‘Cold’: Yost family frustrated by killer’s attempts to avoid death penalty
Joyce Yost’s children Greg Roberts (left) and Kim Salazar (right) speak out in Utah 2nd District Court in Ogden, Utah in March 2015 following the second Douglas Lovell’s conviction for the murder of their mother in 1985. (Photo KSL-TV)
The second season of KSL’s “COLD” investigative podcast series, Justice for Joyce, concludes this week with the release of the 13th episode of the season.
The episode details the efforts of various KSL staff to contact death row inmate Douglas Lovell and request an interview regarding his murder of Joyce Yost in 1985.
“Whenever I’m in the news, I know it’s very upsetting for Ms. Yost’s family and loved ones,” Lovell wrote in a November 9, 2019 letter declining such a request for an interview. “I believe that an interview with you will be the most [sic] return to Ms. Yost’s family. Hope you will understand and appreciate my decision.
KSL had made contact with Yost’s daughter, Kim Salazar, before contacting Lovell. In a follow-up letter, KSL informed Lovell that Yost’s family were aware of the interview request and were supporting them, in hopes that it could lead to the recovery of their mother’s remains.
Lovell did not respond to this follow-up letter.
“If he tried to minimize our pain and suffering at this point, we would not still be in remand 23B 35 years later,” said Salazar. “He would have finished. This thing would be done.
History of the case
The second season of “Cold’s” detailed the entire history of the Joyce Yost affair, beginning on the night of April 1985 when Lovell first saw Yost and followed her home from a club in Clearfield. Lovell had confronted Yost outside his apartment in the South Ogden, raped her, kidnapped her and then raped her again in his home.
Yost was able to convince Lovell to release her by promising not to report what he had 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. He just hit me like a guy who didn’t respect women very much.
Holthaus had arrested Lovell, but a series of errors and miscommunication kept Lovell out of jail before a trial. Then, 10 days before the scheduled trial, Yost disappeared.
Disappearance of Joyce Yost
Police in Southern Ogden suspected Lovell of killing Yost, but had no solid evidence linking him to his disappearance.
A Davis County jury convicted Lovell of kidnapping and sexual assault even in Yost’s absence. He began serving a 15-year life sentence in January 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 killed Yost to prevent him from testifying.
Buttars twice carried an audio recording device hidden in Utah State Prison at the request of police, capturing Lovell making incriminating statements about Yost’s murder.
“We have received so much information from [Buttars] that we never would have had without it, ”Carpenter said in an interview with“ Cold ”.
Doug Lovell’s two death sentences
Buttars received immunity from prosecution in return for his cooperation, which allowed Weber County prosecutors to charge Lovell with capital homicide in 1992. He pleaded guilty a year later and was sentenced to death.
Lovell attempted to withdraw his guilty plea soon after. This request was the subject of an appeal that languished for years. The Utah Supreme Court finally ruled in 2010 that Lovell should be allowed to resume the plea due to a technical error made by the judge during a sentencing hearing in 1993.
The decision paved the way for Lovell to stand trial, which he did in March 2015. His defense team did not dispute his guilt, instead trying to convince the jury that Lovell deserved a life sentence. with the possibility of parole.
The defense used character witnesses to make the argument that Lovell had reformed in the 30 years since he first assaulted Joyce Yost. The jury was not swayed and unanimously decided that Lovell should receive the death penalty.
Frustration for the children of Joyce Yost
This second death sentence is now on appeal to the Utah Supreme Court. Lovell alleged that one of his court-appointed attorneys, Sean Young, acted improperly during the 2015 trial.
Yost’s daughter has expressed frustration that the appeal process continues to drag on more than 35 years after her murder.
“I think we have a better chance that he will die of old age there than we have death by the hand of the state at this point,” Kim Salazar said.
Greg Roberts, Yost’s son, said Lovell managed to draw attention to his mother and the brutal facts of her murder.
“I think Doug Lovell likes the limelight,” said Roberts. “This horrible abuser is becoming the story and it’s hard because she was so great and he took it all away.”
Justice for Joyce Yost?
If Lovell is successful in winning a 2015 death sentence appeal, it could pave the way for another trial.
William Holthaus, the detective who initially arrested Lovell following the April 1985 rape, said he would be there to testify again if needed.
“Some people are not even here anymore who were involved in this case. They are gone, ”said Holthaus. “I intend to stay. “
Holthaus said he would be surprised if prosecutors sought a death verdict in the case again, if the High Court overturned the jury’s decision. But he also said he didn’t believe Lovell would ever get out of prison.
“He’s never going to come out and I think that’s punishment enough,” Holthaus said.
The “COLD” podcast is an Amazon Music exclusive. Listeners can find and follow “COLD” on the free Amazon Music app or by visiting www.thecoldpodcast.com.
Free resources and help for sexual abuse are available 24/7 at RAINN.org. You can also call 800-856-HOPE (4673).