Ep 11: Rising Star

Theresa Rose Greaves’ life revolved around music.

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

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

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

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

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

Theresa Rose Greaves cold case

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

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

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

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

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

Theresa Greaves move to Utah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Theresa’s time in American Fork  

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

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

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

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

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

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

Theresa Greaves’ move to Woods Cross

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bus trip to Salt Lake City

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

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

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

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

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

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

Theresa’s letters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The discovery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Merrill Osmond, Lead singer of The Osmonds

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

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