Skip to comments.Community stunned by shooting, stabbing in Meagher County (MT)
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.
Hes 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 hell 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 sheriffs deputies responded at 10 a.m. to a property along Sixteenmile Road. Stidham said the property was once McDonalds 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 werent 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 Id be shot at, Stidham said. Hed meet you at the front gate and invite you in.
Ill 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 McDonalds truck.
Hes 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.
Weve 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 Countys four-man team is being assisted by the Montana Department of Justice and Division of Criminal Investigation.
Others also are involved. About 70 of McDonalds 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 Sheriffs 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 McDonalds 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 weve been here.
The Meagher County Sheriffs Office also is seeking materials or financial contributions to assist with the animals. The Sheriffs Office can be contacted at 406-547-3397.
So, who killed him?
Prayers offered up for your friends.
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.
Sure would like to know what happened. This story is a personality profile and nothing else.
I am sure details will be coming out in a few days.
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.
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.