Location Of Missing Teen's Remains Revealed By Neighbor Who Was Filmed Cleaning Blood

A Utah man has pleaded guilty to the murder of his 19-year-old neighbor, who went missing in 2022. As part of a plea agreement, he disclosed the location of the body, Box Elder County Attorney Stephen Hadfield announced Wednesday.

James Brenner, 60, was initially charged with first-degree murder. The charges were reduced to second-degree murder as part of a plea deal with prosecutors after he told federal authorities where to find Dylan Rounds’ remains, according to Hadfield’s statement.

Rounds went missing near his farm in Lucin, Utah, in May 2022, shortly after speaking with his grandmother, according to KSL-TV, an NBC affiliate in Salt Lake City.

A photo of Dylan Rounds distributed by the Box Elder County Sheriff's Office in Brigham City, Utah.
A photo of Dylan Rounds distributed by the Box Elder County Sheriff's Office in Brigham City, Utah. Box Elder County Sheriff's Office

Brenner, who lived in a trailer in a remote area near Rounds’ property, was named a person of interest in the investigation a few months after the disappearance, Fox affiliate KSTU-TV in Salt Lake City reported. He was initially held on unrelated federal firearm charges.

According to a charging document filed in March and obtained by East Idaho News, a search of the victim’s cellphone data revealed a “time-lapse video” taken on the day of his disappearance that showed Brenner cleaning a gun with blood stains on his arms and shirt.

Candice Cooley, Rounds’ mother, told East Idaho News in March 2023 that the video was taken 30 minutes after her son spoke with his grandmother on the phone. She wasunsure how or why the video was recorded.

“I’m pretty sure when Brenner took the phone, he just hit the wrong button or had a wrong swipe and had no clue,” she said. “Then it started recording.”

DNA found on Brenner’s shirt reportedly matched that of Rounds.

It’s unclear what his motive was, but in an interview with KSL-TV, Cooley said she’d been told Brenner was “mad that Dylan put his truck in the shed that day.”

The Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office announced in April that skeletal remains believed to be Rounds’ were located in a remote area of Lucin.

In a statement posted in early May, Rounds’ family confirmed that Dylan’s remains were found in a shallow grave.

“While we had hoped for a different outcome, we have known since the start Dylan was no longer alive,” the statement said. “This recent development means the investigation has gone full circle and now we can finally bring Dylan home and close this chapter.”

Brenner was formally charged with first-degree aggravated murder and abuse of a human body, according to the charging document. The first-degree murder charge was reduced to a second-degree crime and the desecration of human remains charge was dismissed as part of the plea deal. Two second-degree firearms charges remained.

Under Utah guidelines, he faces one to 15 years in prison for each second-degree felony. Since the plea deal stipulates that sentences be served consecutively, he could face up to 45 years in prison. Brenner is set for sentencing on July 1.