogden police Sgt. Terry Carpenter. That first wire recording had captured Doug making incriminating statements about having killed Joyce to keep her from testifying against him in a rape case.

The front entrance to Utah State Prison complex at Point of the Mountain, as it appeared on May 2, 2021. Rhonda Buttars twice wore a hidden recording device into the prison at the request of South Ogden police to record her ex-husband, Douglas Lovell. Photo: Dave Cawley, KSL Podcasts

The audio quality from the first wire had been marginal, bordering on unintelligible. At one point, Doug had seemed to reference the location of Joyce’s body but his words had been too distorted to discern on the audio tape.

Rhonda’s goal for the second wire recording was to bait Doug into disclosing the location of Joyce’s remains and to capture his words in high fidelity.


Nagra audio recording of Doug Lovell

To that end, Terry Carpenter and a U.S. Secret Service agent named Glen Passey procured a miniature reel-to-reel tape recorder made by a Swiss company called Nagra. The Nagra was, at the time, the type of high-end audio equipment used by U.S. intelligence agencies.

The investigators concealed the recorder beneath Rhonda’s clothing before sending her in to the prison shortly after 2 p.m. She met her ex-husband in a visiting area minutes later.

“They want the death penalty out of me. Carpenter told me that. He wants to see me executed and you’re the only one that can do it,” Doug told Rhonda.

Terry Carpenter
South Ogden police Sgt. Terry Carpenter took over the Joyce Yost homicide investigation in 1988. He broke the case in 1991 by gaining the trust of Doug Lovell’s ex-wife, Rhonda Buttars. Photo: Terry Carpenter family

A copy of the audio recording from second wire recording obtained by Cold through an open records request reveals Doug was concerned about a newspaper story that had recently published about the Joyce Yost case.

“I think that they surfaced this story out hoping that I would get on the phone and say, you know, something that might incriminate me,” Doug said.


State of the case

Doug had at that point in 1992 not yet been charged with the murder of Joyce Yost. He was serving a pair of 15 years-to-life prison sentences for kidnapping and sexually assaulting Joyce, but had publicly maintained his innocence for both crimes.

“If they find a body, I have motive,” Doug said. “They can’t prove opportunity.”

Doug had lost a direct appeal of his conviction in the rape case at the Utah Supreme Court but was pursuing a habeas corpus appeal of his sentence. He’d enlisted the help of a fellow inmate, William Babbel, in drafting the paperwork for the second appeal. As part of that effort, he’d also asked Babbel to draw up a statement, as if it’d been written by Rhonda.

“All you got to do is sign it, date it and get it notarized and send it back to me,” Doug said.


Doug Lovell’s deceptions in the audio recording

The statement drafted for Rhonda was to include at least two falsehoods. The first involved one of Doug’s shirts.

Joyce Yost had told police hours after Doug had abducted and assaulted her that he’d provided a blue shirt for her to wear home. The shirt had been introduced as evidence during the sexual assault trial in December of 1985.

Doug wanted Rhonda to claim he had not owned any such blue shirts.

Doug Lovell shirt
The evidence list for Doug Lovell’s December, 1985 sexual assault and kidnapping trial included the shirt Joyce Yost said Doug had given her to wear home following the rape. Highlight added by the Cold team.

The second issue involved his stolen Mazda RX-7. At the trial, a woman named Sharon Gess who’d worked at the club where Doug had first encountered Joyce testified she’d been stalked by a driver in a red sports car with flip-up headlights.

“Well now how controversial is that? I drive a little red car with flip-up lights,” Doug told Rhonda on the audio recording. “That really tainted the jury a lot.”

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This segment of Sharon Gess’ December 11, 1985 trial testimony in the kidnapping and sexual assault case against Douglas Lovell was preserved in a brief filed with the Utah Supreme Court. Gess had told the trial court Doug had been harassing her. She also said she’d been followed by a red sports car with flip-up headlights.

Doug admitted to Rhonda on the wire that he’d “hit up” on Gess at her workplace but insisted Gess had lied during the trial about being followed. He intended to counter Gess’ testimony by having Rhonda claim she’d had possession of the Mazda during the period Gess reported being stalked.

“I’m just preparing you now for what’s coming up months down the road,” Doug said, “so you don’t have to argue about it on the phone because I think your phone’s tapped.”


Joyce Yost’s remains

Doug repeatedly reassured Rhonda that she wouldn’t be arrested in connection with Joyce Yost’s murder and, if she was, he would arrange to have her bail quickly posted.

“If they come at you Rhonda … they’re going to treat you like a dog,” Doug said. “They’re going to come at you religiously. You know, ‘you’re a Mormon and the right thing to do would be to do this-and-that.’”

Rhonda did not reveal that she’d already confessed her role in the plot and was at that time cooperating with police. When she directed the conversation toward the topic of Joyce’s remains, Doug side-stepped the issue of their location, saying only that he’d covered the body with leaves.

“You think that will never happen, that they’ll find it,” Rhonda asked.

Doug said no, leaving Rhonda to ask why he felt so confident.

“Do you know what seven years of leaves are? A lot,” Doug said. “I mean, we’re talking mountains. There’s snow on the ground down here. What do you think’s on [Joyce] up there?”


The Causey body

Doug said he’d felt nervous the first few years after the murder, fearing a hunter might find the body. That fear had since abated.

“The only thing I’m nervous about is that one time that caller called in. I remember seeing it on TV,” Doug said.

This was a reference to news reports about an anonymous caller who’d phoned Roy police and the Weber County Sheriff’s Office on April 3, 1987 and claimed to have found a woman’s body near Causey Dam.

Causey body
Causey Reservoir is an impoundment on the South Fork of the Ogden River. An anonymous caller told police in April of 1987 that he’d located a woman’s body in a canyon adjacent to the reservoir. The Doug Lovell audio recording from the second wire at the Utah State Prison included Doug’s discussion of the anonymous caller. Photo: Dave Cawley, KSL Podcasts

Doug said he believed the anonymous caller report was a fake, because he was the only person who knew the whereabouts of Joyce Yost’s body.

“That’s why I think it’s a fish story. I really do,” Doug said. “I think they’re scared to death I’m going to get out. I really do.”


Episode credits
Research, writing and hosting: Dave Cawley
Audio production: Nina Earnest
Audio mixing: Trent Sell
Additional voices: Andy Farnsworth (as Jeff Pratt), Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell)
Cold main score composition: Michael Bahnmiller
Cold main score mixing: Dan Blanck
KSL executive producers: Sheryl Worsley, Keira Farrimond
Workhouse Media executive producers: Paul Anderson, Nick Panella, Andrew Greenwood
Amazon Music team: Morgan Jones, Eliza Mills, Vanessa Rebbert, Shea Simpson
Episode transcript: https://thecoldpodcast.com/season-2-transcript/shameless-full-transcript/
KSL companion story: https://ksltv.com/461939/investigators-other-victims-may-be-found-near-joyce-yosts-body/
Talking Cold companion episode: https://thecoldpodcast.com/talking-cold#tc-episode-7

Ep 6: Here We Are

Five years had passed since the August 10, 1985 disappearance of Joyce Yost. South Ogden police detective Terry Carpenter, who’d inherited the investigation, had exhausted all leads but one: a far-out claim that Joyce had died at the hands of a satanic coven.

The tip had come from a woman named Barbara who’d been diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder. During therapy, Barbara had reported recovering memories of having witnessed a ritualistic murder. She’d told a psychologist, and later Terry, that men in black robes had dismembered and burned a blond-haired woman she believed was Joyce Yost.

“She just knew that Joyce was buried in a gravel pit and she’d been scooped up in a truck and taken away,” Terry said.

South Weber gravel pit
The Staker Parsons quarry at the mouth of Weber Canyon, as it appeared on April 24, 2021. South Ogden police searched this area while attempting to verify claims a satanic coven had killed Joyce Yost. Photo: Dave Cawley, KSL Podcasts

Barbara had told Terry the leader of the coven had accepted a contract to kill Joyce. She’d said the person who’d offered the contract was a man named “Love.”

Joyce Yost task force

The emergence of the coven lead in August of 1990 brought new life to the Joyce Yost investigation. Terry, in cooperation with the Weber County Attorney’s Office, formed a task force comprised of additional law enforcement officers from surrounding agencies.

Joyce Yost phone-o-gram
Clearfield police took this phone message for detective Bill Holthaus, following a call from South Ogden police Sgt. Terry Carpenter on August 20, 1990. Carpenter was at that time assembling an interagency task force to investigate the five-year-old Joyce Yost disappearance.

The task force spent months during the winter season of 1990-1991 surveilling and interviewing purported members of the coven group. They conducted searches of the property in South Weber where the coven was said to meet, as well as of a nearby gravel pit where Barbara had said Joyce Yost’s body was initially deposited. Cadaver dogs and forensics teams were unable to locate human remains there.

“I can’t tell you the hours that we put into trying to prove or disprove it,” Terry said.

Terry had his own skepticism about the coven lead, but hoped the investigative press would uncover new evidence linking Joyce Yost’s disappearance to the most likely suspect: Douglas Lovell.

“We’d known all along that Doug killed her. We just couldn’t prove it.”

Former South Ogden police Sgt. Terry Carpenter

But by the spring of 1991, efforts related to the coven lead were beginning to stall. The woman at the center of the story, Barbara, told Terry during an interview on March 13, 1991 she doubted the validity of her own memories.

Hail Mary to Rhonda Buttars

Terry decided to make a long shot play in the hopes of verifying the coven lead. On April 10, 1991, he went to the state office where Doug Lovell’s ex-wife Rhonda Buttars worked. He intended to ask Rhonda questions about the information Barbara had provided.

“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,” Terry said.

Terry told Rhonda he believed she knew more about what’d happened to Joyce Yost than she’d previously disclosed. He said as long as she hadn’t pulled the trigger, he would attempt to secure immunity for her.

“And she says ‘oh, he didn’t shoot her, he just stomped on her throat,’” Terry said. “And she almost immediately started to cry. And I says ‘Rhonda, we can help you.’”

Former South Ogden police Sgt. Terry Carpenter speaks about Rhonda Buttars’ confession on April 10, 1991. Terry had convinced Rhonda to share what she knew about her ex-husband Doug Lovell’s Aug. 10, 1985 killing of Joyce Yost.

The coven lead had been untrue, a red herring. Yet, it had also indirectly led to the most significant break in the Joyce Yost case.

Rhonda Buttars confession

Rhonda Buttars’ confession to Terry Carpenter unfolded with a play-by-play account of the night of August 10, 1985 and the following morning, encompassing her ex-husband Doug Lovell’s murder of Joyce Yost.

Rhonda told Terry she had driven Doug from their apartment to a street just east of Joyce’s apartment sometime between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m., where she’d dropped him off. Rhonda had known Doug intended to kill Joyce.

“He’d laid in the bushes across the street from Joyce’s house and waited for her to come home,” Terry said.

Doug Lovell bushes Rhonda Buttars confession
Rhonda Buttars told Terry Carpenter her ex-husband, Doug Lovell, hid behind these bushes across the street from Joyce Yost’s apartment on the night of August 10, 1985. Photo: Weber County Attorney’s Office

Rhonda said Doug had cased Joyce’s apartment a few weeks prior to the night of August 10 and had discovered a window did not latch tight. He intended to enter Joyce’s apartment through that window after she’d gone to sleep.

After dropping Doug, Rhonda had returned to her own apartment and gone to sleep.

“Meet me at the Wilshire”

Rhonda told Terry she awoke to a phone call from Doug sometime around 5 a.m. the following morning. He’d called her from the Hermitage Inn in Ogden Canyon and told her get out of bed and meet him at the Wilshire Theater in South Ogden. She’d arrived there to find Doug driving Joyce’s Chevy Nova.

Wilshire Rhonda Buttars confession
This May 1, 1985 aerial image captured by the Idaho Air National Guard shows the Wilshire Theater (center) at its prominent position on Harrison Boulevard in South Ogden, Utah. In Rhonda Buttars’ confession, she said her ex-husband had told her to meet him at the Wilshire following the murder of Joyce Yost. The Wilshire was demolished in the late 1990s. Photo: Utah Geological Survey

Rhonda said Doug had instructed her to follow him up Combe Road to a water tank where he’d abandoned Joyce’s car.

“And she says ‘he stepped out of the car and threw the keys down the hill,’” Terry said. “That’s exactly where we find the keys, I know she’s being 100% honest with me.”

Joyce Yost car
South Ogden police recovered this car, Joyce Yost’s Chevy Nova, from near a water tank in Wasatch Mountain foothills days after Yost disappeared. Years later, Rhonda Buttars’ confession included an accurate description of where police had found the car’s keys. Photo: Weber County Attorney’s Office

Rhonda said Doug had then joined her in her car, bringing with him a suitcase containing Joyce’s clothing. Together, they’d then driven to a wooded lot off the side of U.S. Highway 89, where Doug had burned the clothing.

Terry Carpenter Rhonda Buttars confession
Former South Ogden police Sgt. Terry Carpenter stands near where Doug Lovell reportedly burned Joyce Yost’s clothing the morning following her murder. This area has since been excavated as part of an expansion of the nearby U.S. Highway 89. Photo: Weber County Attorney’s Office

Morning light had been growing on the eastern horizon while Rhonda’d waited for Doug to burn Joyce’s clothing, she’d said. The suitcase had proved too big to burn, so she’d told Terry that Doug had returned to the car with it.

Weber River bridge
Rhonda Buttars told Terry Carpenter she believed her ex-husband, Doug Lovell, had discarded Joyce Yost’s suitcase by tossing it into the Weber River at the U.S. Highway 89 bridge near the mouth of Weber Canyon. Photo: Dave Cawley, KSL Podcasts

They’d then driven back north to where the highway crossed the Weber River and Doug had disposed of the suitcase there.

Up by Causey

Rhonda told Terry that Doug had described to her how he’d startled Joyce awake when he’d entered her apartment. He’d been holding a knife and in the ensuing struggle, he’d slashed Joyce’s fingers. The wound had bled, causing a blood stain on Joyce’s mattress.

Doug had told Rhonda he’d bandaged Joyce’s hand, mopped up the blood with a washcloth, stripped the bed sheets, flipped the mattress and remade the bed.

Then, Rhonda said Doug had told her he’d taken Joyce out to her car, driven her to some place “up by Causey,” walked her from the road up a hill into a patch of trees and strangled her to unconsciousness. Then, to make sure Joyce was dead, Doug had reportedly told Rhonda he’d stomped on Joyce’s throat.

“She says ‘I wasn’t there that’s just what Doug told me,’” Terry said. He had previously seen the bloodstained mattress recovered from Joyce’s apartment and believed it was more likely Joyce had died in the apartment. “But that’s what he’d told her and that’s what she thought.”

Locations of interest relating to Cold season 2, episode 6.

Rhonda told Terry that at some point the morning following the murder, Doug had discovered Joyce’s blood on his own clothing. They had then driven together to where Riverdale Road crosses the Weber River and Doug had disposed of his bloodstained clothing by setting fire to it in a trash can.

Hear what happened after Rhonda Buttars’ confession in episode 6 of Cold: Here We Are

Episode credits
Research, writing and hosting: Dave Cawley
Audio production: Nina Earnest
Audio mixing: Trent Sell
Cold main score composition: Michael Bahnmiller
Cold main score mixing: Dan Blanck
KSL executive producers: Sheryl Worsley, Keira Farrimond
Workhouse Media executive producers: Paul Anderson, Nick Panella, Andrew Greenwood
Amazon Music team: Morgan Jones, Eliza Mills, Vanessa Rebbert, Shea Simpson
Episode transcript: https://thecoldpodcast.com/season-2-transcript/here-we-are-full-transcript/
KSL companion story: https://ksltv.com/461379/secret-recording-broke-open-joyce-yost-murder-case/
Talking Cold companion episode: https://thecoldpodcast.com/talking-cold#tc-episode-6