COLD Podcast: Corpse Dogs Search Property in Joyce Yost’s Investigation
Corpse dogs scoured a ravine behind a secluded Weber County cabin last month, looking for a possible grave in a 36-year-old cold case.
The dogs were looking for the remains of Joyce Yost, a missing woman from southern Ogden. She disappeared in August 1985, 10 days before she testified at the trial against Douglas Lovell in a rape case. Lovell initially denied any involvement in Yost’s disappearance, but during plea negotiations in 1993, he admitted to killing her.
Lovell told police during those plea talks he buried Yost in a shallow grave along Old Snowbasin Road east of Ogden. Police searched the location Lovell indicated but found no evidence of Yost’s remains. As a result, the plea deal fell apart and Lovell was sentenced to death.
Lovell appealed and got a jury trial in 2015. His defense team called an expert witness who theorized that animals might have exhumed and dispersed Yost’s remains in the eight years between the murder and the search by the Old Snowbasin Road site police.
However, Yost’s family and many law enforcement officers who worked on the Yost case believe Lovell lied about the location of the grave. They suggested that he instead took Yost to the cabin his father owned the night he killed her.
Joyce Yost Corpse Search for Dog
The search by cadaverous dogs of the land surrounding the cabin came in response to information shared by KSL’s “Cold” podcast. The second season of “Cold’s” tells the story of the Joyce Yost affair.
South Ogden Police Sgt. Terry Carpenter led the Yost investigation in the ’90s. He told “Cold” that the cabin was in an area Lovell was known to frequent, but Lovell’s father, Monan Lovell, had refused to give his consent to the police to search the premises.
“His dad swears from top to bottom that he didn’t ride on the property,” Carpenter said.
Police never requested a search warrant for the Lovell Cabin property, believing it lacked sufficient evidence. This fact was first disclosed publicly in “Cold”.
Monan Lovell died in March 2014 and the cabin has since changed hands. The new owners gave investigators access to the property this year as part of the search for cadaver dogs on July 9 and 10.
Weber County Search and Rescue brought in a nonprofit organization that specializes in finding underground graves for research. Colorado Forensic Canines traveled to Utah for the operation, with Weber County and the Utah Cold Case Coalition helping to cover the group’s accommodation costs.
“Their dogs are trained to specifically look for small amounts of odors, small particles, small pieces of bone,” County Search and Rescue Team commander Bryan Bennett said. “Human decomposition is what it is.”
The Lovell family cabin
Monan Lovell was one of the first people to buy land in the Sunridge Highlands development in the mid-1970s. The Lovell family first parked a trailer on the land.
Weber County tax records show Monan Lovell built his cabin on the 2-acre lot near the springs of the Middle Fork Ogden River in 1979. At that time, Doug Lovell was in jail on a conviction for aggravated theft. The Utah Pardons and Parole Board released Lovell in early 1982 after the cabin was completed.
Doug Lovell first met and sexually assaulted Joyce Yost in April 1985. Later that summer he hired a former prison associate named Tom Peters as a hitman, hoping to have Yost killed before she could testify. .
In subsequent court testimony, Lovell’s ex-wife Rhonda Buttars described going to the cabin the night he arranged for Peters to kill Yost. The visit was meant to provide Lovell with an alibi, as his siblings were also at the cottage that night.
“While we were at the cabin he was listening to the radio… because he wanted to see if Joyce would be dead on the news,” Buttars said.
Peters did not perform the contract murder. Years later, he told police Lovell was paranoid about the cabin. Peters thought maybe Lovell had taken Joyce Yost there himself.
“His father’s place is the thing that continues to hold me,” Peters said in a recording of a police interview obtained by “Cold”. “He asks me about three or four times if I’ve ever been to his father’s cabin. ”
“Seven years of leave”
The ravine behind the hut contains a dense grove of aspen trees. Investigators speculated that Lovell may have chosen to bury Yost in the ravine, both because of his familiarity with the area and the concealment provided by the leafy trees.
Circumstantial evidence also supports the idea that Yost’s tomb is in a wooded area.
Lovell’s ex-wife Rhonda Buttars received immunity for agreeing to help investigators as they pursued the capital murder charge against Lovell in the early ’90s. Her efforts included the port to two shots of a recording device hidden in Utah State Prison, capturing Lovell making incriminating comments.
In the second of those recordings, made on January 18, 1992, Buttars asked Lovell for details of the location of Yost’s body. Lovell admitted to initially feeling nervous that someone could find the grave. But in a copy of the recording obtained by “Cold,” Lovell says he was no longer worried that someone would run into Yost.
“Do you know what seven years of leave is? A lot, ”Lovell said.
Check the box
Conditions at the time of the search for cadaveric dogs in July 2021 were not ideal. Bryan Bennett, the search and rescue team commander, said the high temperatures and lack of wind limited the dogs’ effectiveness. The thick understory also proved to be a challenge.
“The dogs and handlers had to navigate this whole dead end, the undergrowth and the slope of the land,” Bennett said.
The dogs did not indicate any suspected graves during their search. However, the investigators do not rule out returning to reexamine the same land when conditions are more favorable. They can also expand the search area to include other places near the cabin that have not been inspected before.
“We’ll put people on all fours if necessary,” Bennett said. “Someone comes up with a lead that says this is a probable area, you have to check the box.”
Listen to the full season
Season 2 of the “Cold” podcast will take you into the investigation of a homeless homicide triggered by Yost’s disappearance. Never-released audio tapes will let you hear Yost, in his own voice, describe the events leading up to his death.
You will learn why the police suspected a man, Douglas Lovell, but were unable to arrest him at the time. And you will see how some people and institutions have given – and continue to give – Lovell every chance to escape the ultimate punishment.
Hear the voice of Joyce Yost for the first time in Season 2 of the “Cold” podcast, available to listen to for 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).