A year without Eugene Prins: Missing man’s family seeks closure

KELOLAND.com Original

WOONSOCKET, S.D. (KELO) — On Friday, March 27, 45-year-old Eugene “Beaner” Prins of Woonsocket, South Dakota was reported missing. The last time anyone has reported seeing him was the night before.

Over the course of the following days and weeks, searches have been planned, carried out and concluded, failing to find results; failing to find Eugene.

Now, a little over a year has passed, and Sanborn County Sheriff Tom Fridley says that the investigation has not progressed, either in terms of finding new leads or results. The last year has weighed heavily on the family, including Eugene’s youngest brother, Colton Hotchkiss, who spoke with KELOLAND News about his brother’s disappearance.

This lack of progress has bred frustration from time to time, but despite this, Hotchkiss spoke with both understanding and gratitude of the Sanborn County Sheriff’s Department. Between a lack of resources and the pandemic, he says, things have been difficult.

Eugene was a private person, according to Hotchkiss. “[He] didn’t go out much, didn’t hang out with anybody; kind of lived his life, went to work, came home, came over to eat. Just kind of lived his life private. The couple friends he did have he was very close to you know, would do anything for them. And of course his family. He absolutely loved them.”

Even a year later, each day brings its own emotions for Hotchkiss. “Some days I wake up, I’m angry; I’m bitter. Then in an hour, I’m cool, collected, but then,” he says, “I’ll think of something that’s completely random, like a Pink Floyd song will come on, which is Eugene’s favorite band and… I’ll lose it. I’ll start crying.”

“That’s been the way for all of us,” says Hotchkiss, in a matter-of-fact tone. “It’s kind of been a running thing now — our emotions change hour by hour depending on what is said or what we hear, or even our own thoughts.”

Throughout the difficulty and the doubts however, Hotchkiss says the family has not been forced to go it alone, finding support amongst not only one another, but also from someone who knows their pain only too well.

Rachel Cyriacks was 30 years old when she disappeared. She was last seen in Woonsocket on November 13, 2013. Cyriacks case remains open, and her damaged pickup was found the following January in Huron. Investigators have determined her disappearance to be suspicious.

Hotchkiss says that the family has discussed amongst themselves their ideas of what may have happened to Eugene.

“It’s crazy, within the past seven years there’s two people missing now from Woonsocket,” he says, referring to both his brother and Cyriacks, “that lived a block away from each other, grew up together and everything. I guess it’s kind of hard to really explain what we feel happened without I guess, pointing fingers, which we absolutely don’t want to do — but when you talk amongst yourselves, it’s bound to happen.”

Hotchkiss says he that he has kept looking forward this past year with a sense of optimism, not just for himself, but for his mother and others around him as well. “It’s so she knows that we aren’t giving up,” he says, “and that the community knows we aren’t giving up, that nobody thinks we gave up on him, that we’re just going to forget about him.”

In terms of his hopes going forward, Hotchkiss says that he would obviously like to see Eugene found alive. That being said, however, he also realizes the reality of the situation.

Asked what he would like to say about the current situation, Hotchkiss issued a plea for information.

“If you’ve got any information, tell us, please.” says Hotchkiss. “At this point, we’re begging. It’s sad to say, but we are.”

If you have information, contact the Sanborn County Sheriff’s Office at (605) 796-4511.

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