UPDATE: On March 3, 2023 the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office announced that 59-year-old James Brenner has been charged with “criminal homicide, aggravated murder” and “abuse or desecration of a human body” in connection with the disappearance of Dylan Rounds. Dateline reached out to Brenner’s attorney for comment but has not yet heard back.
Read more here.
On Thursday, July 7, 2022, the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office announced through a press release, that a suspect has been named in the disappearance of 19-year-old farmer Dylan Rounds.
Dateline featured Dylan’s case in our ‘Missing in America’ series in June and spoke with his parents, Justin Rounds and Candice Cooley.
They told Dateline that Dylan grew up in Idaho but owned a farm in Lucin, Utah that he purchased with his grandfather in 2019. They said that Dylan would frequently go back to Idaho to visit his parents but spent most nights living in his camper on the farm.
On Saturday, May 28, 2022, Dylan was on his farm in Lucin, Utah, speaking with his grandmother. Dylan’s mother, Candice, told Dateline that he told his grandmother he couldn’t speak long because he had to move his seed truck into the shed since it was raining that day. That was the last time anyone heard from Dylan.
On Monday, May 30, Candice reported her son missing.
Candice told Dateline that she immediately suspected foul play. She said while searching Dylan’s farm on May 30, his truck looked like it had been power washed and the seats appeared to have been moved. She also told Dateline that she believed there should have been tire tracks on the ground since it was raining that weekend, but there were no tracks.
Candice said Dylan’s boots were also a red flag. She told Dateline that to her knowledge, Dylan only had one pair of boots, which he always wore. Dylan’s boots were found on the farm beyond his truck, in the opposite direction of his camper which his parents found extremely suspicious. Candice also told East Idaho News that detectives found “a spot of blood” on the boots.
The Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office is investigating Dylan’s disappearance with the assistance of the Elko County Sheriff’s Office.
On June 9, the Elko County Sheriff’s Office in Nevada issued a press release that said Dylan was last seen in “Montello before his disappearance on the 26th of May” and that he “ate at a local establishment and then returned to Utah.” Montello, Nevada is about 30 minutes away from the farm Dylan lived on in Lucin. The release went on to say that “cell phone data was used to track Dylan’s phone around his farm near Lucin, Utah.” The release also noted that the “last cell phone communication from Dylan’s phone was on the 28th of May near his farm in Box Elder County.”
There were no known suspects at the time.
That changed on July 7. The Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office announced in a press release Thursday that 58-year-old James Brenner is now considered a suspect in the disappearance of Dylan Rounds. The release stated that “with the analysis of both physical evidence and forensic data,” officials have “identified James Brenner as a suspect.”
In November, Dateline spoke with Box Elder County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Cade Palmer, who would not expand on the evidence that led officials to name Brenner a suspect, but did say that they have collected "substantial evidence" and "it seems like every bit of good evidence that we find points more at Brenner."
Court documents reveal that Brenner has a criminal history. On May 21, 2012, Brenner was sentenced to 33 months in prison for a conviction of being a felon in possession of a firearm. It adds that he has several other convictions as well.
The documents state that Brenner was “squatting in a trailer” located on land near Dylan Rounds’ property. Chief Deputy Palmer told Dateline that Dylan and James Brenner are "probably each other's closest neighbor, which was maybe 5 miles apart."
The documents add that on June 16, the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office, with the assistance of the FBI, “executed a search warrant at the trailer where Brenner was living.” It noted that “during that search, ball ammunition, ignition caps, black powder, and speed loads,” were all found in the trailer.
The Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office stated that at this time, “no criminal charges have been filed specifically regarding Dylan Rounds,” and that the “investigation is not complete and remains active.”
According to NBC affiliate KSL, on Wednesday, July 6, an indictment was filed against Brenner for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Chief Deputy Palmer told Dateline that while searching for Dylan, officials found evidence that supported the fact that "a homicide likely occurred." Palmer added that Brenner is not talking to law enforcement about Dylan's disappearance at this time.
Dateline reached out to Brenner’s attorney for comment multiple times but has not yet heard back.
A reward totaling $200,000 is being offered for information directly leading to Dylan’s safe return or the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for his disappearance.
Over the summer, the family said in a statement that they “are not asking for, or requesting any additional public searches for Dylan Rounds at this time.” They added that they would like to “allow law enforcement to continue their organized investigation without any hindrance or interference, in order to avoid jeopardizing the investigation.” The family thanked everyone involved “for their continued support.”
Chief Deputy Palmer encourages anyone with tips to reach out to the Box Elder County Sheriff's Office Facebook page via direct message. The Sheriff’s office can also be reached at 435-734-3800.