Dave Cawley: Christmas Day, 2009 dawned cold and clear at Point of the Mountain. Doug Lovell wasn’t able to walk through the fresh snow that blanketed the prison yard. He couldn’t make a snowball or sit around a pine tree decked with lights, ornaments and tinsel, exchanging presents with his loved ones. Instead, Doug sat at his typewriter and pecked out a message.
Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): My name is Doug Lovell. I hope I have reached you all in good health and spirits.
Dave Cawley: He was writing to a group of missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who were serving in the Marshal Islands. Their mission president, who Doug knew, had asked him to provide the missionaries with an inspiring message.
Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): I thought I would share with you something that has been extremely difficult for me to talk about since the death of my brother.
Dave Cawley: Doug wrote his brother, Royce, had been an A student who loved sports. He’d been an Eagle Scout and an active member of The Church. That’d changed when Royce developed a drug habit. Doug said said he and Royce had been very close.
Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): That all changed the day before he died. To this day, I have no idea what the reason was, but we got into a horrible argument. … I thought at any second the punch would come that would silence me. It never did. I don’t know why, but he just walked away.
Dave Cawley: Doug described getting the call at work and rushing home with his other brother, Russell, only to find Royce dead.
Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): I remember opening the front door and seeing Royce lying on the living room floor.
Dave Cawley: He went on, writing that in the days and months after Royce’s death he’d felt regret for never telling his brother he’d loved him. He said he’d learned when you love someone, you should let them know.
Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): I hope none of you will feel love for someone and risk losing them without ever having said these three simple words: I love you.
Dave Cawley: Nowhere in the letter did Doug acknowledge why he was in prison. He didn’t tell the missionaries how his own actions had deprived Joyce Yost of spending that same cold Christmas Day with her own children and grandchildren, showering them with the love they deserved.
Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): I wish you all good health and happiness throughout the 2010 year. Take good care and let us all find a way to live and be more Christlike in our daily lives.
Dave Cawley: This is Cold, season 2, episode 11: Rising Star. From KSL Podcasts, I’m Dave Cawley. More after the break.
Dave Cawley: PBS aired a documentary in July of 2007 called “Breaking the Curse.” It profiled a woman named Becky Douglas. Becky was an Atlanta housewife who, after losing a daughter, began doing charity work combating leprosy in India. Becky had founded a non-profit called Rising Star Outreach. Doug Lovell saw the documentary. He wrote a letter to Becky, asking if he could contribute to Rising Star. He didn’t have much to offer. His only income came from delivering food trays to other inmates…
Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): I earn 40 cents an hour for a grand total of less than $30.00 a month.
Dave Cawley: …but Doug told Becky he wanted to donate $5 a month to her cause. Becky was touched. She wrote back to Doug. He replied to her response and they soon became pen pals. Becky didn’t know the details of Doug’s crime, but found him in his letters to be intelligent, remorseful and, she thought, even repentant. She noticed his $5 checks, arriving without fail month after month. It seemed to her a significant sacrifice for a man of such limited means.
Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): I’m locked-up 21 hours a day. Only during my out-of-cell time can I make phone calls, shower, play games, or go outside. The outside yard is very small: 10 feet x 20 feet x 28 feet high: all concrete.
Dave Cawley: Becky came to think of Doug as a friend. He even invited her to visit him at the prison, which she did in 2012. They sat and talked, separated by glass, for four hours. Doug had been raised in a religious household. Both of his parents were, like Becky, devout members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or as they’re more commonly known, Mormons.
But Doug hadn’t seemed to have much interest in religion himself for much of his life. That had changed in 2003, right around the time his appeal to the Utah Supreme Court over the effort to withdraw his guilty plea was getting underway. That’s when Doug started meeting with a Latter-day Saint bishop named John Newton.
The Church maintained a presence at the prison and Doug had discovered he was able to leave his cell for extended conversations with Bishop Newton every Sunday.
Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): Whenever I leave my section, I am handcuffed behind my back and my legs are shackled. I’m allowed one 2-hour visit each weekend; all visits are non-contact. I have not touched a loved one since I received the death penalty.
Dave Cawley: Bishops in the Mormon tradition are not professional clergy. They have jobs and families and serve on a volunteer basis. The bishops assigned to the prison’s death row unit rotated every few years. When John Newton departed in 2005, Doug continued meeting with his replacement: a man named Brent Scharman.
Brent was a PhD-level psychologist who’d spent his career providing counseling through LDS Family Services, a church-owned non-profit behavioral health provider. Brent’s wife Janet was Vice President of Student Life at Brigham Young University, the church’s premier private school. Doug had never finished high school. But the Scharmans pulled strings to get him enrolled in correspondence courses through BYU.
That wasn’t the only opportunity provided Doug through his new connections. This comes from the news archives of KSL TV.
Tonya Papanikolas (from November 2, 2012 KSL TV archive): Not everyone gets to peruse family documents in foreign archives.
Olaf Zander (from November 2, 2012 KSL TV archive): We enable people to make searches for family history.
Tonya Papanikolas (from November 2, 2012 KSL TV archive): Enter the LDS Church. It sponsors a non-profit family history organization called FamilySearch.
Dave Cawley: FamilySearch is a digital genealogical repository…
Tonya Papanikolas (from November 2, 2012 KSL TV archive): Which boasts the largest collection of family history records in the world.
Dave Cawley: It includes billions of images of historical documents gathered from around the globe.
Tonya Papanikolas (from November 2, 2012 KSL TV archive): Those images are then sent to Salt Lake City and within a month the records are published on FamilySearch.org.
Dave Cawley: But not before the names, dates and places are transcribed by volunteers, including some Utah State Prison inmates. Doug wasn’t eligible to take part in that work because he lived in maximum security, with no access to the computer lab. He petitioned prison staff to make an exception and, after some deliberation, they agreed to let him use a laptop for the genealogy work.
The man overseeing the inmate volunteers on behalf of The Church at the time was a missionary named Gary Webster. Gary had a long history with the prison. He’d first started working there in the late ’60s, while pursuing his Masters Degree in social work. In the late ’70s Gary had taken a job with the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole. He’d been the board’s executive secretary in August of ’80, at the time of Doug’s parole hearing in the armed robbery case. Gary’s signature is on the paperwork that allowed Doug to walk free in ’82, after he’d served just half of the minimum term.
Gary had been on the parole board when Ogden Hi-Fi Shop killer Dale Selby Pierre — who I mentioned in episode 9 — came up for a clemency hearing ahead of his execution.
John Hollenhorst (from August 2, 1987 KSL TV archive): Selby almost always avoided eye contact during his hearing before the board of pardons he stared at the table or the floor when addressing board members. The only time he showed strong emotion during the two-day hearing was when he described almost daily beatings during his childhood, many for just minor infractions.
Dave Cawley: Selby, who was Black, had found religion in prison. He’d connected with a Catholic priest.
??? (from August 2, 1987 KSL TV archive): Selby, he says, studied the life of St. Augustine, a 4th century Christian who repented after a life of debauchery.
Dave Cawley: He’d said he was no longer the same man who’d killed three people in the basement of the Hi-Fi Shop.
Pierre Dale Selby (from August 2, 1987 KSL TV archive): This individual will not, or is not capable of doing the deeds that I did in 1974.
Dave Cawley: Gary, who is white, had not been swayed. He’d voted in favor of execution. Two decades later, Gary received a calling from The Church of Jesus Christ to replace Brent Scharman as bishop over Uinta 1 at the Utah State Prison. He began meeting with Doug Lovell, failing to piece together that they’d met before.
In their talks, Doug told Gary he hoped to be re-sentenced to life with the possibility of parole. Even if the parole board never let him out of prison, he would at least be moved from maximum security back into general population. Gary believed Doug exhibited genuine remorse. He was likewise impressed by Doug’s philanthropic efforts, which included writing many letters, like this one to a group of teenage Latter-day Saints.
Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): Before coming to prison, I became a bit of a lost soul. I made horrible choices in my life that have had a deep, negative impact on many lives.
Dave Cawley: Doug had grown prolific with these epistles.
Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): I had a lot of anger and frustration built up inside me. And all too often guys like me have a hard time expressing their thoughts and feelings because it’s not a ‘guy thing’ to do. Big mistake.
Dave Cawley: He often extolled the virtues of therapy, talking about how it had helped him change from the disturbed man he’d once been.
Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): Even after 22 years in prison, I still get teary-eyed when I reflect on the things I’ve done.
Dave Cawley: What those “things” were, he didn’t bother to say.
Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): I hope you will love, respect and value life and family. Family is an absolute treasure that is all too often misplaced. My mom died in 1991. I was unable to attend her funeral. She and I were always very close and to this day it still tugs at my heart that I was not there for her.
Dave Cawley: Gary at one point learned The Church had never taken disciplinary action against Doug over the rape or murder of Joyce Yost. He convened a priesthood council, which resulted in Doug’s excommunication. Doug was kicked out of the church into which he’d been baptized as a child.
Doug seemed to take his excommunication in stride, not giving up on his charitable efforts. He even wrote to prison warden Steven Turley in August of 2011 to propose a partnership between The Church and the inmates of Uinta 1.
Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): Over the many years, the LDS church has encouraged members to get involved in service projects. Living in a maximum security building, it has been difficult finding a service project the Church would support and one that would not be a security risk to the prison.
Dave Cawley: Doug said he’d come up with one, in which he and other inmates would assemble humanitarian aid kits using materials provided by The Church.
Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): This humanitarian service project would not only benefit children around the world, but it would also be a value to us in being able to give back to society and give us a real and needed sense of self worth.
Dave Cawley: This proposal went nowhere. The Church already operated its own humanitarian aid organization. It informed Doug his offer was appreciated but not necessary.
Dave Cawley: Doug’s proposal for that humanitarian aid kit project just happened to come on the heels of his victory at the Utah Supreme Court, which I detailed in the last episode. The high court had cleared the way for Doug to formally withdraw his guilty plea to the murder of Joyce Yost.
Kim Salazar: It’s not right what happens to people. You’re caught up in this mess and you can’t, you can’t stop it.
Dave Cawley: That had set the stage for a new trial.
Kim Salazar: The system has so many, many flaws.
Dave Cawley: Joyce’s children Kim Salazar and Greg Roberts, through their attorney, pressed the court to make that happen sooner rather than later.
Kim Salazar: Do it, do it, do it.
Dave Cawley: Judge Michael Lyon scheduled the trial for February of 2014. But first things first. Doug needed a new attorney. He’d been living on death row for nearly 20 years and had no financial resources to speak of. As a result, the court appointed him a public defender.
Defense attorneys in capital cases have to meet certain requirements to make sure defendants accused of death penalty crimes — where their very lives are on the line — have competent and experienced representation. In Utah, this is called “Rule 8.” Weber County, where Doug was charged, maintained individual contracts with a small number of public defenders. Only a couple were Rule 8 certified. One was named Michael Bouwhuis.
Judge Lyon assigned Michael to Doug’s case, along with a second attorney named Sean Young. They went to work beginning in August of 2011. Michael visited Doug at the prison and spoke to him several times a month by telephone. They exchanged letters, right up until May of 2012, when Doug stopped responding.
Doug soon told Michael he didn’t want to work with him any longer and asked to have another attorney appointed. But Doug also told the court he had a longstanding beef with the only other Rule 8 certified public defender in Weber County at that time.
Michael kept working. He filed a motion, at Doug’s urging, to have Judge Lyon disqualified from the case. This was due to a few passing comments the judge had made during a hearing in 2006. Judge Lyon had said Joyce’s family deserved closure. Michael Bouwhuis suggested this proved bias on the part of the judge. Another judge reviewed that argument and rejected it.
No sooner had that happened, than Doug dashed off a letter to Judge Lyon. Here’s what he wrote.
Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): During the last few months, the relationship between Mr. Bouwhuis and I has reached a point of complete and utter breakdown in communication and trust. It is quite obvious he and I cannot work together.
Dave Cawley: Judge Lyon denied Doug’s request for a new attorney. He told Michael to go down to the prison and work things out. Instead, Doug wrote another letter, this time to the Utah Supreme Court.
Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): When I went to court on August 9 to argue against my lead attorney, the courtroom was packed. To say the least, it was an extremely difficult and intimidating experience! To stand there handcuffed behind my back, in front of all those people and argue, not only against my lead attorney but also to an unsympathetic and clearly biased judge and two prosecutors was very nerve-wracking.
Dave Cawley: This coming from a person who had in the past sat on the witness stand in open court and described how he’d raped, kidnapped and murdered a woman.
Doug told the high court he just wanted a new attorney, qualified or not. He also revived his argument that Judge Lyon was biased.
Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): Three hearings were held in Judge Lyon’s court where it was made clear that Ms. Yost’s family wanted nothing but the death penalty for me. Ten years later, during two hearings in April of 2006, Judge Lyon made comments … that things had been going on long enough and the victim’s family needed their closure. Closure for the family could only mean one thing: for me to be put to death.
Dave Cawley: The final paragraph of this letter seemed almost prophetic.
Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): I bring these issues to the Court’s attention now in hopes that we are not addressing them 5, 10, 20 years down the road.
Dave Cawley: In the months that followed, Doug continued sending letters to Judge Lyon, insisting he’d fired Michael Bouwhuis.
Richie Steadman (as Doug Lovell): This court has no right to force Mr. Bouwhuis to represent me! He and I clearly have irreconcilable difference, communication problems and I do not trust him! To have Mr. Bouwhuis represent me would be no different than having the prosecutor represent me.
Dave Cawley: Neither Judge Lyon nor the Utah Supreme Court were persuaded. Doug would keep his attorney. The prosecution lost one of its attorneys though during the summer of 2013. Bill Daines, who’d led the case against Doug for more than 20 years, died as a result of a brain aneurysm.
Greg Roberts told me Bill’s knowledge of the case had been encyclopedic…
Greg Roberts: That’s what we felt like we lost there with Bill Daines.
Dave Cawley: …and his death so soon before the trial shifted a significant burden onto the shoulders of the second prosecuting attorney, Gary Heward. Like Bill, Gary had been on the case since the early ‘90s.
Kim Salazar: He was just a young law clerk when this all first started. This was like the first big thing that happened in his career.
Dave Cawley: I should note, the Weber County Attorney’s Office refused to give Gary clearance to interview for this podcast. Gary was headed for retirement but assured Kim and Greg he would not abandon them.
Kim Salazar: He’ll be there. He will be there to see this thing through for as long as he possibly can. I have no doubt about that.
Dave Cawley: Another setback was coming. Judge Lyon retired from the bench of Utah’s Second District Court in November of 2013.
Like prosecutor Gary Heward, Michael Lyon offered to continue on with the case after his retirement, due to its complicated history. But the presiding judge decided instead to reassign it. So the case against Doug Lovell, which had already been handed off once, ended up before a third judge: a man named Michael DiReda.
Dave Cawley: The handoff of the case just months before the scheduled trial caused problems. Judge DiReda acknowledged he needed more time to get up to speed. He pushed the date of the trial back from February to August. Then again, to March of 2015. So much for the speedy trial Kim Salazar had requested.
Kim Salazar: We’ve never gotten anything speedy.
Dave Cawley: The delays had an impact on Doug’s side as well. His father Monan died as a result of pneumonia and heart failure on March 11, 2014.
The case continued to grind on, as the court dealt with several issues. The first involved money.
Capital cases had evolved since ’93. Defense attorneys in capital cases had come to rely on forensic psychologists, investigators and mitigation specialists. Doug’s defense team asked the court for permission to hire all three.
The psychologist would evaluate Doug to determine if any mental or psychological issues were at play. The mitigation specialist — an expert skilled at digging deep into a person’s past — would try to uncover any evidence that might help explain Doug’s actions. And the investigator would search for flaws in the police work.
Weber County would have to foot the bill for these services, since Doug was indigent, and balked at the additional expense.
Then, there were the pretrial motions. Doug’s lawyers filed a flurry of them, the most consequential focusing on Rhonda.
Rhonda Buttars (from May, 1991 phone call recording): Hi.
Doug Lovell (from May, 1991 phone call recording): How you doing?
Rhonda Buttars (from May, 1991 phone call recording): Mmm, hanging in there.
Dave Cawley: The defense sought to keep as much of Rhonda’s testimony out of the trial as possible. They attacked her on two fronts.
First, they argued conversations she and Doug had shared while married were protected under what’s known as spousal privilege. This legal concept says what you tell your spouse in private can’t be used against you in court. But, of course, there are exceptions.
Utah law says spousal privilege doesn’t apply when the comments are made in furtherance of a crime. So, soliciting your spouse’s help to carry out or cover up a murder isn’t protected.
Spousal privilege also might not apply to anything Doug and Rhonda discussed after they were divorced. Like, say, when Rhonda had visited Doug at the prison while wearing the wire.
Rhonda Buttars (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): I hate court.
Doug Lovell (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): I know it, Rhonda, I do too. I do too. Umm, this is gonna be a battle. Ah, it could go several days.
Rhonda Buttars (from January 18, 1992 wire recording): That doesn’t mean that I have to go every day, does it?
Dave Cawley: Second, Doug’s lawyers argued during those two visits by Rhonda, she’d been acting as an agent of the state. They said this had violated Doug’s constitutional rights, as he’d previously invoked his right to remain silent.
Judge DiReda didn’t bite. He ruled against the spousal privilege argument in all but one instance, meaning most of Rhonda’s testimony would be permitted at the trial.
The one comment he refused to allow was one Rhonda had made when describing the night Doug was arrested for DUI while driving toward Joyce’s apartment with a loaded handgun.
Rhonda had said Doug told her that night “I am going to kill Joyce.”
Dave Cawley: Doug provided his defense team with a list of people he believed might testify on his behalf. They included Becky Douglas, head of the charity Rising Star Outreach, as well as the four bishops who I mentioned earlier.
Also on the list were several prison guards and social workers, former inmates and even the attorney who’d helped Doug arrange visitation with his son in the late ‘90s.
The defense’s mitigation specialist began working through the list, making initial contact and screening the potential witnesses. Michael Bouwhuis, as lead attorney, assigned Sean Young responsibility for following up with several of them.
Meanwhile, Joyce’s children, Kim Salazar and Greg Roberts, told the prosecutors they still wanted the death penalty…
Greg Roberts: I’m a hundred percent for the death penalty.
Dave Cawley: …but it wasn’t really up to them.
Greg Roberts: We’re just dealing with kind of the hand we’re dealt.
Dave Cawley: A sort of loophole allowed Doug a choice. If convicted, he had the option of being sentenced under the current law — which would include possible sentences of life, life without parole or death — or he could be sentenced under the law that’d been in place at the time of the crime in ’85.
Kim Salazar: Life without the possibility of parole was never on the table. That wasn’t even a thing yet.
Dave Cawley: Going with the old law would be a big gamble. Doug went all in. He chose the old law, meaning the only sentencing options would life with the chance of parole or death. He did not intend to live the rest of his life in prison.
Kim Salazar: I don’t know, is it worse to just be caged up like an animal for the rest of your life or to die for what you’ve done? Y’know? To take the hand you were dealt, y’know? We didn’t ask to be dealt this hand.
Dave Cawley: Doug also faced another choice: whether to have the judge or the jury decide his sentence. He’d gone the judge route in ’93 and received death.
The jury would have to be unanimous in selecting death, otherwise Doug would get life and a chance of someday securing his freedom. Doug wanted the jury, wagering he would be able to win over at least one juror.
Dave Cawley: If you leave South Ogden — where Joyce Yost once lived — headed south toward Salt Lake City on U.S. Highway 89, you’ll pass through a small community called Fruit Heights. This place nestled at the foot of Wasatch Mountains was once covered in cherry orchards. Nowadays, many of those orchards have become subdivisions, filling the town’s two square miles with single-family homes. But in the early ‘80s, much of that land was still undeveloped.
At the far southern tip of town, along the border with the neighboring city of Farmington, the highway passes an RV campground and waterpark called Cherry Hill. On the opposite side of that highway sits a frontage road and a narrow strip of undeveloped land covered in thick brush.
(Sound of traffic and man walking through weeds)
Dave Cawley: And that’s where, on the afternoon of February 5, 2015, a man walking his dog noticed something out of place. It was white and round, sitting against the base of a tree at the bottom of a hill. The curious dog-walker stepped off the sidewalk and into the brush to get a closer look. Then, he pulled out his phone and called 911.
A Farmington police officer arrived first, followed by a detective and the Davis County Sheriff’s Office forensics unit. They established a perimeter, stringing up yellow crime scene tape around the object: a human skull.
News reporters showed up soon afterward. A sheriff’s sergeant fielded their questions.
DeAnn Servey (from February 5, 2015 KSL TV archive): Especially with it being along the hillside, you don’t know if an animal could have brought it from a different location. There’s so many factors that we’re going to try to piece together and find the origin of this skull.
Dave Cawley: Sunset comes early to Utah in the winter and daylight was already fading. The investigators brought in a cadaver dog at first light the next morning, but failed to find anything. They next set up search lanes — sort of like lap lanes in a swimming pool — by stretching crime scene tape from the road all the way up the wooded hill.
While doing this, one of the officers noticed something sticking out of the ground uphill from where the skull sat. It appeared to be cloth. Tugging at it resulted in something else coming out of the ground: bone. People living at the top of the hill, on Farmington’s Kingston Road, were stunned.
Resident (from February 6, 2015 KSL TV archive): For something to be there for a long period of time seems unlikely.
Dave Cawley: The detectives located ribs, vertebra and scraps clothing in a small depression that appeared to have been a grave, just feet away from the back property line of one of those houses. It was so close that in the summer, the people living there had been unknowingly tossing their lawn clippings onto the gravesite.
The detectives sent photos of the bones to a forensic anthropologist who said they were definitely human.
Resident (from February 6, 2015 KSL TV archive): Y’know, obviously there could have been there and could have been there for quite a while and hidden by all the debris, the leaves and stuff.
Dave Cawley: The bones were modern, not from a pioneer-era grave or an indigenous people’s burial site. The detectives began a meticulous scouring of the scene, working along those search lanes.
DeAnn Servey (from February 6, 2015 KSL TV archive): The detectives and the search party is literally on their hands and knees combing through the debris of the hillside with their hands.
Dave Cawley: They swept away dead leaves and grass, looking for the tiniest bit of thread or chip of bone. They planted little flags any place they found something.
Cara Baldwin (from February 6, 2015 KSL TV archive): I was watching them earlier and they were sticking those little yellow, like, sprinkler flags in the ground everywhere and I’m like ‘why are they all the way up here?
Dave Cawley: Cara Baldwin watched from her back yard at the top of the hill.
Cara Baldwin (from February 6, 2015 KSL TV archive): It’s like 10 feet away from where the back of the yard starts.
Ashley Kewish (from February 6, 2015 KSL TV archive): Cara Baldwin has been in her Fruit Heights home for four years and lived in the area most her life.
Cara Baldwin (from February 6, 2015 KSL TV archive): When I was in high school, that used to be a pond, before they built the frontage road right there and kids used to joke that people stashed bodies in that pond, but it was like an urban legend when you’re in high school.
Dave Cawley: Toward the end of the second day, a detective collected the skull from where it still sat at the base of the tree. On the third day, the searchers established a grid over the gravesite. They brought in surveying tools to take precise measurements. They donned Tyvek suits — to avoid contaminating the scene — and began excavating.
They removed no more than an inch of soil at a time, moving the dirt into five-gallon buckets which were then sifted. They worked around the exposed bones, digging layer by layer, expanding outward in an effort to find the the original cut, or wall, of the grave.
Randy Salazar saw the news reports and drove down to Fruit Heights to observe this work firsthand.
Randy Salazar: (Finger snaps) First thing, y’know, I always, I always think of Joyce.
Dave Cawley: The forensics team excavated so far down that the bones and clothing were left standing in what they described as a “pedestal” of dirt. They undercut the pedestal, allowing the half-buried bones to come loose. They were then able to collect them and take them to the Office of the Utah Medical Examiner.
The ME faced a difficult task: determining who this person was and how long he, or she, had been buried on the side of that hill.
DeAnn Servey (from February 6, 2015 KSL TV archive): It is an opportunity to hopefully find this person and figure out if we can solve a missing case.
Dave Cawley: Seating a jury for Doug Lovell’s capital murder trial proved no small task. The court screened from a pool of 200 potential jurors, seeking just 12. That process was to begin on Monday, March 9. But Doug’s defense team and the Weber County prosecutors signed an agreement on the Friday prior. It said Doug was going to plead guilty.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
Randy Salazar: How the hell is he so slick that he does that stuff?
Dave Cawley: The strategy seemed all too familiar to Joyce’s family. Greg Roberts had seen prosecutors offer an olive branch to Doug once before, when Doug had promised to lead police to his mother’s remains.
Greg Roberts: But you could tell he wasn’t going to. So, it just became like our decision was made. Y’know let’s, let’s just go for the death penalty.
Dave Cawley: Greg told me that back ’93, no one had warned him a death verdict would tie his family to Doug’s case through decades of appeals.
Greg Roberts: I didn’t understand that at the time. Obviously, I fully understand it now.
Dave Cawley: The nature of the proposed plea deal was a bit different this time around, considering Doug no longer had the bargaining chip of returning Joyce’s body.
He intended to enter what’s known as a conditional guilty plea. He would admit to the crime but in exchange, would reserve the right to appeal all of Judge Michael DiReda’s decisions regarding his pre-trial motions. The judge had some concerns about this. The way the rules surrounding conditional guilty pleas were worded made it likely if any appeals court reached a different conclusion than he had on any issue — no matter how minor — Doug would be able to withdraw the plea. Again.
It felt to Kim Salazar not like an honest attempt by Doug to come clean, but instead part of a ploy, a delay tactic.
Kim Salazar: He still shows up in court as smug as he can be and still is more worried about fighting for his own life.
Dave Cawley: Judge DiReda called the proposed deal “ill-conceived, ill-advised and ill-timed.” He refused to accept it. This put Doug in a strange position. His lawyer, Michael Bouwhuis, did not intend to claim Doug’s innocence, because the evidence proving Doug had killed Joyce was by that point overwhelming and irrefutable. The defense’s entire focus would be the trial’s penalty phase, where they would try to show Doug was changed man who’d undergone a religious epiphany and was thus deserving of a chance for parole.
They couldn’t get to the penalty phase though without first going through the guilt phase, where it would be clear to the jury Doug had pleaded not guilty to a crime he didn’t actually contest committing. In a court filing, Michael Bouwhuis said the jury was likely to think Doug was playing games, wasting their time. He wanted the jurors informed of the failed plea attempt. Judge DiReda refused this, too.
One other little thing I should mention: as the prosecution and defense were vetting potential jurors, Doug informed Michael Bouwhuis not once but twice that he found particular women who’d been summoned for jury duty attractive. Doug asked his attorney to pass that message along to the women themselves.
His willingness to express physical interest in this context, to not one but two separate women, raised serious concerns.
Dave Cawley: South Ogden police sent a copy of Joyce Yost’s dental records to the Office of the Utah Medical Examiner in the days following the discovery of that shallow grave on a hillside along U.S. Highway 89. They weren’t alone.
Adam Osoro: Investigators all over the state were scrambling to check their old, uh, y’know, their old case files and their evidence rooms for anything that may help identify these bones that were found in Fruit Heights.
Dave Cawley: That’s Adam Osoro, assistant police chief for the city of Woods Cross, a suburb just north of Salt Lake City. He was, at the time, a detective assigned to a missing person’s cold case from 1983.
Adam Osoro: Every detective that has a cold case is really hoping that any remains will be their missing person.
Dave Cawley: The Davis County Sheriff’s Office scheduled a press conference, as jury selection continued in Doug Lovell’s murder trial.
Mike Headrick (from March 13, 2015 KSL TV archive): Today detectives announced that they identified those human remains found along Highway 89 in Fruit Heights. Mike Anderson joins us live tonight with more. Mike?
Dave Cawley: Randy Salazar called his daughters and told them to go sit with their mother, Kim, just in case word came that the bones belonged to Joyce.
Randy Salazar: I know she wants closure one day. And I pray to God that, that her and Greg get that one day.
Dave Cawley: This was not that day. The bones excavated from that hillside belonged not to Joyce, but instead to a young woman named Theresa Rose Greaves. The dental records Woods Cross detective Adam Osoro had provided matched.
Adam Osoro: Y’know, there’s, it’s not just one match. It’s multiple teeth in multiple areas. So there, we were pretty confident that Theresa had been found.
Dave Cawley: It’s been six years now since the discovery of Theresa’s remains. At the time I’m recording this in 2021, her case remains an unsolved homicide.
Adam Osoro: She needs people to speak for her, especially now, and I think that’s what we’re trying to do.
Dave Cawley: So let’s pause from Joyce’s story for a moment to talk about Theresa Greaves. Theresa grew up in Camden County, New Jersey, just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia. Her mom wasn’t in the picture long, so Theresa lived with her grandmother during her early years.
As a teen Theresa attended Collingswood High School. Theresa’s life — and the lives of her high school friends — had seemed to revolve around music.
Adam Osoro: They were big into music back then.
Dave Cawley: They loved The Oak Ridge Boys and, perhaps most of all…
Adam Osoro: They loved the Osmonds.
(Audio of The Osmonds)
Dave Cawley: For the uninitiated, The Osmonds were like Utah’s version of the Jackson 5. The Osmonds had started out as a quartet, composed of young brothers Alan, Wayne, Merrill and Jay, who sang barbershop. They’d had their big break in the early ‘60s on The Andy Williams Show, a variety show broadcast on NBC. The group had soon grown to include another brother: teen heart-throb Donny.
(Audio of The Osmonds)
By the early ’70s, the Osmonds had expanded beyond barbershop into rock and pop. Their popularity skyrocketed, so much so that they even briefly had their own Saturday morning cartoon.
(Audio of The Osmonds cartoon intro)
By the late ‘70s Donny Osmond and his sister Marie were each on the verge of launching their own solo careers. Theresa, like so many other teen girls of the time, had a huge crush on Donny.
Adam Osoro: She shared a lot of correspondence with a lot of other fans and it was quite obvious that she was a big fan.
Dave Cawley: Theresa graduated high school in ’77 and around that time met a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Adam Osoro: That, along with her interest in the music, the Osmonds, is ultimately why she chose to come to Utah.
Dave Cawley: A couple of Theresa’s classmates made the move from Jersey to Utah with her. From there, the trail grows a bit murky.
Adam Osoro: It’s become difficult to pin down exactly where she was and when.
Dave Cawley: One of Theresa’s friends took a job at the Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind in Ogden in 1981. Theresa followed that friend to Ogden and possibly spent time working at the school herself.
Adam Osoro: She briefly attended Weber State University. Lived at some of the dorms across the street from campus.
Dave Cawley: I can tell you Theresa briefly lived with one of those friends in American Fork, about 30 miles south of Salt Lake City. She got a job as a housekeeper at a motel in the nearby city of Provo.
Theresa considered herself an amateur photographer. She was known to park outside the home of the Osmonds, hoping to snap photos of the famous brothers. She often attended concerts for the bands she loved, where she met and mingled with other fans.
Adam Osoro: We were able to obtain quite a few letters that she had written. Strangers, really, I mean, these were people that she’d never met in person that were also Osmond fans…
Annie Knox (as Theresa Greaves): Howdy! Received your letter the other day, thanks for writing. Like the ad in the newsletter said, I answer all. … The more the merrier.
Dave Cawley: Those are Theresa’s own words, though not her actual voice, taken from one of her letters, written just weeks before she disappeared. The letter has never been made public before now.
Annie Knox (as Theresa Greaves): I’m originally from New Jersey, a little town called Woodlynne. It’s outside of Camden and Collingswood. I moved out here just about three years ago and like here a lot.
Adam Osoro: When someone would write her a letter, she would take the time to write them back and often kept correspondence with people for months.
Annie Knox (as Theresa Greaves): I’ve been an Oak fan for 4 years. Richard has been my favorite always, too. It was his bass voice that attracted me to the Oaks.
Dave Cawley: Theresa often signed her letters “Sailing away, Resa.”
Adam Osoro: Y’know, back then, she liked to use the nickname Resa — R-E-S-A — for Theresa, Theresa Greaves.
Annie Knox (as Theresa Greaves): As you know my name is Theresa. Friends call me “Resa” so feel free to do so. And that I’m 23 years old. I’ll be 24 on October 1st.
Dave Cawley: Life wasn’t just freewheeling fun for Theresa in Utah.
Annie Knox (as Theresa Greaves): As I’m sure you know from the address on the envelope, I moved up here to Woods Cross the first of June. I needed a change, but miss American Fork. … I’m unemployed but hope it won’t be that way much longer.
Dave Cawley: Her Ford Mustang had broken down not long after the move, leaving Theresa without her own car. She struggled to set down roots and find steady work.
Adam Osoro: Ended up renting a bedroom in a trailer home in Woods Cross in 1983 and she’d only lived in our city approximately two months before she went missing.
Dave Cawley: On the morning of Friday, August 5, 1983, Theresa walked from the trailer home to the post office to get her mail from her P.O. Box. She stopped by the bank and deposited $98 — all of her money, save $12 — and then returned home.
She called her grandmother back in New Jersey, saying she planned to take a bus into downtown Salt Lake City. It’s not clear if Theresa ever made it to the bus. Her family never heard from her again.
Theresa’s roommate — who’d only known her a few weeks — reported her missing to Woods Cross police a couple of days later. Officers started a search but soon hit a dead-end. They then turned to the media.
Woods Cross officer (from August 24, 1983 KSL TV archive): We suspect possible foul play because she’s been gone with no contact with any known source. She has left all her personal belongings, uh, at the trailer. She has withdrawn no money from her bank account. She uh, was on unemployment but has not collected her check since she’s been missing and her post office box has not been touched.
Dave Cawley: Theresa’s grandmother back in New Jersey provided police with her dental records, never imagining they would come in handy more than 30 years later. But by the time of Theresa’s recovery in 2015, all of her immediate family members were likewise deceased. The investigators couldn’t find a single close relative left alive to inform.
DeAnn Servey (from March 13, 2015 KSL TV archive): There’s a lot of details that we have to do a lot of research on. So we are treating this with a lot of sensitivity. We are treating this as a homicide. And we are following every lead with, with a lot of passion so that we can find exactly what happened to Theresa on that hillside.
Dave Cawley: The discovery of Theresa’s remains breathed new life into her cold case. But even with all that fresh effort and publicity, police are still not sure who killed her or why.
Adam Osoro: We know that somebody’s out there, somebody out there caused her harm and it’s our job to identify who that person is and make them face, face the consequences of what they’ve done.
Dave Cawley: They’re still trying to find anyone who had contact with Theresa back in the early ‘80s, either at a church meeting, at a concert, at the Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind, or even in an Osmonds fan club.
Adam Osoro: Please look through your old letters. It might be something very small that could help us in this case.
Dave Cawley: They’re also trying to find an important missing piece of the puzzle: Theresa’s 1977 Collingswood High School class ring. It was missing from her room in 1983 and was not with her remains in 2015.
Doug Lovell was, at one point, a person of interest in Theresa’s case, a fact made plain by the discovery of her remains on that hillside.
Mike Anderson (from March 13, 2015 KSL TV archive): Where this starts to get even more interesting is police initially questioned Douglas Lovell about Greaves disappearance … and he was already facing charges for the rape and murder of another woman, Joyce Yost. He denied ever meeting Greaves at the time.
Dave Cawley: I don’t believe that questioning of Doug ever actually happened and as far as I know, police have not ruled him out. But neither is he the focus of their investigation, nor do they have specific evidence tying him to Theresa.
Dave Cawley: Doug Lovell’s trial began on Monday, March 16, 2015. After opening statements, the prosecution started questioning its witnesses. Kim Salazar went first, followed by her brother Greg Roberts.
Greg Roberts: I was really impressed with those Weber County prosecutors. There was some carryover from the initial and there was some people that were new to it, but they were so thorough and they nailed it down so well.
Dave Cawley: Then, retired Clearfield police detective Bill Holthaus took the stand.
Bill Holthaus: And then we went through the entire rape thing again. And I mean, right front to back, all the way through the whole thing, y’know they were setting the scene is what they were doing.
Dave Cawley: Doug’s defense attorneys — Michael Bouwhuis and Sean Young — declined to cross-examine all but one of the state’s witnesses.
Bill Holthaus: He never asked me a question. I was never asked a question.
Dave Cawley: A woman then read Joyce’s testimony from the 1985 preliminary hearing…
Denise Jacobson as proxy for Joyce Yost (from March 16, 2015 KSL TV archive): He pulled in the stall next to me … He wanted to have a drink. I didn’t want to go have a drink. I says, ‘I don’t know you.’ I said ‘who are you, anyway?’
Dave Cawley: … just as Marily Gren had done at the rape trial 30 years earlier.
Denise Jacobson as proxy for Joyce Yost (from March 16, 2015 KSL TV archive): He really tried to convince me what a nice person he was, that normally he gives girls flowers, doesn’t do things like this.
Dave Cawley: The final witness for the first day was Kim’s ex-husband, Randy Salazar. He looked across the courtroom at Doug…
Randy Salazar: I would say for 10 years, that man never aged.
Dave Cawley: …and saw for the first time a man with thinning and graying hair. Doug wore a suit jacket and collared shirt, but no tie. He’d shaved his signature mustache. Randy testified about the encounter at the courthouse following Doug’s conviction in ’85.
Randy Salazar (from March 16, 2015 KSL TV archive): He took a few steps, like three or four steps, stopped and looked at me and said ‘she’s gone buddy, she’s gone. You’ll never see her again.’
Dave Cawley: I can tell you that memory still brings tears to Randy’s eyes.
Randy Salazar: Exactly what he said that day, too. When he said, uh, ‘you’ll never find her, you’ll never find her.’ He wasn’t lying. We’ve never found her.
Dave Cawley: Randy told me testifying took a huge emotional toll.
Randy Salazar: That really brought back some real bad memories.
Dave Cawley: Not just for himself. Kim and Randy’s children had been young when their grandmother, Joyce, had disappeared. Their daughters Melanie and Melissa, now grown, told their parents they wanted to attend the trial.
Randy Salazar: And Kim told ‘em, and I told them before they went … ‘you might not wanna hear what you’re gonna hear … in there,’ I said. ‘And you’re going to be in the same room as this man for a long time.’
Kim Salazar: Y’know, you’ve got a situation where you’ve got people hearing it as adults for the first time.
Randy Salazar: They heard stuff in that trial that they had never, that Kim had never told ‘em.
Kim Salazar: In a much different light than they heard it all their lives growing up, for sure.
Dave Cawley: Day two of the trial brought testimony from South Ogden’s investigators, including retired detectives Brad Birch and Terry Carpenter. Rhonda Buttars also testified. Kim and Randy’s children were shocked by Rhonda’s story.
Kim Salazar: They’re hearing it raw in a courtroom. It wasn’t censored, it wasn’t filtered.
Randy Salazar: And I remember them calling me up after, after one day of the trial and just crying and saying ‘dad, mom went through hell.’ I said, ‘yep, yep. Your mom and uncle Greg went through hell.’ I says, ‘and your mom’s a very strong person. You have to, you have to give her a lot of credit because, y’know, Greg wasn’t here.
Dave Cawley: You also went through hell.
Randy Salazar: I did, I did. I, y’know I, I mean it was, in fact it was hard on our marriage.
Dave Cawley: This experience was like tearing off a 30-year-old scab to find the wound underneath still raw to the touch.
There were two other witnesses on the state’s list: Tom Peters and Doug Lovell. Tom had died in 2007 and Doug, obviously, wasn’t going to testify for the state. But both men had testified during the original ’93 sentencing. The prosecutors used proxies to read those transcripts. Joyce’s family had to listen to Doug’s account of the murder all over again.
Randy Salazar: I remember all that stuff. And I remember all the stuff he told Kim and Greg and how he did it. And then you’re right here now asking for another trial and to get off with this thing.
Dave Cawley: Prosecutor Gary Heward rested his case at the end of day two, having put forward a concise but comprehensive presentation.
Gary Heward (from March 18, 2015 KSL TV archive): The evidence that you’ve heard over the past two days amounts to a mountain. A mountain of evidence.
Dave Cawley: The defense declined to call a single witness. Doug told the court he would not testify in his own defense. Michael Bouwhuis made no illusion of claiming Doug’s innocence during his closing statement.
Michael Bouwhuis (from March 18, 2015 KSL TV archive): The details of this case are horrible. There’s no denying that. What Doug Lovell did in 1985 was absolutely horrible. There’s no excuse for it.
Dave Cawley: The jury began deliberations the next morning. It took them just over an hour to return their verdict. Doug stood as Judge Michael DiReda began to read.
“We the jury…”
Michael DiReda (from March 18, 2015 KSL TV archive): …do hereby unanimously find beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant, Douglas A. Lovell, is guilty of murder in the first degree, a capital felony.
Dave Cawley: Under Utah law, there are specific qualifiers that set capital murder apart from the crime of homicide. In Doug’s case, the prosecution had put forward several. They’d claimed the murder had happened while Doug was also in the act of committing kidnapping and burglary.
They’d said he’d killed Joyce to prevent her from testifying, to keep her from providing evidence, as retaliation against her and to disrupt the enforcement of laws. Only one of those qualifiers was necessary to elevate the crime to a capital offense. The jurors, by unanimous vote, said all of those qualifiers applied.
Doug’s guilt, which hadn’t been in dispute, was re-established. Which left the real question still to be decided: should he die for it?