Dylan Rounds’ parents share new details about their missing son’s boots, phone, pistol and more

Dylan Rounds

IDAHO FALLS — The parents of a missing man from eastern Idaho are releasing new details about their son’s disappearance and what they’ve learned since he vanished in May.

Dylan Rounds, who turned 20 on Aug. 1, was farming in the desert town of Lucin, Utah. His grandmother spoke with him on May 28, and nobody has heard from him since. There has been no sign of Dylan anywhere and no activity on his cell phone or bank account, according to his parents.

Chase Venstra, 41, and James Brenner, 59, two men who interacted with Dylan in the days before he vanished, were arrested in July for felony gun crimes in Utah. They have not been charged in connection to Dylan’s disappearance, but Dylan’s parents believe Brenner, who was squatting on nearby property, knows what happened to their son.

They believe boots belonging to Dylan that were found behind a dirt pile on his property with blood on them were put there by Brenner.

“Brenner has admitted he’s the one who took the boots out there,” Candice Cooley, Dylan’s mom, says in an interview with EastIdahoNews.com. “He said he found them by the shed (on the property), picked them up, moved them by his camper somewhere, and then decided Dylan wasn’t coming back for them.”

james brenner
James Brenner | ABC 4

Cooley and Justin Rounds, Dylan’s dad, say investigators told them this information and argue Brenner’s story doesn’t make sense.

“Those boots were not in that desert during a rainstorm on Friday (the day before Dylan disappeared). Those boots didn’t even have dust or mud on them,” Cooley explains. “I bet you Brenner put them there on Monday (two days after Dylan vanished) when he knew we were coming out, and he had to get rid of them.”

In addition to learning about the boots, Dylan’s parents say pings on their son’s cell phone show it never left his property on the day he vanished, and the phone was found at the bottom of the Lucin Pond on June 18.

“Right after that last phone call to my mother (on May 28), Dylan called Jim Brenner,” Rounds says. “Then he went up to Jim Brenner’s – the phone did – and was around there for a while. Then it went back to Dylan’s place and then back to Jim Brenner’s.”

Then, according to Rounds and Cooley, Brenner stopped by the pond on his way to a friend’s for lunch.

“He placed himself at the pond the day Dylan disappeared, and Dylan’s phone was found in the pond,” Cooley explains.

No unusual information or evidence of where Dylan could be was found on the phone, according to the parents.

Gun and key fob found

Cooley and Rounds say they’re also worried about someone entering Dylan’s trailer after he disappeared and placing one of his guns, along with a key fob to his truck, inside.

Camper Truck
An aerial image showing where Dylan Rounds’ pickup truck and trailer were parked. | Candice Cooley

When his parents visited the property the Monday after Dylan disappeared, they searched his camp trailer looking for his pistol.

“Justin and I both walked in the camper and went through it all. On his bathroom sink was his gun case. There was no gun in it,” Cooley says. “We opened the medicine cabinet. Nothing. The next day, Justin’s sister cleaned out the bathroom for Dylan’s grandma to use. No gun. The next day, the pistol was lying there with the clip out of it in broad daylight where we had all looked.”

The following day, Dylan’s parents say they returned to the trailer, and the truck key fob was placed in the same location as the gun. They were “wiped down,” according to Cooley, and police were unable to get any fingerprints off of them.

“That key fob and gun were not there originally. They came back … and were put back underneath our noses,” Cooley explains.

Activity at the shed

The parents say one point of interest in the investigation is a shed near Brenner’s camper. A few days after Dylan disappeared, Cooley and Rounds say they, along with law enforcement, watched Brenner spend time in the shed.

“Brenner pulled the grain truck out on his own and cleaned it. He was cleaning the shed with law enforcement and us there watching him,” Cooley says. “I saw him take out four garbage bags and put them in the back of his pickup.”

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A shed near James Brenner’s trailer. | Courtesy Candice Cooley

Brenner was charged in Utah on June 23 with three counts of being a restricted person in possession of a firearm and has not returned to the property.

Cooley and Rounds recently visited the shed and say it was full of trash and empty beer cans.

“He wasn’t cleaning up garbage that day,” Cooley says. “Whatever he took out in those bags was to hide right under law enforcement noses.”

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An image showing where James Brenner’s trailer was parked and where Dylan Rounds’ boots were found.

The parents are frustrated Brenner was not taken into custody that day as he was wanted on an outstanding criminal warrant. Rather, he was arrested weeks later. He has not been charged in connection to Dylan’s disappearance.

The Box Elder County Utah Sheriff’s Office has been the lead agency on the case, but Cooley and Rounds are frustrated with the department. They believe mistakes have been made in the investigation and are calling for another agency to take over.

“How can you say that they’ve done their job when they didn’t arrest the felon on day one?” Cooley asks. “When the key fob was found, when the gun was found, when the boots were found, they literally laughed at us and mocked us in that desert.”

In a statement to EastIdahoNews.com, Box Elder County Chief Deputy Cade Palmer says the sheriff’s office recently requested an independent review of the investigation.

“Department of Public Safety, Weber County Sheriff’s Office, and Weber County Attorney’s Office investigators reviewed the investigative work that has been done. They established credibility in the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office investigation with substantial and pertinent evidence,” Palmer said. “Locating Dylan Rounds, protecting the integrity of the investigation, and our ability to impose criminal responsibility upon anyone involved in his disappearance are our utmost priorities.”

Palmer says evidence supports that a homicide occurred but declined to answer specific questions about the boots, key fob, pistol and shed.

“Please keep in mind that anyone that publicly releases specific information related to this active criminal investigation could negatively impact our ability to successfully prosecute any individuals associated with Dylan Rounds’ disappearance,” Palmer says.

What’s next?

Brenner remains in the Weber County Jail and has spoken with Dylan’s grandmother and father on the phone. He maintains he had nothing to do with the disappearance, according to Rounds.

“My mom called Brenner out on some things (about the gun, key fob, boots and the shed), and he said, ‘Well, I can’t talk to you anymore. You’re gonna have to talk to my lawyer,'” Rounds says.

The family says they are sharing this information so it will lead to answers. Dylan’s family plans to more fly drones over his property and in Lucin again, hoping they find their son.

Watch our entire interview with Candice Cooley and Justin Rounds here:

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