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Denise Pflum

An 18 year old leaves home to retrieve a purse after a night out and never returns

  • Last updated: April 2, 2024
  • Connersville, IN
  • March 28, 1986

Overview of Denise Pflum

Denise Pflum left her home to retrieve her purse she left behind at a party. She was never seen again but her car was found the next day.

Denise Pflum was an 18-year-old senior at Connersville High School who had dreams of studying microbiology in college. She had plans of attending Miami University in Ohio in the fall. Denise ran track during high school and had intentions of securing a track scholarship in college. Denise was incredibly bright, was the treasurer of the science club, and played volleyball, softball, and basketball.

Denise was looking forward to attending the senior prom the following month. Denise had broken up with her boyfriend, Shawn M. McClung who she had been dating for three years. Her mother, Judy says that her daughter was becoming more social since her breakup.

Denise Pflum
Denise Pflum | Source: WTHR

The day Denise went missing.

The night before Denise went missing, she attended a party on a rural farm with a few hundred other students. She reportedly left her purse behind. The next day on March 28, 1986, around 12:30 PM Denise left her home to retrieve her purse. Denise called a few friends to see if they would go with her to pick up her purse; none of her friends could. Before leaving, she had a brief conversation with her neighbor. This is the last confirmed sighting of Denise. However, a friend would tell her mother, Judy Pflum, that she saw Denise at the Fashion Bug clothing store. But when the friend described her clothing it was incorrect.

When she was discovered missing.

When Denise didn't return home that evening her parents begin to worry — it was unlike her. Her parents report her missing with local PD. Denise's locked car would later be found parked near a farm. The car was parked alongside Tower Road, a gravel lane east of Glenwood; near a barn. The farmer would later tell police that it hasn't left that spot since 12:30 p.m.-1:15 p.m. the previous day. The farmer originally thought the car belonged to mushroom hunters. There was no reason for Denise to be in that area.

Renewed Efforts and a Break in the Case

In 2018, the Fayette County Sheriff's Department, under the leadership of Sheriff Joey Laughlin, decided to take a fresh look at the cold case. They enlisted the help of retired detective supervisor, Tom Barker, who began re-examining evidence and re-interviewing witnesses.

In early 2020, investigators announced that they had new information in the case, which led them to believe that Denise had been murdered. The new leads pointed to an undisclosed location in rural Fayette County, where they believed her body may be buried. Authorities conducted multiple searches in the area, using advanced technology such as ground-penetrating radar and cadaver dogs. However, they were unable to locate her remains.

Where the case stands today.

Denise’s case remains unsolved despite a confession made to police by Shawn McClung in July 2020. However, McClung died in police custody from an undisclosed terminal illness before he could be tried for Denise’s disappearance. To date the family is providing a $100,000 reward. If you have any information regarding Denise’s case please contact Fayette County Police Department at (765) 825-1110 Ext. 604 or laughlin@co.fayette.in.us

Denise Pflum & Shawn M. McClung
Denise Pflum & Shawn M. McClung | Source: Oxygen


  1. Date Missing:March 28, 1986
  2. Birthday:January 14, 1968
  3. Current Age:56
  4. Age at Incident:18
  5. NAMUS Number:MP10555
  6. Race:Caucasian / White
  7. Gender:Female
  8. Height:5'6"
  9. Weight:135 lbs
  10. Hair Color:Brown


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