The Wild Story Of Sheila Keen-Warren, The Killer Clown

On May 26, 1990, Marleen Warren, 40, of Wellington, Florida, answered her front door to find a person dressed as a clown: curly orange wig, big red nose, white gloves, and a garish smile painted on their face. In one hand the costumed person held two balloons and a bouquet of flowers, in the other, a loaded pistol. The clown shot Warren twice in the face, then fled the scene in a stolen car. Authorities had reason to believe that the "killer clown" was a woman named Sheila Keen-Warren, but lacked conclusive evidence to charge her for nearly three decades. However, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, prosecutors believe they now have DNA evidence that serves as definitive proof that Keen-Warren was the killer clown.

If you're wondering what's up with both women being named Warren, you're on the right track, as that bit of info is part of the wealth of circumstantial evidence against Keen-Warren. Back in 1990, the suspected killer clown's name was just Sheila Keen. She was an employee of Michael Warren, the victim's husband, a used car salesman. Associates of his claimed to have seen the two in romantic embraces, and although they denied having a relationship at the time of the murder, they (somewhat suspiciously, we'd say) ended up tying the knot in 2002. Although it seems like an open-and-shut case of a jealous lover trying to get the other woman out of the picture, Keen-Warren maintains that she is innocent to this day.

A mountain of evidence points to Sheila Keen-Warren being the killer clown

Detectives had just about everything except the smoking gun to point to Keen-Warren's guilt in 1990, but the evidence wasn't strong enough to charge her with the crime back then. Investigators received an anonymous tip just a couple of hours after the shooting. "You might want to ask Michael Warren and Sheila Keen a few questions," the person said. Detectives went on to connect her to the theft of the car the killer used as a getaway vehicle (no, not a clown car; it was a white Chrysler LeBaron). They found employees of the costume store and flower shop who identified her as the woman who bought the clown suit, balloons, and flowers days before the shooting. They also found orange wig fibers on her shoes that matched fibers found in the LeBaron, which was found abandoned in a parking lot four days after the murder.

And, also in both the car and on Keen-Warren's shoes, investigators found burgundy strands of real human hair, an initial analysis of which "concluded that they were identical in comparison." A sample of her hair was also found to be identical to that found in the car. Still, this wasn't enough to bring charges against Keen-Warren. It wasn't until 2017 that they were able to use modern technology to prove that the DNA from the hair found in the car matched that of Sheila Keen-Warren.

The coronavirus pandemic has stalled Sheila Keen-Warren's killer clown trial

Despite now having what they see as evidence convincing enough to put Keen-Warren behind bars, prosecutors have once again seen their chances of finally unmasking the killer clown start to slip through their fingers. The Palm Beach Post reported in June 2020 that Keen-Warren's trial had been one of hundreds of cases delayed as a result of restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the state. And as the Sun Sentinel reported in November, the pandemic was also making it difficult for the prosecution to bring forth its key witness. Former detective Jay Mullins, who they need to verify that he was one of the investigators who found the wig and hair samples in the abandoned car, now lives in Ohio, and the virus has impeded him from going to Florida to testify. With the only other officer who collected the evidence now dead, Mullins is the only one who can verify that Keen-Warren was in the LeBaron. 

Prosecutors asked the judge to allow them to record Mullins' testimony via video call for use in the trial if he is ultimately unable to show up. The judge denied the request, siding with Keen-Warren's defense, which argued that all witnesses are "at risk of death or incapacitation simply by living their life." The local NBC affiliate reported in January 2021 that her attorneys had filed a motion for her release from jail on bond while she awaits trial.