If you’ve got coulrophobia, this true crime case might just be your worst nightmare!
A Florida woman has pleaded guilty after over 30 years to fatally shooting her now-husband’s wife back in 1990 — while dressed as a clown! You may have already heard the story, over the years it’s become a popular tale between true crime enthusiasts (and those who just want to scare each other around the campfire). But if you haven’t, here’s the recap…
Just after a peaceful breakfast on May 26, 1990, a white convertible car pulled into the driveway of Marlene Warren‘s Wellington home. Out of the car came a woman dressed in an orange wig, a big red nose, and a painted on smile. A clown. Coming right up to the door. Witnesses at the time recalled seeing the clown knocking on Marlene’s door and offering her a bouquet of flowers and two balloons — one of which read, “You’re the greatest!” This was not a whimsical delivery, though.
According to the Palm Beach Post, the 40-year-old uttered, “Oh, how sweet!” — before the clown pulled out a gun and shot her twice in the face at point-blank range. Marlene’s then 21-year-old son Joey Ahrens ran to his mother’s side and looked the clown in the eyes before she disappeared. Marlene died in the hospital two days later.
Law enforcement found the white convertible abandoned in a Winn-Dixie parking lot just four days after the shooting. In it they collected brown hair and orange hairlike fibers — clown hair. A woman named Sheila Keen was apparently a person of interest at the time. The then-36-year-old worked for the victim’s husband, Michael Warren, who ran a used car business. She was a repo woman. Police searched Sheila’s home at the time and found trace evidence the same as the car. But it was never enough for charges. The case would go cold for years.
In the meantime, Sheila and Michael got married a few years later, in 2002. She’s Sheila Keen Warren now. They bought a restaurant in Tennessee together and eventually moved to Abingdon, Virginia. Suspicious, obviously, but no one could prove anything. It’s possible they moved states because people talked… But they were free. For a while anyway.
But it wasn’t over. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Unit reopened the case in 2014. They eventually used DNA testing to gather enough evidence for an arrest warrant — and after 27 years, the killer clown was finally revealed. Sheila was finally arrested in 2017.
She pleaded not guilty to the murder, maintaining her innocence for years — stuck in prison the whole time. But on Tuesday, just weeks before her trial was set to begin, she changed her plea to guilty. As part of a plea deal, she’s copping to 2nd degree murder, for which she’ll serve 12 years. Since she’d already been in prison just over 2,000 days, she was able to subtract that from her sentence — meaning she’ll be out in just over six years. If she’d been found guilty in the trial, she was facing life in prison — instead when she gets out, she’ll be hitting retirement age: 65 years old.
Well, that is if she serves it all. Her attorney Greg Rosenfeld says he doesn’t expect her to serve anything over 10 more months! He told reporters at the courthouse:
“It was an incredibly hard decision for our client, saying you did something that you didn’t do. I mean, nothing’s harder than that. Our client wanted to go home.”
Wow. Pleading guilty but still gets to say she didn’t do it? Is that even allowed??
During the hearing, the prosecution took the opportunity to at least give voice to some of the evidence they believe would have sealed the conviction — including witnesses who still remember Sheila purchasing a clown outfit at a local costume shop just two days before the murder. Ordinarily it might be hard to believe someone would remember that after three decades — but when an infamous murder is committed in a costume just hours after selling it, we’d imagine that kind of thing sticks out.
We hope the family still gets some measure of solace from all this. After 30 years, all they get is someone still claiming their innocence? The victim’s son Joey said during the hearing:
“The only thing I want to say is, all through this trial, I didn’t see any remorse. God be with her.”
Reactions, Perezcious readers? Do U think Sheila’s sentence is too light?? Let us know in the comments (below).