Dave Cawley: Clearfield police detective Bill Holthaus had a search warrant for Doug Lovell’s Mazda RX-7. The car sat in an impound lot, where it’d been for four days, ever since Bill had pulled Doug out of it and arrested him for the rape of Joyce Yost. Bill suspected he might find a gun in the car, or possibly blood stains. He came up empty on both fronts. He did however located six capsules containing an unidentified white power. That wasn’t all.
Bill Holthaus: But in the process of doing the car, we noticed the VIN number.
Dave Cawley: A car’s VIN number is a unique identifier, like a serial number.
Bill Holthaus: Any police officer will tell you, there’s more than one VIN on a car. So uh, my, the other officer crawled up underneath and found the chassis VIN.
Dave Cawley: It didn’t match. The car had two different VIN numbers. Bill ran both through NCIC, the FBI’s national crime database. The chassis VIN came back as stolen. Doug Lovell’s little red Mazda was hot.
This is Cold, season 2 episode 3: Nightmare on Top of a Nightmare. From KSL Podcasts, I’m Dave Cawley. We’ll be right back.
Dave Cawley: Bill Holthaus had some questions for Doug Lovell about his Mazda…
Bill Holthaus: We had impounded his car, of course, I should say that.
Dave Cawley: …like why did it have two different VIN numbers? He confronted Doug a few hours after making that discovery. According to police reports, Doug claimed a few months earlier, he’d gone to a business in Ogden called Lincoln Auto, looking to buy an RX-7. Lincoln Auto had connected him with a guy named Marvin Fluckiger who ran a shop called Body Beauty in the city of Logan. Fluckiger had a blue RX-7 on his lot. The body was damaged beyond repair, but the frame and engine were still good.
Doug told Bill he’d initially planned to convert the wreck into a sandrail or a dune buggy. He’d obtained a loan for the car through America First Credit Union. You’ve already heard part of this story from Susan, the loan officer.
Susan Yerage (from 1992 police recording): It was to purchase an ’82 Mazda RX-7. And he wanted the check made out to the Marvin Flukinger [sic].
Dave Cawley: I have a copy of this check, which includes both Doug and Marvin’s names. Doug told Bill he paid Marvin to tow the wreck to a storage unit where he planned to do the conversion. Sometime later, Doug said he’d been shooting pool at a hole-in-the-wall bar and pizza joint called the Circle Inn when he a met a mechanic. This guy, Doug said, had offered to restore the wrecked Mazda for the low, low price of $3,000. Doug gave this guy the keys to his storage unit and two weeks later, went to claim his prize. The car, which had been blue, was now red.
Bill Holthaus: Make a long story short on that, the car was stolen.
Dave Cawley: As for the swapped VIN number, well, Doug said he didn’t know anything about that.
Bill Holthaus: We found out later that uh, he was partially involved in a stolen car ring.
Dave Cawley: I’ll go deeper into this in just a bit. First, let’s talk about how Doug’d managed to get out of jail. Following his arrest on suspicion of rape, Doug had told his family — as well as his wife, Rhonda — it was a misunderstanding. Doug would later say his father told him something along the lines of “No son of mine could commit rape.”
Doug didn’t have the money to post bail himself. He convinced his dad to do it for him. If Doug were to run, his dad would be stuck paying the full 25-thousand dollars. But Doug had no intention of running. Doug returned to the Ogden Main Branch of America First Credit Union after getting out of jail. He needed to talk to his “friend” Susan because he no longer had the car on which he was supposed to be making payments.
“I was just picked up by the police,” he told her.
Susan Yerage (from 1992 police recording): And so I explained to him the normal situation when a car’s impounded the notify the lien holder and then we go pick up the car. So I explained all that to him.
Dave Cawley: This raised the question: why had police impounded the car? Doug told Susan he’d been hustled by a woman. He’d gone to the woman’s apartment and spent the night with her.
Susan Yerage (from 1992 police recording): And that she was begging him not to leave. And that he finally left, went home to his apartment, got cleaned up and was going to work and the police picked him up on the highway. And that they’d impounded the car.
Dave Cawley: Doug told Susan the woman with whom he’d slept was now making a phony accusation of rape.
Susan Yerage (from 1992 police recording): And he did tell me all about … ‘she’s gonna prosecute me for rape.’ And he asked me what he should do. And I told him he needed to get a good attorney.
Dave Cawley: Doug had a different idea. He explained he’d separated from his wife, Rhonda.
Susan Yerage (from 1992 police recording): Y’know, he acted liked he needed someone to talk to and asked me if he, y’know, if we could go have a cup of coffee or go to lunch.
Dave Cawley: Susan felt no desire to interact with Doug in any kind of social setting. She told him no.
Dave Cawley: Doug had other friends with whom to speak. One of them, William Wiswell, was living in Grand Junction, Colorado. Doug had first met William, who was better known by his street name “Billy Jack,” while in the Utah State Prison five years earlier. That’s where he was when, in late April of ’85, he received a phone call. Doug told Billy Jack he had a job for him and Billy Jack said he was game. Doug made the five-hour drive to Grand Junction that same day.
Billy Jack wasn’t a big man, only standing around five-foot-three. But he found Doug’s Ford pickup truck quite cramped as he slid onto the bench seat. He had to share the space not only with Doug, but also Rhonda and little Alisha.
Detective Bill Holthaus said Doug and Rhonda had been estranged at the time of the rape…
Bill Holthaus: He was at that time separated from his wife. He was living in uh, the house there down in Clearfield. She was living up in the apartment in South Ogden.
Dave Cawley: …but they’d reconciled since. Rhonda had rented a place at the Lake Park Apartments, less than a mile and a half as the crow flies from Joyce Yost’s apartment in South Ogden. Doug abandoned his house in Clearfield and moved in with Rhonda there. That’s where he was taking Billy Jack. They didn’t talk much on the long drive. Doug only mentioned the job after Alisha had dozed off, saying he’d pay $5,000 for Billy Jack to kill Joyce Yost.
Dave Cawley: Bill Holthaus kept in touch with Joyce in the days and weeks following the rape.
Bill Holthaus: I had, uh, two or three telephone conversations with her and two, I think only two times, uh, once I went to her apartment and spoke with her and uh, one time she came into the office.
Dave Cawley: She provided hair and blood samples for the crime lab during that office visit on May 9, 1985. Joyce’s ex-husband, Mel Roberts, told me she’d discussed the rape with him as well.
Mel Roberts: And it had a tremendous emotional effect on her.
Dave Cawley: Mel encouraged Joyce to move forward with criminal charges. She did, but also tried to shield her daughter and son from the details.
Kim Salazar: She didn’t let it define her. But I know, I can’t imagine as a woman not letting that eat you alive inside.
Dave Cawley: Bill, meantime, kept busy chasing down leads. He’d learned Doug’s Mazda had disappeared from a dealership called Carlson Cadillac in Salt Lake City in May of ’84. That case was still open and assigned to a Salt Lake City police detective named Ron Greenleaf.
Ron Greenleaf: It was my case to follow up on because it was on automobile, we called it dealer row.
Dave Cawley: Bill told Ron he was investigating a rape.
Ron Greenleaf: The suspect was Douglas Lovell and that he was in this red vehicle, which was stolen.
Dave Cawley: Ron headed up to Clearfield to take a look at the Mazda.
Ron Greenleaf: There’s 17 digits in a VIN number and they, every one of them means something.
Dave Cawley: Like where and when the car was built, what type of engine it came with and even what color it’d been painted at the factory. Ron brought a large book he called the “SVIN bible.” It contained the codes auto manufacturers used to generate VIN numbers, as well as the locations of “secret” VINs.
Ron Greenleaf: We confirmed that definitely that was the car. No doubt about it.
Dave Cawley: The detectives next turned their attention to Lincoln Auto.
Ron Greenleaf: Lincoln Auto is where he got the salvaged VIN.
Dave Cawley: Ron told me he, and many other Utah detectives who investigated car thefts back in the ‘80s, harbored suspicions about Lincoln Auto.
Ron Greenleaf: ‘Cause they would go out of state and you’d always see them on the freeway with car carriers taking damaged vehicles back and generally they were always high-end vehicles.
Dave Cawley: Those wrecked cars would then sit on the Lincoln lot.
Ron Greenleaf: Why would a junkyard in Ogden, Utah be accumulating high-end vehicles?
Dave Cawley: Ron leaned on the folks at Lincoln Auto and learned Doug Lovell had been involved in the transfer of another salvaged vehicle.
Bill Holthaus: There’s also a pickup truck that was involved. It was off another lot.
Dave Cawley: A white, 1985 Toyota SR5 pickup truck, stolen from Dan’s Used Cars in Salt Lake City in October of ’84. This was another of Ron Greenleaf’s open cases. Like the Mazda, the Toyota had gone through Marvin Fluckiger’s shop, Body Beauty, before receiving a new salvage title from Lincoln Auto. The detectives tracked down the Toyota and discovered it too had a mismatched VIN.
Ron Greenleaf: He’d, somebody, we didn’t know if it was him, we presumed it was him, had switched the dash VIN number. The VIN number on the dash.
Dave Cawley: I have to be careful here, as Marvin Fluckiger was never arrested or charged with any crime related to these vehicles, nor were the owners of Lincoln Auto. But investigators didn’t believe Doug had acted alone.
Bill Holthaus: The way they did it was they would go drive a car from a used car lot to test it. While they had it, they’d get copies of the keys made. They would come back later and steal the car. And that’s how they got the cars.
Dave Cawley: Stolen cars are tough to register, since they can be traced by their VIN numbers. A moment ago, Ron posed a rhetorical question about why a junkyard would want to stockpile fancy but smashed-up cars. One reason could be if they were running what’s known as a salvage switch or VIN swap scam. In that case, a thief would go to the junkyard seeking something very specific.
Ron Greenleaf: I would tell you all I want is the vehicle identification numbers, the VIN plates, and I want the title.
Dave Cawley: The thief could then graft the VIN plates from the salvage car onto the stolen one, before presenting the stolen car as if it’s the wreck after a rebuild. That way, the stolen car gets a new title under the swapped VIN number, which allows it to be legally sold and registered. In other words, it’s fraud.
Dave Cawley: The shadow of Ben Lomond Peak stretched out across the horse pastures of the Ogden Valley. The North Fork of the Ogden River babbled through the pastoral town of Liberty, on its way down toward Pineview Reservoir. To the north, the last light of day lifted from the slopes of the Powder Mountain ski resort and the mountains around it.
Doug Lovell had grown up hunting those hills. So on this evening — May 5, 1985 — he sat in familiar surroundings as the sky slid through the lavender hues of twilight. Doug and his friend, Billy Jack sat in a parked Volkswagen. They were hunting, but not for deer. Instead, they watched as the lights came on in the windows of the farmhouses. One house caught Doug’s eye. It remained dark. The house belonged to Cody and Karen Montgomery, a couple with deep family roots in the Ogden Valley.
Karen Montgomery: We had just built our home and we’d been there maybe two years.
Dave Cawley: That afternoon, Cody and Karen had taken their kids, including Jessica, Cody junior and Chad, to visit a relative.
Karen Montgomery: We were going to go down to Cody’s grandma’s just down the road and get a haircut.
Dave Cawley: Jessica was then six going on seven and wasn’t all that interested in tagging along with her little brothers.
Karen Montgomery: She just wanted to stay home and read her book.
Dave Cawley: That’s Karen, by the way. She convinced her daughter it was better to come than to stay home alone and the Montgomerys headed up the dirt road.
Karen Montgomery: It’s just across the field. You could see it from the field. Y’know, it was just, just walking distance. Very close.
Dave Cawley: But far enough for Doug. He and Billy Jack crept from the Volkswagen toward the open garage door of the house…
Karen Montgomery: We had left the garage door open because there’s nobody up here.
Dave Cawley: …and hit pay dirt almost immediately. Cody Senior had left a long gun against the wall of the mudroom. Doug snatched it.
Karen Montgomery: It’s a four-level split and the garage was open, so the door that he went into came in from the garage and that was kind of a mudroom. And then, next to the mudroom was the washroom, the laundry room, and then there was a basement right there.
Dave Cawley: Doug and Billy Jack spotted more guns in the basement. Cody Senior was storing his father-in-law Ted Hilstead’s collection of rifles and shotguns there.
Karen Montgomery: There was no door to the basement so you could just see right in the basement and they were just at the back.
Cody Montgomery, Jr.: Yeah, probably wasn’t too hard to find.
Karen Montgomery: No, it wasn’t.
Dave Cawley: The Montgomery family returned home around 10 p.m. As Cody Senior steered into the gravel driveway, his headlights swept across a shell belt, a piece of hunting gear that holds shotgun shells. Doug, or maybe Billy Jack, had dropped it on the way out of the house.
Cody Montgomery, Jr.: You guys knew right when we got there that something was off.
Karen Montgomery: Yeah, yeah. Dad could, dad knew ‘cause that thing—
Cody Montgomery, Jr.: Yeah, ‘cause the bullet belt was out.
Dave Cawley: Cody Sr. put the car in park and told his children to stay put.
Cody Montgomery, Jr.: ‘Cause we had to stay in the car, right? And then dad went through the whole house and crawled up in the attic and everything, like checked the whole, every corner of the house out before he’d let us in.
Dave Cawley: Karen followed her husband through the house. She could see someone had ransacked the master bedroom.
Karen Montgomery: I went in my bedroom and I could tell that my five-gallon jar of change was gone and our drawers and been gone through.
Dave Cawley: Far-flung and sparsely populated Liberty was not one of the most active areas for crime in Weber County. Response times were slow. Cody and Karen did a more detailed sweep while they waited for a sheriff’s deputy to arrive.
Karen Montgomery: We started looking around and went downstairs and noticed that the guns were gone and some other things were missing from downstairs.
Dave Cawley: The deputy made a list of the missing guns. There were seven in total: four shotguns and three rifles.
Karen Montgomery: I mean after, they told us ‘You probably won’t see the guns again’ and just, y’know, ‘We’ll keep you informed if there’s anything that happens, comes of it.’
Dave Cawley: Cody and Karen Montgomery wouldn’t hear anything more about their missing guns for years.
Dave Cawley: Doug and Billy Jack came away from that theft with more guns than they needed. The following weekend — over Mother’s Day — Doug, Rhonda and Billy Jack made a road trip out to Utah’s West Desert. They went out past Callao — a small farming community along the old Pony Express Trail — to an old homesteader’s cabin Doug knew about from hunting trips in the Deep Creek mountains along the Utah-Nevada border. They dug a hole just out back of the cabin and buried several of the guns. They’d left one at home: a Winchester 1200.
They were driving home and were about halfway back when, near the city of Nephi, Doug pulled to side of the highway to allow Billy Jack to empty his bladder. A Utah Highway Patrol trooper took notice, stopped and arrested Doug on suspicion of driving under the influence. Billy Jack ended up in the drunk tank as well, leaving Rhonda to bail them both out of jail.
Word of this DUI arrest did not get back to Bill Holthaus. Nephi sits about 100 miles to the south of Clearfield and in ’85, even police agencies next door to one another in Utah struggled to communicate.
Bill Holthaus: At that time, uh, we couldn’t talk to Ogden, we couldn’t talk to any of those other places except on one frequency. It was called statewide and you only ever used that for emergencies.
Dave Cawley: Doug and Billy Jack returned to Rhonda’s apartment after she bailed them out and reunited with the stolen Winchester. The Winchester 1200 came from the factory with either a 28 or 30-inch-long barrel. Billy Jack took a hacksaw and chopped it to make the weapon easier to conceal and use at close range. Getting caught with that illegally modified short-barrel shotgun would likely land Billy Jack in federal prison. He certainly couldn’t just carry the Winchester down the street to Joyce’s apartment. He needed to conceal it. So he fished a long, rectangular box — which had originally held fluorescent light tubes — out of a garbage can.
Doug provided Billy Jack with the details of the plot. He would go visit his dad in the evening, giving himself an alibi. Billy Jack, meantime, would walk up Washington Boulevard with the Winchester. They scouted out Joyce’s four-plex. Doug showed Billy Jack where she parked at night. They even stalked her one day, following her to her work 40 miles south in the Salt Lake Valley. Doug bought a box of shotgun shells while down there. He gave Billy Jack a handful to take with him on the agreed-upon night.
Dusk was coming on when Billy Jack set out with his fluorescent light box. He walked to Joyce’s apartment and took up position behind some bushes across the street. He could see Joyce wasn’t home. Her Oldsmobile was absent from the carport. So, he settled in and waited, drinking beer after beer, the Winchester close at hand.
Billy Jack at last asked himself if it was worth it and decided he couldn’t do it. He grabbed the box, heavy with its payload of blue steel, stood and started walking back the way he’d come. He’d gone about two blocks to the west when, in line of sight of South Ogden police headquarters, he ducked into a patch of trees. He found some soft ground beneath a large pine tree and dug into it with his gloved hands. The Winchester went into the hole, along with the shotgun shells and the gloves.
Doug wasn’t happy when he came home from his dad’s house and discovered the hit had not happened. Billy Jack said it wasn’t his fault, Joyce had never arrived home. Doug told Billy Jack he needed to try again. They scouted Joyce’s apartment once more and Doug gave Billy Jack about $50, a down payment on the $5,000 that was to come. Billy Jack told Doug he would take care of it. Then, he used the money to get drunk. Over Memorial Day weekend, he thumbed a ride and hitchhiked his way out of town.
Dave Cawley: Doug’s arrest for DUI on the way back from buying the guns put him in a bind. If word of it got back to his bosses at the Ideal Cement company, he’d lose his job. Hardly a day had passed since Billy Jack’s disappearing act at the end of May before Doug came up with a plan. He went to work and, while there, claimed to have tweaked his back.
The injury — if there even was one — wasn’t serious. But Doug filed for worker’s compensation. He went in for a medical exam and exaggerated the severity of his pain. The doctor prescribed muscle relaxers, which he took. Doug then went to another doctor, under the guise of seeking a second opinion, and then another. He collected scripts for Percodan, Percocet and Valium. He took those, too. In fact, so great was his phantom pain that he received more muscle relaxers and even Halcion, to help him sleep at night.
Doug consumed those pills at sometimes two to three times the prescribed dosage not because he was in pain but because he’d become addicted.
Dave Cawley: At the start of June, Doug’s mind turned to another man he believed capable of killing Joyce: Tom Peters.
Tom Peters (from 1991 police recording): Doug’s a dangerous man. He’s a very dangerous man.
Dave Cawley: Doug and Tom had met at the Utah State Prison in ’79. Tom’d had a reputation there as a bruiser, a so-called debt collector. He’d done time in maximum security prisons in both California and Colorado. Tom was also acquainted with Doug’s accomplices from the robbery at the U-Save Market: Sherrill Chestnut and Ray Dodge.
Tom Peters (from 1991 police recording): When Doug first got busted, he got busted armed robbery with, ah, some of the older, rougher guys around Salt Lake. I’m not from Salt Lake, but as I came and did time here I got to know them.
Dave Cawley: Tom had lived with Doug and Rhonda for a time in ’83 after getting out of prison. Tom’d actually had a wife then, but wasn’t welcome to live with her because he also had a series of girlfriends. Tom would later tell police he and Doug spent those weeks in ’83 carrying out a string of petty burglaries.
Tom Peters (from 1991 police recording): It was like a gas barbecue pit and stuff. … It was somebody’s front porch, not porch, in their garage thing, you know? Very little things.
Dave Cawley: By the spring of ’85, Tom had moved in with Becky, one of those girlfriends, on the west side of the Salt Lake Valley. Doug called Tom at Becky’s place that June and told him he needed help taking care of a woman. He was willing to pay to make it happen. Tom’s ears perked up at the mention of money.
Tom Peters (from 1991 police recording): I told him, ‘How much?’ ‘Cause see that’s the problem with that dope. You just don’t, money’s, I handled hundreds and hundreds of dollars all the time. Scheme, scams, you know.
Dave Cawley: Tom had a nasty heroin habit. Doug and Rhonda drove down to visit Tom at Becky’s apartment.
Tom Peters (from 1991 police recording): He was even on Percodans I believe at the time. He was a totally different person than what I seen before. And so was Rhonda. She was a totally different lady. I remember her very sweet.
Dave Cawley: Tom hadn’t known Doug to use drugs before but found him now angry and erratic.
Tom Peters (from 1991 police recording): See, when he first come to see me, he had a big scar down his cheek, you know? And he said this woman’s saying he’s raping her. That he raped her and he’s all wild you know?
Dave Cawley: Doug was due in court in just days — on June 12th — for a preliminary hearing. He wanted Joyce gone before she could testify. He had a fresh worker’s compensation check for $800. It was Tom’s if he wanted it, as a down payment.
Tom Peters (from 1991 police recording): Becky was sitin’ there. Rhonda was on the couch. Rhonda and her and Doug and me, and they were uptight ‘cause of money, you know. And I’m trying to make some promises, you know?
Dave Cawley: Tom told Doug he would do it. Tom didn’t intend to carry out the hit. He just saw it as an opportunity to secure his next fix.
Tom Peters (from 1991 police recording): I only got some dope is all I got, I’m just a dope fiend. That’s all I was then. Just a street dope fiend, where I would lie to anybody for the dope.
Dave Cawley: Tom talked it over with his girlfriend, Becky, after Doug and Rhonda left. They hatched a plan. Tom would take the money, use half of it to buy heroin and take the other half to Las Vegas or Wendover. He’d gamble it, double it back to the original amount, then return the $800 to Doug and say ‘sorry, can’t do it.’
Tom drove up to Ogden a few days later. He met up with Doug near the Utah State Employees Credit Union branch on 42nd Street and Harrison Boulevard, where Rhonda did her banking.
Tom Peters (from 1991 police recording): ‘Cause he was trying to cash a check, too … to pay me.
Dave Cawley: Next, they rolled down 40th Street to scope out Joyce’s apartment. Doug and Rhonda had already gone and cased Joyce’s apartment themselves. On one of those trips, Doug had discovered the back window on the east side of the Joyce’s unit didn’t latch tight. He could slide it open from the outside.
Tom Peters (from 1991 police recording): And then he says, he said ‘You can go to the window’ and I believe he said ‘There’s a window open. Or even go up to the door, you know, and just, you know, burglar your way in,’ you know? And ‘Pack her stuff, and pack her stuff. Act like she just disappeared.’
Dave Cawley: Tom understood Doug wanted him to make it appear as though she’d skipped town. Doug said to take Joyce up into the mountains. They agreed on a date. Doug knew his family would be gathered at his dad’s cabin on this particular night. He arranged to be there with Rhonda, to provide an alibi. Once at the cabin, Doug kept flipping on a portable AM radio so he could listen to the hourly news. He expected to hear something about a murder in South Ogden. That news report never came.
Tom Peters had purchased a gram of heroin with the money and headed to Nevada to gamble the rest. His plan to double the money failed.
Tom Peters (from 1991 police recording): He come back a couple of times and it wasn’t done, but I had already, I didn’t win in the Vegas. I didn’t win, you know the story. I didn’t double his money and come back and give him money, I spent it all. We partied and got dope and, anyway, he called a couple of times and said ‘What’s happening?’ But the money’s already gone. And he did say, ‘Well, it’s gonna be done. If I have to do it myself, it’s going to be done.’
Dave Cawley: Joyce Yost went to court on June 12, 1985. The preliminary hearing was an opportunity for a judge to review the evidence and decide if it was enough to advance the case to arraignment, where Doug would enter a plea. Detective Bill Holthaus had no doubt it would be.
Bill Holthaus: It was very, very good evidence.
Dave Cawley: Joyce and Bill were the only two witnesses called to testify at the prelim by the prosecutor, Brian Namba.
Brian Namba: It was a pretty serious case for an attorney with as little experience as I had. It was, uh, probably the most serious case that I’d had up to that point.
Dave Cawley: Brian was just a few years out of law school. He’d only been with the Davis County Attorney’s Office for about a year. Doug also had an attorney, one who was much more seasoned: John Hutchison.
Brian Namba: John was a very colorful guy.
Dave Cawley: Hutch, as people called him, had a bit of a reputation.
Brian Namba: I think that his rough exterior was intimidating to young attorneys. When I first met him I was somewhat intimidated by him.
Dave Cawley: John often showed up to court in moccasins and a Nehru jacket. He had long hair.
Brian Namba: Y’know he was sort of a hippy in the early years, that he refused to wear a necktie and wore beads and things like that when he went to court. (Laughs) But an excellent attorney, an excellent legal mind.
Dave Cawley: He rarely advised his clients to waive their right to a preliminary hearing.
Brian Namba: The defense attorney can use the preliminary hearing as a tool of discovery to find out what the witness is going to say, to limit what the witness can say when they get to a trial and to help them to be able to prepare some sort of a defense.
Dave Cawley: That’s how Joyce came to sit on the witness stand on that June day. It was the first time she’d seen Doug since the night of the rape.
Kim Salazar: I went with her. I didn’t go into the courtroom, though. But I was there with her.
Dave Cawley: That’s Joyce’s daughter, Kim Salazar. She and her husband Randy had turned out to support Joyce.
Randy Salazar: I do remember her, her saying she didn’t want to get on the stand. ‘Cause Doug told her if she told anybody that he promised … he’d come back and kill her. … But I just always tried to tell her that I loved her and, man, and I stood behind her and, y’know, yeah. So that’s what she was afraid of.
Dave Cawley: Joyce had not revealed the rape to her son Greg Roberts, who was at that time attending dental school in Virginia, until the time of this court hearing.
Greg Roberts: Maybe that’s why she called me and told me.
Dave Cawley: Joyce hadn’t wanted what’d happened to interfere with Greg’s studies.
Greg Roberts: Yeah, I think I got a muted story for sure from her. She didn’t really let on much and that, everything that was going on surrounding it.
Dave Cawley: Joyce had been more candid with Mel Roberts, her ex-husband.
Mel Roberts: She was concerned about going forward with it, with charges. And I said ‘You owe it to yourself and to Kim and Greg to hang that sonofabitch.’
Dave Cawley: She’d told Mel she feared having her private life dissected in public.
Mel Roberts: Y’know, and she was prepared to be drug through the mud because you know they’re going to. And I said, ‘You just have to take it with a grain of salt. I mean, you know it’s not true.’
Dave Cawley: Bill Holthaus listened to her testimony.
Bill Holthaus: I remember that it basically went to script. I mean, Brian asked the questions that were in my police report.
Brian Namba: She portrayed a really nice image. She was very likable. But I think she was embarrassed about the whole thing. She didn’t really relish the thought of testifying and so she did leave some things out.
Dave Cawley: He walked her step-by-step through the story. Her responses were not as detailed as they’d been the night of, but they were consistent. That is, until Brian asked if the assault had included anything other than “normal” sex. Joyce said no. Brian had read the reports. He knew what Doug had forced Joyce to do.
Brian Namba: When she wouldn’t say it voluntarily, the tightrope as a prosecutor to have to walk is that you’re not allowed to ask leading question of your own witness.
Dave Cawley: Joyce couldn’t bring herself to talk about it in open court.
Brian Namba: So when she didn’t volunteer it, I had to try to figure out ways to ask the question using different words but without leading her and that was kind of difficult.
Dave Cawley: Brian tried to rephrase. John objected, but was overruled.
Brian Namba: The judge kept giving me a chance because he knew what was in the probable cause statement on the information but she just wouldn’t say it. (Laughs)
Dave Cawley: This was a blow to the state’s case, but not a fatal one. John took his turn questioning Joyce. Hadn’t she offered to go have coffee with Doug? How had she identified his car if she hadn’t seen its license plate?
Bill Holthaus: Mr. Lovell’s attorney, umm, attempted to trip her up on a couple three things. It didn’t work.
Dave Cawley: The point of greatest substance in John questioning revolved around the medical exam Joyce had undergone, what’s known as a rape kit. The doctor’s and nurse’s notes, along with the forensics gathered during that exam, had been passed to the police, prosecution and defense. TThey’d become part of the record of the case. However, that’s not the same thing as being public.
I will again acknowledge here, as I did last episode, that Joyce is not able to provide consent for release of this information. I have personally reviewed the rape kit records but am only revealing a sliver of what they say in this forum because they are factually relevant and were discussed in open court.
Defense attorney John Hutchison asked Joyce if she knew whether or not the doctor had observed any vaginal tearing, a possible indicator of forcible sex. Joyce replied she didn’t know. The doctor’s report did not mention any vaginal tearing. But then remember, Joyce had cooperated with her attacker following the initial barrage in her car.
Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Because I was taking a certain amount of physical abuse along with this and uh, decided to cooperate.
Dave Cawley: So the absence of those other injuries was not unexpected. There was another issue with the rape kit evidence. The crime lab had tested oral and vaginal swabs collected from Joyce. The vaginal swab contained traces of seminal fluid. The oral, however, did not. That meant the state had no physical evidence to support the sodomy charge.
There’s a good reason why that swab came back negative. The doctor’s notes stated while Joyce hadn’t showered following her assault, she had taken a drink of water. These two factors — Joyce’s reluctance to testify to the sodomy and the lack of supporting evidence — led to the judge dismissing the sodomy count.
Bill Holthaus: But she held up well during preliminary, other than there were some things she didn’t want to talk about.”
Joyce left the hearing recognizing her reluctance had hurt the prosecution’s case.
Kim Salazar: She knew that there was things she didn’t say that she probably should have said but she was ashamed and she wouldn’t say it.
Dave Cawley: It was her nightmare scenario, like the scenes in that TV movie she’d watched, A Case of Rape. Yet, she’d faced it. Kim’s husband Randy said his mother-in-law had shown tremendous courage.
Randy Salazar: This man had ruined her life and her kids’ life and, and y’know what? She wasn’t scared of him anymore. She was, she was telling the truth. And everything you told me that you were going to kill me? ‘Well [expletive] you.’ You know what? ‘You’re going to prison for what you did to me.’
Dave Cawley: As for Doug, he would remain free on bond at least until his arraignment hearing on June 20th.
Dave Cawley: John Hutchison showed up in court on June 20th without his client. Doug, he said, was unavailable and “incapacitated” by a back injury. The story of the back injury had taken on a life of its own. Doug now had crutches and doctors notes aplenty. Bill Holthaus thought it was all baloney.
Bill Holthaus: Never saw any indication there was anything wrong with this health at all. … He was thin to begin with. He wasn’t a heavy kid … actually, y’know I thought of him as being in pretty good shape.
Dave Cawley: John asked the judge to postpone the arraignment. The judge agreed to a one-week delay. Doug was not convalescing at home. He’d taken Rhonda’s car that day, driven up to a mountain reservoir called East Canyon and spent time drinking beer and boating. When Doug’d returned home that evening, Rhonda had discovered he’d smashed up her car while driving intoxicated.
“I’m going to kill Joyce Yost,” Rhonda would later say he told her.
Later that night, police received a 911 call from a man who lived in the same apartment complex as Doug and Rhonda. He’d seen a blue pickup truck crash into a parked flatbed in the parking lot of the Lake Park Apartments. Those apartments sit on the west side of U.S. Highway 89. The road, which also goes by the name Washington Boulevard, is one of the primary north-south arteries of Utah’s Weber Valley. And it serves as the dividing line between the communities of South Ogden to the east— where Joyce lived — and Washington Terrace to the west. Because the 911 call came from a location just a hundred or so feet on the west side of that dividing line, the dispatcher sent out an officer from Washington Terrace.
Officer TJ Harper received the information at about 11 p.m. He drove his patrol car over to the complex and spotted the blue Ford pickup truck turning northbound onto Washington Boulevard. He radioed for backup and pulled the truck over. Harper would write his official report he noted the smell of alcohol as he approached the truck.
“How much have you had to drink tonight,” Harper asked.
“A couple of beers,” came the reply.
“Did you hit another vehicle back there at the Lake Park Apartments,” he asked.
“No, but some guy says I did,” the driver said.
Harper told the driver — Doug Lovell — he appeared to be intoxicated and would have to take a field sobriety test.
A couple more patrol cars showed up about this time. They’d come not from South Ogden but instead from the city of Riverdale, even farther to the west. Harper put Doug through a few quick tests, which Doug failed. He then placed Doug under arrest. The two Riverdale officers began the process of impounding the pickup truck.
Officer Steve Hallowell took a look inside the cab. He spotted a handgun under the driver seat: a Beretta model 950BS, also known as the “Minx.” This tiny semi-automatic pocket pistol fired .22 caliber short rounds. What it lacked in punch, it made up for in sheer sneakiness. Hallowell slid the magazine out of the gun. There were six rounds in the clip as well as one in the chamber, ready to fire.
State and federal law prohibited Doug from possessing firearms, let alone a loaded, concealed handgun while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident. This was, at very least, a violation of the terms of his pre-trial release in the rape case. What none of the officers seemed to realize that night was Doug had skipped court earlier that same day.
Bill Holthaus: At that time, there was very little communication between Davis County and Weber County. We didn’t have the same radio frequencies.
Dave Cawley: The Washington Terrace and Riverdale officers apparently did not know Doug stood accused of a kidnapping and rape. They didn’t piece together he’d been headed toward Joyce’s apartment when they’d stopped him and found the little mouse gun. And once again, no one bothered to tell Clearfield police detective Bill Holthaus…
Bill Holthaus: So I, I doubt they even really knew much about our case at that time. And I didn’t know anything about the DUI up there at all.
Dave Cawley: …or Davis County prosecutor Brian Namba.
Brian Namba: You didn’t have a lot of intelligence going on from one person to the other, one agency to the other.
Dave Cawley: Had someone with knowledge of the Joyce Yost case been involved in or informed of this DUI arrest, they might have realized he was on his way to Joyce’s apartment to kill her.
Brian Namba: The county sheriff, they had enough cars that they would have briefings when they had shift change. But the smaller agencies, it’s just one officer turning over the keys to the other officer and saying, ‘Well, this is what happened tonight.’
Dave Cawley: It was after midnight when officer Harper booked Doug on suspicion of DUI, leaving the scene of an accident, carrying a concealed weapon and illegal possession of a firearm by a restricted person. Prosecutors in Weber County filed formal charges later that same day. Again, no one bothered to communicate this to Brian Namba, the prosecutor handling the rape case in neighboring Davis County.
Brian Namba: Y’know, they didn’t have a lot of computer communication going on in those days. just paper. And they probably just never found out about it.
Dave Cawley: So it was that Doug Lovell, an ex-con with a history of violence, who was out of jail on bond while awaiting trial for rape, who police had caught with a loaded firearm, was allowed to bail out of jail. Again. And Joyce had no idea about any of it. One week later, on June 26th, Doug went before Utah 2nd District Court Judge Rodney Page for his arraignment in the rape case.
Brian Namba: The purpose of arraignment is for the defendant to just declare whether he’s guilty or not guilty.
Dave Cawley: He pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Brian Namba: He would have heard what the evidence is against him at the preliminary hearing and when he declares that he’s not guilty, then that sets the stage for us to set trial.
Dave Cawley: Judge Page scheduled the trial for August 20th. Brian Namba asked the judge to compel Doug to provide blood, hair and saliva samples to be used in forensic tests. Doug’s attorney objected. But Judge Page issued an order to make it so. Judge Page also signed what’s known as a hold order. I have a copy of this document. It reads “the defendant is ordered held until further notice of this court.” Clear language from the judge saying keep this guy locked up until I say otherwise.
Dave Cawley: A week and a half later — on July 8th — the situation with the stolen Mazda came to a head. Salt Lake City police detective Ron Greenleaf had obtained an arrest warrant.
Ron Greenleaf: Possession of a stolen vehicle.
Dave Cawley: There were two separate charges, one for the Mazda RX-7 and the other for the Toyota pickup. Ron drove up from Salt Lake late that afternoon and arrested Doug.
Ron Greenleaf: He was very talkative, but not, didn’t give me one iota of information regarding this case or the stolen vehicles. It was just like, y’know, how’s the weather? Gee, this is fun, y’know. Haven’t been outside for awhile. … Wish I wasn’t in handcuffs. (Laughs)
Dave Cawley: They arrived at the Salt Lake County Jail. Ron walked Doug in through the sally port. He then hung around, waiting and watching as Doug went through the booking process. That didn’t finish until a little after midnight.
Ron Greenleaf: He just said, ‘I guess I’ll be seeing you, huh, in court?’ And I said, ‘Yes, you will.’ (Laughs)
Dave Cawley: Ron didn’t see Doug in court. Jail records show staff there let Doug walk at 1:45 a.m. on July 9th, a little over one hour after he was booked. This, even though the felony car theft charges would’ve been more than enough for a judge to revoke his bail in the rape case.
Dave Cawley: Meantime, the Davis County Attorney’s Office was trying to find Doug to serve the court order demanding he provide blood and hair samples. He wasn’t in the county jail where, according to Judge Page’s hold order, he was supposed to be. Detective Bill Holthaus went to work tracking him down. Bill went to Doug and Rhonda’s apartment in Washington Terrace on July 17th. He knocked on the door and was surprised when Doug answered.
Bill figured, in that moment, that the hold order must have been rescinded. He told Doug they needed to go to the hospital for the blood draw. Doug said it wasn’t a good time. He was babysitting his wife Rhonda’s then-four-year-old daughter, Alisha.
Bill Holthaus: The mother was not there.
Dave Cawley: Rhonda worked for the state at an office in downtown Ogden and was gone during the day. Maybe Bill could come back another time, Doug suggested.
Bill Holthaus: I was not willing to come back another time. So I told him that we can take the daughter with us.
Dave Cawley: Doug and Alisha piled into Bill’s police car. They drove around Hill Air Force Base, to a hospital in the city Layton for the blood draw. On the drive back, Bill took a route that went past the base’s South Gate.
Bill Holthaus: At that time, there was a large, there was an F-105 on a stanchion which was there for everyone to see and the young girl made a comment about the airplane.
Dave Cawley: Bill asked Alisha if she would like to see the plane up close, an offer she eagerly accepted.
Bill Holthaus: This was not her fault, y’know, that we were in this situation. So I, I stopped to show her the airplane.
Dave Cawley: As Alisha looked, wide-eyed, at the sleek jet, Doug and Bill began to talk.
Bill Holthaus: We had a conversation about the case and Douglas said something to me about, ‘This isn’t going to trial.’ And y’know, ‘This is, nothing’s going to come out of this.’ And I said, ‘I believe it is, I believe we have the evidence for it to go to trial.’ He looked at me with an expression that got my attention.
Dave Cawley: Bill did not startle easily.
Bill Holthaus: It just was like it froze the moment.
Dave Cawley: The two men looked each other in the eyes. Bill saw an intensity in Doug’s expression that he still, to this day, struggles to put into words.
Bill Holthaus: And he said, ‘This will not go to trial.’
Dave Cawley: An odd thing for Doug to say, considering a trial date had already been scheduled. It was just a month away.
Bill Holthaus: And I simply said, y’know, with the young girl there I didn’t want to get into a, y’know, a shouting contest. I said, ‘I believe it will.’ And I let it go at that.
Dave Cawley: The exchange left Bill troubled.
Bill Holthaus: That uh, led me to believe that he could become violent.
Dave Cawley: He reported this concern up his chain of command.
Bill Holthaus: I did mention that to the attorneys following that. And I did mention that to South Ogden at that time.
Dave Cawley: He told Joyce about it as well and urged her to go stay someplace safe.
Bill Holthaus: I think she believed that she was able to take care of herself.
Dave Cawley: Joyce did not heed this advice. She declined urgent invitations to stay with her daughter Kim and Kim’s husband Randy.
Kim Salazar: She had to have some fear. But she didn’t ever let on that she was afraid.
Dave Cawley: Randy didn’t realize the latch on one of Joyce’s apartment windows was broken.
Randy Salazar: You could just slide it open.
Dave Cawley: Even from the outside.
Randy Salazar: If I would have known that, I would have, I mean, I would have put that, I mean, I never even heard of it.
Dave Cawley: Doug Lovell was well aware.
Dave Cawley: The heat of the afternoon struck Joyce Yost as she followed her daughter Kim to the parking lot outside Royal Studio, a photography business in Ogden where Kim worked. It was Saturday, August 10, 1985.
Joyce had just taken a job at the studio as well, having quit her position selling fur for the Weinstocks department store. The pay was better and her commute was only four miles, instead of 40. Kim’s shift at the photo studio ended earlier than her mother’s on that hot summer Saturday.
Kim Salazar: I always got off early on Saturdays. We only worked until like noon but she stayed there all day and so she walked me out and I remember I had actually thought about asking her if she would watch the kids that night because we were going to go some where but then she told me that they were going to go out to the base to listen to Steve play in the band so I never, y’know, asked her to babysit the kids.
Dave Cawley: Steve was the adult son of Joyce’s close friends Gordon and Terry Kaufman.
Joyce had also made plans for the following day. A guy friend she’d been seeing, John Gibson, was coming over to barbecue. Joyce finished her shift later that Saturday afternoon and went out to her car. It wasn’t the big Oldsmobile anymore. She’d sold that days earlier and in its place purchased a white, 1976 Chevy Nova.
She went home, changed into a pink dress, then drove the Nova over to her sister Dorothy’s house on Fern Street in Clearfield. Dorothy later described the events of that night in a police interview.
Dorothy Dial (from January 1992 police recording): She drove, ah, to my place and we got in my car and went to the officer’s club.
Dave Cawley: Joyce told Dorothy she’d sold the Oldsmobile. The check she’d received from the buyer was in her purse. Joyce and Dorothy carpooled to the club together, leaving the Nova parked outside Dorothy’s house.
Dorothy Dial (from January 1992 police recording): Well, it’s, my car as a sticker and she, she, base sticker and hers didn’t and it was just easier to do it that way.
Dave Cawley: They spent the next several hours socializing, dancing and listening to the band.
Steve Kaufman: They liked us as long as we weren’t too loud. And people could get out and dance on the dance floor. They’d have a good time. They’d dance on most every song.
Dave Cawley: Steve Kaufman, the frontman, had put the group together years earlier, in 1964.
Steve Kaufman: Started in 8th grade at Mt. Ogden Junior High School and basically was a way to get girls to like you.
Dave Cawley: The band is still together today, under the name “Outrageous.” But in ’85, they were called “Still Rain.”
Steve Kaufman: We opened for everybody from The Monkeys to Jan and Dean, Johnny Rivers, Tommy James and the Shondels, Three Dog Night. All kinds of different groups. Mommas and the Pappas.
Dave Cawley: Still Rain had flirted with going big time in the mid ‘70s, but here a decade later they mostly just gigged on weekends. The Officer’s Club at Hill was a regular venue.
Steve Kaufman: The club had a big bar and those guys in the Air Force, so these were all officers and their wives and their friends.
Dave Cawley: The O Club often booked Still Rain on back-to-back nights — Friday and Saturday — for four hours each night.
Steve Kaufman: I don’t know how I did that. But, I didn’t know any better. I mean, you know, been, that’s all I was, I was a rock and roll guy. Music was everything.
Dave Cawley: Joyce was only five years older than Steve, but he remembered thinking she must have been even older since she socialized with his parents.
Steve Kaufman: My parents lived at a place called The Apartments which was over by the old McKay-Dee Hospital. And it was kind of a, a big fancy new complex and it had a wonderful outdoor pool. And every Sunday, that’s where a lot of people had church. (Laughs) At that pool. For those who weren’t going to one. And Joyce was always over there hanging out.
Dave Cawley: It had been awhile since Joyce had been over to the Kaufman’s. Terry kept hoping to catch up with her, but they were seated on opposite ends of the table. They weren’t able to chat from that distance over the noise of the band.
Joyce and Dorothy danced their last dances as the clock approached midnight. They said their goodbyes as the band wound down their final set. Then, the two sisters went out to Dorothy’s car and drove back across the freeway into Clearfield. The weather had turned while they’d been at the club.
Dorothy Dial (from January 1992 police recording): It was very nice, ah, when we went out there, it was warm. It was hot. But when we left to come home, which I think was about midnight, it had turned real cold and windy.
Dave Cawley: Joyce, in her pink dress, was not prepared to stand out in the icy wind chatting with her sister.
Dorothy Dial (from January 1992 police recording): No, we said goodnight out in the driveway and see you later and she got in her car and left and I went into my house.
Dave Cawley: Joyce drove to her apartment, where she parked the Nova in the carport. She went inside, changed out of her dress, flipped on the little TV on her dresser and settled down to bed. The Kaufmans had remained at the Officer’s Club a little while longer to talk with their son.
Steve Kaufman: My parents were very supportive and they would often bring friends and stuff to hear us and would come hear the band. They liked hearing the band.
Dave Cawley: Gordon and Terry didn’t leave the club until a bit after midnight. Their route home took them past Joyce’s apartment sometime between 12:30 and 1 a.m. Terry noticed light in Joyce’s kitchen window, suggesting she might still be awake. She turned to her husband, who was driving, with a suggestion.
Terry Kaufman (from April 1992 police recording): ‘Let’s stop and talk to Joyce. I didn’t get a chance to talk to her too much tonight because she was sitting down at the other end of the table’ and I hadn’t seen her for, oh maybe a couple of months to talk to her, ‘And let’s just visit with her and find out how she’s doing.’ And he looked at his clock and thought it was, I think he said it was around 12:30 or 20 after 12. And it’s kinda late and we were going into Salt Lake the next day so we said let’s, let’s wait and do it maybe tomorrow or the next night. We’ll come down and talk to her and visit with her. And I noticed the light on in her kitchen. That’s why I suggested maybe stopping because I knew she was still up.
Dave Cawley: They didn’t stop. If they had, Joyce might still be alive today.