COLD Season 3: Last Man Standing
Apr 17, 2023, 1:00 PM
(Dave Cawley/KSL Podcasts)
The photo scanner tucked under my arm tipped precariously toward the concrete. A power cable dangled behind, skittering as I stepped up to the door of a home in the suburbs of Davis County, Utah. I’d come in search of Sheree Warren photos.
The door opened inward before I could knock. I found myself whisked inside with an exchange of introductions. “Hi! How are you? Nice to meet you.” A few strides brought me into the home’s kitchen, where a renovation project seemed to have paused for my visit. Sheets of plywood and plastic surrounded an island topped with a gleaming new countertop.
I placed the scanner down on the glassy smooth surface, connected it by USB cable to my laptop and pulled a stool up to the kitchen bar. Then, looking up at several of Sheree Warren’s relatives, I asked if we might take a look at the photo albums sitting on the counter between us.
In her own words: Susan Powell
In season 1 of Cold, we heard the story of Susan Powell’s unhappy marriage to her husband, Josh Powell. When Susan disappeared in 2009, the circumstances suggested foul play. Police spent the next two years digging up all manner of materials: medical and financial records, personal journals, private social media messages, thousands of Powell family photographs.
Susan’s own words were captured among all that evidence, detailing the descent of her relationship with Josh into ever-deeper levels of domestic abuse. Susan’s narration of her own story, told piece-by-piece in every frustrated email and journal entry, offered unusual clarity about her life in the days, months and years that preceded her presumed murder.
Susan Powell’s experience was one of domestic abuse and coercive control. The story shared in Cold season 1 turned a spotlight on the controlling and narcissistic behaviors of Susan’s husband, as well as the pattern of generational grooming present in Josh Powell’s family.
In her own words: Joyce Yost
With season 2 of Cold, we turned to an older case: the 1985 disappearance of Joyce Yost. I came across an audio tape while researching Joyce’s case. It held a recording of her, telling the story of how she’d been raped by a man she didn’t know.
That man, Douglas Lovell, killed Joyce in order to silence her. Lovell intended to hide what he’d done by preventing Joyce from testifying at trial. It didn’t work. Joyce Yost had spoken her truth. Her words were powerful and honest. Even when read by a proxy, Joyce’s voice came through.
Joyce asked an officer just hours after being assaulted “how safe am I?” In sharing that audio recording, I hoped to illustrate how too often the unspoken response to that question is “not enough.” Because a series of oversights and errors left Joyce exposed to unnecessary risk.
Taboos around discussion of sexual violence and victim-blaming attitudes can drive survivors into the shadows, making them more vulnerable to fatal violence.
Searching for Sheree Warren photos
Cold has served as a megaphone, amplifying the voices Susan Powell and Joyce Yost.
I’d hoped it might do the same for Sheree Warren, when I turned to her unsolved disappearance for Cold season 3. Sheree experienced an unhappy marriage to her husband, Charles Warren. She shared a brief fling with a boyfriend, Cary Hartmann, prior to her disappearance.
What had she thought or felt about these relationships? How had each man treated Sheree in private? If I could find a clip of her voice on an old cassette tape, or uncover a dusty journal in the hands of a sibling, perhaps I could give voice to her experience.
For months, I reached out to anyone who might’ve known Sheree. Her older brother told me their parents hadn’t owned a home movie camera. He wasn’t aware of any journals.
Even Sheree Warren photos proved rare. A sister suggested maybe their mother, Mary Sorensen, had kept some pictures, but Mary passed away several years prior. It wasn’t clear where her albums had ended up.
No one seemed to have kept any old letters in Sheree’s handwriting. Anecdotes about her were offered infrequently, if at all.
How could I tell the story of what happened to Sheree Warren, if I knew hardly anything about her?
Hear Dave Cawley’s theory of the Sheree Warren case in Cold season 3, episode 10: Last Man Standing