North Summit rancher’s 1976 death solved
On Thursday, Oct. 28, 1976, a well-known rancher in Summit County was murdered while opening the gate to his ranch in Clarks Canyon, seven miles east of Coalville.
William Ercanbrack, 47, was shot in the back from a distance of 300 feet with a high-powered, small-caliber rifle.
The investigation at the time showed an unknown shooter was positioned along a fence line and had used a fence post to rest on while taking the shot that killed Ercanbrack.
The case remained open for 30-plus years as investigators periodically looked into leads.
Recently, the Summit County Sheriff’s Cold Case Team took a look into the Ercanbrack homicide and in early 2015, investigators received information from a reliable source, sparking a major breakthrough.
The information obtained allowed investigators to focus on one of several persons of interest. 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.
Matt Bates, Summit County prosecutor, determined charges could be filed. However, the suspect in the case, George B. Toone, 75, died in San Bernardino, California on Sept. 11, 2001. Toone had ties to Summit County and details from the source confirmed Toone was the shooter in the Ercanbrack homicide.
A statement provided by the family said, "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."
Meredith Reed was elected to a two-year term as chair of the Summit County Democratic Party and said she sees an opportunity to ride the so-called blue wave that saw a Democratic surge nationally and within the state.