On the 26th of May, 1990, a 40 year-old Florida resident was murdered on her doorstep at 14570 Takeoff place, Wellington, when she was shot point blank in the face by an assailant clad in a clown outfit.
(Source: Google maps)
The victim, a woman named Marlene Warren, was having breakfast in the kitchen with her son when she heard a knock at the door at around 10:45am. She lived in a in a luxury home in an exclusive aeronautical community called the “Wellington Aero Club”. As we can see in the Google map image above, there is also a private airstrip. “Live your dream and fly privately into this community's runway”, the website states.
(Marlene Warren. Source)
She got up to answer it and opened the door to reveal a clown standing on the doorstep of the residence holding a bouquet of red and white carnation flowers in one hand. The clown had a bright orange curly wig, paper-white face paint and round red nose. A pair of balloons floated above the character, one of which read, “you’re the greatest!”
A white convertible Chrysler LeBaron was parked out on the sidewalk; not the typical ride you’d expect a clown to drive around in.
Probably amused by what she most likely believed to be a singing telegram sent by an anonymous admirer, we can imagine the 40 year-old Florida mothers bright blue eyes lit up with amusement as she reached out to accept the flowers from the clown’s gloved hand.
“Oh! How pretty!”, her son recalls her exclaiming as he continued to eat his breakfast.
That’s when the clown revealed what it was holding in the hand behind it’s back; a pistol believed to be either a .38-caliber or .357-caliber revolver.
The disguised assailant shot Marlene Warren in the mouth, severely injuring her, before calmly dropping the flowers and balloons, walking back to the Chrysler and taking off. Marlene sadly died at Palms West Hospital two days after the attack.
The case went unsolved for over 30 years due to a lack of substantial evidence.
It was no secret that Marlene and her husband, Michael Warren, had been having marital issues. Their relationship was not what it used to be and Marlene was so unhappy with it that she had been giving serious thought to a separation. Michael Warren was initially the main suspect in the murder, due to the fact that if the two divorced he stood to lose out on a lot of money. The pair had around one million dollars across various business and properties. The problem for Michael was that they were all registered to Marlene (save for his used car rental service “Bargain Motors”). For a long time, investigators believed he was involved in his wife’s murder and believed that he wanted her out of the picture so he could inherit their fortune and remarry. Although they didn’t believe that he was the killer clown, they believed that he at least had a hand in the unsolved murder.
As word got around, those who knew Michael Warren began to provide police with information. They discovered that he had been renting another apartment located at Sable Pine Circle, near West Palm Beach around a half hour drive from the Warren home at the Wellington Aero Club.
He had apparently been living there with a woman that many neighbors believed to be his wife. A 27 year-old woman named Sheila Keen who had recently split from her husband. According to this article from 1990 printed in the Sun Sentinel, police were granted permission by a judge to take various DNA samples from the woman after orange fibers similar to that of the orange clown wig were found in her apartment.
(A cropped view of the article. Source.)
In fact many local people came forward to further incriminate Keen. For example, the worker of a local costume shop contacted the police to relay information that only two days before the murder a woman had dropped by their store and purchased a clown costume and accessories that matched the description of the disguise the perpetrator was wearing. Although they did not know Keen personally, two members of staff who were present at the time managed to positively identify her in a police line-up.
Investigators were also contacted by the worker of a nearby supermarket who described selling a bunch of red and white carnation flowers (the same as presented to Marlene Warren during the attack) to a woman, later identified as Keen, just an hour and a half before Warren was fatally wounded.
The supermarket at Crestwood Square in Royal Palm Beach, was just a twenty minute drive from Keen’s apartment.
Now remember how Michael Warren owned that used rental car business? Well the car the clown had used as a getaway vehicle was found to be registered to his company. It was found discarded in the car park of a nearby supermarket and also contained what looked like fibers of orange hair from the clown wig.
Remember the gun the clown used? Thought to have been either a .38-caliber or .357-caliber revolver? Well only a month before Marlene was attacked, Keen’s estranged husband, Richard Keen, actually informed police that Sheila had asked him where it was as she couldn’t find it.
This article in the Palm Beach Post describes Richard Keen as an ex-con, who was in and out of jail and who at one point had an injunction against him for domestic violence. The writer of the article states that locals commented that Richard seemed unfazed or disinterested in the gossip that Sheila was having an affair with Michael Warren and didn’t seem bothered.
As if we needed any more information to make us suspicious of Keen, she apparently used to dress up as a clown regularly to “entertain kids”.
Although all fingers seemed to be pointed at Sheila Keen, the evidence was deemed to be circumstantial, and without DNA evidence or receipts from the purchased flowers and costume, Keen could not be convicted.
This report mentions that Warren seemed to be growing tired of his affair with Keen and that he felt she was barging into his life and attempting to have authority over the employees at his car business where she had been working as a repo-person. He apparently attempted to distance himself from her and was quoted to want to “get rid of her” just a month or so before Marlene Warren was shot on her doorstep.
According to this article in the Mirror, Michael Warren was charged with various crimes related to shady dealings within his car business (including odometer tampering, racketeering and grand theft) and arrested not long after the murder.
He was eventually released from prison in in 1997 and the pair eventually got married in Vegas in 2002. They relocated to Tennessee and opened a drive through restaurant called “The Purple Cow” in Kingsport, Tennessee. They have recently sold the business.
The coupled lived in a beautiful home in Virginia where, according to neighbors, Sheila went by the name “Debbie Warren” and was a warm and friendly devout Christian. Her Facebook profile picture reads “God is not finished with me yet” and her timeline was apparently peppered with wholesome and inspirational Christian quotes.
(“Mike” Warren 2017. Source)
It should come as no surprise to any of us that this three decade old cold case has been recently solved with the help of modern DNA testing which linked her to the murder
And the Killer clown was no other than; you guessed it, Sheila Keen Warren. She will either face life in prison or could possibly face the death penalty.
(Picture of Sheila Keen-Warren smiling after her arrest. Source)
Marlene’s mother, who survived her daughter, was pleased that her killer had finally been caught and had no idea that Michael Warren had married her daughter’s killer.
Joe Ahrens, Marlene’s son, who was eating breakfast in the kitchen when his mother was shot in the face, expressed his happiness that the case had been solved.