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COLD: Lovell found guilty in rape trial, at which Joyce Yost would never appear

Apr 20, 2021, 10:10 PM | Updated: Apr 27, 2021, 4:49 pm
joyce yost disappeared before she could testify in the rape trial of her assailant...
Photo: Joyce Yost family

A new episode of the podcast, COLD, details the disappearance of Joyce Yost just ten days before she was set to testify at the rape trial of her assailant in 1985. 

Joyce Yost reported missing

It wasn’t like Joyce Yost to miss work. It was even unusual for her to be late for a scheduled shift.

So when Kim Salazar went to visit her mother at work — after a weekend of unanswered phone calls, which was also unusual for Yost — and couldn’t find her, she began to worry. 

On Aug. 13, 1985, Salazar, along with her husband, Randy Salazar, and a South Ogden police officer, went to Yost’s apartment to see if she was there. The apartment was empty; everything seemed normal. 

“Everything was clean just like she kept it,” Randy Salazar said. “I mean it was clean. Her house was always spotless.”

Almost everything was exactly how she kept it. Except one thing: There was only one pillow on her bed — Joyce always had two. 

As the trio searched the apartment, Kim Salazar found a wadded up washcloth on the floor between Yost’s dresser and the closet door. A detective, who came by later for further inspection, discovered the cloth was covered in dried blood. 

Preparations underway for rape trial

Word soon got back to Clearfield police Detective Bill Holthaus, who was heading up the investigation into the rape of Joyce Yost in April 1985, that his victim was missing. 

“We were convinced that bad things had happened,” Holthaus said. “There’s no doubt in our mind. Joyce was not the kind to get up and walk away.”

Judge Rodney Page gave the state a month to get its case in order, at the end of which he would decide whether to schedule a new trial date or dismiss the case altogether.

Despite the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Joyce Yost ahead of the rape trial, Holthaus and prosecutor Bill Namba agreed Doug Lovell was likely responsible. But they had no body, no proof, no corpus delicti.

“He could be a Josh Powell, easily,” Namba said. “And so, then he gets away scot-free from everything. Which is his objective. And so you don’t want to give him what he’s trying to do.”

Police discover a missed clue

A month went by. Mail kept coming to Yost’s apartment, bills continued to arrive at her door. 

The apartment landlord told Kim and Randy Salazar they either needed to cover Yost’s rent or move her things out. Her family got to work moving her belongings into storage. 

As they cleared out her apartment, they moved to break down the bed. Police officers had previously stripped the sheets weeks earlier to gather evidence, so the mattress was bare. 

They lifted the mattress to find a blood stain about a foot in diameter on the bottom side. Kim Salazar also saw a matching stain on the box spring; the mattress was flipped while the blood was still wet. 

South Ogden police returned to the scene, “absolutely devastated” they had missed the clue earlier, according to Kim Salazar. 

Another two months passed, and yet police didn’t have much else to work with. 

Rape trial continues without Joyce Yost

Meanwhile, the state moved forward with the rape case. On Dec. 11, 1985, the trial began. 

After two days, the jury found Lovell guilty on one count of aggravated kidnapping and one count of aggravated sexual assault. This time, there would be no bail or accidental early release

“He had, like a smirk on his face […] like he didn’t give a [expletive] that he was just found guilty of that,” Randy Salazar said. “I looked at him, and I said, ‘You [expletive].’ And he stopped right there in his tracks, and he looked at me and he said, ‘She’s gone, buddy. She’s gone. You’ll never find her.’”

Listen to the full episode

Season 2 of the COLD podcast will take you inside the no-body homicide investigation triggered by Yost’s disappearance. Audio tapes never before made public will allow you to hear Yost, in her own voice, describe the events which preceded her death.

You will learn why police suspected one man, Douglas Lovell, yet were unable to arrest him at the time. And you will see how some individuals and institutions gave — and continue to give — Lovell every opportunity to evade the ultimate penalty.

Hear Joyce Yost’s voice for the first time in the COLD podcast season 2, available to listen 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).

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COLD: Lovell found guilty in rape trial, at which Joyce Yost would never appear