Summit County Sheriff’s Office solves 40-year-old cold case of murdered rancher

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SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah — Investigators have closed a 40-year-old cold case involving the murder of a rancher in Summit County, officials announced Tuesday.

Early this year, the Cold Case Team developed a strong lead into the 1976 murder investigation of William Ercanbrack. Details given by a cooperating source

helped officials identify suspect, George B. Toone, who died at the age of 85 in San Bernardino, Calif. on Sept. 11, 2001, according to a press release from the Summit County Sheriff’s Office.

On Oct. 28, 1976, 47-year-old Ercanbrack was murdered while opening the gate to his ranch in Clarks Canyon, seven miles east of Coalville, according to a press release from Summit County Sheriff’s Office.

Ercanbrack was shot in the back from a distance of 300 feet with a high-powered small caliber rifle, the release states.

“The investigation at the time showed an unknown shooter was laying in wait along a fence line and had used a fence post to rest on while taking the shot, which killed Ercanbrack,” according to the release.

Courtesy of Summit County Sheriff's Office

Courtesy of Summit County Sheriff’s Office

The case remained open for more than 30 years. Investigators periodically looked into leads but nothing developed.

Investigators received a break in the investigation when the Cold Case Team took a look at it.

“In early 2015, investigators received information from a reliable source, which sparked a major break in the cold case,” the release states.

Investigators were able to narrow down their persons of interest list to Toone.

“Details given by a cooperating source were substantial and allowed investigators to present the complete case to the Summit County Attorney’s Office for screening,” the release states.

The release also indicated that Chief Criminal Attorney Matt Bates determined charges could be filed in the case.

“Toone had ties to Summit County and details from the cooperating source confirmed Toone was the shooter in the homicide of William Ercanbrack on October 28, 1976,” according to the release.

Ercanbrack’s family expressed gratitude and appreciation to the current Summit County Sheriff’s Cold Case Team.

“We may now be able to find some source of closure in this matter and can move forward knowing that there are certain law enforcement professional out there that really do care about carrying out their duties to protect and serve,” the family writes in a statement.

Read the full family statement below:

“The family of William Ercanbrack would at this time like to extend a Sincere offering of Gratitude and Appreciation to the current Summit County Sheriff Cold Case Team, including Sheriff Justin Martinez, Lt. Alan Siddoway and Detective Mike Wilkinson, for their hard work and determination to resolve the Cold Case Homicide of our Father.

We may now be able to find some source of closure in this matter and can move forward knowing that there are certain Law Enforcement Professionals out there that really do care about carrying out their duties to ‘Protect and to Serve.’

Further, we also recognize and appreciate former Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmunds, for taking the initiative over 10 years ago to re-open this Cold Case, as well as former Deputy Joe Offret and Detective Dean Carr for their hard work and effort to bring this case to a final resolution.”

1 Comment

  • wendie young owen

    This family and their friends have waited so long for some closure of their father’s murder. I am so happy for them. My dad and Bill were friends and our family saw the toll this horrible cold blooded cowardly murder did to Bills family. Kudos to all involved in finding the truth. Maybe the police there could kick American Forks police into action to bring my brother Stevens murderer to justice too. I am so happy for the whole family

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