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An Indiana man has confessed to killing his ex-girlfriend in 1986 when she was a teenager, authorities recently announced.
Shawn M. McClung was charged Thursday with voluntary manslaughter in relation to the 1986 disappearance of Denise Pflum, the Faytette County Sheriff’s Department announced in a press release last week. McClung, after previously claiming that Pflum was still alive, recently admitted to killing her in March 1986, according to authorities.
Pflum was 18 years old and preparing to graduate high school and attend Miami University in Ohio in the fall when she vanished in March 1986, NBC News previously reported. The teen, who lived with her parents in Connersville, had recently broken up with her boyfriend of three years and had begun socializing more, her mother told the outlet. On March 27, Pflum went to a party at a farm with hundreds of other teens attending; the following day, she left to return to that location to look for her purse, but the owner of the property later reported that he never saw Pflum that day.
When Pflum failed to return home, her parents reported her missing, according to NBC News. Although her car, a cream Buick Regal, was found abandoned the following day around three miles from the site of party, Pflum was never seen again; her family believes she never made it to her destination.
“We do not believe that she ever went back to that area — something or some person interrupted that opportunity to do that,” her father, David Pflum, said in an interview with local station WTHR in 2018. “We knew right away that something was wrong because she had never been out without our knowledge about where she was going to be. When the time unfolded into the next day and the subsequent next days then we knew we really had a problem.”
Pflum planned to major in microbiology and wanted to be a scientist, her family told NBC News earlier this year. She was also an athlete who played volleyball, basketball, and softball, and her family described her as someone who had “everything going for her.”
The case has remained active over the years, with various agencies, including the Indiana State Police and the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department, following various leads. Fayette County Sheriff Joey Laughlin told Dateline earlier this year that authorities believe that there are multiple people complicit in Pflum’s disappearance but stated that they do not yet have enough evidence to press charges against anyone.
“We believe more than one person is involved — by statements they’ve made or by their relationship to Denise,” Laughlin said.
In Thursday’s press release, authorities confirmed that the investigation is ongoing and that they are currently looking into the “involvement of other parties.” It is currently unclear is McClung has yet entered a plea to the charge.
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