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Crime News Missing Persons

Police Say Skeletal Remains of Teen Farmer Dylan Rounds Have Been Found, Suspect Pleads Guilty

The teen went missing from his Idaho farm on Memorial Day weekend in 2022.

By Cydney Contreras
Missing person Dylan Rounds

Police believe they've found the skeletal remains of Utah farmer Dylan Rounds, who went missing nearly two years ago.

In a statement shared to Facebook April 10, the Box Elder County Sheriff's Office announced that they located Rounds' remains.

"On April 9, 2024, skeletal remains presumed to belong to Dylan Rounds were recovered in the remote western Box Elder County area of Lucin. 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," the statement read. "No additional information can be released at this time so as not to compromise the ongoing legal proceedings."

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The suspect in the case, James Brenner, currently remains behind bars on charges of aggravated murder and abuse or desecration of a human body.

Has Dylan Rounds been found?

Brenner reportedly led authorities to the skeletal remains of Dylan Rounds on April 9, 2024 as part of a purported plea deal, according to the East Idaho News. Rounds had been buried in a remote area on the border of the Utah and Nevada, near his farm in Lucin, Utah. 

“We thank everyone for their support and love,” Candice Cooley, Round’s mother, told East Idaho News. “We are grateful we now have Dylan’s body and can bring him home as we continue our fight for justice.”

Rounds went missing from his farm in late May 2022. At the time, the 19-year-old was preparing the land for his first crop and living in a camper van on the property, and would frequently visit his parents' homes since he didn't have running water.

The last time anyone saw Rounds was on May 26, while his last communications were with his maternal grandmother on May 28, after which he was never heard from again. His mother, Candice Cooley, immediately suspected foul play and reported him missing on May 30.

"He did not walk away from his lifelong dream,” Candice told Dateline's Missing in America. “Dylan has no drug abuse, no substance abuse, no mental issues, no depression, no suicide thoughts, nothing."

Adding to the family's suspicions was the fact that, during an initial search of Rounds' property, investigators found his boots by a mound of dirt. Rounds only ever owned one pair of boots at a time and bought the same pair once they were worn out, according to his parents. 

"A kid doesn’t go walking in the desert without his boots," Candice said of the discovery.

Who is James Brenner?

Early on in the investigation, authorities looked into James Brenner, a 60-year-old squatting on a property neighboring Rounds' farm, as a suspect. Rounds' abandoned phone was found near a pond by Brenner's trailer, leading to a larger search of the area. This ultimately led to Brenner's arrest on firearms violations in June 2022.

Brenner was later charged in March 2023 on charges of aggravated murder and abuse or desecration of a human body.

He has since entered a plea agreement with the Box Elder County Attorney's Office, agreeing to reveal the location of Rounds' remains in exchange for a reduced sentence from first-degree felony aggravated murder to second-degree felony murder, per a May 15 press release. Other charges unrelated to the murder case, including aggravated assault, were dismissed. 

The plea agreement also states that Brenner's sentences will be served consecutively and he will serve his time in prison, the Box Elder County Attorney's Office announced. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 1.

Originally published Apr 10, 2024.

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