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A 40-year-old Summit County cold case finally has resolution — but the suspect has been dead for years.

William Ercanbrack, 47, was shot in the back and killed on Oct. 28, 1976, at his ranch in Clarks Canyon.

The well-known rancher, who still has family in the area, maintained the land seven miles east of Coalville; and it was that land which apparently led to his death at the hands of George B. Toone.

"It [was] a land dispute," said Summit County sheriff's Sgt. Ron Bridge on Tuesday.

After all these years, an anonymous tipster came forward a few months ago and told detectives about the motive for Ercanbrack's death.

"Corroborating information was given about two activities after the homicide, and mixing that together with what was collected at the scene of the crime — a particular piece of evidence — we were able to confirm that Toone was in fact the murderer in this case," Bridge said.

As part of a deal made with the tipster, Bridge cannot disclose any more details than that.

As Ercanbrack opened the gate to his ranch, Toone was "laying in wait" along a fence line, about 300 feet away, and was using a fence post to rest on while taking the shot with a high-powered rifle.

Investigators periodically looked into leads, but a strong case never came of them, until the tipster appeared.

But Toone was already dead. At the age of 75, Toone died of natural causes on Sept. 11, 2001 in San Bernardino, Calif.

If he was alive today, the county attorney would have filed a murder charge against him, Bridge said.

Toone had a brief criminal history in Salt Lake County during the 1950s, but other than that, his record appears to be clean, Bridge said.

Though Toone can obviously never stand trial for Ercanback's death, the Summit County man's family is grateful for the resolution. Bridge knows them personally, and "William, as far as we know, he was a wonderful man."

"I think that they all wanted the final resolution. They all wanted that disposition," Bridge said. "They have suspected over the years who could have done it… [and this] brings closure."

Ercanback's children knew Toone's name, but didn't know him personally, Bridge said.

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