Denise Diane Pflum

Pflum, circa 1986; Shawn McClung in the 1980s; McClung, circa 2020

  • Missing Since 03/28/1986
  • Missing From Connersville, Indiana
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Sex Female
  • Race White
  • Date of Birth 01/14/1968 (53)
  • Age 18 years old
  • Height and Weight 5'6, 135 pounds
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description A size medium red Motley Crue t-shirt, size 11 blue striped jeans, old size 9 white sneakers, size 7 hip-hugger panties, a size 34B beige or white bra, a gold ring with a garnet, and a silver class ring with a red setting.
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian female. Brown hair, brown eyes. Pflum's ears are pierced. She wears contact lenses.

Details of Disappearance

Pflum left from her family's residence in Connersville, Indiana on March 28, 1986. She planned to retrieve her purse, which she believed she left at a party the previous evening. She asked multiple friends as well as her sister to accompany her to the site of the party, some farmland, but none of them could go so she decided to go there alone.

According to the tenant of the farm where the party was held, Pflum never arrived arrived at her destination, although a friend reportedly saw her at 2:00 p.m. at a Fashion Bug store on 30th Street. She didn't have any identification when she left home, or the carrying case or cleaning solution for her contact lenses. She has never been heard from again.

The following day, a farmer from Glenwood, Indiana reported that Pflum's cream-colored 1981 Buick Regal, which was registered to her parents, had been locked and abandoned alongside Tower Road, a rural gravel road east of Glenwood, since between 12:30 and 1:15 p.m. the day she went missing. This spot was all the way across the county from where she lived, and three miles from the party site; her family can't think of a reason why she would have gone there. There were no indications of a struggle at the scene.

Shawn M. McClung was Pflum's ex-boyfriend and had previously claimed Pflum was still alive, but in July 2020, during a three-hour interview, he confessed having killed her in March 1986. A photo of McClung is posted with this case summary. At the time of his confession, he was in jail on two unrelated cases. He made his confession in exchange for a promise of immunity for his statements and dismissal of the two unrelated charges. But McClung refused to lead the authorities to Pflum's body, and the agreement that would give him immunity required him to not withhold any information. As a result, he did not receive immunity for his confession and he was charged with voluntary manslaughter in Pflum's presumed death.

At the time of his confession, McClung was suffering from a terminal illness. He died in September 2020 at the of 56, just months after he was charged in Pflum's case. In the hospital, five days before his death, he told his lawyer that he didn't know what had happened to Pflum and had only confessed to killing her because he wanted to get out of jail.

Pflum was a senior at Connersville High School at the time of her disappearance; she was involved with volleyball, basketball, softball and track, and was a member of the National Honor Society. She had already been accepted to Miami University in Ohio, where she planned to major in microbiology and hoped to get a track scholarship.

Authorities have never recovered Pflum's body and it's unclear whether McClung was in fact involved in her disappearance. Her case remains unsolved.

Updated 9 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated January 20, 2021; details of disappearance updated.