A Dying Man Allegedly Confessed To The Murder Of Missing Teen Denise Pflum
High school senior Denise Pflum disappeared on March 28, 1986. Over three decades later, a man admitted to murdering the teen.
Denise Pflum’s mother, Judy, had a foreboding feeling on the day her oldest daughter disappeared. March 28, 1986, was Good Friday, and Denise’s Connersville, Indiana, high school was on spring break. She attended a party with friends the previous night — one last spring break hurrah before returning to school the following week and finishing her senior year. Denise had her eyes set on the future; she had already been accepted to Miami University in Ohio that fall.
Denise’s mother told NBC News in 2020 that the teen had recently broken up with her boyfriend of three years at the time she disappeared. The breakup freed her up to attend parties with friends, thus her presence at the March 27 party that grew to include several hundred teens at a bonfire in a field.
Denise made it home that night, but she woke up on Saturday morning and realized that she’d forgotten her purse in the field where the party had taken place.
According to the Charley Project, Denise asked several people to go with her to look for her purse, but nobody was available, so she set out in her cream-colored Buick Regal to run some errands and retrieve her purse.
She was never seen again.
Instead, her locked car was found abandoned about three miles from the party site with no sign of Denise or any sign of struggle outside the vehicle.
Tenants who lived where the party was held told authorities they hadn’t seen Denise at all on March 28, but a family friend reportedly saw her at a clothing store in Connersville around 2 p.m. that afternoon.
Police spoke to her ex-boyfriend, Shawn McClung, early in their investigation, but he reportedly told them she was still alive. He left Indiana for Arizona shortly after he was questioned. The case went cold with few leads and fewer clues.
By 2016, McClung had returned home to Indiana, and police got their chance to ask him about the case again in July 2020 when he found himself in jail after he was charged with alleged financial crimes.
According to reports, McClung reportedly confessed to killing Denise during that interview, and he was charged with voluntary manslaughter in her death. At the time, NBC-affiliate WTHR in Indianapolis reported that detectives believed he confessed because he was terminally ill.
McClung succumbed to that illness on Sept. 26, 2020, without ever telling authorities where to find Denise’s body. According to the Charley Project, he told his attorney that he lied about killing Denise. It is still unclear if McClung was involved in Denise’s disappearance and presumed murder.
If you have any information about what happened to Denise Pflum, please call the Fayette County, Indiana, Sheriff’s Department at 765-825-0535.