Dylan Rounds was 19 years old when he vanished from his Utah farm in May 2022. As of July 2022, he remains missing.
This case is really strange, with lots of unusual occurrences and lots of insinuation and rumor online. We will try to separate the facts from the speculation.
Dylan was born to Candice Cooley and Justin Rounds. He grew up in Idaho with two younger siblings. Candice and Justin divorced when Dylan was four years old.
The kids then split their time between Idaho Falls, where Justin lives, and Twin Falls, where Candice lives.
Dylan loved fishing and dirt biking, and his father said that he always knew Dylan would end up being a farmer.
“He’s just done that all his life,” Justin said. “That’s all he thought about.”
“He’s one of those people that was born to be a farmer,” Candice told Dateline. “The kid could drive a tractor before most kids knew how to ride a bike.”
In 2019, Dylan bought his own farm in Lucin, Utah. Justin said his father, Dylan’s grandfather, purchased the land with Dylan, who spent his days cultivating the crop and his nights living alone in a camper on the property.
“It’s sandy desert,” Candice said, describing Lucin. “It’s literally people who want to be off the grid.”
“This year (2022) was his first crop,” Candice said. She told Dateline that Dylan’s farm had to be built from the ground up. “There was a lot of preparation that needed to be done.”
Candice made this post on Facebook, about Dylan:
…you see since Dylan was little he has been a farmer, it was his passion. From the time he could walk he would try to keep up with his dad and grandpa. Dylan could drive a tractor by himself before most kids could ride a bike. From as early as 10 years old he was growing pumpkin patches and sweet corn to sale. The Rigby community knew every summer there would be Dylan’s sweet corn for sale under the County Line over pass.
Justin said that while the farm was Dylan’s top priority, his son would often return to Idaho and stay with either of his parents because of the lack of running water in his camper.
Dylan was last seen on May 26. I have seen some sources say it was May 27, but the 26th seems to be the generally reported date.
This info is from the Elko County Sheriff. ‘Dylan was, in fact, seen in Montello before his disappearance on the 26th of May, not the 27th as reported on social media.”
Montello is located in Nevada. Dylan’s case spans a bunch of states – Box Elder County where his farm is, basically borders Nevada, Utah and Idaho. It is quite close to Wyoming too. You will see different LE agencies from different states involved in this case, and that is why.
On Thursday May 26, it has been verified that Dylan ate at a local establishment in Montello – the Cowboy Bar and Grill. I believe this was verified by his bank statements. His cell phone was then tracked and it seems like he returned to his farm in Lucin, Utah after that.
Dylan last spoke to his parents on May 26 via phone.
“He was so excited,” Candice recalled. “He said, ‘Mom, I’m getting my first crop this year.’”
(Just as a side note, Dylan was growing triticale on his farm. Triticale is a hybrid of wheat and rye first bred in laboratories during the late 19th century in Scotland and Germany. Commercially available triticale is almost always a second-generation hybrid, i.e., a cross between two kinds of primary triticales.)
Justin remembers speaking to Dylan that day, too. “He was talking about the different types of tractors that he was running,” Justin said. “The service was spotty.” That was the last time Justin or Candice spoke to their son.
There are some reports that Dylan was seen in Montello again the following day, May 27 but this has not been verified.
The last confirmed contact with Dylan happened on Saturday May 28. Dylan called his grandmother at 6.51am.
Some reports say that during this call, Dylan told his grandmother about a strange encounter that he had recently had.
An erratic, barefoot man flagged Dylan down, asked to use his phone and subsequently wanted a free ride. Dylan declined, feeling the man might be dangerous and on drugs.
LocalNews8 provided additional details about this encounter and man. Dylan apparently spoke to Candice at some point about this weird encounter. She said he told her “about a bloody man who was walking on foot and came up out of the desert.” He wanted a ride, but Dylan’s family initially believed that Dylan didn’t give him one, the station reported.
The man in this encounter was quickly identified as Chase Venstra.
We will come back to this info later in the blog, I just wanted to put it in here for the chronological timeline.
Dylan also told his grandmother during this call that he had to put his grain truck away in a shed around 5 miles away from his farm, on the property of a neighbor. He said it was going to rain and he had to move the truck quickly, so he would call her back. Cell phone pings later showed that Dylan was indeed still near his farm in Lucin when this call was made.
The last pings and cell phone data from Dylan’s phone occurred at 3.41pm on that day.
The following day, May 29, Dylan’s grandmother became concerned when he had not called her back and she was worried that he was not answering his phone. She called one of the farm workers, a man named Don and asked him to check on Dylan. Don and another farmhand named Jim went to the farm at Lucin to look for Dylan, but he was nowhere to be seen.
I guess Don and Jim looked for Dylan for the remainder of the day and night, and when he had still not shown up on May 30, they called Dylan’s grandmother to let her know.
She then called Dylan’s best friend, JD Wilde. He had also not heard from Dylan. At 11am on May 30, JD called Dylan’s mother Candice. “I instantly knew we had a problem,” Candice said. They all started calling around to see if anyone had seen Dylan and nobody had.
Candice told Dateline it was extremely unusual for Dylan to go so long without speaking to anybody. “Dylan breaks his phones. He loses phone chargers,” Candice said. “But he shows up at his father’s house or my house within a matter of hours to get a spare one.”
A group of friends and family drove to the Lucin farm. Candice filed a missing person report with the Box Elder Sheriff’s Office over the phone during the drive.
When Dylan’s parents arrived, they found his truck was parked near his trailer. It had been pressure washed and the seat had been moved forward, as if a shorter person had been driving it. There were no tracks or footprints near the vehicle.
Candice told East Idaho News that because she is 4’11” and Dylan is 5’11,” she always has to move the driver’s seat up. But Candice said when she looked in Dylan’s truck on May 30, the seat “was scooted up to the point I didn’t even have to move it to drive.”
Candice added that Dylan’s truck was in four-wheel drive, but that was a feature of the truck that did not work. Candice told the media that everyone in their family knew the four-wheel drive wasn’t working, because Dylan “often complained about not being able to use the feature and having to drive his truck without it.” (Seems like Dylan would have not put the car in 4WD, and they are insinuating someone not familiar with the vehicle drove it last).
Candice also said that it had rained around the time that Dylan went missing (hence him telling his grandmother that he was moving the truck). She said there was “no mud on the tires, there’s no tracks, no nothing.”
Candice has said that the interior of the truck seemed normal – ‘dusty and dirty’.
90 minutes after his family started searching for Dylan, his boots were found tossed behind a pile of dirt. They were found approximately 100 yards away from the grain truck.
“The boots were found within the first hour,” Candice told Dateline. Candice told East Idaho News reporter Nate Eaton that the boots were “behind a pile of dirt just casually tossed out.” She noted that Dylan “was very particular about his boots. He wears a pair, and it’s always the same pair. When they wear out, he goes and buys exactly the same boots.”
“Our hearts dropped,” Candice said. “A kid doesn’t go walking in the desert without his boots.” Justin said that finding his son’s boots like that threw everyone for a loop. “Our brains were going a million different directions,” he said. “We didn’t know what to do.”
Candice has said in interviews that the boots were dry and did not seem to have been exposed to the elements.
The Box Elder Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team took the boots and put them in their vehicle. They would not send the boots for forensic analysis for almost a week. Their reasoning for this was that they held onto the boots in case cadaver dogs needed an item to obtain scent from.
It has been reported that a spot of blood was found on the boots. One article from East Idaho News says :There was a dark substance on the boots that the family thought could have been grease or oil. They say investigators have since told them it was blood but it may be from an animal.
Candice has said that they discovered Dylan’s phone, wallet, a pistol and his keys were missing and as far as I know, none of those items have been recovered.
On May 31, according to a website called the Missing in America Network (a lot of the timeline information in this blog comes from that website), a man from Montello named Kurt or Kirk called Dylan’s family. He told them that Dylan was being held by the man from the strange encounter, Chase Venstra and another man, in Montello. Law enforcement went to this alleged place and searched thoroughly. Dylan was not found and nothing related to the case was found either.
The search for Dylan was very extensive.
Helicopters, ATVs, horses, on foot searchers and cadaver dogs were used. Around 300 volunteers searched for Dylan. Five private air searches were conducted.
A pond on Dylan’s farm was also drained and searched.
Over 2,200 drone images were taken and will be reviewed.
On June 4, Chase Venstra (the man from the weird encounter) was arrested on charges unrelated to Dylan’s case.
Right before this happened, Candice made a post saying they had spoken to Chase and had been able to clear him. Keep this in mind for later.
On June 5, Dylan’s family were given permission by police to take his truck from the farm. No fingerprinting or forensic testing had been carried out.
The following day, June 6, Dylan’s boots were finally logged into the police lab for further testing.
The search for Dylan went on to no avail in the few weeks after this. Bunkers in the area were searched and cleared. Candice met with law enforcement and they ran through the case for over 5 hours.
18 mines in the area were searched for evidence and cleared.
On June 14, I guess there was some type of backflip and Dylan’s truck was taken into custody, but by police in Bonneville County, Idaho.
On June 15, Dylan’s disappearance was classified as a criminal investigation and the FBI became involved.
On June 16, police served a search warrant on the trailer of James ‘Jim’ Brenner, Dylan’s neighbor. During that search, police saw ball ammunition, ignition caps, black power and speed loads. All of that apparently relates to ‘muzzle loading’. The items were photographed but were not seized at the time.
On June 18, the two campers on Dylan’s farm were finally taken into custody by police.
On June 21, police went back to Jim Brenner’s trailer and they seized items including ammunition, a muzzle loader, black powder and ignition caps.
On Thursday June 23, James Brenner was charged with three counts of being a restricted person in possession of a firearm. This is a third degree felony. He was further charged on June 30 with being a felon in possession of a firearm.
James allegedly asked a friend to hide guns for him, around the time that Dylan went missing. He told that friend it was for “his own safety” and ‘”he 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.”
Interestingly, James was the neighbor who was on the property where Dylan told his grandmother he was moving the grain truck to on the day he was last heard from. According to the affidavit, James was squatting on the property, he did not own it.
A tentative trial date for James has been set for September 12, 2022.
On June 28, 2022 the reward for info in Dylan’s case was at $100k.
On July 1, Chase Venstra was charged with being a restricted person in posession of a firearm. He is due in court on July 19 – look for an update.
This info about the investigation into Chase’s involvement comes from East Idaho News:
Federal court documents filed against Venstra state that the Davis County Sheriff’s Office and Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office served a search warrant on Venstra’s West Point residence on May 12 “in conjunction with a homicide investigation.” The complaint does not say which homicide was being investigated, but says two firearms were found inside his motorhome.
Then on June 12, a search warrant was served on the residence of a person who investigators say was asked by Venstra to hold firearms for him. Three firearms were found in a water heater closet in a garage, according to the complaint. A bulletproof vest and ammunition was also recovered and another firearm was found in a crawlspace in a child’s bedroom.
Chase has a long criminal history, spanning many years. He was involved in a 10 hour police stand off in 2016. This info is from KSL.com:
A SWAT situation that lasted more than 10 hours finally ended peacefully Friday, police said.
The incident began after police officers recognized Chase Montgomery Venstra, 34, while out on patrol near 3000 West 1400 North in Clinton, according to chief Bill Chilson of the Clinton Police Department. He said Venstra did not respond to officer’s attempts to contact him after he went inside a house.
SWAT responded to the scene and sent in a robot, which located weapons and ammunition inside the home, according to Chilson. He said the robot searched the house room by room and cleared the main floor without finding Venstra.
Venstra was eventually arrested without incident and booked into Davis County Jail, according to police.
On Wednesday July 6, police released this statement about the case:
“The law enforcement investigation into the disappearance of Dylan Rounds is ongoing. Law enforcement continues to be in the Lucin area. At this time there are no organized searches planned for members of the public to participate in that are supported or authorized by law enforcement. We are asking the public to not search the area, as it has the potential to compromise the investigation.
“As a family, we are not asking for or requesting any additional public searches for Dylan Rounds at this time. We request that everyone allow law enforcement to continue their organized investigation without any hindrance or interference, in order to avoid jeopardizing the investigation. We thank everyone for their continued support in finding Dylan Rounds.”
On July 7, the FBI and the Box Elder Sherriff’s Office named James Brenner as a suspect in Dylan’s disappearance.
As we mentioned at the start of the episode, there are a lot of rumors in this case. We spoke earlier about a man named Kirk or Kurt calling in a tip about Dylan being held hostage and that ending up being false.
There is a lot of info online about this, we are unable to verify it but wanted to include it because no doubt someone will message us otherwise.
We believe Kirk/Kurt is Kurt Wadsworth (based on public record) and he was around 62 years old when Dylan went missing. Kurt had allegedly been helping out on Dylan’s farm and there are rumors that the two were romantically involved.
Kurt appeared on a podcast called On True Crime with Jess and said :
“(Dylan’s) a hard-working young kid who had a dream and asked me to be involved in it,” Wadsworth said on the podcast. “(I worked) as a backhoe operator is all.”
“If you don’t have any faith in me that I know what I know, I am the one that is going to solve this thing,” he said. “I know everything about Dylan. They know absolutely nothing about Dylan’s life.”
Online comments also say that Kurt and Chase Venstra did not get along which may have been why Kurt called in the false tip?
There is also discussion about a man named Don being involved. Don had been working on Dylan’s farm until about 6 weeks prior to his disappearance. They had a falling out and parted ways. Don was the man Dylan’s grandmother called to look for him initially. At this point with the charges against James and Chase, and nothing against Don, it doesn’t seem like he is involved but we wanted to mention it as I guess it’s a possibility. I found this comment online:
In the very beginning, the very first day Ihad a feeling it was Jim and Don who had done something to Dylan. All I kept thinking and it kept repeating in my head is, grandma called Jim and Don Sunday and asked them to go to the farm and see if Dylan was there. Now this is what is bothering me. Jim and Don goes the farm. Now all day Sunday they do not call grandma back. Grandma calls the Monday and they said they could not find Dylan. Now why didn’t they call grandma back as soon as possible after checking on Dylan Sunday. Why? What were they doing that they didn’t call while at the farm and tell grandma that they are at the farm and Dylan is no where to be seen. It’s not until the next day they tell grandma Dylan is not there. So “if” they had done something to Dylan, and I said “if” they had the whole weekend to clear all evidence. Which for a long time I thought it was them. Then came the conspiracy about the Wadsworth’s. I can honestly say I have been about 95% thinking it was not them. Then came Chase.
Dylan is 19 years old, 5’11” tall, 160 lbs., with dark brown eyes and brown hair. Candice told Dateline he typically wears blue jeans, a flannel shirt, and a ball cap.
“He did not walk away from his lifelong dream,” Candice said, referring to his first crop on his own farm. “Dylan has no drug abuse, no substance abuse, no mental issues, no depression, no suicide thoughts, nothing,” she said. “I mean, everybody loved him.”
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