South Ogden police Sgt. Terry Carpenter sat and watched as Doug Lovell placed a cold can of beer to his mustachioed lip, tilted it back and took a swig.
Doug, dressed in his orange prison jumpsuit and shackled at the wrists, had not been able to enjoy a frosty beverage like this in the nearly seven years since he’d gone to prison for kidnapping and sexually assaulting Joyce Yost. He’d not sat out in the sun on a warm June day and enjoyed the scent of mountain air, or heard the sound of ski boats buzzing around on nearby Pineview Reservoir.
But here Doug and Terry were, parked outside of Chris’, on June 17, 1993. The gas station and restaurant sat at the side of Utah State Highway 39 in the Ogden Valley. About a mile to the west was the old road to the Snowbasin ski resort and the site where Doug claimed to have taken the life of Joyce Yost.
Cigarettes and beer for Doug Lovell
Doug had signed a memorandum of understanding earlier that morning. It’d outlined the plea agreement he’d reached with the Weber County Attorney’s Office. Doug would admit to murdering Joyce Yost in August of 1985 to prevent her from testifying against him.
He would also lead investigators to Joyce’s remains, a spot he’d told his defense attorney he could find in a blinding snowstorm. In exchange, the prosecutors would not seek the death penalty.
Doug had already pointed out the location where he’d claimed to have killed Joyce on an aerial photograph, saying it was right off the side of the Old Snowbasin Road.
“He says it’s the only place where there’s a guard rail on the curve,” Terry Carpenter said during an April, 2021 interview for Cold.
While driving up Ogden Canyon on their way to the site, Doug had become emotional and told Terry he was too agitated to go directly to the site. He’d asked to make the detour to Chris’, so he could have a beer to calm his nerves.
Terry, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and does not drink alcohol or smoke, obliged.
“I can tell you how many times I’ve bought beer and cigarettes,” Terry said with a laugh, adding he’s only ever purchased beer for Doug Lovell.
Why buy beer for Doug Lovell?
I asked Terry to explain the reasoning behind this indulgence of Doug’s desire for a drink, at a time when it seemed Doug’s back was to a proverbial wall.
Failure to return Joyce’s remains would nullify the plea agreement and likely result in Doug receiving a sentence of death. Terry at the time believed that might not prove incentive enough for Doug to be honest.
“You’ve got somebody who is fighting emotions, you got somebody who is wanting on one side of him to do something right and maybe for the first time in his life,” Terry said.
Providing Doug a drink and a brief taste of freedom seemed a small trade-off for Terry to make in that moment, if it resulted in the long-awaited recovery of Joyce Yost’s remains.
Terry had spent years developing the evidence needed to prove Doug’s guilt. He’d pieced together a strong case for prosecutors, even in the absence of Joyce’s body. But he also knew the relief recovering Joyce’s remains would provide for her children.
“They would like to be able to bury their mother. So do you not do everything you can to get it out of [Doug]? He’s right there. Supposedly just up this road is where he says, or is he telling us the truth or is he lying to us? The guy’s a great liar,” Terry said. “If him having a beer or a cigarette is going to help him have enough courage to take us up to where … to give them their mom to bury her, I would do that.”
Terry and Doug’s drive up Old Snowbasin
Doug spent the better part of an hour drinking and chatting outside of Chris’ before at last telling Terry he’d calmed down sufficient to finish their drive. They backtracked to the turnoff for the Old Snowbasin Road, then drove to where the road crested a ridge and began to descend toward the Wheeler Creek drainage.
After some initial confusion, Doug pointed Terry to a place where the road made a tight curve on the downhill grade. The guardrail Doug had remembered was gone, but the posts that’d once held it were still in place.
“It’s been a long time since he’s been there, but then when we get up there, he says it’s right here,” Terry said.
Terry said Doug told him he’d walked Joyce over the guardrail and away from the road a short distance. There, he’d claimed to have strangled her to death.
“But then he tells us too that he goes back and moves her,” Terry said.
Doug told the officers he’d become concerned in the days and weeks following the murder. He’d worried a hunter would stumble across Joyce’s body, so he’d returned to the site to bury her and cover the spot with leaves and branches.
The location Doug indicated sat within the boundaries of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. Terry and a team of detectives spent weeks scouring the surrounding terrain, searching for any sign of Joyce Yost. They came up empty.
I revisited the location with Terry nearly 28 years later.
“She is not here,” Terry told me while standing at the site. “He didn’t bring us to where Joyce is, or we would have found her.”
Hear what happened when Doug Lovell returned to court after failing to return Joyce Yost’s remains in episode 9 of Cold: High Fidelity.
Research, writing and hosting: Dave Cawley
Audio production: Nina Earnest
Audio mixing: Trent Sell
Additional voices: Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell)
Cold main score composition: Michael Bahnmiller
Cold main score mixing: Dan Blanck
KSL executive producers: Sheryl Worsley, Keira Farrimond
Workhouse Media executive producers: Paul Anderson, Nick Panella, Andrew Greenwood
Amazon Music team: Morgan Jones, Eliza Mills, Vanessa Rebbert, Shea Simpson
Episode transcript: https://thecoldpodcast.com/season-2-transcript/high-fidelity-full-transcript/
KSL companion story: https://ksltv.com/462957/she-was-never-there-detective-reflects-on-search-for-joyce-yost-28-years-later/
Talking Cold companion episode: https://thecoldpodcast.com/talking-cold#tc-episode-9