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Sheriff still says case near solution

By KATE THURSTON - kthurston@newsexaminer.com

It’s been six weeks since a criminologist told the public that he believed local law enforcement was getting close to making an arrest in the missing person case of Denise Pflum. While some of the public have expressed a feeling that false hope was given on the case, Sheriff Joey Laughlin assures this is not the case.

“We are closer than we have ever been. I know I have said that before but we are. We have been following up on some aspects of the case as recently as last week,” Laughlin said.

Richard Walter, a forensic psychologist and criminal profiler spent ta week in Connersville, helping with the Pflum case. Denise Pflum, a high school student at the time, went missing in 1986.

“We believe we have a large portion of the story but we don’t have the complete story. We have the probable cause to make arrest, but we want more of the story before we jump the gun.

“One of the biggest things that irks me is that people think we are desperate and we are trying to just pin somebody. We are not desperate, the case is 33 years old. However, we do feel time is of the essence. Over 33 years, people associated with the case have passed away and we want to get every piece of crucial information we can, while we can.”

Laughlin said he and others have been hitting the case hard core and have made a lot of progress recently.

“We have a new witness that has a large portion of the story, but there is a portion of the story we don’t have. The last thing we want to do is pin this on the wrong person; there is no time for that. All the work that has been put into it has been done to get a complete story on Denise Pflum. We want to know everything before we make a move, and we almost have it. We do believe she was murdered, we are quite confident.”

Laughlin said police have interviewed people in the past two months who have never been interviewed before.

“We have been doing so much, we really are making a lot of progress. Detective Chad Blaes has been such a big part of this case in helping out, he is constantly pushing us and being positive. There are so many passionate about this case, we all are. We all are trying out hardest to solve this.”

Walter and Laughlin spoke for an article published July 20 in the Connersville News-Examiner. Walter said he believed they were close to making an arrest.

“Richard was good for us because it helped us narrow our focus,. Some of his comments were premature, those were his comments, not ours. He was very confident, and we agree with his assessment of the case, but we don’t have to prosecute the case,” he said.

Laughlin said he and his officers talk with the Fayette County prosecuting attorney’s office weekly about the case.

“This isn’t going away, we have moved this case in the past three years, I think, further than it ever has been. We all do feel we are close to the finish line. The case feels fresh, any criticism and negative comments being made or anyone questioning our intentions here, I understand the public’s questions, but the only people we are trying to close this case for is the Pflum family, primarily Denise. She deserves justice. We are so close, there is nothing that comes in we don’t follow up on. We feel like we have a very big part of the story.”

Laughlin believes he needs only a couple more pieces of the puzzle and then it will be complete.

“There are a lot of things going on behind the scenes. Right now we can’t show our hand, we have to keep some info close to the vest,” he said. “We are going to be really busy the next few weeks.”