SOUTH OGDEN — Joyce Lynn Yost disappeared from her apartment here on an August weekend in 1985. She is believed to be dead, killed by a man who was intent on keeping her from testifying against him in a criminal trial.
That man, Douglas Anderson Lovell, was later convicted of sexually assaulting Yost and, in a separate trial, sentenced to die for murdering her. However, Lovell’s case has for decades been tied up in appeals and Yost’s body has never been found.
The Joyce Yost case is the focus of the newly released second season of the KSL podcast “Cold.” Yost’s experience prior to her disappearance and the many facets of the investigation that followed have not previously been presented together in a single, holistic narrative.
‘Cold’ podcast, Season 2, ‘Justice for Joyce’
The season’s first episode, released today, dives into Yost’s early life. She’d grown up in Minnesota, married young and had two children, then subsequently moved to and settled in the suburbs of Ogden. There Yost married again, divorced again and ultimately settled into a role as a working professional and mother.
Yost became a recognizable figure to many in the downtown Ogden retail community. She spent more than a decade selling cosmetics at the ZCMI department store that once stood at the corner of 24th Street and Washington Boulevard.
“She was happy, she was beautiful, she was the whole package,” Yost’s daughter Kim Salazar said. “She was just wrapped up with the most beautiful bow.”
The first episode of “Cold’s” second season also explains how Yost, at age 39, first ended up in the proximity of Douglas Lovell.
Second chances for Douglas Lovell
Lovell was more than 10 years Yost’s junior. He already by that point had a checkered past, having served time at the Utah State Prison for his role in a 1978 armed robbery at an Ogden convenience store.
He’d received a sentence of 5 years to life for that conviction but secured a release after serving just half of the minimum sentence. The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole had also terminated Lovell’s parole early, well before he first saw Yost at a supper club on the night of April 3, 1985. He followed her home, sexually assaulted her, kidnapped her and then sexually assaulted her again.
“She was so much the glue in the center of our family,” Yost’s son Greg Roberts said. “She tried to minimize what happened to her, what Doug Lovell did to her, and that’s probably something we all regret.”
Subsequent podcast episodes will explore the far-reaching consequences of Lovell’s choices, as well as the multiple second chances the criminal justice system has afforded him. They will also show how the people who knew and loved Yost have coped with the decades of anguish and uncertainty caused by Lovell’s actions.
“You don’t know what a person’s capable of,” Greg Roberts said, “but obviously he was out to silence her.”
Why Joyce Yost?
While Yost’s case on the surface appears to have been solved, the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification still lists Joyce Yost on its cold case database. This is due to lingering uncertainty over how Lovell killed Yost and where he left her body.
Lovell claimed in 1993 that he’d buried Yost at a spot along the Old Snowbasin Road east of Ogden. Weeks of searches there failed to turn up any sign of Yost. Her children believe Lovell is still withholding the actual location.
“I don’t believe that even at the eleventh hour, if we ever were to reach the eleventh hour, that Doug would be the one that would give us that information,” Kim Salazar said.
Utah’s Supreme Court has previously asserted the evidence proving Lovell’s guilt in the murder of Yost was “overwhelmingly conclusive,” even without the recovery of her body. “Cold” will show what that evidence was, how investigators gathered it and why it has not yet been sufficient to lead to the recovery of Yost’s remains.
“Cold” Season 2 also aims to shed light on the consequences of failing to support and protect survivors of rape and sexual assault, as well as to reveal the lapses in communication that provided Lovell the opportunity to take Yost’s life.
Ties to Susan Powell
The murder of Joyce Yost was the last successful no-body homicide prosecution in the state of Utah prior to the disappearance of Susan Powell from West Valley City, Utah in 2009.
Susan Powell was believed to have been murdered by her husband, Josh Powell, though her body was never recovered. Police, as a result, were not able to arrest Josh Powell as they lacked the definitive evidence necessary to secure criminal charges. Josh Powell killed himself and the couple’s two children in February of 2012 at a home he had rented in Graham, Washington.
Susan Powell’s story formed the basis of “Cold’s” first season. The Joyce Yost story in season two provides additional insight into the challenges that face police and prosecutors in homicide cases when victims’ bodies are not recovered.
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