Ep 2: A Case of Rape

Content note: This article includes discussion of rape and sexual assault. Free resources are available for survivors of sexual abuse and violence through the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network hotline at (800) 656-HOPE (4673).

A fresh pot of coffee gave its invigorating odor to the otherwise somber air at police headquarters in South Ogden, Utah.

Bill Holthaus, a detective for the police department in the nearby suburb of Clearfield, arrived there well before sunrise on the morning of April 4, 1985 to investigate a case of rape involving a woman named Joyce Yost.

“I got a call from South Ogden PD telling me that they believed they had a rape, or a woman reporting a rape that occurred in our city,” Holthaus said. “Would I come in and interview her?”

Joyce Yost rape dispatch report log document
The South Ogden police dispatch log from the morning of April 4, 1985. Highlights added by the Cold team. Photo: South Ogden, Utah police

Joyce wore a green velour jogging suit. The dress she’d been in at the time of the alleged rape was already gathered in a brown paper bag, taken as evidence by a South Ogden patrol officer at the time of her initial report.

Joyce Yost and Bill Holthaus

“She was not the typical young rape victim that you see on television,” Holthaus told me of Joyce years later, during a conversation in May of 2020.

Joyce was, at the time in 1985, 39 years old. She was a mother of two adult children, as well as a proud grandmother. For years she’d been a fixture of the Ogden, Utah retail scene, selling Estée Lauder and other cosmetics at the ZCMI department store. She lived alone, having been twice divorced.

“She’d had a traumatic experience but probably not the first one in her life,” Holthaus said.

Clearfield police detective William "Bill" Holthaus
Bill Holthaus, seen here in an undated photograph, began his second career as a police officer in Clearfield, Utah after serving 20 years in the U.S. Air Force. Photo: Bill Holthaus

Bill Holthaus was in many ways Joyce’s contemporary. Both were transplants to Utah: Joyce from Minnesota and Bill from Michigan. Both had been raised as Lutherans and were not part of the predominant religious culture in Mormon-centric Utah. Bill was, at age 38, just two years into his police career.

He’d spent the prior 20 years serving in the U.S. Air Force, where he’d at times been required to interview subordinates about instances of sexual misconduct. He knew such interviews were often delicate.

“I did feel an empathy for her,” Holthaus said. “I thought that she was wronged. I did. But there’s certain questions you have to ask.”

Joyce Yost audio tape

Holthaus pressed the record button on a small audio cassette tape deck as he and Joyce sat down to talk. A young volunteer rape victim advocate from the YWCA named Jan Schiller joined them, sitting by Joyce’s side.

The detective started out by asking Joyce to walk him through what had happened to her the prior evening.

“I met a gentleman friend at the Pier 3 at approximately 7 o’clock for dinner,” Joyce can be heard saying on the tape recording.

The audio tape of Joyce Yost’s interview has never been shared publicly prior to its inclusion in Cold season 2.

“We had a couple of drinks and we had dinner and we danced a couple of times,” Joyce said.

Joyce Yost spent the evening of April 3, 1985 at the Pier 3, a now-defunct supper club in Clearfield, Utah. The Pier 3 sat in the building that is painted yellow in the right image from 2021.

The Pier 3 was a supper club located in a strip mall in the city of Clearfield, just west of Hill Air Force Base. Joyce described leaving the Pier 3 at approximately 10:15 p.m. with her friend. They said goodnight to one another in the parking lot and went their separate ways.

“Then I went on home, not realizing anybody was following me, not really paying attention to see if anybody was following me,” Joyce said.

Confrontation in the carport

Joyce told Holthaus that when she arrived at her apartment on 40th Street in South Ogden at around 11 p.m. she pulled her Oldsmobile convertible into her stall in the carport adjacent to the four-plex. At the same time, a small, red Mazda coupe pulled in just beside and slightly behind her.

“I wasn’t just with somebody that was being a little bit forceful that I was going to be able to get rid of.”

Joyce Yost

The driver of the Mazda exited his car and approached her, opening the door of her car before she even had a chance to do so herself. He wedged his body between Joyce and the open car door, preventing her from closing it.

“He says ‘I can’t believe I’m doing this,’ but he said ‘I noticed you at the Pier 3 and I was attracted to you and decided to follow you,’” Joyce said.

The man told Joyce he wanted to get a drink with her. She rebuffed the advance, suggesting they might instead get coffee another time. The man, who’d told Joyce his name was “Dave,” responded negatively.

Joyce Yost apartment carport evidence court exhibit
This police photo from 1985 shows the carport outside Joyce Yost’s apartment in South Ogden, Utah. Joyce’s parking stall sat between the two cars pictured here. Photo: Weber County Attorney’s Office

“He grabbed me by the throat and he was forceful and told me if I screamed or said anything that he would tear my throat open,” Joyce said.

The man then proceeded to sexually assault Joyce. She fought back, breaking some of her acrylic fingernails in the process. She lost one of her earrings. The buttons down the front of her dress were also torn from the garment.

“I realized I was in a rape situation,” Joyce said. “I wasn’t just with somebody that was being a little bit forceful that I was going to be able to get rid of.”

Joyce Yost’s voice

Jan Schiller, the rape victim advocate, did not say much during this interview. She hadn’t needed to, as Joyce had been composed, thoughtful and articulate.

“I was just so impressed with her,” Schiller told me decades later. “She really had a voice during that interview.”

Joyce went on in the tape recording to describe how the man had sexually assaulted her in her car, then dragged her to his car and shoved her head down into the passenger footwell. Joyce said he’d claimed to have a gun and threatened to shoot her if she put up any further struggle.

The sexual assault of Joyce Yost and its immediate aftermath played out at a variety of venues across southern Weber County, Utah and northern Davis County, Utah.

The man then drove to his house in Clearfield. On the way, Joyce’s other earring fell, unnoticed, onto the floor of the Mazda.

Once at the house, the man blindfolded Joyce, took her inside and repeatedly assaulted her again.

Over the space of the next hour or so, Joyce engaged the man in conversation. She succeeded in gaining his trust and in convincing him to let her go. Joyce promised the man she would not report what he had done if he would just return her home. He eventually agreed, giving her a blue men’s shirt to wear in place of her ruined dress.

A Case of Rape

On the drive back to her apartment, Joyce said the man told her he was normally a nice guy, the type who sends roses.

Joyce had called her sister Dorothy Dial upon arriving home at around 2 a.m. She’d expressed fear, not only that the man might return to harm her also but that police might not believe her account.

“Even now 35 years later, most women still don’t report the rape,” Schiller said.

Joyce Yost and sister Dorothy Dial
Joyce Yost (left) and her sister Dorothy “Dot” Dial (right) remained close throughout Joyce’s life. Joyce called Dorothy after being kidnapped and sexually assaulted on the morning of April 4, 1985. Photo: Joyce Yost family

A 1974 made-for-TV-movie called A Case of Rape had left a strong impression on Joyce. The fictional film starred actress Elizabeth Montgomery as a woman who is twice raped by an acquaintance and then suffers public humiliation during the resulting criminal trial.

Joyce told her sister she did not want to go through a similar experience. Dial said if Joyce didn’t call police, she would. With this encouragement, Joyce agreed to file a report with South Ogden police.

The supporting evidence

At the conclusion of the interview, Bill Holthaus went to Joyce’s apartment. He saw her car sitting in the carport with the driver door still open. He looked inside and noted the fragments of her broken fingernails, as well as a single earring and Joyce’s keys.

Former Clearfield, Utah police detective Bill Holthaus discusses what he saw when he examined Joyce Yost’s car on April 4, 1985, after taking Yost’s report of a rape and kidnapping at the hands of Douglas Anderson Lovell.

Joyce had attempted to stab her attacker in the eye with her keys during the initial assault in her car. She had missed and had instead struck the man on the side of the nose, causing a laceration. He had responded by pummeling her.

Holthaus photographed Joyce’s injuries, which included contusions on her neck and chin, with a Polaroid camera.

The detective then left Joyce and returned to Clearfield, intending to knock on the door of the home where Joyce had said the man had taken her.

Arrest of Doug Lovell

Holthaus was about to exit I-15 when he spotted a red Mazda RX-7 matching the one Joyce had described getting on the freeway headed southbound. He radioed for backup and then pulled the Mazda over.

The man at the wheel of the Mazda had a cut along the side of his nose. Holthaus could also see a single earring in the passenger footwell of the car as he looked in through the open window. It was the match to the other earring he’d previously seen in Joyce’s car.

Doug Lovell rape mugshot April 4, 1985
Detective Bill Holthaus arrested Douglas Anderson Lovell on suspicion of rape just hours following Joyce Yost’s initial report. Photo: Davis County Sheriff’s Office via Utah State Archives

“So we took him into custody right there,” Holthaus said.

The man, soon identified as Douglas Anderson Lovell, had a different story to tell about what happened on the night he met Joyce Yost.

Hear how Joyce Yost’s family responded to her sexual assault in Cold episode 2: A Case of Rape

Episode credits
Research, writing and hosting: Dave Cawley
Audio production: Dave Cawley
Audio mixing: Dave Cawley
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/a-case-of-rape-full-transcript/
KSL companion story: https://ksltv.com/459836/previously-unheard-audio-reveals-joyce-yosts-terrifying-story-to-police/
Talking Cold companion episode: https://thecoldpodcast.com/talking-cold#tc-episode-2