COLD Season 3: Purgatory
Mar 27, 2023, 12:00 PM | Updated: Apr 17, 2023, 10:07 am
Smoke from distant wildfires filled the air one autumn morning in 2021 when I met my father in the town of Mountain Green, Utah. We wheeled his plane, a small two-seater with a bubble canopy, out of a hangar and onto the tarmac at the Morgan County Airport.
Our plan was to survey a remote area of northern Utah where some investigators believed the remains of Sheree Warren might rest.
I wriggled into the back seat and buckled the five-point harness tight, then placed a headset over my ears. My dad shouted “clear prop” and the plane’s engine roared to life. We rolled down the taxiway in the morning sunlight and turned onto the asphalt runway, then accelerated into the air.
The plane climbed out of the Morgan Valley, rising above the surrounding hills and mountains. We then headed northeast, toward Causey Reservoir.
I was at the time trying to understand how Causey and the mountains around it fit with theories of Sheree Warren’s presumed murder. The land in question sat about 20 miles east of Ogden, Utah. It was remote, privately owned and not open to the public. Getting up in the air, I figured, was the best way to put eyes on it.
I’d learned a witness told police in May of 1987 he’d seen Sheree Warren’s boyfriend, Cary Hartmann, on that same mountain just four days after Sheree disappeared. And I knew police still considered Cary a suspect in Sheree’s case.
A woman’s body behind Causey Dam
Sheree Warren had disappeared after leaving her work at an office building in Salt Lake City, Utah on Oct. 2, 1985. She’d told a coworker she intended to meet her estranged husband at a nearby car dealership and give him a ride home to Ogden, Utah.
At the time, Sheree was living with her parents and three-year-old son in the Ogden suburb of Roy. She did not arrive home that night and Sheree’s mother reported her missing to Roy police the following day.
An anonymous man called Roy police about a year-and-a-half later, on April 3, 1987. He said he’d stumbled across human remains in the mountains. A dispatcher instructed the man to instead call the Weber County Sheriff’s Office, because the supposed body was outside Roy city limits.
The caller dialed the sheriff’s office and spoke with a second dispatcher, who recorded the call. A transcript revealed the man said he’d found the body of a woman, as well as a purse, while searching for “sediments” in the mountains behind Causey Dam.