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Oklahoma's Cold Case Files: Death of Dena Dean

Dena Dean
Posted at 2:07 PM, Feb 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-26 23:41:42-05

TULSA, Okla. — “She wasn’t due until the 17th of March. And she decided to come a little early,” Dianna Dean said.

It was February 26th, 1982.

“When they take and put that little five-pound baby in your arms, it’s a miracle,” she said.

She was Larry and Dianna Dean’s fourth child. The only thing left to do give her a name.

“If it was a boy, my mother was going to him. If it was a girl, his mother got to name her. So his mother came up with Dena Ann Dean,” said Dianna.

Dena Dean

Dena became a daddy’s girl.

“Her initials spell D A D, and that’s our connection,” Larry Dean said.

Larry and Dena shared love for speed.

“She went racing with me from she was two weeks old; she went to her first sprint car race with me,” he said.

Her other passion: music.

“When she went to middle school in sixth grade, she went into band, and she played the clarinet,” said Dianna.

Dianna holds onto the clarinet her daughter played in school, tucked away safely in a case.

Friday would have been Dena’s 29th birthday.

“She had turned 16 in February, and she was murdered in June,” said Dianna.

Dena Dean- teenager

It was June 6th, 1998.

“This guy wanted to speak to her after he got off work, and she asked me if she could go talk to him. And I told her she could go talk to him and stay at the store there in the parking lot. And to be careful and be home by 10:30,” said Dianna.

It was the Marvin’s Food Store parking lot. When 10:30 came and went with no sign of Dena, Larry headed out to find his daughter.

“Located the car. Checked it out, made sure she wasn’t in it,” he said.

When he didn’t find Dena in the car, he feared the worst and began looking in dumpsters.

“I figured they might have dumped her body. I knew Dena wasn’t around at that time,” he said.

Dena was missing for six days, and then a car turned onto Larry and Dianna’s street.

“When I seen the Undersheriff turn the corner, I knew then,” said Larry.

Someone murdered their miracle baby. The case remained cold for years until a couple of retired detectives stepped in.

“We made a commitment to the Sheriff and the Deans,” said Mike Huff, Tulsa County Cold Case Investigator.

A commitment Mike Huff and Doc Shannon have been keeping for the last five years.

“We would love to come up with the magic bullet,” said Shannon.

But cases aren’t solved by magic.

“We’re very close and miles away. We know the facts that we can prove. But there are not enough facts there at this moment,” said Huff.

Huff and Shannon believe they’re on the right track.

“It’s a very small suspect pool,” said Huff.

“We’re keeping up with all the people that had anything to do with it,” said Shannon.

And have this message for Dena’s killer or killers.

“We look forward to putting the cuffs on you,” said Huff.

In the meantime, Larry and Dianna hold on to their faith until they find justice for their miracle.

“They say God will never give you more than you can handle,” said Dianna.

Anyone with information about the murder of Dena Dean call the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Unit at 918-596-5612.


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