Dave Cawley: Kim Salazar hadn’t been able to reach her mom all weekend.
Kim Salazar: I couldn’t get ahold of her. Dot couldn’t get ahold of her and … we all always talked every day.
Dave Cawley: Kim arrived to work at Royal Studio on the morning of Monday, August 12, 1985 hoping to see Joyce there.
Kim Salazar: She wasn’t late for work. She didn’t miss work. Ever.
Dave Cawley: She called her husband, Randy.
Randy Salazar: And she told me that her mom didn’t make it. That she didn’t go to work and she’d been trying to call her and there was no answer and so I told Kim, I says, ‘Maybe she took off to Wendover again.’ I says, y’know what, ‘Let’s not, let’s not panic.’
Dave Cawley: Kim phoned The Stateline, the hotel-casino where Joyce liked to stay on her occasional outings to West Wendover, Nevada. Her mom wasn’t there, either. So, Kim next called South Ogden police.
Randy Salazar: Kim explained to them, y’know, but they already knew about the threat that she had had with the rape case and, and what was going on with Doug Lovell.
Dave Cawley: Near as Kim could tell, her mother had last been seen late on the prior Saturday night in her sister Dorothy’s driveway.
Randy Salazar: They wanted to know if it’d been 24 hours she’d been missing and, heck, nobody knew when 24 hours started, y’know?
Kim Salazar: By the next day, when there still wasn’t anything … I begged ‘em, just meet me over there. Go in and see what’s wrong, y’know, and so they met me over there but they made me go in. They didn’t go in first.
Dave Cawley: Kim wriggled into her mother’s apartment around noon on Tuesday, August 13th, through a side window she knew didn’t latch tight. Then, she unlocked the door, allowing her husband and a South Ogden officer inside.
Randy Salazar: Everything was clean just like she kept it. I mean it was clean. Her house was always spotless.
Dave Cawley: No sign of a struggle.
Kim Salazar: Her apartment was always tidy.
Dave Cawley: Everything in the kitchen appeared as usual.
Randy Salazar: She had a, one of those automatic timers where the coffee had kicked on and made coffee and the coffee pot was full.
Dave Cawley: They went into Joyce’s bedroom.
Randy Salazar: All her jewelry and everything was on her dresser so it didn’t look like anybody came in and robbed her, y’know? And everything just looked like, everything looked just like normal, just like Joyce would keep it.
Dave Cawley: Almost.
Kim Salazar: The bed was made.
Dave Cawley: A single pillow sat at the top of the bed. It was a minor thing but Joyce’s bed usually had two pillows.
Randy Salazar: I know Joyce always used to fall asleep with the TV on. She always watched TV when the went to bed and fell asleep with the TV on.
Dave Cawley: That TV was right where it was supposed to be.
Kim Salazar: Her toothbrush, her cosmetics, all that stuff was in the bathroom.
Dave Cawley: The pink dress Joyce had worn to the Officer’s Club the prior Saturday night sat draped over the back of a chair.
Randy Salazar: Obviously, she came home, set the coffee pot and uh, and she had every intention of getting up and starting out her day and just never got to start it.
Dave Cawley: Kim looked in her mom’s closet. Joyce had so many outfits it was impossible to tell if any of them were missing. But she something did notice something else.
Kim Salazar: I found a washcloth down between the dresser and the door. … And it was dried up and crumpled, y’know, like it had fallen down between.
Dave Cawley: Detective sergeant Brad Birch arrived at Joyce’s apartment that same afternoon to perform a more thorough search. He stripped Joyce’s bed, discovering the sheets and the pillow sham didn’t match. He examined the washcloth, too. It was crusty, as happens when water slowly evaporates out of cotton. He smoothed it out. The front face had alternating stripes of pink, brown, green and gray. The back was tan, with several rust-colored stains: Dried blood.
This is Cold, season 2, episode 4: She’s Gone, Buddy. From KSL Podcasts, I’m Dave Cawley. We’ll be right back.
Dave Cawley: Word soon got back to Clearfield police detective Bill Holthaus — the lead investigator in the rape case — of his victim’s disappearance.
Bill Holthaus: Yeah, this is not a pleasant time. She vanished. South Ogden let me know that.
Dave Cawley: At a pre-trial conference on August 15th — two days after the search of the apartment and five days before the trial was supposed to begin — the Davis County Attorney’s Office asked Judge Rodney Page for a continuance.
Bill Holthaus: We were convinced that bad things had happened. There’s no doubt in our mind. Joyce was not the kind to get up and walk away.
Dave Cawley: Judge Page gave the state a month, at the end of which he would either schedule a new trial or dismiss the case.
Brian Namba: I don’t think it really even entered our minds to dismiss, unless it was to dismiss to try to develop more evidence.
Dave Cawley: That’s Brian Namba, the prosecutor. He and Bill agreed Doug Lovell was likely responsible.
Bill Holthaus: I was sure he was involved when she was gone.
Dave Cawley: But was Joyce actually dead? And if so, how had he done it?
Bill Holthaus: At the time, I didn’t think he was, frankly, dumb enough to do it himself.
Dave Cawley: They had no body, no proof a crime had occurred. No corpus delicti. South Ogden police went and questioned Doug and his wife, Rhonda. They claimed to have been at a party the night of Joyce’s disappearance. There were witnesses, they said.
Bill Holthaus: There was an assumption at the time that maybe he paid somebody to get rid of Joyce.
Dave Cawley: Brian told Bill they were pushing ahead with the rape case, even if Joyce did not resurface.
Brian Namba: We were pretty resolute because we believed that he was responsible.
Dave Cawley: Brian told me dropping the prosecution would’ve only rewarded Doug.
Brian Namba: Once you’re, the train’s rolling as fast as it was going for us, I don’t think we really had much to lose.
Dave Cawley: Except a possible acquittal. Brian had to weigh that risk against letting Doug walk.
Bill Holthaus: To take him to trial without, without a body was a decision that wasn’t made lightly. We re-looked at everything before, before Brian made a decision to, to go to trial on that.
Brian Namba: He could be a Josh Powell, easily. And so, then he gets away scottfree from everything. Which is his objective. And so you don’t want to give him what he’s trying to do.
Dave Cawley: Brian told Bill they needed more. He needed to go back to the Pier III — the club where Joyce had dined the night of the rape — and find anyone else who might’ve seen Doug there.
Dave Cawley: Susan Yerage hadn’t seen or heard from Doug Lovell — the man who’d sent her unsolicited roses for two straight weeks — since he’d come into the credit union where she worked in April of ’85. He’d been in trouble then, due to police having impounded his Mazda, a car for which Susan had arranged financing.
Susan Yerage (from 1992 police recording): And I remember one time talking to him about the vehicle being, ah, they wouldn’t release it to us and about it being a stolen vehicle. And he brushed it off like it was no big deal, that that part was gonna get straightened out.
Dave Cawley: Now, in August, Doug returned. Susan didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. No debilitating back injury, for instance.
Susan Yerage (from 1992 police recording): He’d wait out in the lobby and then walk over and talk to me and at any time, never did I notice that he was having any health problems, or anything like that.
Dave Cawley: When last they’d spoken, Doug had told Susan he’d separated from his wife, Rhonda. And while separated, he’d had a one-night stand with a woman who’d then accused him of rape. Here, five months later, she asked how it was going.
Susan Yerage (from 1992 police recording): Well that, he said that him and Rhonda had got back together, that they were doing really well and that he figured that this whole thing with the rape thing was gonna be settled.
Dave Cawley: So too, he said, was the mix-up over the Mazda. It would all be taken care of.
Susan Yerage (from 1992 police recording): So I wasn’t anymore worried about the loan or what was going on with it, at all.
Dave Cawley: Rob Olsen often took walks along the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains to the east of his home in Uintah Highlands area of Weber County, Utah. His typical route took him past a water tank embedded in the mountainside on the north wall of Spring Creek Canyon. On just such a walk on Saturday, August 17, 1985, he noticed something unusual there: a white Chevy Nova parked behind the water tank. There was no obvious reason for the car to be there. A city work truck, maybe. But a little coupe? No.
Rob had seen that same car there once before, the prior Sunday, parked in the exact same spot. The next evening, on Sunday, August 18th, he caught a story on the TV news about the disappearance of Joyce Yost. Joyce’s son-in-law Randy Salazar saw it, too.
Randy Salazar: And they did a missing report thing. They put it on TV. I think it was on every channel. They gave her license plate number.
Dave Cawley: The news mentioned police were searching for Joyce’s car: a white, two-door Chevy Nova.
Randy Salazar: People were reporting seeing her car all over the place.
Dave Cawley: Realization struck Rob Olsen. He phoned South Ogden police just after 6 p.m. A group of officers rushed up the hill to the water tank. They included Rob Carpenter and Mel Hackworth, the same officers who’d taken Joyce’s report on the night of the rape. A dispatcher also called sergeant Brad Birch and the on-call detective, Terry Carpenter.
Terry Carpenter: We knew that it was Joyce’s car and hoped to find anything that would lead us to what’d happened to her.
Dave Cawley: Kim and Randy Salazar had themselves been calling South Ogden police multiple times a day.
Kim Salazar: Trying to get updates and see if they’d learned anything or , y’know, if they’d found the car, if they’d found her.
Dave Cawley: They called again after seeing that news report.
Randy Salazar: I called South Ogden police department to ask if they had found anything out on Kim’s mom and she, and the lady answered like this. This what she answered and said. ‘I’m glad you called me back.’
Dave Cawley: I have to acknowledge a discrepancy here. Randy and Kim each remember being the one on the phone.
Kim Salazar: I think she thought she picked up the call she had on hold with one of the detectives but she picked up the wrong line and it was me calling in.
Dave Cawley: But aside from this, their recollections are consistent.
Randy Salazar: And I said ‘Is there something going on with the Joyce Yost case?’ She said, ‘They found her car by the water towers.’
Kim Salazar: She said that the car has been found or, y’know, something to that effect.
Dave Cawley: They were stunned.
Randy Salazar: And then I told her, ‘Well, can we go up there?’ And then she asked who I was and I said ‘This is Randy Salazar.’ ‘Oh!’
Kim Salazar: Then she realized it was me and she was like ‘Oh my god.’ She just thought she was going to be in so much trouble.
Dave Cawley: The dispatcher had mistaken Kim, or possibly Randy, for one of the detectives.
Randy Salazar: She goes ‘You don’t want to go up there. Please do not go up there.’
Kim Salazar: Well, of course, then you’re wondering, ‘Well, y’know, where’s she?’ Y’know. ‘Why wasn’t she with the car?’
Randy Salazar: We had some other friends with us that were over to the house that day and uh, and one of the friends told her ‘Maybe somebody stole the car.’ Y’know? Kim said ‘Nah, nobody stole the car.’
Dave Cawley: Up on the hill, officer Steven Wallerstein was checking out the car in the fading daylight. Both doors were unlocked and both windows were rolled down. Several cigarette butts were in the ashtray — yes, cars used to come with ashtrays — and a bath towel sat wadded up on the driver seat. An empty plastic bag appeared to be stuffed between the driver seat and the driver-side door.
Wallerstein saw something on the floor behind the passenger seat: a one-pint Mason jar containing a thick white liquid. The lid wasn’t secured and much of the goo had oozed out onto the carpet, where it had begun to develop a crust. It looked like, and probably was, paint.
The water tank sat on a patch of unincorporated land, outside the boundaries of South Ogden. The Weber County Sheriff’s Office had jurisdiction. A couple of deputies arrived and told their South Ogden colleagues the area around the water tank was a magnet for teen delinquents, who liked to get drunk there. Proof of that was scattered all about: broken bottles and smashed cans. Brad Birch took notice of two particular Budweiser cans, sitting near the car. He took them, as well as the plastic bag from inside the car, as possible evidence.
The Nova’s gas tank was more than half full. But Detective Terry Carpenter told me something important was missing.
Terry Carpenter: There were no keys with it.
Dave Cawley: The police popped the hood and found a spare key hidden in the engine bay. As the sun set, they drove the Nova down the dirt path from the water tank to the pavement, and then to a service station.
Terry Carpenter: Actually took it to my garage, my father’s garage.
Dave Cawley: Terry moonlighted as a mechanic.
Terry Carpenter: We didn’t find a speck of blood. There was nothing in that car that we could tie it to.
Dave Cawley: All Joyce’s loved ones could do was wait.
Randy Salazar: We all knew. We all knew that it wasn’t good.
Dave Cawley: Brad returned to the water tank at first light the next morning with a man named Jim Gaskill. He was the preeminent local expert on forensic science, having helped establish Utah’s first crime lab a decade earlier. They brought search dogs, as well as items bearing Joyce’s scent. The dogs sniffed around the water tank, but came up with nothing.
Next, Brad and Jim went back to the service station to take a closer look at Joyce’s car. They lifted a few fingerprints. Then, they did the same at Joyce’s apartment. Unfortunately, none of the evidence seemed to indicate what’d happened to her.
Kim Salazar: We met them over at the South Ogden police station.
Dave Cawley: Kim interrogated the detectives about her mom’s car…
Randy Salazar: ‘Was the seat far enough for my mom or was it far enough for a man,’ she said.
Dave Cawley: …as Randy stood nearby.
Randy Salazar: And I heard her say ‘Well how the [expletive] don’t you know that?’
Dave Cawley: If the detectives knew, they weren’t going to let that information slip.
Randy Salazar: So I told Kim, y’know, ‘Maybe they’ll figure out.’ Well, she said ‘Well, this is something I think they need to measure now,’ she said, ‘because if they drove the car out of there, somebody moved that seat.’ And I thought, y’know, you’re right.
Dave Cawley: Randy told me he was impressed with Kim’s dogged demands for answers.
Randy Salazar: Kim was playing pretty darn good detective when this was going on. She already had things in her mind and question already and I was thinking ‘Hell, she’s doing some pretty good legwork here herself.’
Dave Cawley: South Ogden police went up to the water tank a third time that afternoon, with more dogs and more people. They scoured Spring Creek Canyon.
Terry Carpenter: We searched and searched and lo and behold found the keys 50 yards from where it was at, just in the sage brush.
Dave Cawley: Joyce’s mail kept arriving at her apartment. No one was there to receive it. Her bills went unpaid. She owed money to the local newspaper for a classified ad, the one she’d placed when selling her Oldsmobile. The man who’d bought the car had paid Joyce with a check. Kim talked to the bank and learned the man had stopped payment after learning Joyce was missing. The bank also confirmed there’d been no activity on Joyce’s accounts after August 10th. By late September, Joyce’s landlord told Kim and Randy they needed to cover her rent or clear out the apartment.
Kim Salazar: The power had gotten shut off. We didn’t know that and so everything in the fridge had spoiled.
Dave Cawley: The Salazars didn’t have hundreds of dollars to spare. They arranged to move Joyce’s things into storage.
Kim Salazar: When we had some manpower, y’know to get the furniture and stuff out, we went back and were moving all the furniture out.
Dave Cawley: Joyce’s sister, Dorothy, came to help, along with Dorothy’s daughter Cathy and Cathy’s husband, Paul, as well as some other extended family. First, they emptied Joyce’s closet.
Randy Salazar: I think Joyce had more shoes than ZCMIs had on stock. And she had more dresses and more makeup.
Dave Cawley: They packed Dorothy’s car full of Joyce’s clothes. Dorothy and Cathy then departed with that payload. Paul stayed behind to help Randy break down Joyce’s bed. South Ogden police had stripped the sheets weeks earlier, so the mattress was bare.
Randy Salazar: Both Paul and I lifted that up and he was on one end and I was lifting my hand up on the other and we had the mattress tilt like this and we looked at it and we looked at each other and said ‘Oh no.’ … The whole bottom of the bed was all bloodstained.
Dave Cawley: The bloodstain was about a foot in diameter. It had two lobes, one of them appearing darker. The other looked as if the blood had either wicked outward through the fabric or been diluted, say by wiping at it with a wet washcloth. Randy called to Kim, who was in the kitchen packing up her mother’s dishes. She came into the bedroom and saw the mattress. Dorothy and her daughter, Cathy, arrived back at Joyce’s apartment soon after. Randy and Paul showed them as well.
Randy Salazar: I had a bad feeling. I had a really, really bad feeling. And, and Paul had a bad feeling too. And uh, and we were both trying to convince Cathy and Kim, ‘Y’know what? We don’t know for sure that it’s because of that. Your mom might have, y’know, she could have had maybe her monthly or something in there, y’know?’ Y’know what, we both knew that it, it was more blood than that.
Dave Cawley: Kim saw something more…
Kim Salazar: The matching stain on the boxspring.
Dave Cawley: …suggesting the mattress had been flipped when the blood was still wet.
Randy Salazar: Then we started putting that washcloth together with the mattress.
Dave Cawley: Something terrible had happened in Joyce’s bedroom.
Randy Salazar: I remember Kim crying and Cathy start screaming. They both started screaming.
Kim Salazar: So we called Brad again. (Laughs)
Dave Cawley: Brad Birch told them not to touch anything until he arrived. South Ogden police were likewise stunned at the discovery.
Kim Salazar: Oh they were devastated. They were absolutely devastated that they missed something like that.
Randy Salazar: They were all looking at each other. ‘You didn’t turn the bed over?’ ‘You didn’t turn the bed over?’ And they all said to each other, ‘Nah, we didn’t turn the bed over.’
Dave Cawley: Weeks later, the crime lab would confirm the blood from the washcloth and from the mattress shared the same type. Joyce’s type: O.
Kim Salazar: I remember talking to him years down the road and he said we’ve never gone into another crime scene where we haven’t flipped a mattress. Even if it wasn’t warranted, we flip a mattress. It’s what we do.
Dave Cawley: Blood on the mattress did not itself amount to evidence of a murder. But it’s discovery came at a critical juncture in the rape case. The Davis County Attorneys Office was pushing ahead with the prosecution even in Joyce’s absence. Judge Rodney Page scheduled a new trial for December 11th.
Dave Cawley: Police dispatch in Ogden, Utah received a phone call toward the end of October of ’85 from the owner of a pawn shop called The Gift House.
Keith McCord (from KSL TV archive): The Gift House has been serving the city of Ogden for almost 55 years and friendly is an understatement.
Scott Van Vanleeuwen (from KSL TV archive): Get yourself a cup of coffee and sit down and relax.
Dave Cawley: The Gift House occupied an orange brick building on the west end of Ogden’s historic 25th Street.
Keith McCord (from KSL TV archive): Customers, friends and family come to the Gift House often. They browse the store, socialize and check in with the days events.
Dave Cawley: The owner, Scott Vanleeuwen, had worked in that storefront since 1961, before it even became a pawn shop. KSL TV profiled Scott and The Gift House in this 2013 story.
Keith McCord (from KSL TV archive): But aside from its dedicated friends and customers, the store like most pawn shops has a little bit of everything.
Scott Van Vanleeuwen (from KSL TV archive): Our business card says guns, gold and diamonds. That pretty well says it all.
Dave Cawley: Even today, the Gift House’s front windows advertise those three pillars of the business: guns, gold and diamonds.
Keith McCord (from KSL TV archive): (Sound of revolver spinning) And guns especially gives the place character.
Dave Cawley: On that October day, a man identified in police records only as “Scott” called dispatch and asked them to check a couple of serial numbers. They were from two guns: a 22-caliber lever-action Browning rifle and a 12-gauge Beretta shotgun. Both came back as stolen. They were among the pile of guns taken from the home of Cody Montgomery, Sr. in the town of Liberty six months earlier. The guns Doug Lovell and his buddy Billy Jack had buried behind a cabin in the Deep Creek Mountains.
Of course, police didn’t know that last bit at the time. All they knew was someone at the Gift House had a lead on the stolen guns. The dispatcher sent an officer over to pawn shop but by the time he got there, no one seemed to know anything about the guns. Police reports say the officer questioned Scott, who told him the guns weren’t there. He’d only received a phone call about them himself. He didn’t know who possessed them.
The officer passed his report off to a detective, who shared the information with the Weber County Sheriff’s investigator handling the stolen guns case. And then, nothing. The trail went cold.
Dave Cawley: South Ogden police didn’t have much to go on by the time the two-month anniversary of Joyce’s disappearance arrived. They had her car, a bloody washcloth and a blood-stained mattress.
Larry Lewis (from KSL TV archive): The case is unlike any other missing person report South Ogden has ever handled. Usually cases like these are solved in a few weeks. This one has hung on two months.
Dave Cawley: Detective Sergeant Brad Birch went before TV news cameras.
Larry Lewis (from KSL TV archive): With all leads exhausted and nowhere to turn, police are now trying a long shot: a psychic.
Brad Birch (from KSL TV archive): We’ve found in some of the research that we’ve done in some other states they were able to locate items or locate missing persons or locate evidence located in areas that maybe the police hadn’t been able to find any other way. And if these people were able to do something like that for us, that’s what we’d be hoping for.
Dave Cawley: The reporter calling this a long shot was understatement.
Larry Lewis (from KSL TV archive): The psychics used personal items of Yost to try and get a feeling for the case. They examined this picture of her and her car keys. They also walked through her apartment to try to pick up any kind of lead on the case.
Dave Cawley: The most these “psychics” could say was they believed foul play was involved. Police weren’t alone in seeking help from less traditional sources.
Randy Salazar: Kim found a lady that was doing, she was a reader.
Dave Cawley: Randy Salazar told me this “reader” claimed be able to communicate with Joyce’s spirit. Kim went to see the reader several times, spending about $30 a pop. Randy ended up confronting his wife, saying he didn’t want to upset her…
Randy Salazar: ‘But Kim, all that stuff that lady’s telling you,’ I said, ‘is in the paper and on the news every day,’ I said. And she’d say ‘No it isn’t!’ And I said, ‘Y’know, it is, it is,’ I said. Y’know? … I said, ‘I’m not saying she’s a fake and, y’know, she probably feels your mom or whatever and,’ I says, ‘But,’ I says, ‘I’m not sure you ought to go to her anymore.’
Dave Cawley: Were these psychics offering anything of value, to either the police or to Joyce’s family?
Randy Salazar: If it was my mom, y’know what, I’d be wanting to go too. I says, ‘But you know, I’m just telling you: everything you’re telling me I hear on the news and I see in the paper.
Dave Cawley: No one who claimed to hear Joyce’s voice on the ether was able to provide a location for her body. But Joyce’s words would soon return to haunt Doug Lovell.
Dave Cawley: Clearfield police detective Bill Holthaus and his team were tightening up their case. They’d made contact with the owner of the Pier III, who told them Doug Lovell had hung around the joint for days before Joyce Yost had showed up there with Lex Baer on the night of April 3rd.
Bill Holthaus: As I understood it, he was a regular. He was there quite often.
Dave Cawley: Doug had been obsessing over a woman who worked at the Pier named Sharon Gess.
Bill Holthaus: Sharon Gess, yes.
Dave Cawley: Sharon told police Doug had hounded her. She’d turned him down, saying company policy prohibited her from dating patrons. Every time Sharon had said no, Doug had grown more insistent. On the night of April 3rd, that insistence had turned to anger. He’d made a scene before storming out of the club.
About 15 minutes later, someone had called the Pier and asked to speak with Sharon. It was Doug. He asked what time she got off work. She didn’t feel comfortable telling him, so she just said ‘late.’ He suggested they grab something to eat when she was done. Sharon said no, she’d prefer to just go home. Doug kept pressing until Sharon hung up on him.
Sharon and the others who’d been at the Pier told police Doug had made passes on every woman there.
Bill Holthaus: He actually pursued Joyce there that night.
Dave Cawley: Which contradicted what Joyce had told Bill just hours after the rape.
Bill Holthaus (from April 4, 1985 police recording): Uh, do you remember seeing him at the Pier 3?
Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): I do not.
Dave Cawley: I asked Bill if he could explain this discrepancy.
Bill Holthaus: She actually didn’t want to admit that, y’know, she shined him off.
Dave Cawley: Maybe it was embarrassment or fear of not being believed. Only Joyce knows. But this revelation helped explain why Joyce had described asking Doug, as he was preparing to rape her the second time, if he’d been having relationship troubles.
Joyce Yost (from April 4, 1985 police recording): I said to him, I said, ‘Do you have a problem? Do you want to talk to me? Can I help you at all?’ Umm, I thought, y’know, was he having a fight with his girlfriend or something. He started to say something about some girl, then he quit.
Dave Cawley: Joyce had later revealed a tiny bit more to her daughter, Kim.
Kim Salazar: One thing that my mom had told me was that he told her that she was taking Sharon’s place.
Dave Cawley: Sharon told police she’d been seeing a little red car with flip-up headlights following her around town in the weeks prior to the rape. Sometimes when headed home after work, she’d see the car in the rearview and would go someplace other than home to prevent the driver from figuring out where she lived. This led prosecutor Brian Namba to wonder if Doug might’ve made a mistake. Perhaps he’d believed he was following Sharon that night instead of Joyce.
Brian Namba: It seems like to me that she was sort of similar in appearance. … But it seems like to me like they were both blondes and both the same, y’know, similar age.
Dave Cawley: As police were piecing this together, Doug’s defense attorney was busy preparing pre-trial motions. John Hutchison sent a discovery demand to the prosecutors, asking for copies of all the reports and audio recordings made by police. Brian wasn’t surprised.
Brian Namba: I think that that’s typical of him, that he would do his homework.
Dave Cawley: John also told Judge Rodney Page he feared media coverage surrounding Joyce’s disappearance might’ve already tainted the jury pool. He wanted Joyce treated as a “Jane Doe” during the trial.
Brian Namba: John is worried that if, if enough evidence leaks out to the jury that they would conclude that she was dead, they hold that against his client in the rape case. So he was trying to keep those facts out of the jury’s hearing.
Dave Cawley: Brian had his own concerns about the media coverage.
Brian Namba: By then I’ve had enough experience that I know that I don’t want to create issues for appeal. So I’m interested in keeping that away from the jury, but I still have to go through with my trial.
Dave Cawley: Brian argued against the Jane Doe idea but negotiated a compromise.
Brian Namba: The judge would simply tell the jury that the victim was not available for trial today for reasons unrelated to this case. Which, turns out to not be true. (Laughs) But that was our stipulation in order to allow the jury to deliberate fairly on the rape issue.
Dave Cawley: Brian also notified Judge Page he intended to use Joyce’s testimony from the preliminary hearing, by having a proxy read it from the stand during the upcoming trial. This was, at the time, an untested tactic.
Brian Namba: There is a rule of evidence that allows for it but it’s just, it’s just kind of, it’s really an unusual circumstance.
Dave Cawley: I’ll try to explain this without getting too bogged down in legal jargon. Typically, you can’t get on the witness stand and say “someone else told me… whatever” because that’s what’s known as hearsay. Utah’s Rules of Evidence are clear: hearsay is not admissible. Part of the reason for that is it’s impossible to challenge a claim of what some other person supposedly said, versus challenging the actual statement itself from the person who said it. And the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees Americans the right to confront their accusers.
But there are exceptions. Under Utah law, if a witness is unavailable for a hearing or trial, it is allowable to use their prior statements, so long as those statements were sworn and subjected to cross-examination. Like, for instance, when John Hutchison cross-examined Joyce during the preliminary hearing.
Brian Namba: Doesn’t violate the confrontation clause and it’s an exception to the hearsay rule because it’s a sworn testimony.
Dave Cawley: Had Doug Lovell waived his right to a prelim, Joyce wouldn’t have testified before vanishing and the case against him would’ve been much more challenging to prove.
Dave Cawley: Doug and Rhonda Lovell headed for the hills. They drove east, going up Ogden Canyon on Utah State Highway 39, into the Ogden Valley. They cruised past Pineview Reservoir and the small town of Huntsville, following the South Fork of the Ogden River.
This was a drive Doug knew well. It was the route to his family’s cabin. To get to the cabin, you had to turn off of the highway going west — just past the intersection that leads to Causey Reservoir on the east — onto a 10-mile-long dirt road that passed through locked gates.
Doug and Rhonda weren’t going to the cabin on this particular drive in late 1985. They continued up the highway, winding past beaver ponds. Conifers and quaking aspen replaced the sagebrush as the curvy two-lane road ascended to an elevation of 9,000 feet above sea level: the crest of the Monte Cristo mountains.
Utah’s Monte Cristo region is only accessible by car about six months out of the year. During the winter, the 19-mile stretch of SR-39 crossing the range is buried under snow. In the autumn, though, Monte Cristo belongs to hunters. They fan out from the highway when the aspen forest turns vibrant shades of red, orange and gold, stalking elk, moose and mule deer.
Bill Woody (from KSL TV archive): Hang on just a second. I’m state game warden. Need to check your license.
Dave Cawley: On Saturday, October 19, 1985, KSL aired a news story about hunting enforcement efforts underway in the mountains of northern Utah.
Reporter (from KSL TV archive): Bill Woody looks like a hunter and he acts like a hunter and he’s bagging prey just about as fast as he can.
Bill Woody (from KSL TV archive): Craig, it’s an untagged deer. No go, buddy.
Dave Cawley: I can’t say whether or not Doug saw this particular story. But the hunt was on his mind.
Bill Woody (from KSL TV archive): More manpower is what we need. More people out in the field doing the job. The same type of job, whether they’re out working plain clothes, or out working marked units. Both would do as good.
Reporter (from KSL TV archive): Woody will be out all this deer season looking for violations so fair warning.
Dave Cawley: Doug and Rhonda came to a stop at the side of the road. He opened the car door and brisk air, rich with the scent of pine, rushed in. Then, he stepped out and disappeared into the trees. Rhonda sat and waited. A Utah Division of Wildlife Resources officer passing through the area on one of those many hunting enforcement patrols saw her there and stopped to talk. Where was she headed? Was anyone else with her? Did she need any help?
She was fine. She was alone. The wildlife officer could see nothing wrong, so he moseyed along. Doug returned after a time. He and Rhonda resumed their drive. A truck bearing the logo of the Utah Department of Natural Resources fell in behind them on the highway. The wildlife officer had returned. He now wanted to know: who was this man with Rhonda?
The easy and honest answer — that Doug was her husband — was not the one she gave. She told the officer Doug was just a hitchhiker.
Dave Cawley: Late autumn had arrived in Las Vegas. The lightest of rain sprinkled from clouds, keeping temperatures unseasonably cool. A Las Vegas Metro Police officer headed down the strip, the row of high-rise casino hotels along Las Vegas Boulevard. He’d received word staff at the Aladdin had spotted a suspicious car parked in a lot east of the casino. It was the afternoon of November 11, 1985.
A layer of dust coated the red, four-door Toyota Corolla. Spiders had taken up residence in its wheel wells. The front passenger window was rolled down. The officer ran the car’s plate. The Corolla had been reported missing out of Roy, Utah, on the outskirts of Ogden, a little over a month prior. So had its driver, a woman named Sheree Warren.
Larry Lewis (from KSL TV archive): When Sheree Warren disappeared October 2nd, her friends and family believed then foul play was involved. They said Sheree wasn’t the type to run away, that she had everything to live for.
Dave Cawley: The Aladdin’s records showed Sheree had never stayed there. Las Vegas Metro detective Robert Luke called Roy police the following day and informed detective Jack Bell, the lead investigator on Sheree’s case, of the discovery.
Jack Bell (from KSL TV archive): It means that either she drove the car there herself or somebody stole the car from her, abducted her and took the car there.
Dave Cawley: Roy police had been searching for Sheree and her car for more than a month.
Officer (from KSL TV archive): What we’re asking for is just to locate where she may be or any evidence to show that or indicate that is maybe there’s some foul play involved so that we can do a different type of investigation rather than missing persons.
Dave Cawley: Sheree, a 25-year-old mother, had spent the past nine months working for the Utah State Employees Credit Union at a branch near the corner of Harrison Boulevard and 42nd Street in Ogden. That was just three quarters of a mile up the road from Joyce Yost’s apartment. It was also, coincidentally, the place where Doug’s wife Rhonda did her banking and near the spot where Doug had met up with Tom Peters when trying to cash his worker’s comp check in June of ’85.
Sheree had separated from her husband Charles the prior March, filed for divorce in May and moved back in with her parents, who lived in Roy. They often cared for Charles and Sheree’s three-year-old son while each parent worked.
Sheree had dated a few different men while separated, getting close with one by the name of Cary Hartmann. Cary was 37 — 12 years Sheree’s senior — and worked as a plumber at Weber State University in Ogden. He also moonlighted at a telemarketing firm and had in the past served as a reserve officer for the Ogden Police department.
Sheree had excelled at her job. The credit union had tapped her to take part in a new training program run out of the head office in Salt Lake City. She started that course on Monday, September 30th.
A couple of days later, on the morning of Wednesday, October 2nd, he met her estranged husband before work to hand off their son. Charles told Sheree he’d be dropping his Toyota Supra off to have some work done at Wagstaff’s, a dealership near the credit union head office in Salt Lake, later that afternoon. He wanted Sheree to pick him up and give him a ride back home to Ogden. She agreed.
Charles would later tell police that on that same afternoon, he’d called Sheree at work and told he’d changed his mind. He no longer needed a ride. But when Sheree left the office a couple of hours later, she told a fellow trainee named Richard she was headed to Wagstaff’s to pick up her old man. She never made it.
Officer (from KSL TV archive): Probably ought to have a description of the vehicle. Have we got it here? Have we got it?
Dave Cawley: Her distraught parents had worked with police to post fliers around town in the days and weeks following her disappearance. Police scrutiny had quickly focused on Charles, who’d reportedly been in a dispute with Sheree over alimony. Police records show he’d refused to take a polygraph when pressed by a detective. The discovery of Sheree’s car in Las Vegas more than a month later though made the case much more perplexing.
Jack Bell (from KSL TV archive): There was some indication in the asphalt that the car left imprints. So that would lead to you to believe the car had probably been parked there when the weather was hotter.
Dave Cawley: Roy police detective Jack Bell asked Charles Warren to sign papers authorizing a search of the car, which he did.
Larry Lewis (from KSL TV archive): Bell says the car’s discovery now broadens the investigation to include transients passing through Salt Lake. He says any evidence found in the car will be run through a crime lab with the hope of learning who drove it to Las Vegas.
Dave Cawley: Las Vegas Metro police detective Robert Luke went to the Ewing Brothers tow yard on the north side of Vegas to search the Corolla on November 13th. The interior was filthy, likely due to the car having sat with the passenger window down for so long. The grime made it next to impossible to lift any fingerprints. The only set visible were on the driver door window.
Luke found a pair of women’s sunglasses and Sheree’s check books in the glove box, along with a pair of prescription medications. One belonged to Sheree, the other to Cary Hartmann. The car’s trunk held some papers, a baby stroller, a bottle of face cream, a woman’s suit jacket and a set of sheets for a queen-size waterbed. No signs of a struggle. No clue as to where Sheree might be.
Dave Cawley: Doug Lovell stepped out of the shower on the morning of Wednesday, December 11, 1985, looking like a shadow of the man who’d attacked Joyce Yost eight months earlier. He’d gone from a lean 155 pounds to a downright slim 130 on a diet of prescription pain pills. As he dressed himself for court, his wife Rhonda put her arm around him and said everything would be okay. Doug wasn’t the only person unnerved that morning. Bill Holthaus felt it, too.
Bill Holthaus: It was the first time we prosecuted a rape case without a victim in the state of Utah. Y’know, we’re nervous.
Dave Cawley: The trial commenced with jury selection. This process, known to lawyers as voir dire, typically involves asking a pool of prospective jurors questions in open court. The prosecution and defense can then use challenges to whittle down the pool to just the number needed for the jury — in this case, eight.
Doug’s attorney, John Hutchison, wanted that done differently. He asked to do it individually, in the judge’s chambers. This way he, Judge Page and prosecutor Brian Namba could see if any of the prospective jurors knew the story behind Joyce’s disappearance without tipping off all of the others.
Brian Namba: There’s no way to know whether they may have heard rumors, y’know.
Dave Cawley: Judge Page agreed. He told each person in the jury pool the accuser — Joyce Yost — was absent from the trial for reasons unrelated to the case. But he also said she’d been missing for more than two months. The trial proper got underway once the jury was seated. The clerk read the charges, which had been consolidated to just two: aggravated kidnapping and aggravated sexual assault. Aggravated sexual assault might not sound as severe as rape, but under Utah law it’s the more serious of the crimes because it involves the use — or threat — of a deadly weapon.
Jan Schiller, the YWCA rape crisis counselor who’d sat with Joyce in those first hours following the rape, was among the potential witnesses waiting outside the courtroom.
Jan Schiller: I was called as a potential witness to the trial and was 25 and, umm, the executive director … and my mom insisted on being there with me. They’re like, ‘There’s no way we’re letting you go there by yourself.’
Dave Cawley: Lex Baer, the man who Joyce had spent the evening at the Pier with prior to the rape, took the stand first. Sharon Gess followed him, telling how she’d been stalked by a man driving a red car with flip-up headlights. Brian was careful in how he talked about Joyce, Sharon and the Pier. This due to advise he’d received from Bill Holthaus.
Brian Namba: Bill and I would talk over the case and we’d talk about Sharon and I’d call her a barmaid. And Bill would just hammer me and say, ‘Don’t call her a barmaid. You call her a hostess,’ y’know? ‘But she’s, you have to treat her with some respect.’
Dave Cawley: What he’s getting at here is the possibility of bias — even if unintended — against drinkers among some Davis County residents.
Brian Namba: In that kind of case in Davis County, you have to be careful that you don’t lose the case because these people live a lifestyle that’s different than your own.
Dave Cawley: Many people who live in the county are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — more commonly known as Mormons — who abstain from drinking alcohol. Joyce was not a member of that faith, nor was she a teetotaler.
Bill Holthaus: Some people would say, ‘Well there she was at a bar, y’know, out clubbing or whatever.’ That’s why they have those places.
Brian Namba: He educated me on this, y’know, there’s a life beyond being a Mormon and not, and thinking a bar is a horrible place. Regular people go to the Pier. (Laughs)
Dave Cawley: They didn’t want the jury casting judgement on Joyce for being at a club or for her own past work as a hostess.
Brian Namba: The other aspect of that is that you don’t want the judge to think that she’s this hardened person who was less worthy of being protected, umm, because she lives that, y’know, go-to-a-drinking-establishment kind of a lifestyle, that she’s taking risks that should have been foreseen somehow.
Dave Cawley: But how was Brian supposed to show what kind of person Joyce was, if Joyce wasn’t there herself to tell her story?
Brian Namba: The danger of doing that kind of a case is that they blow off the testimony thinking, ‘well, she didn’t even think enough of it to come here herself,’ y’know, ‘we’re not going to convict him on that.’
Dave Cawley: So, he moved to introduce Joyce’s testimony from the preliminary hearing.
Brian Namba: The defense attorney objected.
Dave Cawley: Judge Page mulled it over and said he’d allow it.
Brian Namba: John [Hutchison] could see the handwriting on the wall and was just backpedaling and trying to figure out how he could minimize the damage.
Dave Cawley: Brian called a secretary from the county attorney’s office to the stand, to read Joyce’s words.
Marily Gren: My name is Marily Gren, M-A-R-I-L-Y and my last name is Gren, G-R-E-N.
Dave Cawley: Marily was not an actress, unless you counted her having held a role in a high school play 25 years earlier. But Brian told me, she had “flair.” They’d talked through what the job would require.
Brian Namba: ‘You should be fluent and clear without trying to be,’ (laughs) y’know, ‘theatrical.’
Marily Gren: But that was one thing Judge Page cautioned strongly, no theatrics. And I was just to, y’know basically be neutral and read it. So I did.
Dave Cawley: And yet, a robotic reading of the transcript wouldn’t be right, either.
Marily Gren: I mean like, when you tell me to say my name, that’s how I said her name. It’s not too thrilling. Y’know? ‘Your name?’ Y’know. ‘Joyce Yost.’
Dave Cawley: Marily also needed to convey the meaning behind Joyce’s words.
Brian Namba: And I thought she did the perfect balance.
Dave Cawley: Marily’s recitation impressed Bill Holthaus as well.
Bill Holthaus: She was extremely professional. She read it just like, just like Joyce had said it.
Dave Cawley: Marily was 42 at the time of the trial, just a few years older than Joyce. She knew the details of the case, having heard conversation around the office. From the stand — in Joyce’s place — she could see Doug sitting across the courtroom.
Marily Gren: So I guess I did look at Doug Lovell.
Dave Cawley: During the prelim, Joyce had pointed to Doug from the stand and identified him as the man who’d raped her. Marily did the same.
Marily Gren: That wouldn’t have been dramatic, y’know. I could do that. Yeah.
Dave Cawley: Joyce’s prelim testimony had included gut-wrenching descriptions of the initial assault in her car. Marily read them verbatim. I asked her to do it again, 35 years later.
Marily Gren (reading from Joyce Yost transcript): I tried to get out of my car, realizing I was definitely in a situation that my life was at stake. I just prayed for help and as I was getting out of my car I grabbed ahold of the horn and thought maybe if I honk the horn that one of my neighbors or somebody would hear. It didn’t work. He became very angry.
Dave Cawley: She paused here, reflecting on this part of Joyce’s experience.
Marily Gren: Anger, he had a lot of anger. I had forgotten that. But I guess people like that do, don’t they. … And it’s not at her, I don’t think. I think it’s anger at something else. But, it’s odd.
Dave Cawley: Marily concluded her read of the prelim transcript, slipping in one last touch before leaving the stand.
Marily Gren: I did get a sigh in there. (Laughs) At the end, at one place, I remember.
Dave Cawley: Joyce’s sister, Dorothy Dial testified next, followed by South Ogden police officer Rob Carpenter. They described Joyce’s immediate reaction to the rape, how she’d handed over her dress, bra, pantyhose and the blue men’s button-up shirt.
Then, it was Bill’s turn. John Hutchison went after Bill hard on cross-examination.
Bill Holthaus: I’d been on many cases with John, y’know. Umm, and he didn’t let up at all. Y’know, he knew how to push my buttons, but y’know, and I, I had to keep my cool. I mean, he’d ask little off-the-cuff questions just try to throw you off. He was good at it. He was a good attorney.
Dave Cawley: Court adjourned for the day. They took Thursday off, then returned on Friday, December 13th. The state’s final witness, a forensics expert from the crime lab, talked the jury through the information from Joyce’s rape kit. Then, Brian rested his case. To her relief, Jan Schiller, the rape victim advocate, had not needed to testify.
Jan Schiller: They had a strong enough case without me and I don’t know that I could have added much to what the detective would have said.
Dave Cawley: Jan told me Joyce, even though she’d not been there, had been heard.
Jan Schiller: Obviously, Joyce could be a voice for herself. She was really, really wonderful.
Dave Cawley: John Hutchison next launched his defense. The bulk of his case sat on Doug himself. Under oath, Doug insisted he had not raped Joyce. Her family sat listening, incredulous.
Randy Salazar: And everything that he got up and said, c’mon, you could see you’re full of crap.
Dave Cawley: Bill Holthaus had heard this story before.
Bill Holthaus: It was pretty much word for word what was in my initial police report.
Dave Cawley: Only, with some added flavor.
Bill Holthaus: He was just, it wasn’t a big deal to him.
Dave Cawley: To hear Doug’s telling of it, Joyce had been flirting with him.
Brian Namba: And when he testified, I remember women saying, ‘Man, that guy thinks he’s God’s gift to women.’
Bill Holthaus: He was quite the cad. Separated from his wife, chasing women around and I, I, y’know, he just struck me as uh, a guy who didn’t respect women much.
Dave Cawley: Doug shed tears on the stand, saying “I did not physically harm her.” Doug said Joyce had gone willingly with him in the Mazda to his house. He insisted she’d been wearing her own dress — not his shirt — when he’d later taken her home. Bill’s own personal opinion of Doug crystalized in that moment.
Bill Holthaus: I’ll tell you what it struck me as at the time — can’t prove it — struck me he’d done it before. I mean, this was not a one, one-off thing. I mean, this was just a casual thing. Not the first, not the first woman that he influenced, y’know, or pushed to do something like that.
Dave Cawley: The defense rested. Judge Page gave the jury their instructions. Closing arguments followed and the jurors headed off to deliberate at 2:20 p.m. Brian Namba felt optimistic.
Brian Namba: You get some momentum and you feel pretty good but on the other hand, there’s, you always have some reason to worry that some people may be offended or, or just on the principal that we don’t have the victim here, she really didn’t say anything, that could result in a not guilty.
Dave Cawley: He received word the jury had reached a verdict just one hour later.
Brian Namba: When the jury came back quickly, I assumed that that was a good sign.
Dave Cawley: Marily, who had read Joyce’s testimony from the stand, was in the hallway of the courthouse as John Hutchison swept past.
Marily Gren: I stepped out of the county attorney’s office to get a drink at the drinking fountain and he was coming back with Douglas Lovell … and he was telling Doug, ‘It’s not good when they come back so quick.’ And I remember bending over the fountain thinking, ‘Yes!’
Dave Cawley: The jury found Doug guilty on both counts. Judge Page ordered the bailiff to take him into custody pending sentencing. This time, there would be no bail, no accidental early release. Bill Holthaus and Brian Namba both told me they believe Joyce’s testimony — and Marily’s read of it — were pivotal in securing the conviction.
Brian Namba: You have to engage the jury so that they feel her presence. And I think, I think she really accomplished that.
Bill Holthaus: We had all the evidence but it just, y’know, this had never happened before in Utah and you’ve got to have something that ties that evidence together and, and her testimony tied it together.
Dave Cawley: Joyce’s family gathered in a foyer outside the courtroom.
Kim Salazar: I wanted to wait until I actually saw them bring him out of the courtroom.
Dave Cawley: A pair of deputies escorted Doug, in shackles, down the hallway, right past where Kim and Randy Salazar were waiting.
Randy Salazar: He had like a smirk on his face like a, like he didn’t give a [expletive] that he was just found guilty of that so, so the closer he came, I mean, we were making pretty good eye contact, me and him and I looked at him and I said ‘You mother[expletive]er.’ And he stopped right there in his tracks and he looked at me and he said ‘She’s gone, buddy. She’s gone. You’ll never find her.’
Dave Cawley: The two deputies dragged their prisoner past while Kim and Randy rushed to tell Brad Birch what’d happened.
Kim Salazar: But I thought ‘We’ve got him now.’ Because he’s pissed, he’s, y’know, he’s boiling over. The one thing he thought he could get away with if she wasn’t there was this rape.
Dave Cawley: The detective went to question Doug about his comment.
Kim Salazar: He still wouldn’t talk.
Dave Cawley: Any little flame Joyce’s loved ones had been protecting, clinging to the idea she might still be alive, flickered out.
Greg Roberts: We all wanted to hold out hope that she was somehow still alive and to me, that was like the point when, those words out of Lovell’s mouth to Randy when he was pissed off outside the courtroom was when we basically knew she was gone.
Dave Cawley: Joyce’s son, Greg Roberts, had not been in the courthouse himself that day. He was still in Virginia attending dental school.
Greg Roberts: Well, I was just so distraught, I didn’t know what, y’know, if I should move home.
Dave Cawley: Greg’s classes went on break for Christmas and he decided to drive home to Utah. The more than 2,000 mile journey left him ample time to think.
Greg Roberts: I called my dad and I just said, ‘Dad, I think I want to move home, y’know, so I can help.’
Dave Cawley: Mel Roberts, Joyce’s first husband, encouraged his son to stay the course.
Mel Roberts: It was a hard, hard decision for him and it was even hard for me to tell him: don’t quit school.
Dave Cawley: Mel told Greg his mother would not have wanted him to give up on his dream.
Greg Roberts: If he’d have said, ‘well if that’s how you feel,’ I probably would have left school and just moved back.
Mel Roberts: And that would’ve been, y’know, that would have been tragic.
Dave Cawley: That Christmas at home allowed Greg to reflect on the two years he’d spent living with his mom while in college, sharing the very apartment from which she’d vanished.
Greg Roberts: Which always made me feel guilty because I feel like I, I left her there unprotected.
Dave Cawley: Gone were the decorations and the piles of presents spread so far out from under the Christmas tree one could hardly find a place to stand. There were no boisterous dinners with Aunt Dot, with long hours of laughter between the two sisters.
Greg Roberts: Joyce was the glue of this family. Everybody’s been pretty lost since she’s been gone.
Dave Cawley: Greg told his sister Kim he was thinking of staying, of not returning to dental school.
Kim Salazar: And I said no. I will make sure you know everything every day as it happens. If something happens, I’ll make sure you know.
Dave Cawley: So, after the holiday, Greg made the long drive back to Virginia where he would wait for word about the sentence soon to come for Doug Lovell.