(NewsNation) — A Wyoming family is still searching for their missing son, last seen in July 2019, and hoping additional reward money will encourage anyone who knows what happened to him to come forward.
Chance Englebert, 25, grew up in Wyoming, a cowboy at heart. In 2019, he had a wife and a newborn son and was preparing to start a new job. Then, during a weekend trip with his family, he simply vanished.
When Englebert made a left turn down a side street in Gering, Nebraska, nobody had any idea it was the last time they would see him.
His grandmother, Linda Kluender, recently added $200,000 to a reward to help find him, bringing the total reward up to $220,000.
“My husband said, ‘Linda, you can buy anything you want. What do you want?’ And I said what I want I can’t buy. I want to find Chance,” she said.
So far the reward money hasn’t resulted in any big breaks.
“It’s brought a lot of calls. But not anything that has panned out to be anything,” Kluender said.
Englebert was a former rodeo star turned family man. In 2019, he was spending the 4th of July weekend in his wife Baylee’s hometown, along with their newborn son.
According to Gering police, Englebert spent July 6 golfing with his in-laws until he got angry at comments about his new job.
According to Baylee Englebert, her husband called and said he wanted to leave and return to their house in Wyoming. When she picked him up and drove to her grandparents’ house instead, he got out of the car and started walking.
While walking, Chance Englebert called his best friend and best man, Matt Miller.
“He said he got in a fight with his in-laws and he was wanting to come back to Wyoming, to his house here in Moorcroft, and needed a ride immediately. I was four hours away. It was just no way,” Miller said.
Miller told NewsNation Englebert didn’t appear to be intoxicated.
“No, he sounded upset. He wanted to get the heck out of Nebraska,” he said.
Englebert allegedly called back and told Miller he was walking to Torrington, 35 miles away. The last confirmed image of Englebert is on a surveillance video where he appears to be following a map on his phone.
“I relive it over and over and over every day. I see the video, him walking down the street on a surveillance camera and I replay that every day thinking I’m going to figure out where and why, but nothing’s coming,” said Dawn Englebert, Chance’s mother.
The last communication from Chance Englebert’s phone came at 9:08 p.m. It was a text with a grumpy face emoji and a confusing mix of letters. Shortly after, Englebert’s phone went dark.
“Nothing on his phone after 9:08, nothing,” Dawn Englebert said.
A powerful storm passed through the area that night, causing some to suggest Chance Englebert could have fallen into the swollen river. Miller rejects that theory.
“We’ve put hours and hours and hours down there walking river bottoms. I don’t think he’s in a river. I think he’s buried underground and he’s hidden. If he got hurt by that storm, Mother Nature doesn’t hide a body like that,” Miller said.
If foul play was involved, it raises the question: Was it a random act or someone who knew Englebert?
Brian Eads, lead investigator on the case, said they have enlisted outside investigators and canine teams, they have executed search warrants and conducted polygraph tests and are continuing to chase down leads.
Eads said Baylee Englebert and her family have been forthcoming and thoroughly investigated.
“All of the family members have been interviewed. All of their properties have been searched by law enforcement,” Eads said.
Amanda Waldron volunteers as an investigator with the nonprofit group We Help the Missing. She told NewsNation there is a long list of young men who have gone missing in Nebraska since 2019.
“It is definitely alarming. There are definitely some concerning circumstances, suspicious circumstances, random circumstances. Although I don’t find any of them fit the profile similar to Chance,” Waldron said.
No similarities except for the lack of answers.
“I do think because it is a less-populated area, it is a lot easier to cover up a crime. A lot of people that are from the area protect their own,” she said.
Englebert’s family is hoping the additional reward money will help break that silence.
“There will never be closure. We lost our chance, there will never be closure on this. It would be helpful to have him in a place of dignity that he deserves to be put to rest properly,” Kluender said.
In 2021, a human bone was found near where Englebert disappeared, but authorities have concluded it was not his. The cases is considered active and Eads said the police continue to get tips and follow every lead.
Anyone with information on Englebert can contact the Gering police at (308) 436-5089.