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Crime News Breaking News

Neighbor Named As Suspect In Teen Farmer Dylan Rounds' Disappearance

Authorities have identified James Brenner — a neighbor and acquaintance — as a suspect in the disappearance of teen farmer Dylan Rounds.

By Jill Sederstrom
Missing person Dylan Rounds

A neighbor believed to have been squatting near the farm of missing teenager Dylan Rounds has been named a suspect in the case.

James Brenner, a 58-year-old man already in custody on federal firearms charges, was officially named a suspect in Rounds’ disappearance Thursday in a joint statement from the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI.

“The current totality of information gathered from the many interviews and searches, along with the analysis of both physical evidence and forensics data, has identified James Brenner as a suspect,” authorities said.

No criminal charges have been filed in connection to Rounds’ disappearance.

Brenner has been described in court documents as a “family friend” who had been squatting on property adjacent to Rounds’ farm when the 19-year-old mysteriously vanished from the remote ghost town of Lucin, Utah at the end of May, according to Fox News.

While speaking with the news outlet, Rounds’ mother, Candice Cooley, described Brenner as an “acquaintance” of Rounds.

“I’m keeping it together as best I can,” she said of the recent development in the case.

Rounds disappeared after making a phone call to his grandmother on May 28 saying he was “putting the grain truck into shelter.”

Rounds — who had moved from his Idaho home to Utah to work on his own farm — was formally reported missing May 30 after family members were subsequently unable to reach him, according to court documents obtained by the news outlet. His mother told NBC affiliate KSL that the last time he was seen was on May 26, in nearby Montello, Nevada — a town of about 50 people 25 miles southwest of Lucin.

During the search for Rounds, investigators spoke with Brenner on June 7.

Investigators then searched Brenner’s trailer on June 16 and found ball ammunition, ignition caps, black powder and speed rounds — which were all for the purpose of muzzle loading antique-style guns — but found no weapons in the trailer. They didn’t seize the materials at the time, according to the court documents.

They later learned that, at some point after Brenner’s first conversation with investigators, he allegedly reached out to a friend to ask him to “safekeep” some weapons, including “three black powder guns,” according to the affidavit.

“When (the friend) asked why, Brenner stated that he needed to do this for ‘his own safety’ and that ‘the last time he had trouble with the law they took everything from him, and he did not want the things he had left to be taken again,’” authorities wrote.

The friend, identified in the affidavit by the initials “D.H.”  turned the weapons over to authorities after speaking with them on June 20.

The same person spoke to investigators again the next day and added that Brenner had also brought him a .22 caliber rifle around the same time.  That weapon — loaded with five .22 caliber bullets— had no serial number and was also handed over to authorities.

The Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office later returned to Brenner’s trailer and seized a muzzle loader, one box of .45 lead round ball ammunition, one box of Spear .570 lead ball, one box of Federal .45 lead ball ammunition, ignition caps, 4 pounds of Hornady black powder and speed loads.

This isn’t Brenner’s first brush with the law.

He was convicted in Illinois for malicious wounding and malicious shooting and has three convictions for being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to the Tremonton Leader.

He was sentenced in 2012 to 33 months in prison after being convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Brenner was arrested on June 29 for, again, being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to CBS affiliate KUTV.

Despite his designation as a suspect in Rounds’ case, authorities said the investigation “is not complete and remains active.”

Rounds’ family is hopeful that someone might hold the key to his disappearance and has asked that anyone with information come forward to share what they know.

“Somebody knows and it’s more than one somebody,” Cooley told KTVX. “I think it’s multiple people that know what happened to Dylan, but nobody’s talking.”