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Community stunned by shooting, stabbing in Meagher County (MT)
billingsgazette.com ^ | 28 September, 2010 | CHELSEA KROTZER

Posted on 09/29/2010 6:20:14 PM PDT by marktwain

SIXTEEN — Bill McDonald was the kind of man that would push a flat-tired wheelbarrow almost 30 miles each way to town to get bags of food for his 70 dogs.

He was the kind of guy who just wanted to be left alone and always had a .44-caliber pistol in the back of his pants and a bowie knife strapped to his hip.

“He’s just a big old, dumb country boy,” said Wes Stidham of White Sulphur Springs, who had known McDonald since third grade. “He wanted people to leave him the hell alone, and he’ll leave you the hell alone.”

McDonald, 63, died of a single gunshot Saturday in the community of Sixteen, located about 30 miles southwest of White Sulphur Springs in Meagher County. Another man, Mike Eckberg, 61, was found at the scene with several stab wounds. He was taken to St. Vincent Healthcare and was in good condition Tuesday.

Meagher County sheriff’s deputies responded at 10 a.m. to a property along Sixteenmile Road. Stidham said the property was once McDonald’s before he sold it to the Eckbergs a few years ago with the stipulation that McDonald could live out the rest of his days in a trailer home on the same property.

The incident has rocked the small town of White Sulphur Springs, where most knew of the McDonald family. Bill McDonald lived his entire life out in Sixteen with his brother, Sam, and his mother, Lucille.

“They weren’t goofy, they were just different from everybody else,” Stidham said. “They stayed to themselves and never really bothered anybody.”

Stidham and his wife, Barb, went to school with McDonald. Even back then, his size intimidated some people.

That carried into his adult life, especially when he was packing his gun and knife, which prompted some to refer to him as “Crazy Bill.”

Wes Stidham said he never felt threatened.

“I went down to Sixteenmile lots of times in different outfits, but I never thought I’d be shot at,” Stidham said. “He’d meet you at the front gate and invite you in.

“I’ll miss the damn old turd-head. I liked him. I liked his upfront manner. If he said something, you could believe it.”

Stidham said things had begun looking up for Bill during the past few months. He had a girlfriend.

“He started cleaning himself up,” Barb Stidham said. “Who knows, it could have been the best thing that ever happened to him.”

Steve Lukenbill works at Van Oil in White Sulphur Springs, and often worked on McDonald’s truck.

“He’s a likable person. You never had any trouble with him,” Lukenbill said. “He was a good fella. This all has got people talking.”

While the McDonald family is well-known, the Eckberg family is new to the area. Stidham said they came to the area from Minnesota.

“We’ve met these people, too, and they seemed like nice people as well,” Barb Stidham said.

Police are continuing to investigate. Few details of the incident have been released. The Meagher County’s four-man team is being assisted by the Montana Department of Justice and Division of Criminal Investigation.

Others also are involved. About 70 of McDonald’s dogs are being rounded up and brought to the Lewis and Clark Humane Society.

The dogs, mostly Sheltland sheepdog/Pomeranian mixes, are in good condition for how many there are.

“This man obviously loved his dogs,” said Maggie Rousseau, a dispatcher with the Meagher County Sheriff’s Office.

Rosseau said the dogs will walk up to a person, but most shy away once a person bends down to pet them.

Most of the dogs were found outside McDonald’s mobile home. All of the dogs have fleas, and about four females have puppies.

The Humane Society is scheduled to pick up the dogs Wednesday. The animals are being held in a temporary pen near the property.

From there, dogs will be spayed, neutered and treated for fleas.

In the meantime, three dispatchers are working their best to track down the last few dogs.

“We set up traps for all of them,” Rousseau said. “Some people said some of the dogs are over the hillside, but no one has seen them since we’ve been here.”

The Meagher County Sheriff’s Office also is seeking materials or financial contributions to assist with the animals. The Sheriff’s Office can be contacted at 406-547-3397.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; US: Montana
KEYWORDS: banglist; mt; shooting; stabbing
Last summer I spent a night at 16. I met three of the four people involved in the incident. This is a terrible tragedy. The survivors lives will be changed forever. I will be following this story and will post more when I can.
1 posted on 09/29/2010 6:20:22 PM PDT by marktwain
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To: marktwain

So, who killed him?


2 posted on 09/29/2010 6:26:21 PM PDT by SuzyQue (Remember to think.)
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To: marktwain

Prayers offered up for your friends.


3 posted on 09/29/2010 6:47:54 PM PDT by B4Ranch (Conflict is inevitable; Combat is an option. Train for the fight.)
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To: marktwain

I read the article in the Montana Standard this morning. I grew up not too far from the area and I’ll be honest with you, I had never heard of Sixteen. Sad story.


4 posted on 09/29/2010 7:23:54 PM PDT by Bushbacker1 (I miss President Bush greatly! Palin in 2012! 2012 - The End Of An Error! (Oathkeeper))
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To: marktwain

Sure would like to know what happened. This story is a personality profile and nothing else.


5 posted on 09/29/2010 7:35:55 PM PDT by WVNan
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To: All
I don't want to post any more details yet. Much of what I have heard is second or third hand. The police have a reason not to release any details yet. They are probably checking out stories and leads. Sixteen is a ghost town a long way from anywhere. The only people living there were Bill McDonald and the Eckbergs. For a long time only Bill and his Mother lived there. Bill is dead and Mike Eckberg is in the hospital with stab wounds. It does seem a personality profile, but only of Bill. Information on Mike is lacking.

I am sure details will be coming out in a few days.

6 posted on 09/29/2010 8:12:51 PM PDT by marktwain
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To: WVNan; All

I guess I can say a couple more things. I understand that Bill was a Vietnam vet, and Mike was retired from Northwest airlines. Mike found Sixteen because of his interest in the railroad that went through there. Mike and Bill knew each other for quite a few years before Mike bought the property.

Mike and his wife lived there for the last few years after Mike took a slightly early retirement. One of Mike’s daughters moved there for about the past year. I think she is about 30 years old.

I do not think there are any outside parties involved.


7 posted on 09/29/2010 8:23:05 PM PDT by marktwain
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To: marktwain; hiredhand; Squantos; NFHale
“I’ll miss the damn old turd-head. I liked him. I liked his upfront manner. If he said something, you could believe it.” P> somebody please make sure that gets put on my tombstone...
8 posted on 09/29/2010 8:45:05 PM PDT by Gilbo_3 (Gov is not reason; not eloquent; its force.Like fire,a dangerous servant & master. George Washington)
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To: marktwain

From the details I have it sounds like a clear case of self defense. I am not sure what was going through bill’s mind for him to try and storm the cabin but he does have a history of being a little reckless with other people.

But from just the story in the paper it all happened around and later in Michael Eckberg’s cabin and he has multiple stab wounds, and William Mcdonald was killed with a shotgun.

It will be interesting to see how Montana’s Castle Law will come into play.


9 posted on 09/29/2010 9:47:31 PM PDT by sixfire
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