“We have fought so hard for charges”: Dylan Rounds’ mother reacts to murder charge in son’s disappearance
BOX ELDER COUNTY, Utah – A day after formal murder and desecration of a body charges were filed in her son’s disappearance, Dylan Rounds’ mother is speaking out about the last nine months.
“Knowing who our son was, knowing what he would do in our position is what has kept me going forward,” said Candice Cooley.
Cooley said Rounds was a hard worker who dreamed of being a big farmer. He was 19 when he vanished from the tiny town of Lucin on the Utah/Nevada border in May 2022.
She said the last nine months had been a difficult, frustrating rollercoaster of emotions.
“We knew the first day we got out there when we saw Dylan’s boots what happened,” Cooley said. “For us, this is a win. We have fought so hard for charges.”
On Friday, prosecutors announced charges of aggravated murder and abuse or desecration of a dead body against 59-year-old James Brenner—who was previously named as a suspect and is already in custody on unrelated charges.
“This is good news,” Cooley told KSLTV on Saturday. “We don’t have a conviction and we don’t have Dylan’s body, but we won the first battle.”
Court documents state that during the search for Rounds’ a pair of his boots were located, one with a blood stain. Analysis found DNA belonging to Rounds and Brenner.
Phone data also showed Rounds’ movements on the day he vanished, including his visit to a remote property where Brenner was squatting. The last signal from the phone was at the Lucin pond, where a search located it.
Investigators performed a forensic download of the phone and found a time-lapse video showing a time stamp taken when Rounds disappeared.
“The video showed Defendant (Brenner) with blood stains on his arms and shirt as he is cleaning a gun. The shirt which Defendant is wearing in the video was analyzed and the victim’s DNA was found on the shirt,” court documents state. “Defendant was interviewed and made several claims that corroborated forensic evidence in addition to making numerous demonstrably false statements.”
Judge: Suspect in Dylan Rounds’ disappearance is a danger to the community
Cooley described the evidence as solid.
“If a jury doesn’t convict him, I will be absolutely shocked,” she expressed.
Dylan was originally from eastern Idaho but spent the last three years off and on living in Lucin.
Authorities said Brenner was squatting in a trailer and was Dylan’s closest neighbor. Cooley pushed back at descriptions that Benner was a family friend, saying that was not the case.
Cooley said she’s confident that her family and volunteers will find her son’s body.
“When the weather breaks, and we can get out there—and if some sort of deal hasn’t been cut and we’re still facing trial—we will spend the whole summer out there finding our son, and we will find him,” she said.
Brenner was previously ordered to be held in U.S. custody until his trial on firearm charges. At the same time, Friday’s court records included a summons to the Box Elder County Jail for booking.
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