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On May 26, 1990, Marlene Warren was finishing breakfast with her family when a white Chrysler LeBaron pulled into her driveway. A person got out and knocked on her door. Warren answered to find an individual standing in her doorway dressed in an orange wig, red nose, and white makeup, holding a floral arrangement, two balloons — and a pistol.
The clown then allegedly took aim, shot Warren in the face, and calmly walked back to the Chrysler and drove off. Warren died days later, according to a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office press release.
The mystery clown killing puzzled authorities, who initially didn’t make any arrests. But in 2017, police arrested Sheila Keen-Warren, the then-mistress of Warren's husband Michael, who they claim was the clown shooter.
Keen-Warren was initially considered a suspect by police almost 30 years ago, but they never pressed charges against her.
However, authorities learned that in 2002, Keen-Warren married Warren's husband. The couple moved to Kingsport, Tennessee to run a restaurant where Keen-Warren supposedly used the alias “Debbie.” They discovered the 56-year-old had allegedly bragged about the killing to co-workers. Detectives also tracked down a Halloween photo of the woman dressed as a clown, as well.
However, in a series of jailhouse letters and emails to friends and family members, which have been publicly released, Keen-Warren has proclaimed her innocence.
“I just don’t understand why we can’t get this nightmare over with,” Keen-Warren wrote to her mother in April, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “Innocent people shouldn’t be made to sit in jail this long waiting on a trail to prove their innocent.”
“God knows I wouldn’t hurt anything or anyone,” Keen-Warren wrote roughly six months ago in a letter to her husband.
Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty against Keen-Warren if she’s convicted when her case comes to trial in 2020.
“That’s not me and I know the world is still full of evil and wrongdoing, but that’s not me and I pray that the world could be a better place for everyone,” she added. “I will be glad to get this over with and all behind us. … I’m confident that my innocence will be proven.”
The letters, which have been collected by prosecutors, could potentially be used as evidence against Keen-Warren. But that prospect doesn’t bother her attorney Richard Lubin.
“There’s nothing of evidentiary value,” Lubin told Oxygen.com.
“There’s nothing I can do about it, there’s nothing in there,” he added. “I’m not the least bit concerned — knock yourself out.”
Lubin, who was frustrated with the letters being made public, said his client’s right to privacy has been violated. In his experience, Lubin said, prosecutors “regularly” attempt to admit mail evidence, particularly for individuals who can’t post bonds ahead of their trial.
“Just because a person cannot make bond in a criminal case, their rights to privacy should not be violated,” he explained. “If she were out on bond, on this or any case, they wouldn’t be reading her mail. You have less privacy if you’re in jail. If you make bond, and you’re home, your mail doesn’t get read — there’s something fundamentally wrong about that, just on a moral basis.”
While behind bars, Keen-Warren also allegedly found God and was baptized by Catholic priest, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
“This has been a real test for me and everyday I [continue] to ask for Jesus to help me to keep my faith, Hope, and Love for God,” Keen-Warren jotted to a friend.
The accused clown killer also gives her husband nutritional advice and talks about seeing jazz concerts when she’s released.
“Just try real hard to take care of yourself, please,” she told him.
Keen-Warren passes her time by watching “America’s Got Talent” and swiveling between romance novels by Danielle Steel and crime thrillers by John Grisham, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
She also lamented the multiple misspellings and poor grammar that populate the letters.
“I hate that I didn’t pay attention in english class,” she wrote.
Jury selection for Keen-Warren’s case is scheduled to begin in January.
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