BOX ELDER COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) – James Brenner has now been named as a suspect in the disappearance of 19-year-old Dylan Rounds on Thursday.
The Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office says Brenner is currently being held at the Weber County Jail on unrelated federal firearms charges.
Brenner was a neighbor living near Rounds in Lucin who the FBI allegedly claimed was “squatting in a trailer” on Rounds’ property. No criminal charges have been filed as the investigation into Brenner remains active.
On the same day, a new person of interest was also named in the case — Chase Venstra.
In an unsealed indictment from the Utah District Court, Venstra has now been added to the list of people being questioned in the disappearance of Rounds.
Rounds, a teenager who went missing from Box Elder County on May 25, was last seen in Lucin, Utah. His case is now being investigated by local authorities and the FBI.
Since the search began on Memorial Day weekend, his family is now offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to his whereabouts.
So far, at least three people have been questioned — one person was indicted on unrelated charges, another is in custody on an outstanding warrant and the third remains a free man.
The new person of interest, Venstra, is a man who authorities say asked Rounds for a ride just a few days before he disappeared. Authorities say Venstra was seen bloodied and barefoot while walking along a road near Lucin when he approached Rounds for a ride.
Rounds’ mother, Candice Cooley, recalls her son mentioning Venstra to her in a phone call saying, “He said ‘Mom, you wouldn’t believe this guy who jumped out of the desert. He was bloody, didn’t have any shoes on. He wanted a ride. I didn’t give him a ride.’”
Venstra is a convicted felon and has been held in the Davis County Jail since June 4. He was indicted on unrelated firearms charges and violations.
So far, authorities have discovered a pair of boots belonging to Rounds behind a dirt pile near the camp trailer where he lives alone in Lucin, near the Utah/Nevada border. Rounds attended Rigby High School in Idaho and began farming grain a few years ago in Lucin.
Family members say they last heard from Rounds when he called his grandmother on the morning of May 28. When Rounds was not heard from after a few days, his family became concerned and contacted authorities.
Rounds’ truck was discovered on his property, but authorities say it appeared to be pressure-washed because it was “noticeably clean.”
There were also no tire tracks in the dirt leading to or from Rounds’ truck which his family says is suspicious because the weekend he disappeared, it was raining where he lived, so if he left his home and came back there would have been markings in the ground.
“Something of a foul play has happened to Dylan,” Private Investigator James Terry tells ABC4’s Marcos Ortiz. “There’s no reason [for him to disappear.] He was excited to be farming there. His crop was about to come to fruition for the first time. So he was excited.”
Rounds’ family has since fired Terry, and issued a cease and desist order claiming he has “taken this story and all the information we’ve given him. He has not collected it himself and has twisted it into this sick and disgusting plot that he has changed three times. Once we decided to go a different direction, unethically Mr. Terry has taken to sharing these rumors, conspiracy theories and crazy accusations into the public eye.”
Rounds also visited Montello, Nev. which was the last place someone physically saw him.
“He’d go into the bar in Montello and meet up with friends, but they never came out (to Lucin) with him,” says Cooley. “There’s no reason to come out there because there’s nothing there,” Cooley says. “We don’t even know if he made it back to Utah [that Saturday].”
“Somebody knows and it’s more than one somebody,” says Cooley. “I think it’s multiple people that know what happened to Dylan, but nobody’s talking.”
Rounds is described as 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighing 160 pounds with brown hair and eyes.
On July 6, law enforcement asked the public to stop searching the Lucin area where Rounds may have disappeared from, concerned the activity may hinder or interfere with the investigation.
Rounds’ family is now offering a $100,000 reward for information that will lead to his whereabouts, posting the update on the official “Find Dylan Rounds” Facebook page.
Authorities are asking anyone who may have information in this case to contact the Box Elder Sheriff’s Office at either (435) 723-5227, (435) 734-3894, or (435) 257-3131. Private messages can also be sent to the agency’s Facebook account.