The suspect in the disappearance of Dylan Rounds, who vanished near the Utah-Nevada border last year and whose body still has not been found, has now been charged with murder.
James Brenner, 59, was charged Friday in 1st District Court with aggravated murder, a first-degree felony; and abuse or desecration of a dead body, a third-degree felony.
Rounds, 19, was reported missing last May while he was farming in the desert town of Lucin, in Box Elder County. His grandmother spoke with him on May 28, marking the last time anyone heard from him, according to family members. Several months later, still there had been no sign of Rounds anywhere and no activity on his cellphone or bank account, his parents said.
On Friday, his parents in a statement thanked the community "for the support you have shown us as we focus on finding answers in the disappearance of Dylan."
"The charges are based on solid evidence that has been released by Box Elder. We ask you continue your thoughts and prayers for justice for Dylan and that we can bring him home," the family said.
While searching for Rounds on his property after he was reported missing, deputies discovered a pair of boots that belonged to Rounds, one of which had a blood stain confirmed through DNA analysis to belong to the missing man.
"The victim's phone records were also obtained, which showed movements on the day of his disappearance on a remote property in Lucin where (Brenner) was squatting. Phone data showed that the last signal from the victim's phone was at the Lucin pond and a search of the pond led to the discovery of the victim's phone," the charges state.
Investigators performed a digital forensic download of the phone and discovered a time-lapse video with a time stamp at the time of Rounds' disappearance, police said. The video "showed (Brenner) with blood stains on his arms and shirt as he is cleaning a gun," according to the charges.
The shirt Brenner was wearing in the video was analyzed and investigators say they found Rounds' DNA on it.
"(Brenner) was interviewed and made several claims that corroborated forensic evidence in addition to making numerous demonstrably false statements. Despite a thorough investigation and extensive search, the victim's body was not recovered due to (Brenner) removing and concealing it," court documents state.
Brenner has been described as a "squatter" who was living near Rounds when he disappeared. Brenner, who is considered a "family friend" of Rounds, was interviewed by law enforcement on June 7. On June 11, the Box Elder County Sheriff's Office requested assistance from the FBI and Davis County Sheriff's Office. Five days later, law enforcers served a search warrant on Brenner's trailer.
Brenner was later charged in the U.S. District Court of Utah with being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was also charged in 1st District Court on June 23 with three counts of being a restricted person in possession of a firearm, a third-degree felony.
During the search of his trailer, "ball ammunition, ignition caps, black powder, and speed loads, all related to 'muzzle loading' were located and photographed in the trailer, but the items were not seized at this time," according to those charges
On June 20, another neighbor was interviewed and told investigators that after Rounds went missing and before Brenner was questioned on June 7, "Brenner brought three black powder guns over to (the neighbor's) residence and asked him to 'safekeep' them. When (the neighbor) asked why, Brenner stated that he needed to do this for 'his own safety' and that 'the 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,'" the charges state.
Brenner previously served 2 ½ years in federal prison after a 2012 conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Friday marks the first time formal charges have been filed in Rounds' disappearance.