Denise and friends at the Homecoming football game Photo CHS Cohiscan

Claire Stinger, Editor

On January 14, 1968, the Pflum family welcomed a beautiful baby girl into the world, Denise Diane Pflum. As time went on, Pflum made her first friend, her sister, Jenny Hardy. She also formed an interest in sports and biology, which would later impact her college plans and sports she played during high school. 

Hardworking, talented, and artistic Denise Pflum was a Connersville High School senior in the spring of 1986. Pflum was preparing for prom and her future plans of going to college at Miami University to study Microbiology. Pflum played softball, volleyball, and had finally begun to come out of her shell and make more friends after her breakup with boyfriend of three years, Shawn McClung. However, she had one friend though it all, Wendy Pyle. 

Pyle met Pflum at Everton Elementary School in the fourth grade. “We were friends from the start,” Pyle explained. As they grew up together, Pyle came to realize that Pflum was a really great friend. Pflum stood up for Pyle at a boys basketball game when some older girls were upset over something Pyle had said. “She was a good friend and always looked out for me,” Pyle recalls. Among all the memories that Pyle and Pflum shared, one particularly stands out in her mind. The last memory she has with Denise, on March 25, 1986, was pleasant. Pyle explained that they were “driving around in her car being normal teenage girls.” The following evening she had been asked to stay in town to go to a farm party on the night of the 27th. Her parents had refused, and she was unable to go to the party with Pflum.

Denise and the CHS Volleyball team
Photo CHS Cohiscan

Another friend of Denise’s was Michele Hathaway. Hathaway met Pflum in junior high. They were also on rival softball teams during the summer. Hathaway described Denise during these times as an “interesting girl.” Pflum was friends with people from all social groups, and was “a hard worker.” Even after Hathaway moved away during her junior year, the two friends kept in touch the best they could. They communicated through letters, where Denise confided in her often. Pflum explained at one point how she was going to the homecoming football game with Shawn McClung, who was older and Hathaway mentioned that he had not previously been in the friend group. However, Denise finally was able to call Hathaway over the telephone, which was rare for this time due to being long distance. Hathaway recalls that Denise was very excited for prom, and Hathaway possibly swimming in college.

 Denise Pflum had gone to a farm party on the evening of March 27th and the next day she realized she had forgotten her purse at the party. Pflum left her home in Everton in her 1981 Buick Regal to retrieve her purse. However, she never returned home. Days passed and search parties were sent out to find Pflum. While no trace of her was found, her Buick was located at the farm without any evidence of where she was. More than 30 years later, Pflum’s whereabouts still remain a mystery, and this is the most difficult part for Pyle. “For years, not knowing what actually happened has been difficult.”  However, her family is one step closer to justice. 

On Thursday, July 9, 2020, Shawn McClung was arrested and later charged with voluntary manslaughter in relation to the Denise Pflum case. However, McClung passed away on September 26, 2020, giving officers no further information on the location of Pflum.