Anonymous Tip Helps Solve Cold-Case Murder After Nearly 40 Years – but the Killer Is Already Dead

Anonymous Tip Helps Solve 40-Year-Old Cold Case Murder
William Ercanbrack
Courtesy of Summit County Sheriff’s Office

07/30/2015 AT 11:30 AM EDT

The murder of a Utah man has finally been solved after 39 years thanks to an anonymous tipster.

William Ercanbrack was just 47 years old when he was shot in the back at his ranch in Clarks Canyon on Oct. 28, 1976. For years, his family wondered what led to his murder – and now they have an answer. But his killer is already dead.

The break in the case came after the tipster stepped forward a few months back with new information. That info led authorities to name George B. Toone as Ercanbrack's killer.

"It [was] a land dispute," said Summit County Sheriff's Sgt. Ron Bridge on Tuesday, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

He added: "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."

However, Toone died of natural causes on Sept. 11, 2001, at the age of 75. Had he been alive, the county attorney would have filed a murder charge against him, Bridge said.

Still, knowing who the killer was gives Ercanbrack's family much-needed closure. "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."

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