Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Details of Disappearance
Joyce Yost was last seen in Ogden, Utah on August 11, 1985.
Douglas Lovell pleaded guilty to her homicide and was sentenced to death. The day his trial was to begin in 1993, Lovell pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and agreed to lead police to Yost’s body. But after weeks of searching, her remains were never found. Joyce Yost was to testify against him in a kidnapping and rape trial, but disappeared before she could. Lovell has been incarcerated since 1985 when he was found guilty of raping Yost. A jury convicted him months after Yost disappeared after prosecutors used transcripts of her testimony from previous hearings.
Lovell got off death row in July 2010 after almost 17 years there when the Utah Supreme Court ruled he could withdraw his guilty plea to Yost’s murder, citing technical errors when the plea was entered in 1993.
Events leading to Yost's murder began in April 1985, when Lovell followed Yost home from a Clearfield restaurant, kidnapped her from her apartment parking lot and sexually assaulted her in the parking lot and at his home.
After she reported the crime to authorities, Lovell began to plot the woman's death to keep her from testifying at his upcoming trial, according to testimony at Lovell's murder trial. He tried twice to hire men to kill the woman — which failed both times — and then decided to do it himself August 10, 1985.
He kidnapped the woman again from her South Ogden apartment and took her to the mountains east of Ogden, where he strangled her and left her body under handfuls of dirt and leaves. The court ruling states that Lovell later went back and buried her.
Yost was considered a missing person for six years until Lovell's ex-wife, Rhonda Buttars, confessed to police what she knew of Yost's death. Buttars agreed to wear a police recording device and captured Lovell confessing to the crime in 1991. Butters had driven Lovell to and from his trip to kill Yost — with her 4-year-old daughter along for the ride — and then helped as he burned and hid her clothing across two counties. Aggravated murder charges were filed against him the following year. Yost's body never was found. She left behind two children.
After two weeks of testimony in March 2015 in the sentencing phase for Lovell, 12 jurors deliberated for nearly 11 hours over two days before deciding the 57-year-old man should be executed.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
South Ogden PD
Unsolved in the News