On May 26, 1990, a Florida woman was fatally shot in what was reported as the “crime of the year.” Now, over 27 years later, justice may finally be served.
Almost three decades ago, Marlene Warren (not pictured) answered a knock on her door to find a person wearing white makeup, an orange wig, a red nose, and a clown costume on her front steps.
The clown handed her a basket of carnations and two balloons — one featuring Snow White and another with the words “You’re the Greatest.” Then, the clown whipped out a revolver and shot the Palm Beach County resident in the face before calmly walking to a getaway car and driving away.
Warren died two days later in the hospital. For years, the crime remained unsolved — until the first arrest was made on Tuesday, when police detained Sheila Keen-Warren (above) on charges of first-degree murder.
The 54-year-old, who married the victim’s husband in 2002, had long been suspected by Palm Beach County detectives for having an affair with Michael Warren and playing a role in the murder.
But the authorities’ case was only based on circumstantial evidence. A woman matching Keen’s description was witnessed buying a clown outfit, a bouquet of flowers, and some balloons in the days leading up to the homicide.
The getaway car was later found abandoned in a parking lot after the killing. Police said the vehicle had been stolen about six weeks prior to the shooting.
A couple who had been trying to return their car to Payless Car Rental contacted another local car rental place from the yellow pages. They told detectives that a man who answered the phone at A Bargain Auto Rentals, a business owned by Michael Warren, told them to leave their rental outside Payless. It soon disappeared.
Keen and her then-husband repossessed cars for a living, often working with the Warrens through their car dealership and rental firm. Michael denied having an affair with Keen in 1991, telling press he did not know who killed his wife.
Flash forward to 2014: the cold case unit of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office reopened the case. After detectives began re-contacting witnesses and conducting fresh DNA analyses, investigators learned that Keen and Warren had been married for over ten years and were living in Tennessee where they had been operating a restaurant together.
After presenting their case to a grand jury on August 31, officials successfully obtained an indictment for first-degree murder against Keen. She was arrested in Virginia and is awaiting extradition to Florida.
Well… better late than never.
[Image via Washington County Virginia’s Sheriff’s Office.]