COLD PODCAST

Douglas Lovell seeks to reverse second death sentence in Joyce Yost murder

Jun 23, 2021, 12:15 AM | Updated: Aug 22, 2023, 1:16 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The second season of KSL’s investigative podcast series COLD, Justice for Joyce, concludes this week with the release of the season’s 13th episode.

The episode details the efforts of various KSL staff to contact death row inmate Douglas Lovell and request an interview with him about his murder of Joyce Yost in 1985.

“Whenever I am in the news, I know it is very upsetting to the family and loved ones of Ms. Yost,” Lovell wrote in a Nov. 9, 2019 letter, refusing one such interview request. “I believe an interview with you will most [sic] get back to Ms. Yost’s family. I hope you will understand and appreciate my decision.”

Doug Lovell wrote this letter to KSL’s Candice Madsen in November of 2019, declining a request for an interview about his murder of Joyce Yost.

KSL had made contact with Yost’s daughter Kim Salazar prior to reaching out to Lovell. In a follow-up letter, KSL informed Lovell that Yost’s family knew of and supported the interview request, in the hopes it might lead to the recovery of their mother’s remains.

Lovell did not respond to that follow-up letter.

“If he were trying to minimize our pain and suffering at this point, we wouldn’t still be on a 23B remand 35 years later,” Salazar said. “He’d be done. This thing would be done.”

History of the case

COLD’s second season has detailed the entire history of the Joyce Yost case, beginning on the night in April of 1985 when Lovell first saw Yost and followed her home from a club in Clearfield. Lovell had confronted Yost outside her South Ogden apartment, raped her, kidnapped her and then raped her again at his own home.

Clearfield, Utah police detective Bill Holthaus took this polaroid photo of Joyce Yost hours after her rape at the hands of Douglas Lovell.

Yost managed to convince Lovell to release her by promising not to report what he’d done. She then reneged on that promise, providing a detailed account of the rape to Clearfield police detective William “Bill” Holthaus.

“[Lovell] was quite the cad,” Holthaus told COLD. “Separated from his wife, chasing women around. He just struck me as a guy who didn’t respect women much.”

Holthaus had arrested Lovell, but a series of miscues and miscommunications allowed Lovell to remain out of jail ahead of a trial. Then, 10 days before the scheduled trial, Yost disappeared.

Disappearance of Joyce Yost

South Ogden police suspected Lovell had killed Yost, but lacked any firm evidence linking him to her disappearance.

A Davis County jury convicted Lovell of kidnapping and sexual assault, even in Yost’s absence. He began serving a sentence of 15-years-to-life in January of 1986.

Lovell was still incarcerated in 1991 when his ex-wife Rhonda Buttars provided South Ogden Sgt. Terry Carpenter a detailed account of how her ex-husband had killed Yost to keep her from testifying.

Buttars twice wore a hidden audio recording device into the Utah State Prison at the request of police, capturing Lovell making incriminating statements about Yost’s murder.

“We got so much information from [Buttars] that we would never have gotten without her,” Carpenter said in an interview for COLD.

Doug Lovell’s two death sentences

Buttars received immunity from prosecution in exchange for her cooperation, which allowed Weber County prosecutors to charge Lovell with capital homicide in 1992. He pleaded guilty a year later and received a death sentence.

Lovell attempted to withdraw the guilty plea a short time later. That request became the subject of an appeal that languished for years. The Utah Supreme Court at last decided in 2010 that Lovell should be allowed to take back the plea due to a technical error made by the judge during a 1993 sentencing hearing.

The decision cleared the way for Lovell to stand trial, which he did in March of 2015. His defense team did not contest his guilt, instead attempting to convince the jury Lovell deserved a sentence of life with a chance of parole.

Joyce Yost’s children, Greg Roberts (left) and Kim Salazar (right), speak outside Utah 2nd District Court in Ogden, Utah in March of 2015, following Douglas Lovell’s second sentencing for their mother’s 1985 murder. (KSL TV)

The defense used character witnesses to make the argument Lovell had reformed in the 30 years since he’d first assaulted Joyce Yost. The jury was not swayed and decided by unanimous vote that Lovell should receive the death penalty.

Frustration for Joyce Yost’s children

That second death sentence is now on appeal to the Utah Supreme Court. Lovell has alleged one of his court-appointed attorneys, Sean Young, acted deficiently during the 2015 trial.

Yost’s daughter expressed frustration that the appeals process continues to drag on more than 35 years after her murder.

“I think that we have a better chance of him dying of old age in there than we do of him dying by the hand of the state at this point,” Kim Salazar said.

Greg Roberts, Yost’s son, said Lovell has succeeded in drawing the focus off his mother and the brutal facts of her murder.

“I think Doug Lovell likes the limelight,” Roberts said. “This horrible perpetrator becomes the story and that’s difficult because she was so awesome and he took all that away.”

Justice for Joyce Yost?

If Lovell succeeds in winning an appeal of the 2015 death sentence, it could clear the way for yet another trial. William Holthaus, the detective who originally arrested Lovell following the rape in April of 1985, said he will be there to testify again if necessary.

“Some people aren’t even here that were involved in that case anymore. They’re gone,” Holthaus said. “I plan on staying.”

Holthaus said he’d be surprised if prosecutors again sought a death verdict in the case, if the high court overturns the the jury’s decision. But he also said he doesn’t believe Lovell will ever succeeded in getting out of prison.

“He’ll never get out and I think that’s punishment enough,” Holthaus said.

Listen to the full season

Season 2 of the COLD podcast will take you inside the no-body homicide investigation triggered by Yost’s disappearance. Audio tapes never before made public will allow you to hear Yost, in her own voice, describe the events which preceded her death.

You will learn why police suspected one man, Douglas Lovell, yet were unable to arrest him at the time. And you will see how some individuals and institutions gave — and continue to give — Lovell every opportunity to evade the ultimate penalty.

Hear Joyce Yost’s voice for the first time in the COLD podcast season 2, available to listen free on Amazon Music.

Free resources and help with sexual abuse are available 24/7 at RAINN.org.  You can also call 800-856-HOPE (4673).

KSL 5 TV Live

COLD Podcast

Cary Hartmann being escorted by authorities in 1987....

Dave Cawley, KSL Podcasts

Suspect in Utah cold case back in prison on unrelated parole violation

A registered sex offender who spent more than 30 years in prison for sexually assaulting multiple women in Ogden during the 1980s is back in custody, after four years on parole.

27 days ago

FILE - Douglass Lovell in a Utah Courtroom....

Dave Cawley, KSL Podcasts

Supreme Court questions ‘injection’ of religion into death penalty trial of Douglas Lovell

Douglas Lovell has submitted an appeal to the Utah Supreme Court over issues related to religious discussion during his trial for the murder of Joyce Yost.

4 months ago

law enforcement gathered around a possible mountain gravesite in brush on a mountain top...

Dan Rascon, Andrew Adams, and Mary Culbertson, KSL TV

No human remains found in possible burial site in 1985 cold case

Wednesday was a day of optimism and hope in a nearly 40-year-old murder mystery case of a woman from Roy, Utah.

10 months ago

law enforcement gathered around a possible mountain gravesite in brush on a mountain top...

Dave Cawley, KSL TV

Police to investigate possible mountain gravesite in 1985 cold case

Police confirmed to KSL5 they plan to excavate a possible gravesite in the mountains near Causey Reservoir on Wednesday in connection with a 1985 cold case.

10 months ago

News paper clippings of  Nancy Perry Baird's murder. (KSLTV)...

Dave Cawley and Keira Fairmont

Blamed on Bundy: COLD podcast challenges popular theory in Nancy Baird cold case

The unsolved 1975 disappearance of Nancy Baird from East Layton, Utah has long been attributed to serial killer Ted Bundy. KSL’S COLD podcast gained exclusive access to case files that point toward other more probable suspects.

1 year ago

FILE: Chuck and Judy Cox. (Pat Reavy/KSL)...

Josh Ellis and Dave Cawley

Appeals court reinstates $98M verdict awarded to Susan Cox Powell’s parents

The $98.5 million verdict a jury awarded to the parents of Susan Cox Powell in 2020 has been reinstated by a Washington appeals court.

1 year ago

Sponsored Articles

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light up your home with these top lighting trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for hassle-free computer repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Douglas Lovell seeks to reverse second death sentence in Joyce Yost murder