COLD SEASON 2

Douglas Lovell Seeks To Reverse Second Death Sentence In Joyce Yost Murder

Jun 23, 2021, 12:15 AM

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

Top Stories

COLD Season 2

The Uinta 1 building at the Utah State Prison in Draper has traditionally housed maximum-security i...
Dave Cawley, KSL Podcasts

Last chance for a life out of max: How some Utah death penalty inmates made it to medium security

Utah's death penalty law remains on the books after lawmakers turned back an effort to abolish capital punishment this month. But those same lawmakers might be surprised to learn the Utah Department of Corrections has already dismantled its death row. Now, thanks to the KSL Investigators and the COLD podcast team, we know why.
2 months ago
Utah State Prison (KSL TV)...
Mike Headrick & Tania Dean, KSL TV & Dave Cawley, KSL Podcasts

KSL Investigators Explore Change In Utah’s Death Row

The Utah Department of Corrections has quietly ended a decadeslong practice of housing Utah State Prison inmates who are under sentence of death in maximum security, allowing the majority of them to move into medium-security cell blocks.
11 months ago
Joyce Yost holds one of her newborn granddaughters. (Joyce Yost family)...
Dave Cawley, KSL Podcasts

Douglas Lovell’s Actions Deprive Joyce Yost’s Family Of Time, Memories With Her

When Douglas Lovell raped Joyce Yost, he set in motion a sequence of events that would forever deprive Yost’s children and grandchildren of the opportunity to share their lives with her.
11 months ago
Theresa Greaves, pictured here in 1980, grew up in New Jersey but moved to Utah after becoming a me...
Dave Cawley, KSL Podcasts

Criminal Syndicate In Utah State Prison May Have Played Role In Theresa Greaves Murder

A criminal syndicate operating out of the Utah State Prison in the early 1980s might have played a role in the suspected murder of Theresa Rose Greaves nearly 40 years ago.
11 months ago
Causey Reservoir’s north arm, looking toward Camp Kiesel and Wheatgrass Canyon. Jared Briggs told...
Dave Cawley, KSL Podcasts

‘Cold’: A Prison Informant Reported Douglas Lovell’s Death-Row Confessions To Investigators — Did Either Tell The Truth?

A prison informant told Weber County investigators in 2006 that Douglas Lovell, the man who'd killed Joyce Yost in 1985 to prevent her from testifying in a sexual assault and kidnapping case, had lied to police about the location of Yost's body.
12 months ago
The view looking down on the Wheeler Creek drainage and the Old Snowbasin Road in Weber County, Uta...
Dave Cawley, KSL Podcasts

She Was Never There: Detective Reflects On Search For Joyce Yost 28 Years Later

The South Ogden police officer who for years led the investigation into the 1985 disappearance of Joyce Yost does not believe the man twice sentenced to die for killing Yost has ever been honest about the location of her body.
12 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Make Money Online Easily...

4 Ways that You Can Make Money Online Easily in Just a Few Clicks

Here are 4 ways that you can make money online easily in no time at all! Some are as simple as just a few clicks away.
tips to winterize your home...
Bonneville Digital SLC

Tips to Winterize Your Home | The Top 5 Ways You Can Prepare for the Cold Utah Winter Ahead

Before the snow hits, here are the top 5 tips to winterize your home to prepare for the cold Utah winter this year.
Douglas Lovell Seeks To Reverse Second Death Sentence In Joyce Yost Murder