SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The case of Dylan Rounds who disappeared in May is a homicide investigation.
That’s what a Deputy Chief of Box Elder County said about their investigation.
James Brenner is still the primary suspect in the disappearance of Dylan Rounds. But Cade Palmer, the Deputy Chief of the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Department said they are not ruling out that Brenner could have been helped.
“The truth is this case hasn’t gone cold,” said Deputy Chief Palmer. “It’s still an active case.”
It was the first time since early June that anyone from the sheriff’s department talked with the media about the case.
Brenner is currently under arrest on a weapons charge and the assault of a man in 2021. Monday morning, he made a brief court appearance on those charges in a Box Elder courtroom.
“James Brenner is our primary suspect at this time, lots of other names have been shared with us,” said Palmer. “I can’t say that James is our only suspect. Others may come up in the course of the investigation.”
Brenner worked on the farm of Dylan. The 19-year-old operated the farm in western Box Elder County near the small town of Lucin.
Since early June, authorities in Box Elder have not been accessible to the media or Dylan’s parents.
It’s brought criticism from Dylan’s mother, Candice Cooley, who wants Box Elder to remove themselves from the investigation.
“Removing us from the case just doesn’t make sense,” Palmer said. “We were here from the beginning. We’ve involved all of these other agencies, even the ones she’s named to take the lead on the case.”
There is an awareness that Dylan may be dead and finding his body is a priority for both his family and authorities.
“We’re treating this as a possible homicide investigation so that would be my response to that,” Palmer said. “We built a fairly strong case based on forensic evidence that we found, but obviously the break in the case will be when we locate Dylan.”
But a former prosecutor with the Salt Lake District Attorney said that without a body, it would be hard to convince a jury a crime was committed.
“If there is no body available at the time, then that element of the offense is missing and the case wouldn’t even get past the preliminary hearing,” said Kent Morgan who is now a trial lawyer.
Morgan noted the disappearance of Susan Powell. He was with the DA when she disappeared in 2009.
Her husband Josh Powell was the primary suspect, but he said they needed more evidence to prove he murdered her. Josh Powell left Utah and moved to Washington where he later killed his own two children when he set their house on fire. Powell then killed himself during the fire.
But it has been done before in Utah.
Palmer would not divulge what made Brenner their suspect. They do have his cellphone and it’s unknown why Dylan’s boots were found lying near his property.
Palmer said their forensic evidence was reviewed by an independent team of homicide investigators outside their department.
“That independent review established credibility in the case, and it showed there is substantial evidence,” Palmer said.