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What got dug up in Ovando



Early Tuesday morning Carol Boyd took me out to see Tony’s Cemetery. We met at her house, a shack on a livestock-slopped acreage on the side of the road near Ovando. Her ex-husband Earle Eichenlaub drove us up the road to a gate and we walked from there, Carol in her house-slippers, long gray hair down, maybe three-quarters of a mile in.

We approached the cemetery from the back this time. I’d been at the property with Carol and a small flock of newspeople the Friday before. We’d approached the cemetery the short way then, from below, wading Montour Creek, but before we could start the climb a tense and invisible male voice from above yelled at us to stop, to turn around, to walk away or face arrest. We knew that might happen—a Sheriff’s note attached to the warrant said so.

The warrant said the Sheriff’s men had rifled the premises searching for evidence of sexual crimes of violence, pornographic material and, spectacularly, the remains of a human fetus. Presumably that’s what they were digging for up there in Tony’s Cemetery.

Carol says she has no idea why the Sheriff is looking for such things on her property. Actually she has a theory. Actually she has two, but she isn’t going to tell me.

Carol says Powell County stole her cows twenty years ago, and she wouldn’t be surprised if that’s who got her good saddles a few years back too.

In any case she is not unused to the attentions of law enforcement. Her son-in-law is John Trochman of the Militia of Montana. A son is in prison in Deer Lodge for failing to register as a sexual offender when he moved home. Another has a rape on his record, a third kidnapping. Neither of the latter convictions is valid, Carol says, but she adds that there are plenty of other things those boys never did get caught for.

It doesn’t matter now because both are dead, both dropped within six months of each other in 1997, one of a heart attack at 47, the other in a car wreck at 26.

They’re buried here, David and Tony, just the brothers on a fenced piece of flat ground halfway up a hillside getting covered with snow.

Carol calls it Tony’s Cemetery because it was Anthony Christopher Eichenlaub who wanted to be buried here, beneath his favorite tree. A carved wooden eagle perches on a low branch of Tony’s gnarled old ponderosa, and a whitetail antler rack hangs in a sapling near the gravestone. The eagle was sort of Tony’s totem Carol says, and he did love to hunt. He saved an eagle from a trap once, she says, and passed up shots when he didn’t need the meat.

His casket is encased in concrete she says, so they probably didn’t get in there. All I can see is that much earth has been turned over Tony and piled back loosely in place. She warns me of the soft ground at the foot of the grave, says if I step in there I’ll just keep going.

No telling what the Sheriff’s men did down there. Powell County officials have released no information regarding the investigation. If a crime is being investigated, neither victim nor suspect has been identified.

Carol starts crying.

“I thought this was one place he’d be safe. I feel like I’m not protecting him. I’m sorry.”

We walk back the short way, down the hill, and when we get to the bottom Carol takes off her slippers and wades barefoot across the brittle-cold creek. I tell her she’s brave to do it. She says she’s been wading that creek barefoot since she was a little girl.


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