Two weeks after Woonsocket man's disappearance, search remains 'at a standstill'

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)

Thursday evening will mark two weeks since Eugene Prins was last seen in Forestburg.

To date, there are no new leads about where the missing 45-year-old Woonsocket man may have gone, according to Sanborn County Sheriff Tom Fridley and Prins' family members.

Fridley told The Daily Republic on Wednesday morning that the sheriff's office, with assistance from the South Dakota Highway Patrol, Mitchell Search and Rescue, tracking and cadaver dogs and civilians, has covered 36 square miles in the area of Forestburg, Woonsocket and Letcher and is now trying to plan its next steps in the search for Prins.

"We're regrouping and trying to figure out our best use of our resources," Fridley said. "... We're still reassessing and trying to sort out. We've asked the people that's come in and helped us for ideas, also, so we're at a standstill right now."

Prins, who goes by the nickname "Beaner," was last seen with a friend at 7:38 p.m. on March 26 at Doren's Bar in Forestburg. He was reported to have last been seen wearing a blue plaid coat, khaki pants, gray stocking hat and tennis shoes. Prins has dark, graying hair and a beard, wears glasses with dark rims and has a tattoo of his nickname on one arm.


Searches were organized the weekend after Prins' disappearance, and last week, members of the Prairie Patriots, a volunteer group, used kayaks to assist law enforcement in searching the James River near Forestburg.

"We are very thankful for everything they have done so far and for everyone who has volunteered their time and effort into the search. It's been amazing to see the support. We've had people from as far away as Worthington, (Minnesota), come and help look," Prins' brother, Colton Hotchkiss, wrote in an email Wednesday morning. "As of right now, it's a waiting game, unfortunately."

Hotchkiss said he and his other brother have personally searched roads that may have been used as routes away from Prins' last known location. His family is asking anyone who may have information about Prins' disappearance, including those who were at Doren's Bar the night of March 26 or who saw him elsewhere that night, to come forward and contact the Sanborn County Sheriff's Office at 605-796-4511.

"This is a nightmare for me and my family. And nothing is adding up. We love him and miss him and want him home," Prins' sister, Becca Prins, told The Daily Republic on March 30. "... He loves his dog and would never leave her locked in the house, so I know something is seriously wrong."

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