Arm Bone Recovered in Nebraska Not Remains of Missing Moorcroft Man

Chance Englebert’s family continues their search and looks for ways to honor his memory

Family and friends have contributed $220,000 in reward money for any information leading to Chance Englebert’s whereabouts. (Courtesy photo from the Englebert family) 

By Jennifer Kocher

Special to the Wyoming Truth

DNA testing has revealed that the arm bone recovered in western Nebraska in 2021 does not belong to Chance Englebert.

The Scottsbluff Police Department has linked the human bone and piece of clothing discovered by hunters in October 2021 along the North Platte River to 72-year-old Walter Eugene Patterson-Black, who was last seen at a Scottsbluff convenience store in May 2016, according to a Sept. 22 statement from police.

When the bone was discovered, authorities suspected it might belong to either Patterson-Black or Englebert, who vanished from the same general area three years later.

Englebert, who was then 25 and living in Moorcroft with his wife, Baylee, and infant son, disappeared on a weekend trip to visit Baylee’s family in Gering, Nebraska, on July 6, 2019.

Authorities sent the bone to a lab at a Florida university in January 2022 for testing and results were finally returned this month.

Englebert’s mother, Dawn, told the Wyoming Truth on Wednesday that she and her family were not surprised to learn the remains were not that of her son, but expressed sympathy for Patterson-Black’s family.

“My heart goes out to the family, because although people think it’s closure, it’s not,” she said.  “Just a bone or two doesn’t give the family closure. I feel it makes more questions than anything.”

Remaining questions

It’s unclear what happened the day Englebert disappeared four years ago. But according to Dawn, her son had been golfing with his father-in-law and other members of his wife’s family when he reportedly got into an argument with his in-laws. The dispute was reportedly about the new job Englebert was scheduled to begin the following Monday at Blakeman Propane, after recently being laid off from an area coal mine.

Englebert called Baylee from the golf course, telling her that he wanted to return to Wyoming and asking her to pick him up. After she retrieved him, the couple went to Baylee’s grandparents’ house where they, too, argued before Englebert walked off. He called a friend in Gillette and other family members to ask for a ride, stating he planned to walk the roughly 35 miles in the rain to neighboring Torrington, Dawn said.

Englebert was last spotted on surveillance camera video walking in downtown Gering; he was  wearing Wrangler jeans, a plaid shirt and a trucker’s cap. His last communication was a text message to his aunt around 9 p.m. containing a jumble of numbers and emojis, which, Dawn said, concerned her as Englebert never used emojis.

An extensive search by 17 law enforcement agencies involved drones, divers, cadaver dogs and hundreds of volunteers on foot, but it turned up no clues. To date, there are no answers as to what might have happened to Englebert, according to Gering police.

Chance Englebert is pictured here with his infant son, Banks, prior to his going missing in July 2019. (Courtesy photo from the Englebert family) 

Lead investigator Brian Eads said there are no new developments in Englebert’s case.

“We continue to receive tips, but nothing that has panned out yet,” Eads wrote in an email to the Wyoming Truth on Wednesday. “So it continues as before, where we are encouraging anyone with info to contact us.”

Family ups reward, honors memory

Last December, Englebert’s grandmother, Linda Kluender, contributed $200,000 to her grandson’s reward fund, bringing the total to $220,000. Kluender said she made the donation in honor of Englebert’s 29th birthday; the reward will remain in effect for one year until his birthday on Dec. 2, 2023.

Despite the significant reward fund, no viable information leading to her son’s whereabouts has been forthcoming, Dawn said. 

“It’s heartbreaking we just didn’t get much of anything to help at this time,” she said, “so I don’t think any amount of money will help people talk.”

Still, Englebert’s family and friends are pursuing opportunities to keep his memory alive through events to benefit the community in their hometown of Edgemont, South Dakota.

On Sept. 30, the community will host the Chance Leslie Englebert Memorial Demolition Derby at the Fall River County Fairgrounds in Edgemont in honor of Englebert’s love of demolition derby and rodeo.

Dawn said the outpouring of support for her family has been humbling.

“I’m very emotional, but excited, too,” Dawn told the Wyoming Truth. “Our whole family is feeling it. We have been truly blessed once again by love and support.”

Money raised from the event will help maintain the scholarship Englebert’s great-grandmother started in his name. Dawn said family members also hope to sponsor an annual community project in Englebert’s name, which would benefit local schools, churches and parks.

Anyone with information about Chance Englebert is asked to contact the Gering Police Department at (308) 436-5088 or Casper-based private investigator Amanda Waldon at (307) 797-0363.

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