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

Aug 23, 2023, 6:34 PM | Updated: 10:53 pm

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

On Wednesday morning, KSL TV had exclusive access as a team of investigators headed up to a ridge just above Causey Reservoir about 15 miles from Huntsville to search what appeared to be a possible burial site that was covered with a pile of rocks.

The tip

“We received a tip about a location here, and we are following up on it,” Det. John Frawley with the Roy City Police Department said. “Lot of factors that led to this particular location. This is a case we’ve been invested in for years and years, and it’s not in our nature to let things go unsolved.”

KSL’s Cold Podcast investigator Dave Cawley was on the scene to see if police would discover anything. For years, he has been investigating the Sheree Warren case, a woman who went missing in October 1985 after leaving work in Salt Lake City.

A long day of digging

“This area was searched back in 1987, but maybe not this particular spot,” Cawley said. “I can tell you from my investigative work that this is a plausible site for them to be searching.”

men and women sorting through dirt at a possible burial site

Law enforcement investigators exhume a possible burial site in the area of Causey Reservoir Reservoir on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023 as part of a cold case investigation. (Dave Cawley/KSL TV)

“What’s weird about this rock pile is it was clearly built by a person. It’s about 6 feet long, about 3 feet wide,” Cawley said. “Human remains coming out a clandestine grave would be a major, major piece to the case.”

The digging process was not a quick one. Everything had to be done just right in case something was found. But after several hours, unfortunately, investigators came up empty in the two-foot hole they dug.

“When the ground is rocky as it is, and we are just not finding a difference in the soil where we can say yes, someone dug here,” Frawley said.

“It’s a letdown, right? We feel it, and law enforcement clearly feels it, and this was, they told us a promising lead,” Cawley added.

men and women sorting through dirt at a possible burial site

Law enforcement investigators exhume a possible burial site in the area of Causey Reservoir Reservoir on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023 as part of a cold case investigation. (Dave Cawley/KSL TV)

But the search for Sheree doesn’t end here.

“We keep going. If there is a place to dig, we are going to dig. If there is a place to search, we are going to search, and we are just not going to stop,” Frawley said.

The search continues

Roy police have always had two people of interest in the murder case: Sheree’s estranged husband, Charles Warren, and her boyfriend, Cary Hartmann. Hartmann was seen in the area shortly after Sheree went missing.

A retired  detective sergeant with the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office, David Brewer, reflected on his cold case findings on a similar case to shed some light on the realities of searches like Sheree’s. Brewer says that even if Wednesday’s search for her body didn’t produce DNA evidence, it can still make a major difference in the case. 

“It’s easy to turn away and walk away, but you have to believe it yourself. It’s the never-give-up-type of attitude,” Brewer said.

Brewer also touched on the role time can play on tips and people close to the persons of interest.

“I received phone calls one after another, all of these little tips here and there. Relationships change over the years [so] the person may have been a cheerleader for [a person of interest] back then but now has no loyalty at all, ” Brewer said. “[They’re] not worried about any kind of repercussions and is willing to talk.”

When it comes to unlocking a decades-old mystery, Brewers advice is to keep going.

“Take everything for gold until you can prove it’s not.”

To learn about the Sheree Warren case, listen to season 3 of the “Cold” Podcast wherever you get your podcasts.

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