Roy City police detective Jack Bell had two possible persons of interest in the unsolved disappearance of Sheree Warren: her estranged husband, Charles Warren, and her boyfriend, Cary Hartmann.
Sheree had left her workplace in Salt Lake City, Utah on the evening of Oct. 2, 1985. She never arrived home. No one seemed to know where Sheree had gone. Her case had fallen to detective Jack Bell because Sheree had been living with her parents in Roy while separated from her husband.
Jack first interviewed Charles “Chuck” Warren on Oct. 4, 1985, but Chuck soon stopped cooperating. Police asked Chuck to submit to a polygraph, but Chuck refused.
That setback hadn’t deterred Jack. The detective next questioned Chuck Warren’s first wife, Alice, whom Chuck’d reunited with after separating from Sheree in May of 1985.
“I was surprised to find out that he was back with his ex so soon after him and Sheree had split up,” Jack Bell said in an interview for COLD.
Alice provided her ex-husband an alibi for the night of Sheree Warren’s disappearance.
“Alice says that night that [Sheree] disappeared, [Chuck Warren] was home with her all night,” Jack said.
Police viewed Chuck Warren as the most likely suspect in Sheree Warren’s disappearance at the time. Confirming Chuck’s whereabouts on the night Sheree was last seen was a critical step in the investigation. Jack’s notes, obtained exclusively by COLD, show he asked Alice to submit to a polygraph examination. Alice at first agreed, but backed out after consulting with Chuck.
Cary Hartmann and the Sheree Warren investigation
Detective Jack Bell had more success with Cary Hartmann, the man Sheree had started dating after separating from her husband. Jack first made contact with Cary on Oct. 3, 1985, the day after Sheree disappeared. Jack’s reports and notes reveal Cary told the detective he’d been at a bar with a friend the prior evening. Cary reportedly said he didn’t know what had happened to Sheree.
Jack had no reason to doubt Cary’s account. The detective had known Cary for years. They’d attended the same school, Bonneville High, as teenagers.
“I was never friends with Cary, but we knew each other,” Jack said. “I hadn’t seen or talked to him since I left Bonneville [High School].”
Jack Bell had also been aware Cary Hartmann served in the Ogden Police Department’s reserve corps during a brief stint in the early 1980s.
Case records reveal Cary kept close tabs on the investigation. They show Cary dropped in at Roy police headquarters on Oct. 11, 1985 and again met with his old acquaintance, Jack Bell. Cary brought a box of missing persons fliers with him, having enlisted the help of a relative to have the fliers printed. They showed a picture of Sheree, as well as basic information about her disappearance.
“They were on yellow paper,” Jack recalled. “He left some of them here that we posted around.”
Cary also showed Jack notes regarding a conversation he’d had with one of his co-workers at Weber State College, where Cary worked as an HVAC technician. The co-worker had reportedly dreamt about Sheree’s demise.
“He says Sheree’s with a big blond guy and another tall thin guy with dark hair and that they are in the mountains somewhere around some red cliffs, which Cary thinks is Big Rock Candy Mountain,” Jack Bell’s notes read.
Jack did not place much weight on this account. He showed more interest in what Cary had to say about Sheree’s estranged husband, Chuck Warren.
“Cary said the only thing that [Chuck and Sheree] are fighting over is child support,” Jack said.
According to Jack’s notes, Cary claimed Chuck had made threatening comments to Sheree during a confrontation at her workplace a few weeks prior to her disappearance. Jack found the story to be credible at the time, though he would later come to doubt portions of Cary’s account.
“Cary was feeding me full of information about Chuck and a lot of it seemed legitimate,” Jack said.
A psychic letter about Sheree Warren
Sheree Warren’s car, a maroon 1984 Toyota Corolla, surfaced several weeks later in Las Vegas, Nevada. Las Vegas Metro Police impounded the Corolla. They obtained written permission to search the car from the registered owner, Chuck Warren, before scouring it for evidence.
The car’s discovery drew media coverage, both in Las Vegas and in Salt Lake City. KSL 5 TV in Salt Lake City broadcast a story about the discovery of Sheree’s car on Nov. 13, 1985.
Five days later, the TV station received an anonymous letter from a person who claimed to have had dreams about a woman’s murder. The letter mentioned a “beautiful young mother” and a “maroon import,” in possible reference to Sheree Warren and her Toyota Corolla.
“Her body is in a different area from where attack occurred, near a place of trailers (campground?),” the letter said. “Body rolled well under a lg evergreen growing on a jut.”
KSL provided a copy of the letter to Roy City police detective Jack Bell, who in turn shared the details of the letter with Cary Hartmann.
Cary recruited a private investigator. He asked the PI, Michael Neumeyer, for help locating Sheree. Cary recorded a statement for Neumeyer on Nov. 25, 1985. In it, Cary referenced both his co-worker’s dream and the psychic dream letter sent to KSL.
Detective Jack Bell did not consider the psychic dream stories legitimate leads on their own. He continued to believe Chuck Warren was the prime suspect in Sheree’s disappearance. But Chuck Warren still wasn’t talking, and Jack’s investigation stalled at the end of 1985.
Weber State College’s swimming pool window
A student at Weber State College named Jaimie Schmalz encountered Cary Hartmann on campus several months later, in 1986. That encounter would eventually have a significant impact on the Sheree Warren case.
Jaimie’s mother was a cosmetologist, who Cary Hartmann frequented for hair cuts. Jaimie first met Cary at her mother’s salon. She bumped into him again during the early 1980s at a Hilton hotel bar where she worked called the Electric Alley.
In an interview for COLD, Jaimie recalled talking to her mom about Cary after speaking to him at the Electric Alley.
“I remember her saying something like ‘just be careful with him,’” Jaimie said.
Jaimie subsequently left the job at the Electric Alley and enrolled at Weber State College, where she took a position at the campus library. She told COLD she was leaving the library one day in 1986 when she again saw Cary Hartmann. Jaimie said Cary approached her and struck up a conversation.
“He says ‘hey, did you know that there’s a window in the swimming pool at the aquatics center,’” Jaimie said.
Cary’s work on the college’s maintenance staff meant he had access to areas that were not open to the public. These included a network of underground tunnels that linked all of the buildings on campus, as well as the lower level of the Swenson Gymnasium. The maintenance area below the gym housed the pool’s pumps and filters. One wall in the maintenance room also held a window, which provided a view into the pool from just below the water level.
Jaimie said Cary invited her to go see the window. She agreed and reportedly followed Cary through a locked door into the basement of the gym.
“We go in there and it’s underground,” Jaimie said.
Cary reportedly pointed out the window.
“And he’s like ‘see, anybody could watch you at any time and they could see what you’re doing in the swimming pool,’” Jaimie said.
Jaimie recalled feeling confused as to why Cary would want to show her the swimming pool window. She said Cary did not make any unwanted advances while they were alone in the dim and isolated gymnasium basement. In retrospect, she questioned Cary’s motive for taking her into the bowels of the building.
“I don’t know if I was supposed to have a certain reaction, but I just thought it was kind of strange,” Jaimie said.
COLD has discovered Weber State College’s student newspaper, The Signpost, published an article during this same period about an unidentified man who’d repeatedly entered the women’s locker room at the gym. Campus police told The Signpost they’d also received reports of a man masturbating while watching swimmers through the swimming pool’s window. COLD has been unable to verify whether that man was ever identified, arrested or charged with a crime.
Cary Hartmann’s lingerie survey phone calls
Police in Ogden were at the same time investigating a rash of obscene phone calls they believed were the work of a single man. The caller dialed women and claimed to be conducting a survey about fashion and lingerie.
Jaimie Schmalz, the Weber State student who described going to see the swimming pool window with Cary Hartmann, was among the obscene caller’s targets. She received one such lingerie survey call in June of 1986.
“This man says ‘hi, I’m doing a survey on lady’s lingerie and women’s apparel,’” Jaimie said. “One of the very first things he said is ‘ok, so we’re going to talk about lady’s underwear.”
The man’s voice sounded familiar, but Jaimie couldn’t immediately place it. The caller continued, asking Jaimie’s preferences about nylons, pajamas and other clothing. The questions became gradually more invasive, until the man asked Jaimie to describe her breasts.
“I said ‘what the hell does that have to do with lady’s lingerie?’ And he just had this comeback,” Jaimie said.
Jaimie suspected the caller was not conducting a legitimate survey. A named popped into her mind.
“All the sudden I realize, this sounds like Cary Hartmann,’” Jaimie said.
A surge of fear and anger ran through her. Jaimie was aware from news reports Ogden City police were at that time searching for a serial rape suspect who’d repeatedly attacked multiple women inside their own homes at night. The unidentified man seemed to target women who were single or separated, with young children. Jaimie fit that profile. She feared the obscene phone call might be a prelude to an attack.
Jaimie called an Ogden police detective named Chris Zimmerman. She described the lingerie survey call she’d received and told Zimmerman she believed the man on the other end of the line had been Cary Hartmann.
The Ogden City Rapist investigation
Detective Chris Zimmerman knew Cary Hartmann. Cary had served in the Ogden Police Department reserve corps in 1982 and 1983, where he’d directly interacted with Zimmerman. Cary had also gone on hunting outings with Zimmerman and other Ogden police officers.
In late October of 1986, Zimmerman received a phone call from an informant who provided information that further pointed to Cary as a suspect in the ongoing string of unsolved sexual assaults in Ogden. Police and the news media had dubbed the unidentified man The Ogden City Rapist.
Zimmerman recalled the tip he’d received several months earlier from Jaimie Schmalz, who’d told him she believed Cary Hartmann was the lingerie survey caller. Zimmerman contacted Jaimie again. They agreed to meet for a formal interview on Oct. 31, 1986.
“That’s when he told me that they were looking into [Cary Hartmann],” Jaimie said. “They thought maybe he was the Ogden City Rapist. And I was scared, scared to death.”
Zimmerman also shared his suspicion with Roy City police detective Jack Bell. Jack was still leading the investigation into Sheree Warren’s disappearance a year prior, but had exhausted his leads. The suggestion Cary Hartmann could be a suspect in the Ogden City Rapist investigation ignited new suspicions about his potential involvement in Sheree’s case.
“I had started looking at Cary pretty serious, because I was getting all this other stupid crap that I knew wasn’t coming from Chuck and legitimate like the psychics,” Jack said.
Jack, who had at first believed Sheree’s estranged husband Chuck Warren was responsible for her disappearance, began to wonder if he’d missed clues pointing instead to Cary Hartmann.
“I missed quite a bit to start with, because Cary wanted me to miss that and go after Chuck,” Jack said.
Hear Cary Hartmann’s account of Sheree Warren’s disappearance in COLD season 3, episode 3: Cherish the Love
Research, writing and hosting: Dave Cawley
Audio production: Ben Kuebrich
Audio mixing: 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/uncategorized/cherish-the-love-full-transcript/