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Arrest in 'Great Mystery of Fayette County'

Ex-boyfriend charged in 1986 death of Denise Pflum, 18
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 10, 2020 8:03 AM CDT

(Newser) – An ex-boyfriend has been charged in the death of an Indiana teen last seen more than three decades ago. Denise Pflum, 18, disappeared from Connersville in March 1986, shortly after splitting with her boyfriend of three years, Shawn McClung, in what Sheriff Joey Laughlin calls "the great mystery of Fayette County for 34 years," per NBC News. Police say McClung was questioned following Pflum's disappearance but maintained his ex was still alive, per NBC. He recently admitted to killing her, the sheriff's department said Thursday, announcing charges of voluntary manslaughter. It's still unclear how Pflum died. She'd attended a spring break party at a farm the night before her disappearance, per WXIN. At home the next day, she realized she'd forgotten her purse and went back to grab it. Less than an hour later, a friend dropped off the purse at Pflum's home.

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Pflum never returned home and her car was later found abandoned some three miles from the farm. Her body has never been found. In hindsight, her mother finds it "unnerving" that the "fearless" Pflum had wanted someone to accompany her to the farm that day. Her sister and friends weren't able to go, Judy Pflum told NBC in March. Pflum—a top student, star athlete, and talented artist—had become "more social" following her breakup with McClung. "She was hanging out with her friends more. Dating," her mother said. She added Pflum had been accepted to Ohio's Miami University, where she planned to study microbiology. "If she were here today, she'd be working on a cure for cancer. Or, well, maybe even a cure for this coronavirus," she said. "She just wanted to help people." As of March, Laughlin told NBC that "we believe more than one person is involved." (Read more cold cases stories.)

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