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Remains presumed to be missing Utah teen Dylan Rounds located two years after his disappearance

The body was found on April 9, 2024, in the remote western Box Elder County area of Lucin

UPDATE: On May 15, 2024, James Brenner pleaded guilty to the murder of Dylan Rounds.

According to a release from the Box Elder County Attorney’s Office, the guilty plea comes as part of an agreement between Brenner, Dylan’s parents, and the state of Utah. The deal, which resolved three cases against Brenner, was signed by him in court on May 15.

The agreement required Brenner to lead authorities to Dylan’s remains, which he did in April 2024. In exchange, Brenner received a reduction from a first-degree felony aggravated murder charge to second-degree murder. A charge for the discretion of human remains was dismissed, Brenner also pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of a firearm by a restricted person. Another case, unrelated to Dylan’s disappearance, was also dismissed.

Brenner is scheduled to be sentenced on July 1, 2024. 


On April 9, 2024, the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office in Utah announced that a body presumed to be missing 19-year-old Dylan Rounds had been found in Lucin, Utah.

In June 2022, Dylan’s case was featured in Dateline’s ‘Missing in America’ series. Dateline spoke with his parents, Justin Rounds and Candice Cooley. They said that Dylan grew up in Idaho but owned a farm in Lucin that he purchased with his grandfather in 2019. He spent most nights living in his camper on the farm.

On Saturday, May 28, 2022, Dylan spoke with his grandmother on the phone from the farm. That was the last time anyone heard from him.

A few months later, now 61-year-old James Brenner, was named a suspect in Dylan’s disappearance. According to court documents, Brenner was “squatting” in a trailer a few miles away from Dylan’s property. Candace Cooley, Dylan’s mother, told NBC affiliate KSL that at one point, Brenner lived on Dylan’s property, where he helped him bale hay. She noted that Brenner’s presence never gave her “any reason for alarm.”

But Brenner was a convicted felon. In June 2022, he was charged with three counts of felony use of a firearm by a restricted person after the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office, along with the FBI, searched his trailer and discovered, “ball ammunition, ignition caps, black powder, and speed loads, all related to ‘muzzle loading,’” court documents state.

Then, in March 2023, Brenner was charged with criminal homicide, aggravated murder, and abuse or desecration of a human body in connection to Dylan’s disappearance.

According to the probable cause statement, during the search for Dylan, deputies discovered a pair of his boots. One boot had a blood stain that analysis revealed included DNA from both Dylan and James Brenner. Dylan’s phone records also showed movement on the day of his disappearance in the same area where Brenner was squatting.

The investigation showed that Dylan’s phone last pinged at Lucin Pond and a search of the pond led officials to his phone.

When officials investigated Dylan’s phone, they discovered a video on it that showed Brenner with blood stains on his arm and shirt as he was cleaning a gun. The shirt Brenner was wearing in the video was analyzed and Dylan’s DNA was found on it, the probable cause statement said.

None of the evidence found, however, led investigators to Dylan’s body.

That changed on April 9, 2024. The Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office announced that “skeletal remains presumed to belong to Dylan Rounds were recovered in the remote western Box Elder County area of Lucin.” The post goes on to say that “the FBI assisted the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office by processing the area for evidence and recovering the remains. The remains are in the possession of the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner for confirmation of identity.”

After the announcement, Dateline spoke to Dylan’s mother, Candice Cooley. She said that Brenner led authorities to her son’s body as part of a plea agreement.

Despite the lingering pain of losing her son, Candice said she’s grateful her family finally has some sort of resolution. “We were getting ready to plan searches for the summer,” she said. “Now we don’t have to do that.”

Now, she said, she’ll focus on laying Dylan to rest. “Once the state lab releases him, he’ll be released into the funeral home we have handling everything,” Candice told Dateline. “We can move forward from there.”

The Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office stated that they are “grateful to everyone who assisted and supported the investigation and search efforts on this exceptionally challenging case.” The sheriff’s office did not release any additional information.

Updated on 4/12/24 to include comment from Dylan’s mother, Candice Cooley.