COLD podcast: Witness undermines alibi in Sheree Warren cold case

Mar 2, 2023, 11:45 PM

ROY, Utah — In the days after Sheree Warren disappeared on Oct. 2, 1985, her boyfriend Cary Hartmann spoke to police and a private investigator about his actions and whereabouts on the night of the disappearance.

Case records obtained exclusively by KSL’s COLD podcast reveal Hartmann provided a potential alibi. But the records also show inconsistencies between Hartmann’s version of events and the accounts of others, particularly two of Hartmann’s own friends.

The revelations cast doubt on Hartmann’s version of events, and they come as police in Roy continue a re-investigation of the Sheree Warren cold case.

Warren’s case is the topic of the COLD podcast’s third season. Police presume Warren was murdered, but her remains have never been located and prosecutors have never filed criminal charges in connection with her disappearance.

The disappearance of Sheree Warren

Sheree Warren had separated from her husband, Charles Warren, and filed for divorce in May of 1985, about six months prior to her disappearance. While separated, she’d started dating Hartmann in what one friend of Warren’s described as a “fling.”

Warren was temporarily living with her parents and 3-year-old son in Roy. She worked for the Utah State Employees Credit Union and had recently accepted a promotion that required her to work out of the credit union’s main office in Salt Lake City.

Hartmann lived in the basement of a house on Ogden’s 7th Street. He worked as an HVAC technician at Weber State College in Ogden during the day and moonlighted in the evenings at a telephone solicitation company called NICE Corporation.

Case records show Hartmann told a Roy police detective he’d stopped at home after finishing his shift at Weber State on the afternoon of Warren’s disappearance. She’d reportedly called him there at around 4:30 p.m. from her workplace in Salt Lake City.

“She said ‘honey, what are you going to do after work,’ ” Hartmann later said in a statement he provided to a private investigator.

Hartmann reportedly told Warren he planned to visit a bar with a friend that evening. Warren then quipped that meant he would be out until 4 a.m. Hartmann countered he would only have two drinks, then return home.

“That little lady meant everything in the entire world to me,” Hartmann said in the statement to the private investigator. “She said, ‘I’ll be waiting for you at home.’”

Warren departed her workplace about two hours later, around 6:30 p.m. She was last seen by a coworker as she headed for her car. She never made it home and her car surfaced weeks later behind a hotel casino on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada.

Cary Hartmann’s alibi

Case records show Hartmann told police and the private investigator the person he’d met at the bar on the night of Warren’s disappearance was his “best friend” Dave Moore. Moore co-owned a sewing machine repair shop near 36th Street and Washington Boulevard in Ogden.

“My store was basically through the parking lot of Sebastian’s bar,” Moore told COLD. “[Hartmann] came to the store. I closed at 6, he got there probably around 5, 5:30. And it was a weeknight so we went over and had a couple of beers.”

Police interviewed Moore multiple times in the months and years after Sheree Warren disappeared, in an effort to verify Hartmann’s alibi. Moore told police, and later repeated to COLD, he couldn’t recall the exact time he and Hartmann had left the bar. He believed it was between 8 and 9 p.m.

“I was married and had small kids and my wife wouldn’t have put up with being out late,” Moore said.

Moore said he’d been unaware Hartmann provided his name to police as an alibi until he was first contacted by a detective.

Differing timelines

Case records indicate Hartmann’s account had initially aligned with Dave Moore’s. However, roughly a week after Sheree Warren’s disappearance, Hartmann provided police with a different timeline.

Hartmann claimed he’d gone to his second job, at NICE Corporation, after speaking with Warren on the phone. As a result, he said he’d not gone to meet Moore at the bar until after 9 p.m. He said at some point he’d decided to invite Warren to join him at the bar, so he’d called his own home phone number expecting she would answer.

“Now this is the kind of lady that would come home after work, she’d be lying here on the couch in my bathrobe with some candles around the room,” Hartmann said in his statement to the private investigator. “When the phone rang and she didn’t answer, I knew at that moment something was wrong.”

Hartmann said he’d expressed his concern to his friend, Dave Moore. However, Moore did not recall having any conversations with Hartmann about Warren that night.

KSL TV reporter Larry Lewis

COLD has learned police investigating Sheree Warren’s disappearance also questioned another man they described as a “good friend” of  Hartmann’s: former KSL TV reporter Larry Lewis.

Lewis had reported on the Warren case in November of 1985, after the discovery of Warren’s car in Nevada. Lewis interviewed Roy police detective Jack Bell for that story.

Bell told COLD Lewis had not at that time disclosed any personal connection to Hartmann.

“He didn’t let on,” Bell said.

A year-and-a-half later, in May of 1987, Ogden police arrested Hartmann in connection with a string of home invasion sexual assaults. The arrest resulted in the publication of a story in the Ogden Standard-Examiner. It quoted Bell, who for the first time publicly named Hartmann as a suspect in Sheree Warren’s disappearance.

Bell’s case notes, obtained exclusively by COLD, indicate he met with Hartmann’s TV reporter friend Larry Lewis on May 21, 1985, several days after the publication of the newspaper article.

Jack Bell’s interview of Larry Lewis

Bell said Lewis had arrived at the Roy Police Department with the intent of interviewing Bell for a TV news story. Bell said he’d instead confronted Lewis.

“I said ‘because I got to read you your rights, Larry, and talk to you about Hartmann,” Bell said.

Bell’s notes said Lewis had agreed to speak with Bell and another detective. Lewis had reportedly described joining Hartmann on a supposed search for Sheree Warren’s body three days after her disappearance.

“Larry told us that the Saturday after Sheree disappeared … he and Carey [sic] rode Carey’s 3-wheelers in the foothills above 25th Street over to 20th,” Bell wrote in his notes.

Hartmann had reportedly told Lewis they needed to use 3-wheelers to search for Warren’s body. Bell wrote in his notes that was suspicious because, at that time, police did not yet have reason to believe Warren was dead. Bell wrote Lewis said they had not searched near Warren’s estranged husband’s house “because Carey [sic] said the police had already looked in that area and that Carey and myself were sure that [Charles] Warren had killed Sheree.”

Bell’s notes indicate what Hartmann allegedly told Lewis was not true.

“Carey [sic] knew we had not looked in that area at that time,” Bell wrote.

Larry Lewis’ account

COLD confronted Lewis about the information in former detective Jack Bell’s notes. Lewis contested the version of events Bell had provided.

“As I recall, I called detective Bell and said ‘I know Cary [Hartmann], can I talk to you.’ Or at least, ‘do you want to talk to me about him,’” Lewis said.

Lewis did not recall detective Bell reading him his Miranda rights, which include the right to remain silent and the right to have an attorney present during questioning.

“I remember talking to him but I don’t remember being Mirandized or to the point where I would have asked ‘do I need an attorney,’” Lewis said.

Lewis also disputed Bell’s characterization of him as a “good friend” of Hartmann’s.

“My friendship with him, it was really more of an acquaintance,” Lewis said. “We played handball and poker a couple of times.”

However, Lewis did confirm he’d gone on a 3-wheeler ride with Hartmann in the Ogden foothills on Saturday, Oct. 5, 1985, three days after Sheree Warren disappeared. There are no indications in the Sheree Warren case files obtained by COLD that Cary Hartmann ever disclosed going on this outing with Lewis, either to the police or the private investigator.

Cary Hartmann’s trial

Hartmann stood trial on charges of aggravated sexual assault and burglary unrelated to Sheree Warren’s disappearance in September of 1987. Larry Lewis attended Hartmann’s trial in his professional capacity as a news reporter for KSL TV.

Lewis produced two stories about the trial, one at its start and another at the conclusion after a jury convicted Hartmann. Both of those stories aired on KSL TV.

The Society of Professional Journalists publishes a code of ethics for its members. That code instructs reporters to “avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.” It also advises disclosing “unavoidable” conflicts.

COLD asked Lewis if his coverage of his friend or acquaintance Hartmann’s trial presented a conflict of interest. Lewis said his actions had been above-board.

“There are lots of reporters who cover issues that they know because they have a personal involvement in that issue,” Lewis said. “That’s what they call specialists.”

COLD also asked Lewis if he’d disclosed his association with Hartmann to his managers at KSL in 1987. Lewis said he’d told KSL’s assignment desk editor.

“At the end of that trial, my supervisor said I did a good job in being neutral in covering that case,” Lewis said.

COLD contacted Lewis’ former assignment desk editor, as well as KSL TV’s former news director. Both said it was possible Lewis had disclosed his connection to Hartmann, but neither could recall having specific conversations with Lewis about it.

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COLD podcast: Witness undermines alibi in Sheree Warren cold case