Skeletal Remains Found in Remote Utah Mountain Range Identified as Man Missing Since 2019

Matthew Broncho's remains were found in a remote mountain range in Utah, near where his truck was found abandoned in March 2019

<p>Box Elder County Sheriff

Box Elder County Sheriff's Office

Matthew Jay Broncho, a Native American man who disappeared in 2019 when he was 34 years old

The remains of a Native American man who disappeared in 2019 have been located in a remote mountain range in Utah, authorities said.

Members of the Box Elder County Sheriff's Office responded to the Hansel Mountains on Monday, April 27, after an individual reported finding skeletal remains while looking for shed antlers, Chief Deputy Sheriff Cade Palmer said in a news release on Facebook.

The remains were later recovered from the site near Snowville "and sent to the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner for further processing,” Palmer added.

Using dental records, the medical examiner identified the victim as Matthew Broncho.

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Broncho was 34 years old when he was last seen on March 20, 2019, according to a missing person bulletin shared at the time.

Four days later, the Fort Hall Police Department in Idaho informed the BESCO in Utah that the missing man had abandoned his pickup truck, which was later found by exit 7 in Snowville on Interstate 84, Palmer said.

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Broncho’s wallet and phone were found inside the truck. His dog was also missing, but was found on March 27, 2019, “wandering a few miles west of Snowville,” the chief deputy sheriff added.

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Broncho had no known connection to Snowville, where his vehicle was found five years after he disappeared, according to KIDK.

In 2023, a group called “Carrying the Message” organized a caravan to bring awareness to Broncho’s disappearance as well as "others who have been murdered or are missing," the Idaho State Journal reported.

“For the people out here, for the Native American, it’s like it’s really hush-hush, and we have to force [information] out there to be heard,” said Willeena George, one of the group's founders, per KIDK.

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Paul Frank, another founder, told the Journal in 2023 that he was not satisfied with the efforts by authorities to find Broncho.

“Sometimes the [Fort Hall Police] drop the ball or make excuses and don’t take it seriously enough,” he explained at the time. “It’s a non-stop battle with them when they’re supposed to be on our side.”

In 2018, an Associated Press investigation determined that the true number of Native Americans who are missing in the United States is unknown. By the end of 2017, Native Americans and Alaska Natives made up about 1.8% of ongoing missing cases in the FBI’s National Crime Information Center database, despite only representing 0.8% of the country’s population.

An investigation into Broncho's case is ongoing, Palmer said in the news release. “Although this is difficult news to receive and there are still unanswered questions, we hope they can find some comfort in knowing that he has been found,” he added.

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