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Crime News Up and Vanished

Could An Iowa Man’s Mysterious Death Be Connected To The Disappearance Of News Anchor Jodi Huisentruit?

Billy Pruin was found dead from a gunshot wound just three months before his friend and popular news anchor, Jodi Huisentruit, was abducted on her way to work.

By Aly Vander Hayden
Tony Jackson Lived Blocks from Jodi Huisentruit's Office

In the summer of 1995, Jodi Huisentruit was working towards her lifelong goal of becoming a national news anchor. 

The 27-year-old's dreams, however, were cut short on June 27, when she was abducted from a parking lot outside of her Mason City, Iowa, apartment while on her way to work at local station KIMT-TV.  

When Huisentruit failed to arrive for her morning broadcast, police performed a welfare check at her complex. In the lot where her red Mazda Miata was parked, they found signs of a struggle and drag marks near the car. 

Huisentruit’s heels, hair dryer, earrings, damaged car key, and can of hair spray were on the ground, and an unidentified palm print was discovered on the vehicle, reported the Des Moines Register

In the 25 years since her disappearance, little movement has been made in the investigation, and in hopes of generating new leads, the season premiere of “Up and Vanished,” airing Saturdays at 7/6c on Oxygen, reexplored the cold case. 

By speaking with those close to the case, host Payne Lindsey and his team learned of a potential connection between Huisentruit’s disappearance and the mysterious death of her friend, Billy Pruin, who was found dead from a gunshot wound at his home on April 5, 1995. 

While his death was initially ruled a suicide, it was later changed to undetermined following further investigation. 

One of Pruin’s close friends, who wished to remain anonymous, told “Up and Vanished” she “never felt that he committed suicide.” 

“Sometime before his death, I had talked to him, and he was nervous about something. He acted like something could happen to him, something bad … I definitely feel that Billy was murdered,” she said. 

Beth Bednar, retired television anchor and author of “Dead Air: The Disappearance of Jodi Huisentruit,” claimed there were some “very unusual circumstances” surrounding Pruin’s death, including the fact that there was no gunshot residue on his body.  

A well-known farmer in the area, Pruin had been vocal about Mason City’s growing methamphetamine problem, which could have upset local drug traffickers. 

“Perhaps it was a drug operative that wanted to silence him … I think it was very possible [Huisentruit was looking into Pruin’s death]. Maybe she was asking too many questions, maybe just being a little too nosey for some people’s comfort,” Bednar told “Up and Vanished.” 

Could Huisentruit have potentially conducted her own investigation and linked a drug operation to Pruin’s fatal shooting? Bednar thinks so. 

“Maybe they were thinking that she had hit on something that perhaps could have led investigators in a different direction,” she added. 

As just one of many theories surrounding the young news anchor’s disappearance, no one has ever been charged in connection to the case, and Pruin’s death also remains unsolved. 

To hear more about Lindsey and the “Up and Vanished” team uncovered, tune in Saturdays at 7/6c on Oxygen

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