For the 2019 Fourth of July holiday, Chance Englebert, his wife Baylee, and their infant son left their Moorcroft, Wyoming home and traveled to Gering, Nebraska, Baylee’s hometown. Chance played golf with his brother-in-law and father-in-law on Saturday, July 6, 2019. Chance was upset when Baylee saw him later that afternoon. The 25-year-old told Baylee he wanted to return to Wyoming because he didn’t like some of the remarks his family had made about him during their golf outing. Chance leaped out of the car as soon as they pulled into the driveway and left the house where she had been staying, which was her grandparents’ house. Chance never came back to the house and was never seen again, although Baylee believed he was just going for a walk to help him relax.
About 220 miles away from Gering, in Moorcroft, Wyoming, lived Chance and Baylee and their baby son, Banks. At 7:46 p.m., when Baylee called her husband on his cell phone, he informed her that he was walking south of her grandparents’ house. However, when he spoke with his friend Matt Miller, he revealed that he was walking in the direction of Torrington, Wyoming. He asked Matt if he could come get him, but Matt said he couldn’t drive after drinking, so he told Chance he would see if he could find someone else.
Matt called Chance’s mother, Dawn Englebert, and asked if she could come get him. She said she would try to get in touch with her son and find out what he wanted to do. Chance told Matt that he “had a little run-in in Gering and wanted to get out of there.” Chance received texts from several family members, but he didn’t respond to any of them until 9:08 p.m., at which point he sent his aunt an unintelligible text that contained the emoji “ibdesereallyg” and the word “ibdesereallyg,” which Chance was never known to use. It was unclear whether Chance’s phone was misplaced or wet when he attempted to send a text message, or if it belonged to someone else. It was the final usage of the phone.
About 9:00 p.m., a strong thunderstorm passed through the area; it’s not clear if Chance was still on foot at the time. Baylee was contacted by Chance’s parents to inquire about her knowledge of the situation. She reassured them that she and her family were searching for Chance and that she didn’t believe his parents needed to make the trip to Gering that evening. After the storm passed, her grandfather drove around trying to find him, but he was never found. At 11:00 on Sunday, Baylee reported her husband missing to the police, fearing something had happened to him.
To help with the search for Chance, members of his family, the majority of whom were from South Dakota, drove to Gering. To spread the word about Chance Englebert’s disappearance and keep people informed about the search, they set up a Facebook page titled “Help Find Chance Englebert.” Baylee told reporters that the family was offering a cash reward for information leading to Chance’s whereabouts because she was positive he would never have willingly left her or their son behind.
Chance would often walk around for a few hours when he needed to clear his head, Dawn said, but he would always come home. She shared Baylee’s belief that her son would not have voluntarily left his family. He loves his family. He cherishes his entire family. This is not what he would have done to us.
Chance and Baylee dated for approximately two years prior to October 2018 marriage. Chance had been overjoyed to become a father after their son was born in April. According to Baylee, “He loves being a dad.” When he found out I was pregnant, he was happier than I was. He was bouncing up and down. My spouse is the most supportive person I could ask for.
Chance was raised on a South Dakota ranch and developed a deep love for bareback riding while still in middle school. He persisted through high school and demonstrated his talent to the point where he was awarded a bareback riding scholarship to Laramie County Community College, where he graduated with a degree in welding and diesel mechanics.
Chance had been employed by Blackjewel LLC as a welder, but the company had recently closed two of its coal mines in Wyoming’s Campbell County, leading to his layoff. Everyone was taken aback by the sudden action, including state officials, which led to the loss of about 600 jobs. But Chance was set to start a new job the Monday following his disappearance; he had already found one.
Chance’s cell phone was last detected by investigators to have ping-tagged a tower on County Road 19 close to Scottsbluff, Nebraska, which is a few miles north of Gering. They focused their initial search efforts in that region. Despite not finding any information regarding Chance’s whereabouts, they were able to follow up on multiple reliable tips from people who claimed to have seen Chance walking in Terrytown, which is located directly outside of Scottsbluff.
From the start, law enforcement handled the case with great seriousness. They mentioned that Saturday night’s storm had produced a lot of rain and lightning in the area; Chance would have been more likely to suffer from hypothermia if he had been left outside during the storm. The heavy rain also raised the possibility of flooding.
The initial search for Chance involved 17 law enforcement agencies, including the Nebraska State Patrol, the Gering Police Department, and the Scotts Bluff County Sheriff’s Department. Law enforcement also surveyed the area from above using helicopters and drones in addition to their ground search efforts. While boats and K9 units searched the nearby North Platte River, crews descended the water level in the Gering Central Canal to conduct a search there. While all parties hoped Chance would be located soon, by Tuesday night they were beginning to wonder if he had found a way out of the area.
Based on Chance’s cellphone data and the footage from nearby security cameras, officials claimed to have identified the most effective search areas. To make sure nothing was overlooked, crews conducted grid searches throughout each area. Investigators acquired surveillance footage from nearby establishments; Chance was seen on camera passing by Gering’s Domino’s Pizza at 7:49 p.m. and at the intersection of Martha Drive and 10th Street at 7:51 p.m. This meant that in the minutes before his disappearance, he had been traveling north. Additionally, investigators requested that any residents with security cameras check their footage from Saturday night for any indications of Chance.
Scottsbluff and Gering residents are asked to walk through their property, per Gering Police Capt. Jason Rogers’ request, to ensure that Chance hasn’t taken refuge in a shed, barn, or other outbuilding and become stuck or hurt. In addition, he was hoping to track down someone who had seen Chance walk on Saturday night. Please give us a call if you heard anything, saw anything, or were simply driving through Terrytown, Scottsbluff, or Gering and happened to see someone walking between 7:30 p.m. and midnight. We will take note of any information that comes to us.
Hundreds of miles had been covered by searchers on foot and by air by Wednesday night, but they had not located Chance. “We can say with relative certainty that Chance isn’t in those areas,” stated Gering Police Chief George Holthus. “We are going to be transitioning from an actively searching phase to a phase focusing more on investigation—doing more with cell phones, interviews with family, coworkers, and other people.”
Chance’s last cell phone ping, according to detectives, was somewhere around the Riverview Golf Course, which is situated just west of Scottsbluff. After that, his phone was either dead or turned off, so they had no idea where he had gone. Chief Holthus emphasized that if Chance had left on his own volition, there would be no criminal charges against him and stated that they hadn’t ruled out the possibility. Chance has not broken any laws if he needed time to relax or take a break. He is a grown-up.
Chance’s mother stated that although she didn’t think her son would just up and leave his family, if he had left on his own volition, it was time for him to return. All she wanted to know was how he was doing. Chance wouldn’t have deserted her and Banks, Baylee insisted. “To be honest, I believe he is either dead or seriously injured.”
At approximately 6:00 p.m. on Friday, July 12, 2019, a woman reported seeing someone at a Caspar, Wyoming, Walmart who she thought might be Chance. Officer Shawn West of the Gering Police Department stated that they had asked the store for surveillance footage in order to verify whether or not Chance was actually being seen, but he also mentioned that there were only a few sightings that they were looking into. While they were still investigating some of the possible sightings, they had been able to rule out others.
Leads were drying up for investigators two weeks after Chance went missing. They acknowledged that they had no idea what had happened to the missing man and that they had been unable to corroborate any of the reported sightings of him. They were extremely worried for his safety because he hadn’t made an attempt to get in touch with any of his friends or family.
According to Baylee, Chance’s family was keeping up the physical search for their loved one while the police focused on following up on leads for further investigation. In the hopes of discovering something that would lead them to Chance’s location, they were scouring some densely forested areas that had not been included in the initial search. “We’re retracing a lot of our steps and going further than the police did.”
Banks, Chance, and Baylee (Image courtesy of county17.com)
Baylee was concerned that he had hurt himself and hadn’t been able to get in touch with anyone, even though the detectives claimed they hadn’t discovered any evidence suggesting foul play. “Clearly, he had a bad incident, or he would have returned home. I think he’s hurt and is lying somewhere, but we’re looking everywhere.
On Saturday, July 20, 2019, Chance’s friends and family threw a vigil in his honor. They gathered to pray for his safe return at the Fall River County Fairgrounds in Edgemont, South Dakota, his hometown. Dawn was clearly in pain as she begged for assistance in finding her son. “What transpired that evening needs to be known by someone. We are pleading with them to come forward because we require clarification. Kindly.
The final week of July saw law enforcement resuming their physical search for Chance, going back to the Stable Club Canal after a cadaver dog alerted them to a scent in the vicinity. They searched the canal for several days without finding anything.
Chance’s friends and family persisted in planning their own searches because they seemed to believe that the police weren’t doing enough to locate Chance. “I felt like we needed to look for Chance a little bit harder, and I didn’t feel like anybody else would do the job like I could, so I’m going to try myself,” Chance’s friend Matt Miller told reporters in November 2019. He set up a Facebook page and enlisted volunteers to assist him in searching the area near where Chance’s phone had last pinged. They looked everywhere, but nothing turned up.
The Gering Police Department updated the public on the status of the investigation with a press release on November 27, 2019. According to them, the last verified sighting of Chance was captured on camera the night he disappeared, walking close to Terry Boulevard and Stable Club Road in Terrytown. There were no other confirmed sightings of him.
Detectives had pursued leads in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming since the beginning of the investigation. None of the leads had produced any results. The investigation was still being conducted by a number of agencies, but the FBI had decided not to become involved because there was no proof of any federal violations.
Investigators emphasized that they had not discovered any signs of malevolence. Chance was still listed as missing and not as a victim of a homicide because “what we know at this point is that Chance was walking in Gering and Terrytown on his own free will.” Investigators would keep pursuing every lead they were given.
Early on, there was tension between Baylee’s family and Chance’s family; a few weeks after Chance vanished, Baylee’s parents hired an attorney and ceased doing interviews. The fact that Chance’s family appeared to think Baylee and her family were concealing something contributed significantly to this; Baylee was attacked on social media for appearing “too casual” in her initial interviews. Some saw it as a sign of guilt, while others pointed out that Baylee was only 20 years old, struggling to care for a three-month-old baby on her own while attending nursing school and probably just stressed and unsure of how to handle herself. Though there was still no proof of foul play, according to the police, rumors persisted.
Over the following few months, Chance’s family and friends kept up their sporadic searches for him, but they were unable to hold any significant events to draw attention to the fact that he was still missing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dawn claimed that as the first anniversary of her son’s disappearance drew near, she began to experience nightmares. More than 150 people attended the family’s prayer vigil to commemorate the tragic anniversary. “We go on and try to act like everything is good…there are so many firsts and we’re trying to get through them,” the family said.
Though they acknowledged that they were no closer to finding out what had happened to Chance, detectives insisted that the case remained open and active. According to Capt. Rogers, the department remains hopeful about the resolution of the case. “We’re going to keep searching and pushing forward in the hopes that we can find solutions for everyone.”
The Gering Police Department received more tips about the case over the course of the following year, but the detectives were unable to follow up on any meaningful leads. It appeared from the words of one investigator that communication was the key to solving the case. “Someone is troubled by their conscience. Find that individual and address that.
When Amanda Waldron, a private investigator who had just recently begun working on the case, announced in October 2021 that she was following up on some new information and potential leads, the reward for information in the case was increased to $14,750. “A number of individuals have come forward.”
Detective Brian Eads of Gering told reporters that while they did not yet have any proof of a homicide, they also did not have any evidence to rule out one. There was just no proof at all. He stated that both families had enabled searches to be conducted on their properties and had been fully cooperative throughout the investigation.
On December 2, 2022, Chance should have been celebrating turning 29. His maternal grandmother Linda Kluender contributed $200,000 to the reward fund in honor of the event, raising the total amount offered to $220,000. Her husband made fun of the fact that she had just inherited some money and could now purchase anything. “Well, there’s only one thing I want, and I can’t buy that,” she said to him. And that’s figuring out Chance’s location and his fate. Her hope was that the bigger prize would at last provide everyone with the information they were looking for.
Chance is still missing as of May 2023, and investigators are still unsure of what happened to him. The $220,000 reward for information will run out on Chance’s 30th birthday, December 2, 2023.
In July 2019, Chance Leslie Englebert, who was only 25 years old, vanished from Gering, Nebraska. Detectives are unsure of Chance’s circumstances, as no evidence has been discovered to date to suggest that he was the victim of foul play, had an accident, or had just left his life. Chance weighed 170 pounds and stood 5 feet 9 inches tall with brown hair when he vanished. He also had green eyes. When last seen, he was sporting a black and white trucker’s cap, blue jeans, boots, and a button-down shirt with short sleeves. Please call the Gering Police Department at 308-436-5088 or the Scottsbluff Police Department at 308-630-6261 if you have any information about Chance. In this instance, a $220,000 reward is offered.