(NewsNation Now) — Chance Englebert, 25, was a cowboy at heart.
He put himself through college on a riding scholarship, studying diesel mechanics and welding.
In 2018, he married Baylee and they had a baby boy, whom they named “Banks.” Their future was bright.
He was looking forward to a new job at a propane company in Moorcroft, Wyoming, where the couple lived.
But then, tragedy.
During a 2019 July Fourth trip to visit family in Baylee’s hometown of Gering, Nebraska, Engelbert vanished.
“We have people searching along the canal now,” Capt. Jason Rogers of the Gering Police Department said during a press briefing on the search for Englebert.
According to Gering police, Englebert was golfing with Baylee’s family July 6 and got upset over comments made about how he’d be making less money at his new job.
According to Baylee, Englebert called her on the phone, saying he wanted to leave Gering — and wanted to go back home to Wyoming. She picked him up and drove them to her grandparents’ house in Gering. And that, she said, made Englebert more upset. He got out of the car and started walking away.
Englebert then called his friend and best man, Matt Miller, who turned out to be the last person Englebert called.
“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,” Miller said of this conversation with Englebert.
“I was four hours away. It was just no way,” Miller said. “And we were in the middle of the Fourth of July party at my house, so there was just no way I could make it.”
Miller told Englebert to wait.
“Give us five, 10 minutes,” Miller said. “I’ll call you back. I’m gonna see if I can find you a ride. And if I can’t, then we’ll, we’ll shut down the whole thing and come get you.”
“He sounded upset,” Miller said. “He wanted to get the heck out of Nebraska.”
Englebert’s mother, Dawn, said his family reached out to him a couple of times but Englebert did not answer.
“His aunt, his uncle, my husband, um, just kind of waited,” she said.
Surveillance footage obtained by NewsNation shows Englebert walking through Gering around 7:50 p.m. the night he left Baylee in the car.
In the video, Englebert can be seen looking at his phone and then taking a 90-degree turn to the left, as if following a map.
“I see a kid that had a mission and he knew he wanted out of town,” his mother said of seeing him walking during that last snippet of video.
An hour after the time of the surveillance footage, a powerful storm with lightning and high winds passed through Gering and neighboring towns.
At 9:08 p.m., a text was sent from Englebert’s phone during the storm to his Aunt Katy with a grumpy face emoji and a confusing mix of letters.
After that text, according to the local sheriff, Englebert’s phone went dark.
“Nothing on his phone after 9 or 8, nothing,” Englebert’s mother said.
Baylee called police the next morning to file a missing person report.
Family and friends mobilized a search party on foot and using drones, scouring the landscape for Englebert’s whereabouts.
“Somebody had to have seen something and know something,” his mother said. “We just ask anybody to send any information.”
Bayle said the T-shirt Englebert was wearing the night he disappeared “was grayish purple; had, like, streaks of gray in it.”
Two years later, there are still no answers.
“I relive it over and over and over every day,” Englebert’s mother said. “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.”
Brian Eads, the lead investigator on Englebert’s case for the Gering police, says it is still “very much” an active investigation.
“We always try to treat things as a homicide until they’re proved otherwise,” Eads said. “At this point, there’s no evidence to show that it is a homicide … but there really isn’t … evidence to show that it’s not, either.”
Eads said authorities have enlisted outside investigators and K-9 teams to help with the search. He said they have conducted search warrants and polygraph tests as they chased down leads.
Early on, the theory was that Englebert fell into the river.
“It’s still one of the theories,” Eads said. “His last known (location) … was in close proximity to the river.”
Amanda Waldron is a volunteer investigator with “We Help the Missing,” a nonprofit team of private investigators dedicated to locating missing persons.
At Terry Lake, near where the surveillance camera caught the final images of Englebert, Waldron says, “This is Martha Road. We know that Chance turned here. He would have walked down this way.”
In addition to the river, Terry Lake is another body of water in which they think Englebert might be found.
“Chance walked down the road right here in front of this body of water,” Waldron said. “There was a storm that night — so that has kind of led (us) to believe that water could have been involved.”
Some people say that because there was a powerful storm that night and the river was high, there is a good chance that Englebert ended up in the river due to a tragic accident.
Another belief is that Englebert’s disappearance was no accident.
“I’d say Chance was born and raised for that kind of weather,” Miller said. ” There’s just no way it could take him.”
“I’ve hunted with him for two years beforehand,” Miller continued. “The guy could cover country. I like to call him a mountain goat, man.”
Miller doesn’t buy the theory that Englebert’s disappearance was due to a tragic accident.
“Not even a second. No,” Miller said. “We’ve put hours and hours and hours down there walking river bottoms and I don’t think he’s in a river. I don’t think that at all. 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 believes there are people who know what happened to Englebert.
Englebert’s disappearance has divided his and Baylee’s family and friends.
The effect that it has had on the families is what bothers Eads the most.
“I mean, there’s a lot of hurt feelings out there,” he said of “the way things have (been) … portrayed and misstated.”
“This entire case is just tragic the way it has torn a family apart,” Gering Police Chief George Holthus said.
Englebert’s mother says she hasn’t seen her grandson, Banks, in more than two years. She also said she is not in touch with Baylee.
“Her text messages say she wants nothing to do with me,” Englebert’s mother says. “She hates me. She blames me for everything … that happened with Chance.”
Miller says that he would love to have an hour sit down with Baylee.
“That’s the only person I’d like to talk to,” he said, expressing a desire to ask about “what really happened that night and afternoon.”
Baylee said she has received death threats and fears for her safety. She said there’s a lot of false information and accusations against her family.
Talking to NewsNation, Baylee called Englebert’s disappearance and the mystery around it “absolutely devastating,” and says she continues to work with the police.
Baylee said that on the night Englebert disappeared, she called and went out to look for him a few times. The last time she spoke with him, she said, he hung up.
“I told the cops everything that I know,” she said. “I’ve been completely transparent with them. I’ve never hid anything from anybody involved with it. They just don’t like the answers that I have to give. We invited the police into our homes to do searches, and we were all cleared … long ago.”
Eads agreed that Baylee has been forthcoming from the start of the investigation.
“All of the family members have been interviewed,” Eads said. “All of their properties have been searched by law enforcement.”
In a case shrouded in mystery, Baylee said she hopes for some sort of clarity, and soon.
“I can look at different facts of the case and how he was as a person and essentially drive myself crazy with what could have happened or what did happen,” she said. “But at the end of the day, I don’t have any answers. I’m really ready for the day that we do have answers, though.”
Englebert’s family continues to search and raise awareness. They have raised more than $17,000 in reward money.
“People need to know. He needs justice,” Englebert’s mother said. “I don’t know who did it, I honestly don’t. I hope it’s a stranger. I just want people — somebody knows. You see, this town — it’s small.”