Investigation at a standstill two months after Woonsocket man's disappearance

Prins, Eugene
A recent photo of Eugene Prins, who was last seen in Forestburg on March 26. (Photo courtesy of the Sanborn County Sheriff's Office)

WOONSOCKET — Tuesday marked two months since Eugene Prins was last seen, and authorities have no leads on what might have led to the Woonsocket man's disappearance.

Prins, 45, who is known to many as "Beaner," was last seen at Doren's Bar in Forestburg at 7:38 p.m. on March 26. Law enforcement learned of the disappearance via social media around noon the following day, and Sanborn County Sheriff Tom Fridley told The Daily Republic on Wednesday that since the beginning of the investigation, no one has come forward with information helpful to the case.

"At this point, we're unfortunately at a stalemate," Fridley said.

A search was conducted March 29, covering 12 square miles on the ground and more than 30 with a plane. Law enforcement and emergency management and fire department personnel from eight agencies, as well as Prins' family members and other civilians, participated in the search, which was reported not to have uncovered any information on Prins' disappearance.

The following day, another search was conducted with assistance from the Codington County Sheriff's Office and a K-9 unit. The week after Prins was last seen, volunteers searched a section of the James River near Forestburg in kayaks, and Prins' family members have told The Daily Republic they've personally searched roads near Doren's Bar. Both scent and cadaver dogs have been used to search but have not found any indicators of where Prins might be. About 36 square miles have now been searched in total, Fridley said.


"We've chased every probability down, so we haven't gained anything since the last searches were done and haven't come up with any new or better leads or anything like that. So our frustration level is high," Fridley said. "We're hoping and relooking to see if we've missed something, but at this point, we're not coming up with anything."

Prins was reported to have last been seen with a friend, who has since been questioned by agents with the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, Fridley said. After about two and a half hours and polygraph testing, that man was cleared and is not considered a suspect.

Authorities have reportedly spoken to others who may have seen Prins or been near him on the night of March 26. No security cameras were in use at the bar where Prins was last seen, Fridley said, and what footage was available from a nearby building only confirmed information that was already known and confirmed by witnesses.

For now, Fridley said, the sheriff's office is continuing to consider possible scenarios that may have surrounded Prins' disappearance but so far has not identified one that lines up enough to justify using additional resources, since most of the search for Prins has been conducted by volunteers.

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