Even in a state known for crazy crimes, the killer clown accused of murdering her love rival 27 years ago may go down as one of the strangest cold cases ever investigated in Florida.
Sheila Keen Warren, 54, was arrested in Virginia for the murder of her husband’s former wife, 40-year-old Marlene Warren, in 1990, according to police.
Officials said on Tuesday that Warren had been charged with first-degree murder with the use of a firearm.
On May 26, 1990, Marlene was eating breakfast with her son Joey and some of his friends when a strange car pulled up outside their home in Wellington, Florida.
When Marlene opened the door, the clown shot her in the face with a pistol — then jumped into a car and drove away.
“This is the strangest thing I’ve seen in all my 19 years in law enforcement,” Bob Ferrell, then a spokesman for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s office, told the Sun-Sentinel at the time.
“As she went to take the flowers and balloons, the clown shot her. As far as I know, nothing was said.”
Marlene died two days later, and the murder would remain unsolved for almost three decades.
Police immediately suspected Marlene’s husband Michael Warren, since authorities knew that the marriage had been shaky — and the couple had more than $1 million in property and business assets, all of which were in Marlene’s name.
Sheila, who was then using her maiden name of Keen, was also a person of interest the murder. Some strong circumstantial evidence appeared to connect her to the crime: Sheila’s estranged husband confirmed the pair were having an affair, and she lived across the street from the only costume shop in Palm Beach County believed to sell the type of balloon the killer was carrying.
Staff at the store reportedly stated that they believed that she could have been the woman who bought a clown costume two days before the murder.
But prosecutors never had enough evidence to charge her until new technology allowed them to retest DNA evidence after the cold case was reopened in 2014.
Police tracked down Sheila and Michael, and found out that they had married in 2002 in Las Vegas (Circus, Circus?), and were running a restaurant together in Tennessee.
On August 31 this year, a grand jury issued a first-degree murder indictment for Sheila Keen, leading to her arrest.
The lesson here is, do not ever open the door to a mysterious clown! This should not even have to be said.
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Main photo: Sheila Warren [Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office]