May 26th, 1990. It was still morning. Marlene Warren was looking across the breakfast table at her son and his friends finish up their meal when suddenly a knock at the door was heard. Marlene, thinking nothing odd about receiving a visitor went to open the door of her West Palm Beach, Florida home. She was greeted by a smiling clown, donning white face-paint, smile splattered across their face as well as holding balloons and flowers. Certainly this made Marlene smile. Who would send such a special delivery to her? Marlene graciously accepted the gifts and just as she began to pull away from the exchange, the clown decided to pull out a pistol. The clown pointed the pistol directly at Mrs. Warren’s face and pulled the trigger. The clown climbed into a white Chrysler LeBaron and drove away, as Marlene began to fall to the floor. Just two days later Marlene died from her wounds while in hospital. On that day, one of the scariest cold cases in Florida history had transpired and it would be years before authorities were able to break the case.
Of course this is not the first time a killer clown has showed up in true crime. Just a few years earlier, John Wayne Gary was taken into custody for the disappearance and murder of over 30 young men in the Chicago area. It later came to light that John would dress as a clown to help earn the trust of his community. Today we see a resurgence of terrifying clowns but thankfully the majority of them remain in a fictional realm, instead of the tragic case of Marlene Warren.
One of the early suspects brought up was Sheila Keen a co-worker of Michael Warren, Marlene’s now widow. It was believed that Ms. Keen was having an affair with Marlene’s husband but authorities could never prove it as the two denied the allegations. It was also rumored that Keen owned a clown outfit, wearing one for promotional purposes for a job. Keen denied any involvement in the murder of Marlene and the case soon grew cold. However as the years passed, suspicion continued to waft in the air, especially when the news broke in 2002 that the couple had wed. Not entirely sure who is worse in the scenario but both seem to lack a conscience and were to think this would go unnoticed.
24 years would pass before detectives began to take a second look at the case. In 2014, authorities poured over all evidence once more by re-interviewing witnesses and performing additional DNA testing that was unavailable to the team at the time. After 3 more years, Keen was taken in handcuffs by authorities on September 27th, 2017 in Virginia. Emotional statements from Marlene Warren’s family went out and after the arrest and were in complete shock that their mother or daughter would finally have a shot at justice. Michael Warren, Marlene’s widow has still not commented on the arrest.
Authorities state that the DNA evidence is what will help nab a conviction however they are playing it very close to the vest, not revealing what exactly the DNA evidence is just yet. Earlier during the investigation authorities claimed to have fiber evidence that may have come from the costume or the wig although this has not been confirmed. My best guess would be the balloons. Either saliva left on the balloon, if it was not helium filled, or being able to track the type of balloon it was to a grocery or party store and trace the purchase back to the potential murder.
Keen was arrested and is currently awaiting trial for the murder of Marlene Warren. It still is not clear if her husband had any involvement in her death as well and authorities claim the investigation is still ongoing.
I will be sure to update the story as more pertinent details come to light.
All accused are innocent until proven guilty.