Previously Unheard Audio Reveals Joyce Yost’s Terrifying Story To Police

Apr 13, 2021, 10:57 PM | Updated: Apr 14, 2021, 12:21 am

Content note: This article includes discussion of rape and sexual assault. Free resources are available for survivors of sexual abuse and violence through the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network hotline at (800) 656-HOPE (4673).

CLEARFIELD, Utah — Spools of magnetic tape captured the voice of Joyce Yost on the morning of April 4, 1985. An audio cassette rolled as Yost offered a step-by-step account of her sexual assault at the hands of a man she’d never met.

“He grabbed me by the throat and he was forceful and told me if I screamed or said anything that he would tear my throat open,” Yost can be heard saying through the tape’s analog hiss.

KSL does not typically identify victims of sexual assaults publicly without their consent. Yost is unable to provide that consent, due to events that transpired following her report. KSL has opted to share her account in the second season of its investigative podcast series COLD because of its relevance to an ongoing court case involving the man who raped Yost.

Joyce Yost’s Police Report

Yost had spent the evening prior to her report having dinner with a friend at a supper club called the Pier 3. She’d parted ways with that friend in the parking lot outside the club a bit after 10 p.m.

“I went on home, not realizing anybody was following me, not really paying any attention to see if anybody was following me,” Yost said.

The man who’d attacked Yost that night had seen her leaving the club and had tailed her to her apartment. He’d confronted and sexually assaulted Yost once she’d parked her car. Then, he’d dragged her to his own car, taken her by force to his home and assaulted her again.

This April 4, 1985 photo taken by Clearfield police detective William “Bill” Holthaus shows the position of Joyce Yost’s car (center) at the time she was raped by a man she had never met. (Photo: William Holthaus)

Yost’s words, though frank in their depiction of those violent acts, came out measured and composed in her police interview. She had by that point recited the story multiple times: to her sister, to a pair of police officers and to hospital staff.

“He did threaten to kill me,” Yost said in the recorded interview. “My children, my grandkids, everybody was flashing through my mind and I felt like my life was on the line.”

A Rape Situation

Yost, at age 39, was the mother of two children and three grandchildren. She was twice divorced and, because her kids were both grown, lived alone in an apartment in South Ogden. She had at first physically resisted her attacker, then cooperated with him for fear continuing to fight might lead to her death.

“I realized I was in a rape situation. I wasn’t just with somebody that was being a little bit forceful that I was going to be able to get rid of,” Yost had said.

She had ultimately managed to gain the rapist’s trust, telling him she was both married and pregnant though neither was true. She had promised not to report him to police, but had done so once he had returned her home and released her.

The Clearfield police detective who interviewed Yost later that morning was named William Holthaus.

“I did feel an empathy for her,” Holthaus told COLD. “I thought that she was wronged.”

Holthaus found Yost’s account credible, thanks in part to the detailed descriptions she provided of the man, his car and his home. He observed bruises and broken fingernails Yost had sustained from her fight.

Start By Believing

A volunteer YWCA rape victim advocate named Jan Schiller was also present during Yost’s interview. Schiller recalled listening as Yost walked Holthaus through everything she’d done to try to escape the situation alive.

“All the ways she attempted to get out of it. First by fighting, then by being cooperative, then by trying to be understanding,” Schiller told COLD. “It was this really horrible situation, but I was so impressed with her.”

Schiller also praised Holthaus for his sensitive approach. The audio recording showed the detective treated Yost’s account as credible, worded questions to avoid casting blame and gave her choices about how best to share her narrative.

“He was always just trying to give her that control,” Schiller said.

Detective William Holthaus took these handwritten notes after speaking to Joyce Yost on April 4, 1985. They include basic biographical information as well as approximate values for her clothing and fingernails that were damaged by the man who assaulted her. (Photo: William Holthaus)

Yost’s assault was one of the minority of rape or sexual assault cases where the attacker was unknown to the victim. Statistics compiled by the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network show fewer than 20% of rapes are committed by a person who is unknown to the victim.

“How safe am I,” Yost can be heard asking at one point, “if [police officers] come after him?”

“How safe am I?”

Holthaus identified and arrested a suspect, Douglas Anderson Lovell, within hours of completing his interview with Yost. Prosecutors filed charges against Lovell, but Yost disappeared 10 days before she was scheduled to testify at his trial. Her body has never been located.

Multiple cassette tape copies of Yost’s interview were made during the summer of 1985, as the Davis County Attorney’s Office prepared to prosecute Lovell for rape. The recording itself was never introduced as evidence in court and in the decades since, all but one of the copies were either lost or destroyed.

An audio cassette containing a recording of Joyce Yost’s initial report to South Ogden, Utah police on April 4, 1985. A separate recording of her interview with Clearfield, Utah detective William Holthaus went undiscovered for nearly three decades. (Photo: Dave Cawley, KSL Podcasts)

That lone remaining copy ended up in a box at the Weber County Attorney’s Office, after prosecutors there filed a capital murder case against Lovell in 1992. Lovell admitted to killing Yost a year later. Once again though, the recording was not presented as evidence in Lovell’s sentencing hearing. The tape was forgotten and went unheard, even by Yost’s own children.

Lovell has in the decades since repeatedly appealed his death sentence. His latest appeal is currently awaiting a hearing before the Utah Supreme Court.

The podcast COLD is an Amazon Music exclusive. Listeners can find and follow COLD on the free Amazon Music app or by visiting

KSL 5 TV Live

COLD Podcast

FILE: Chuck and Judy Cox. (Pat Reavy/KSL)...

Josh Ellis and Dave Cawley

Appeals court reinstates $98M verdict awarded to Susan Cox Powell’s parents

The $98.5 million verdict a jury awarded to the parents of Susan Cox Powell in 2020 has been reinstated by a Washington appeals court.

1 year ago


Dave Cawley, KSL TV

COLD podcast: Jacket could place missing woman Sheree Warren with suspect the night she disappeared

Ogden police found a gray suede jacket that potentially belonged to a woman who’d been missing for a year-and-a-half named Sheree Warren.

1 year ago

COLD Season 3 podcast....

Dave Cawley

COLD podcast: Witness undermines alibi in Sheree Warren cold case

In the days after Sheree Warren disappeared on Oct. 2, 1985, her boyfriend Cary Hartmann spoke to police and a private investigator about his actions and whereabouts on the night of the disappearance.

1 year ago

The Uinta 1 building at the Utah State Prison in Draper has traditionally housed maximum-security i...

Dave Cawley, KSL Podcasts

Last chance for a life out of max: How some Utah death penalty inmates made it to medium security

Utah's death penalty law remains on the books after lawmakers turned back an effort to abolish capital punishment this month. But those same lawmakers might be surprised to learn the Utah Department of Corrections has already dismantled its death row. Now, thanks to the KSL Investigators and the COLD podcast team, we know why.

2 years ago

FILE: A photo of Susan Powell surrounded by her sons....

Eliza Pace, KSL TV

Ten years since tragic deaths of Charlie and Braden Powell

Saturday marked the ten year anniversary of the tragic deaths of Charlie and Braden Powell, the sons of Susan and Josh Powell of West Valley, Utah. 

2 years ago

FILE: A photo of Susan Powell surrounded by her sons....

Eliza Pace, KSL TV

12th anniversary of Susan Powell disappearance

Monday, Dec. 6, 2021 marks twelve years since the disappearance of Susan Cox Powell. 

2 years ago

Sponsored Articles

Stack of old laptops with dark background...

PC Laptops

Old Laptop Upgrades You Need to Try Before Throwing it Away

Get the most out of your investment. Try these old laptop upgrades before throwing it out to keep it running fast and efficient.

Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...

BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.

Close up of an offset printing machine during production...

Les Olson IT

Top 7 Reasons to Add a Production Printer to Your Business

Learn about the different digital production printers and how they can help your company save time and money.

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...

Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.

Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...

Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.

notebook with password notes highlighted...

PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.

Previously Unheard Audio Reveals Joyce Yost’s Terrifying Story To Police