A bizarre 27-year-old cold murder case in Florida involving a killer clown, two balloons and an illicit affair has finally come to a close.
On Tuesday, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that Sheila Keen Warren had been arrested in Washington County, Virginia, for allegedly dressing up in a clown costume, walking up to the front door of her future husband Michael Warren’s then-wife, Marlene Warren, and shooting her in the face.
Police have not yet said whether Michael Warren was involved in his former wife’s death.
“Any murder’s horrific,” Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Sgt. Richard McAfee said during a press conference Tuesday. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re wearing a clown costume or not.”
On May 26, 1990, Marlene Warren was at her Wellington, Florida home with her son and his friends when she answered her door to find a clown with a curly orange wig, carrying a flower arrangement and two balloons. According to the Sheriff’s Office, the clown offered the items to Marlene Warren wordlessly, and a moment later, there was the sound of a gunshot and Marlene Warren had collapsed on the ground.
Marlene Warren’s son heard the gunshot and found his mother bleeding to death in the doorway. Police reports say that he then watched the clown “calmly” walk back to a white Chrysler LeBaron and drive off. Marlene Warren died in a hospital two days later.
“This is the strangest thing I’ve seen in all my 19 years in law enforcement,” Bob Ferrell, a then-spokesman for the Palm Beach County sheriff’s office, told the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel the day after the murder.
“She went to the door, and there was somebody wearing a clown suit and a clown mask,” he said. “As she went to take the flowers and balloons, the clown shot her. As far as I know, nothing was said.”
Authorities first suspected widower Michael Warren after family and friends noted that the couple had been having marital problems. Suspicion also turned toward Sheila Keen four months after the murder when they discovered that the pair had been having an extramarital affair.
At the time, however, there was not enough DNA evidence to convict either of them. The crime was considered a cold case until 2014, when it was reopened by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Unit.
“Witnesses were re-contacted and additional DNA analysis was conducted,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a release. “It was also learned that Sheila Keen had married Michael Warren, Marlene Warren’s husband, in 2002. Both had been living in Tennessee operating a restaurant together. As a result of the investigation, probable cause was established linking Sheila Keen Warren to the murder of Marlene Warren.”
Police tracked Sheila Keen down to her Blue Ridge Mountains home in Abingdon, Virginia, where she was arrested Tuesday.
Last September, clowns were spotted lurking in woods from South Carolina to upstate New York. Watch here.