Season 3 of COLD tells the story of the disappearance of Sheree Warren.
Sheree was last seen leaving her work in Salt Lake City, Utah on the evening of October 2, 1985. But to explain the mystery that still shrouds the unsolved cold case of Sheree’s disappearance, COLD season 3 begins even farther in time. It begins with a phone call made to a different woman during the spring of 1971.
“It was probably around midnight, and some voice on the phone said that he wanted to talk to me,” Heidi Posnien recalled during an interview for COLD.
The caller told Heidi he was a sales representative for a lingerie company. He wanted to ask her a few questions. Heidi found it odd that a solicitor would call at such a late hour. She felt skeptical about the strange man’s motives. That feeling only intensified when the caller asked “are you as good in bed as everyone says?”
“I said ‘who are you, what’s going on, what do you want?’ And he hung up,” Heidi said.
The lingerie survey obscene caller strikes again
It was not the last time Heidi would hear from the obscene caller. The man dialed her number again two weeks later.
“He called me in the daytime,” Heidi said. “He said ‘now I want to meet you. This has to be somewhere where there aren’t any people, like maybe in the mountains.’”
The caller told Heidi he knew she had two kids, and that her husband, John Posnien, drove a Ford Mustang.
“He says, ‘And don’t have this phone traced because then it’s not going to be healthy for you, for your kids,’” Heidi said. “He would say if I do put a trace on or try to call anybody to tell anybody, then it wouldn’t be healthy for my husband because he’d do something to the Mustang.”
Heidi felt a mix of fear and anger over the caller’s threat. She discussed the situation with her husband, John. The Posniens decided to contact one of their neighbors, Halvor Bailey, who worked as a deputy for the Weber County Sheriff’s Office. Deputy Bailey suggested the Posniens set a trap: the next time the caller dialed Heidi’s number, Bailey wanted Heidi to answer and agree to a meeting.
The obscene caller phoned Heidi a third time at the start of June 1971.
“He says, ‘Hi, are we still going to go out on the date and meet each other,’” Heidi said. “I said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’”
An unwanted “date” with the obscene caller
Heidi arranged to meet the unidentified caller on the morning of Friday, June 4, 1971. He told her to go to a small U.S. Forest Service campground called Meadows, off to the side of Utah State Route 39.
John and Heidi Posnien relayed the plan to Deputy Bailey, who arranged to have a pair of undercover deputies standing by at Meadows. The deputies, dressed as fishermen, parked a trailer beside a short bridge over the South Fork Ogden River. They intended to leap out and capture the caller when he arrived at the campground.
Heidi arrived early on the morning scheduled for her “date” with the obscene lingerie survey caller. She parked her Jeep next to the deputies’ trailer at Meadows. The undercover deputies told Heidi to let the man pass her when he arrived, then pull her Jeep out behind him to block the bridge and prevent the man from leaving the campground.
Meantime, John Posnien, the sheriff, and Deputy Bailey were waiting at a different campground called Magpie a couple of miles to the west. At about 10:30 a.m., John Posnien spotted a half-ton pickup truck cruising east up the highway toward the Meadows campground.
“It said Hartmann Plumbing and when they drove past Magpie, John says he immediately knew who it was then,” Heidi said.
Hartmann Plumbing and Heating belonged to a man named Bill Hartmann. Bill’s oldest child, 22-year-old Cary Hartmann, was at the wheel of the truck.
Heidi Posnien had no idea who Cary Hartmann was when he arrived in that truck at the Meadows Campground.
“I didn’t recognize him,” Heidi said. “I didn’t remember seeing him before.”
Heidi’s meeting at the Meadows Campground
Heidi recalled the man rolling his window down and saying a few brief words, telling her she looked “sexy.”
“He kept looking at that trailer and was getting a little nervous and he said, ‘I’m going to just pull up [into the campground]. Why don’t you follow me up there,’” Heidi said.
The truck rattled away and Heidi put her Jeep in gear. But instead of following the caller, Cary Hartmann, Heidi instead pulled her Jeep in front of the bridge, parked it, and dashed for the safety of the trailer where the two undercover officers were waiting.
“[Cary] turned around, he came back and he couldn’t go anywhere because the Jeep blocked the road,” Heidi said.
The undercover officers confronted Hartmann. They frisked him as Heidi watched out the window of the trailer, her hands shaking.
“He had a pocket knife,” Heidi said. “I’ve been in situations where I’ve had to defend myself … and I probably would’ve been able to but when he had a knife, then it wouldn’t have been too good.”
Heidi remained in the protection of the camper trailer as the deputies loaded Hartmann into their truck and drove him down the canyon. She later learned, after talking to her husband John Posnien, what happened when Hartmann stood before the sheriff at the Magpie Campground.
“John asked the sheriff, he says, ‘boy, I’d sure like to smack [Hartmann] in the mouth.’ And [the sheriff] says ‘well, we’ll look the other way.’ And John punched him,” Heidi said.
Cary Hartmann’s telephone harassment
Cary Hartmann ended up in the Weber County Jail on suspicion of making threatening phone calls, a misdemeanor offense. Heidi did not believe the charge fully reflected the dangerousness of the circumstance she’d faced.
“Because he really hadn’t done anything, other than meet me,” Heidi said.
While in jail, Hartmann provided a handwritten account of what he’d done. A copy of that document, obtained exclusively by COLD, showed Hartmann admitted to the offense.
“I called the lady and said would you meet me at a time and place, if not some harm would come to your husband’s car and possibly him,” Hartmann wrote.
John Posnien went to find Cary Hartmann’s father, Bill Hartmann, while Cary remained incarcerated. Posnien knew the elder Hartmann was a golfer, as they’d previously crossed paths at the Ogden Golf and Country Club.
“John went [to the golf course] and said, ‘Hey, we need to talk to you about your son,’” Heidi said. “[Bill Hartmann] said, ‘What the hell did he do now?’”
John Posnien explained the circumstances of Cary Hartmann’s arrest, and the fact Bill Hartmann’s work truck had been impounded by the Weber County Sheriff’s Office. John Posnien reportedly told Bill Hartmann he would not pursue criminal charges, so long as Cary Hartmann received some help.
Utah court records show Cary Hartmann received a sentence of six months probation on a conviction for misdemeanor telephone harassment. Hartmann successfully completed that sentence in December of 1971.
Cary Hartmann the reserve officer
Nearly a decade later, in July of 1980, Cary Hartmann enlisted in the reserve corps of the Ogden City Police Department. On his application paperwork, Hartmann wrote he wanted to “right a few wrongs” from his youth and “help all the people that suffer from the bad guys.”
Hartmann acknowledged on his application that he’d previously been arrested, charged and convicted of a crime. He did not describe the details of the offense, writing only “summer 10 yrs ago – probation.”
Heidi Posnien was unaware the obscene caller who’d used threats to lure her to a remote mountain campground had applied to become a police officer. She’d put the unsettling experience out of her mind.
“I never heard any more,” Heidi said. “You don’t dwell on it, because it makes you sick and makes you unhappy.”
The Ogden Police Department accepted Cary Hartmann into the ranks of its reserve corps. It provided him with training, a uniform, a badge and a gun.
Hear how Cary Hartmann met missing woman Sheree Warren in COLD season 3, episode 1: Everything Escalates
Research, writing and hosting: Dave Cawley
Audio production: Ben Kuebrich
Audio mastering: Ben Kuebrich
Cold main score composition: Michael Bahnmiller
Additional scoring: Allison Leyton-Brown
KSL executive producer: Sheryl Worsley
Workhouse Media executive producers: Paul Anderson, Nick Panella, Andrew Greenwood
Amazon Music and Wondery team: Morgan Jones, Candace Manriquez Wrenn, Clare Chambers, Lizzie Bassett, Kale Bittner, Alison Ver Meulen
Episode transcript: https://thecoldpodcast.com/season-3-transcript/everything-escalates-full-transcript/