Oxygen Insider Exclusive!

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, breaking news, sweepstakes, and more!

Sign Up for Free to View
Crime News Crimes of Passion

Florida Woman Who Allegedly Dressed As Clown To Kill Lover's Wife Pleads Guilty After Three Decades

Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said 59-year-old Sheila Keen-Warren’s guilty plea had “obtained a measure of justice.”

By Dorian Geiger
Killer Motive: What Drives People To Kill?

A Florida woman who disguised herself as a clown to carry out the murder of her lover's then-wife has pleaded guilty to murder charges.

On Tuesday, Sheila Keen-Warren pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the 1990 shooting death of 40-year-old Marlene Warren, who was mysteriously gunned down on her doorstep by an individual dressed as a clown. 

Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said that Keen-Warren’s guilty plea had “obtained a measure of justice” for Marlene Warren’s surviving family, particularly her son. 

RELATED: 'God Knows I Wouldn't Hurt Anything,' Writes Accused Clown Killer In Jailhouse Letter

“After years of professing her innocence, Sheila Keen Warren has finally been forced to admit that she was the one who dressed as a clown and took the life of an innocent victim,” Aronberg said. “She will be a convicted murderer for the rest of her days.”

The deal with prosecutors assures Keen-Warren’s release in as little as two years. The plea took into account time served since her 2017 arrest. 

Sheila Keen Warren.

Despite her guilty plea, however, Warren and her lawyers insist she’s innocent. She had faced the possibility of life in prison with the possibility of parole had she been found guilty on first-degree murder charges. Prosecutors had initially sought the death penalty against Keen-Warren but later withdrew their requests. 

“This is an incredibly difficult decision to make, just having to plea to a crime you didn’t commit,” Keen-Warren’s attorney Greg Rosenfeld said, according to the Florida Sun-Sentinel. “The gamble’s just not worth it ... When you’re looking at going home in 10 months versus the risk of what could happen at trial, you never know. It’s a huge win for our client.”

Rosenfeld called the plea an “incredible win.”

The plea began to take shape last week in the form of negotiations between the prosecution and defense, Rosenfeld noted. He said his client could be released as soon as 16 months from now.

On May 26, 1990, Keen-Warren, prosecutors said, dressed as a clown — and bearing balloons and carnations — gunned down Warren after she answered the door of her home. Keen-Warren later married Warren’s then-husband, Michael Warren in 2002. At the time of Marlene Warren’s murder, there were whispers amongst witnesses that Keen-Warren and Michael Warren had been having an affair. The pair, however, reportedly both refuted the claims when confronted by investigators.

For decades, no arrests were made in the case. Years later, investigators using DNA technology ultimately linked Keen-Warren to the fatal shooting after finding a hair they say belonged to her in the “clown killer’s” getaway car. She was officially arrested and charged with Warren’s murder in 2017. At the time, the couple had relocated to Virginia and she was living under the alias “Debby.”

Prior to her death, Marlene Warren allegedly told her mother, “If anything happens to me, Mike done it,” referring to Michael Warren. Michael has long-denied involvement in his ex-wife’s killing. He’s never been charged. 

Keen-Warren’s trial had been scheduled to open next month. A judge last year denied her bond ahead of the cold case murder trial. 

“The State of Florida originally wanted to execute her, but now she is going home in 10 months,” Rosenfeld added. “While it was difficult to plead guilty to a crime she did not commit, it was kind of a no-brainer when there is a guarantee that you will be home with your family.”

Warren’s son, Joseph Ahrens, observed court proceedings in the case virtually. In brief remarks to the court, he said “May God be with her,” referring to Keen-Warren, according to the Associated Press.

Read more about: