The Justice Files: 1985 cold case murder solved

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OGDEN, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – Joe Hoskins should have been charged with his wife’s murder, but he won’t be.

Savannah Hoskins disappeared in 1985. A few weeks later two legs were found in the Ogden River. At the time, Ogden police suspected they belonged to the mother of five but could never prove it.

Last year, with the help of DNA testing at the state crime lab, Ogden police announced that the legs belonged to Savannah.

But who killed her turned into a cold case. On Monday, the Weber County attorney put an end to that mystery.

“As we screened that case we determined that the main suspect is her husband Joe Hoskins,” said Chris Allred. “(He) was actually responsible for the murder.”

Allred said back then Joe Hoskins made incriminating statements and that with other witness statements, plus the DNA match and it all pointed to the husband.

But Allred said his office declined to file murder charges against Joe Hoskins because he is already dead.

“We are confident based on all the evidence that if Joe were alive today, we would be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Joe Hoskins murdered his wife, Savannah Hoskins,” said Allred.

Joe Hoskins Jr. who lives in Idaho remains skeptical about the findings of police and the county attorney.

“No, I don’t believe it,” said Hoskins Jr.

He abruptly ended the conversation by hanging up.

Growing up in Ogden, Savannah’s son told the Utah Cold Case Coalition of a rough childhood. Bobby Kersey Jr. said when he was in elementary school his mother and Joe were constantly fighting and it could turn violent. He recalled one episode on the coalition’s podcast “Cold Case Talk.

“They were fighting really bad and my mom had this long pistol and I went and got it and I tried to pull it on him but there were no bullets in it,” Kersey said on the podcast.

Karra Porter, the founder of the Utah Cold Case Coalition researched Ogden police case files and said Savannah was trying to leave Joe and move to Idaho.

“Joe also was a violent person,” Porter said. “He had beaten Savannah in the past and Savannah managed to get a hold of some money.”

She said Savannah tried to leave him but Joe found her and possibly with the help of others murdered and dismembered her body.

“Whether it was panic or self-preservation they thought ‘we need to do something,'” she said. “Either cut off her legs and throw it out there and that will throw off police.”

Porter said others who possibly helped have never come forward.

The coalition is still determined to find the rest of her remains.

The group is offering a $3,000 reward for information that could lead them to her remains.

But this spring the coalition along with volunteers are plan to search targeted areas in hopes of coming across those remains and returning her to the family for a proper burial.

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