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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.
Pruin’s death initially was ruled a suicide, but later changed 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 cartridge 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.
“The friends of Billy Pruin could not believe he would commit suicide and were shocked by his death,” Peterson wrote.
Why, many wondered, would Pruin have proposed to his girlfriend two days earlier and then gone to town to purchase a new tractor if he was suicidal?
In her book “Dead Air – The Disappearance of Jodi Huisentruit,” author Beth Bednar also cited possible connections between Pruin’s death and Huisentruit’s disappearance.
Pruin’s cause of death remains officially listed as “Undetermined,” though the lack of gunshot residue on his hands indicates he did not pull the trigger.
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 undetermined death is asked to contact the Cerro Gordo County Sheriff’s Office at (641) 421-3000.