Dena Dean was a fun, bright, and bubbly sixteen year old who lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Dena was born February 26, 1982. She loved her friends and her life. She often spent time at the racetrack hanging out with her friends and family. Dena was part of the marching band and on the honor roll at school. Dena was, by all accounts, a “ray of sunshine.” She really knew how to make people smile and feel good. Dena worked at the local Arby’s until her death in 1998.
Dena’s Last Movements
On June 6, 1998 Dena Dean was supposed to pick up her best friend, Brandi McClellan, from work at Marvin’s Grocery store. Dena came to hang out with Brandi before Brandi’s shift was over at 10:30 PM. Around 10 PM Dena left Brandi in the store to meet up with her boyfriend in the parking lot.
Witnesses from a different store which shared Marvin’s parking lot saw a young woman, investigators believed to be Dena, standing next to a vehicle and having an argument with the person inside. The witness saw the vehicle speed away after but never saw the girl again. When 10:30 PM came around Brandi noticed Dena’s car in the parking lot but Dena was nowhere to be found. A schoolmate and her mother noticed Brandi was visibly upset and offered to take her home. Brandi refused, wanting to wait for Dena. That mother called the Dean family and told them their daughter was missing.
Dena Is Missing
The Dean family sprung into action starting an initial search for Dena, which included searching around the store and paging Dena many times. Brandi went to Dena’s boyfriend’s house looking for Dena. He told Brandi he had not seen Dena when he left the store. He decided to go bowling and shoot pool with a friend. If you would like to hear the details of his alibi and this case check out the podcast Momma Kirby’s Murder Mysteries, episode three “Dena Dean: A Tulsa Nightare.”
Dena’s body was found on June 12, 1998 not far from where she was last seen. She was on a hilltop that teens would frequent as a lover’s lane and to have small get-togethers. Over the years many suspects have come up and been cleared through evidence. There is currently a Cold Case Task Force working the Dena Dean case. They are seeking answers for the Dean family, and honestly all of Tulsa. This case caused the whole community of Tulsa to change how they lived. Every year they have memorials for Dena on her Birthday. No one will ever forget Dena. Dena’s family, friends, and community will not rest until they receive the answers they deserve.
Written by: Erinn Malloy