Suspect charged with murder 9 months after Utah 19-year-old’s disappearance

Posted at 7:45 AM, March 7, 2023

By: Spencer Burt , Darienne DeBrule

BOX ELDER COUNTY, Utah (KSTU) — A man who lived near a 19-year-old who went missing last year has been charged with murder.

James A. Brenner, age 59, was charged Friday with murdering 19-year-old Dylan Rounds. He’s also charged with abuse or desecration of a body.

Dylan Rounds missing person photo

This undated photo provided by The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) shows Dylan Rounds. (NamUs)

Rounds was living in Lucin, Box Elder County, and he went missing after he last being seen Memorial Day weekend in Montello, Nevada — 30 miles west of his home.

Rounds’ family believed there was foul play from the beginning.

Just over a month after Rounds’ disappearance, law enforcement identified Brenner as a suspect — however, he was not charged in connection with the case initially. He was being held in the Weber County Jail on unrelated federal firearms charges.

Brenner was reportedly “squatting” on a remote property near Rounds’ property, where he operated a farm.

The Box Elder County Attorney’s Office announced Friday that it had formally filed charges against Brenner in connection with Rounds’ case. He faces one first-degree felony and one third-degree felony for “the murder of Dylan Rounds and the disposal of his body.”

However, police say they have still not found Rounds’ body.

“These charges come after a difficult and extensive 9 month investigation by the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office, and are supported by the information that has been gathered and evidence collected. The evidence supports that James Brenner is the only suspect,” a press release from the attorney’s office read. “Although the remains of Dylan Rounds have yet to be located, we are hopeful that they will be found in the future.”

Investigators said early on that they had found a pair of Rounds’ boots about five miles west of where he lived. Charging documents filed on Friday added some insight, saying Rounds’ blood was found on the boots, along with Brenner’s DNA.

Investigators also obtained Rounds’ mobile phone records, which showed him in the area where Brenner was “squatting.” The last signal from Rounds’ phone was at a pond nearby, and his phone was eventually found in the pond.

On Rounds’ phone, investigators found a time-lapse video showing Brenner cleaning a gun with blood stains on his arms and his shirt. The video was taken around the time of his disappearance, the charging documents said.

Police obtained the shirt Brenner was wearing in the video and confirmed that Rounds’ DNA was on it.

Investigators said they interviewed Brenner, and he “made several claims that corroborated forensic evidence in addition to making numerous demonstrably false statements.”

Rounds’ mother issued a statement following Friday’s announcement.

“Justin [Dylan’s father] and I would like to thank everyone for the support you have shown us as we focus on finding answers in the disappearance of Dylan,” read the letter from Candice Cooley. “The charges are based on solid evidence that has been released by Box Elder. We ask you continue your thoughts and prayers for justice for Dylan and that we can bring him home.”

This story was originally published March 5 by KSTU in Salt Lake City, an E.W. Scripps Company.


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