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On April 6, 2018, Iowa Cold Cases received information about this case and will be reviewing its status with the Mason City Police Department and Cerro Gordo County Sheriff’s Office.
William Thomas “Billy” Pruin, 43, was shot at his rural Mason City, Iowa, home on Tuesday, April 4, 1995.
Two days before his death, he’d proposed to his girlfriend, Gretchen Tusler.
Officials initially ruled his death a suicide, but later changed the status to undetermined.
KIMT-TV morning and noon anchor Jodi Huisentruit was allegedly investigating Pruin’s death when she went missing nearly three months later on June 27, 1995. Huisentruit’s body has never been recovered and her case also remains unsolved.
The day of his death, Pruin drove his pickup to Mason City to pick up a new tractor he had purchased from Brakke Implement. Pruin left his pickup at the dealership and drove the new tractor to his rural Mason City home. Calls to Pruin that night went unanswered.
A friend stopped by Pruin’s home the following day and found the door open about four inches, the keys still in the outside lock. After calling out to Pruin and getting no response, the friend left.
Pruin’s mother went to check on him Thursday, and found her son dead in the dining room, a gunshot wound to his chest. Nearby lay a spent .44 magnum slug from Pruin’s gun.
According to a FindJodi.com article published May 9, 2006 by KAAL’s Gary Peterson, a Cerro Gordo County Sheriff’s report stated there were no identifiable prints on the revolver Pruin reportedly had in his hand. His hands were placed in paper bags, the report stated, but there was no record of any gunshot residue on either hand or on any of Pruin’s clothing.
Pruin’s fiancée said he was “afraid of something,” several weeks before his death, Peterson said.
Before writing his May 2006 report, Peterson said he’d sat down with Lanee Good, one of the people who knew both Jodi and Bill. Good believes, Peterson wrote, that Pruin was in a hurry to get into his house. He left his keys in the outside lock of the door, crossed the kitchen and entered the dining room, getting his revolver. Somehow his revolver discharged, and Good believes there was a struggle and Pruin was shot.
In a Dec. 2, 2011 phone interview with Iowa Cold Cases’ Jody Ewing, Bednar said Huisentruit’s 1995 disappearance and Pruin’s death possibly have ties to Gerald Best’s December 1999 murder as well as the brutal Copper Dollar Ranch murders of 17-year-old Melisa Gregory and Steven Fisher, 20, in March 1983.
On Feb. 20, 2015, a Black Hawk County jury found Fisher’s estranged wife, Theresa “Terri” Supino, not guilty of two counts of first-degree murder in the Gregory/Fisher double homicide.
Pruin’s cause of death remains officially listed as “Undetermined,” though the lack of gunshot residue on his hands and clothing suggests he neither pulled the trigger on the .44 Magnum nor fired the fatal shot.
William Thomas “Billy” Pruin was born October 22, 1951, the son of William Pruin and Shirley Ann Pruin. He died Tuesday, April 4, 1995.
Pruin’s survivors included two children; his mother, Shirley Ann Pruin Carroll; and sisters Laura and Linda.
His father, William, preceded him in death in 1958.
Pruin was laid to rest in Sacred Heart Cemetery in Rockwell, Iowa.
Pruin’s mother passed away June 2, 2007.
Anyone with information regarding Billy Pruin’s unsolved case is asked to contact the Cerro Gordo County Sheriff’s Office at (641) 421-3000.