Name: Denise Diane Pflum
Age: 18 years old
Last seen: March 28, 1986
Location: Connersville, Indiana
Status: Still Missing
18-year-old Denise Pflum was last seen in Connersville, Indiana on March 28, 1986. She disappeared after leaving home to retrieve her purse that she had left behind at a party.
Denise Diane Pflum was born on January 14, 1969 in Connersville, Indiana, to parents Judy and David Pflum.
Denise attended Connersville High School where she played volleyball, basketball, and softball. She had plans to study Microbiology after graduation and was looking to attend Miami University in Ohio in the fall.
At the time of her disappearance, Denise was living with her family in Connersville, Indiana. She broke up with her boyfriend of three years, Shawn M. McClung, a month before she went missing.
On March 27, 1986, Denise Pflum went to a bonfire party that was held at a rural farm with a few hundred other students. She returned home after the party only to realize that she had left her purse behind.
The next day Denise asked a few friends to go with her to pick up her purse but none of them were available. She left home around 12:30 pm in her parents’ vehicle to retrieve her purse at the farm where the party had been held.
Around 1:30 pm, one of Denise’s distant cousins came to her house to return the purse, but Denise had already left.
Denise never returned home that day and hasn’t been seen since. That evening her family filed a missing person’s report with the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department when she failed to return.
According to a tenant of the farm, Denise never showed up on March 28, 1986 to pick up her purse.
On March 29, 1986, Denise’s vehicle, a cream-colored 1981 Buick Regal, was found abandoned alongside Tower Road. It was parked on a gravel lane near a barn east of Glenwood, Indiana, about 3 miles away from where the party had been held.
The locked car had been parked in that spot since sometime between 12:30 pm and 1:15 pm on March 28, 1986, according to a farmer.
Shawn M. McClun
Denise Pflum’s ex-boyfriend, Shawn M. McClung, left town shortly after she went missing and moved to Arizona. He was questioned during the investigation, but authorities never considered him a suspect in Denise’s disappearance.
McClung had a criminal record for domestic violence during his time in Arizona before moving back to Connersville in 2017. In early 2020, McClung was being held at the Fayette County Jail on two pending cases of fraud charges.
Man charged with manslaughter in death of Denise Pflum
While in custody, McClung agreed to share information with authorities about Denise Pflum’s disappearance. He said he would tell investigators the location of Denise’s body in exchange for immunity from a murder charge and dismissal of the two unrelated fraud charges.
During a three hour interview with police, McClung confessed to killing Denise Pflum on the day she disappeared. He said they got into an argument after she picked him up, and that some of his friends helped dispose of her body.
On July 9, 2020, Shawn M. McClung recanted his confession. He was unable to prove authorities with the location of her remains, and was subsequently charged with voluntary manslaughter in Denise’s disappearance.
On September 26, 2020, 56-year-old McClung died in police custody from an undisclosed terminal disease before a trial could take place, just five days after telling his attorney that he had made up the confession in an attempt to be set free.
Foul play is strongly suspected in Denise Pflum’s disappearance and police believe she was murdered. Her remains have never been found.
A $25,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the location of Denise Pflum and for information leading to the arrest of the person or people responsible.
White female born on January 14, 1969. Denise has brown hair, brown eyes, stands 5′ 6 tall, and weighs 135 pounds.
Distinctive Physical Features:
Denise wore contact lenses.
Clothing and accessories:
Denise was last seen wearing a red Motley Crue t-shirt, blue striped jeans, hip hugger panties, a beige or white bra, and old white sneakers. She was wearing a gold ring with a garnet and a silver class ring with a red setting.
If you have any information regarding the disappearance of Denise Pflum please contact the Fayette County Police Department at (765) 825-1110.
Resources & Further Information
News & Media Links
Family of missing Denise Pflum continues to fight for justice 34 years after she vanished in Connersville, Indiana on Good Friday 1986 – NBC News 03/2020
Man charged with manslaughter in death of Denise Pflum 34 years after she vanished from Connersville, Indiana in 1986 – NBC News 07/2020
Suspect in 1986 cold case dies months after confession – WHTR 09/2020
New questions emerge about confession made in 1986 cold case – WHTR 01/2021