1990 Cold Case Solved: Woman Arrested For Murdering Husband's 1st Wife Dressed As Killer Clown

She allegedly handed his wife a bouquet of flowers before shooting her in the face. 

By Benjamin H. Smith

Twenty-Seven years since murdering a 40-year-old Florida mother in cold blood, the suspected West Palm Beach Killer Clown is under arrest.

A post on the Facebook page for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office yesterday announced the arrest of Sheila Keen Warren in connection with the 1990 murder of Marlene Warren. At the time of her death, Marlene was married to Michael Warren, whom Sheila married in 2002. 

On the morning of May 26, 1990, Marlene was having breakfast at home with her 21-year-old son and his friends when a white Chrysler convertible pulled into the driveway. Out of it popped a clown, with white face paint, a painted on smile, a red bulb nose and a bright orange wig.

At the front door, the clown handed Marlene a bouquet of red and white carnations and balloons, one of which read, “You’re The Greatest.” In an interview with the Palm Beach Post in 2000, her son remembers his mother said “Oh how pretty.” Then the clown pulled out a gun and shot Marlene Warren in the face, before quickly driving off. She died two days later.

Marlene was married at the time to Michael Warren, with whom she owned an auto business and real estate holdings worth over $1 million, all of which were in her name. Despite being married for 20 years, the Warrens were having marital problems. Marlene thought Michael was having an affair, and according to The Palm Beach Post, told her mother, “If anything happens to me, Mike done it.”

Investigators soon began investigating 27-year-old Sheila Keen, who worked for a car repossession company Michael Warren sometimes hired. The balloons police found at the scene were traced back to a shop near Keen’s home, and a woman matching her description was seen buying them in the hours before the shooting.

According to the Sun-Sentinel, two clerks at a costume store picked Keen out of a photo lineup saying she had bought a clown outfit two days earlier. Still, police were unable to establish probable cause, despite being told that Keen was having an affair with Warren, according to her estranged husband, himself an ex-con and former member of the Ku Klux Klan.

Though the abandoned getaway car was eventually traced to a rental agency Michael Warren did business with, police were unable to tie him to the murder of his then-wife. However, their investigation into his finances led to his arrest five months after her death for odometer tampering, grand theft and racketeering. He was convicted in August 1992 on 43 felony counts and sentenced to nine years in prison, though he eventually served only three years. He left Florida upon his release.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Unit reopened the investigation into Marlene Warren’s murder in 2014. According to their Facebook page, “witnesses were re-contacted and additional DNA analysis was conducted.” A major catalyst for their renewed interest in the case was their discovery that, in 2002, Michael Warren married Sheila Keen in Las Vegas. They later moved to Abingdon, Virginia, where they bought a home and ran a restaurant across the state line in Tennessee, according to NBC News.

The marriage established probable cause, “linking Sheila Keen Warren to the murder of Marlene Warren.”

Following an August grand jury indictment for first-degree murder, an arrest warrant was issued for Sheila Warren. She was arrested Tuesday at her in Washington County, Virginia, and taken in custody, where she is awaiting extradition to Florida. Authorities have yet to comment on Michael Warren’s involvement in Marlene Warren’s murder or any plans to prosecute him. 

[Photo: Southwest Virginia Regional Jail Authority]

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