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Teen Farmer Missing From Utah Ghost Town, Family Suspects Foul Play
Before he went missing from his farm in northwest Utah, relatives said Dylan Rounds told them of a "weird run-in" with a barefoot stranger he came across on a deserted, country road near his home.
Federal agents are stepping in to help uncover what happened to a budding farmer who disappeared from his rural Utah farm.
Dylan Rounds, 19, was last heard from on May 28 after he spoke to his grandmother on the phone, according to East Idaho News. Dylan, who is from eastern Idaho, lived alone on his farm in Lucin, Utah — in the northwest part of the state near the Nevada state border — and hasn’t been heard from since.
According to his parents, there has been no activity on Dylan’s cell phone or bank accounts since Dylan disappeared.
FBI spokeswoman Sandra Barker confirmed to East Idaho News that they are joining the search for Rounds. The Box Elder Sheriff’s Office previously stated on June 15 that they’re “making continual efforts to locate Dylan Rounds and to investigate the circumstances surrounding his disappearance.”
The sheriff’s office also announced they have every detective in their department working on the case, according to East Idaho News.
Parents Candice Cooley and Justin Rounds told reporters that they went to check on Dylan on May 29 when they could not get ahold of him. They assumed that he'd parked his grain truck in its shed — as he’d told his grandmother on the phone he was about to — before heading back to his RV camper.
It was possible, they thought, that he was injured or perhaps bitten by a snake.
His parents, however, found the grain truck 100 yards from where it should be, and soon came across Dylan’s boots, according to Fox News. Investigators reportedly told them that a dark stain on the footwear was blood, Cooley and Rounds said, though it was not clear whether or not the blood belonged to a human or animal.
“At this point, it should have been treated as foul play,” Cooley told News Nation. “You just don’t see someone’s boots in the desert that’s 'missing.'”
Family members previously told local outlets that Dylan made several calls to relatives just three days before his disappearance, explaining he had a “weird run-in” with a stranger on a country road.
“The man was walking down the gravel road barefoot,” said Dylan’s aunt, Katie Wells. “He flagged Dylan down, who was in his truck. He asked to use Dylan’s phone and was acting erratically. Dylan felt the man was dangerous and may have been high.”
Dylan allegedly refused to give the stranger a ride when asked, according to Wells.
It was unclear whether or not the run-in produced any leads for investigators, but according to Dylan’s mother, searchers did find Dylan’s 2015 Ford F-150 on his property, according to Fox News. The vehicle seemed to have been recently cleaned — signaling red flags for Dylan’s loved ones. Relatives also claimed that someone had attempted to put the pickup truck in four-wheel drive, even though they said Dylan knew the transfer case was broken, and positioned the seat closer to the steering wheel than he sat.
According to Cooley, there have been massive searches for Dylan by way of drone and horseback, and no shortage of rumors and false leads. On June 15, the Box Elder Sheriff’s Office stated they spent over “300 hours searching, covering over 3,000 miles (not including the hours and miles traveled to and from the remote search areas).”
Dylan’s mother hopes they can sift through the numerous leads in the case.
“We need a direction, evidence, something that’s not a wild goose chase because it’s not good terrain out here,” Cooley told Fox News. “And it’s not for people who just leisurely want to come out and search. [It’s] over 100 degrees, winds get blowing, and people don’t want you there.”
“Every time we think there’s an open window, it’s followed by a closed door,” said Box Elder County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Cade Palmer. “There are a lot of interviews that have happened, but no clear evidence pointing at anybody. If anyone knows anything about this, they aren’t coming forward. They haven’t given any indication that they know anything.”
Lucin is listed on several websites as a ghost town — though four families started to repopulate it in the 1990s — and the barrens surrounding Dylan’s property are riddled with caves and abandoned mineshafts, according to Fox News.
“Dylan’s biggest stress was getting his crop to grow,” Cooley previously told East Idaho News. “This kid — he is not a typical kid. He doesn’t know how to play video games. He was born in the wrong generation. That farm was his life, and he would never leave it.”
She noted that people online have taken advantage of Dylan’s disappearance by creating fake GoFundMe pages.
Dylan Rounds is 5’10” and weighs about 160 pounds, according to authorities. He has brown hair and brown eyes.
Anyone with details about Dylan’s disappearance is urged to contact the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office at 1-435-734-3800 or contact the family’s Facebook page, which contains information from family members, including detailed timelines and photos. There is a $20,000 reward in place.