WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – On May 26, 1990 Marlene Warren was shot at her Wellington home. WNCN reports that Warren was shot in front of her son and his friends during breakfast.
According to a report in the Sun-Sentinel the suspect wore a clown costume, a red wig and nose and was carrying flowers and two balloons — one saying “You’re the greatest!”
When the clown rang the doorbell, Warren opened the door, but when she reached for the balloons the clown shot Warren in the face. The clown then calmly walked away and got into a convertible car and drove off without having said a single word. Two days later, Warren died in the hospital.
“This is the strangest thing I’ve seen in all my 19 years in law enforcement,” Bob Ferrell, then a spokesman for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s office, told the newspaper at the time.
Family and friends of the Wellington woman have been waiting 27 years in hopes of finding her killer, and now the wait could be over.
A Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office news release from Tuesday announced that 54 year old Sheila Keen Warren was arrested in Virginia, in connection with the fatal shooting. She has been charged with first-degree murder in the May 26, 1990, shooting.
A Palm Beach County grand jury was presented the evidence in August and returned an indictment against Sheila Warren, leading to her arrest.
“Any murder’s horrific. It doesn’t matter whether you’re wearing a clown costume or not,” Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Sgt. Richard McAfee said after announcing the arrest.
“Taking another person’s life is a horrific incident,” he added. “It just took us 27 years to bring closure to the victim’s family. Murder cases never go away.”
Detectives said Sheila Warren- who was 26 at the time of the murder and then known as Sheila Keen- was initially identified as a suspect, but she was never arrested. At the time of the murder, Michael Warren had been having an affair with Sheila Keen, a then-27-year-old recent divorcée who repossessed cars for his dealership, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
Investigators looked at both as suspects in Marlene Warren’s killing, and the circumstantial evidence piled up. Even so, the case went cold, because investigators didn’t have enough probable cause to make an arrest.
The inquiry did lead to legal trouble for Michael Warren. He was sentenced to prison in 1992 on 43 counts of odometer tampering, grand theft and racketeering, NBC News reported. He left South Florida after being released from prison.
Homicide investigators reopened the unsolved case in 2014, re-interviewing witnesses and collecting new DNA evidence, leading to the arrest of Warren. Police have indicated if Michael Warren is currently a suspect.