Florida: Woman who dressed up as a clown to kill love rival is jailed | US News

A collage of Shelia Keen-Warren, Marlene and Michael.

Sheila Keen-Warren presented the victim with flowers and balloons before shooting her (Image: AP / ABC News / TNS)

Florida’s so-called “killer clown,” who fatally shot a woman on her doorstep in 1990, has pleaded guilty more than three decades later.

Sheila Keen-Warren, 59, presented Marlene Warren, 40, with carnations and balloons before shooting her in the face in front of her son on May 26, 1990 in Wellington.

After 33 years, the case was finally closed today when Keen-Warren pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on a plea bargain.

The deal, struck behind closed doors during the judge’s lunch break, sees the victim’s alleged lover and now-wife likely released from prison within a year.

In West Palm Beach, District Judge Scott Suskauer accepted her request in exchange for a 12-year sentence, taking into account that she had already served five and a half years in prison while awaiting trial.

Keen-Warren’s trial was due to begin next month after she was first jailed for first-degree murder in 2017.

Sheila Keen Warren, right, appears for a court hearing Monday morning, November 13, 2017. Keen Warren is charged in the 1990 death of Marlene Warren. (Lannis Waters/Palm Beach Post/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

She was having an affair with the victim’s husband, although she denied it (Image: TNS)

She has long been a prime suspect in the case because she had an affair with Michael, Marlene’s husband, and worked under him at his dealership, Assistant District Attorney Reid Scott said in court on Tuesday.

However, Keen-Warren always denied this, even when she married Michael some 12 years later.

Relatives told the Palm Beach Post in 2000 that Marlene had suspected her husband was having an affair and wanted a divorce.

Costume store employees identified Keen-Warren as the person who bought a clown suit, flowers and a balloon just days before the murder, the prosecutor added.

One of the two balloons she gave Marlene read “You’re the Greatest” and was only sold in one store, a Publix supermarket near Keen-Warren’s house.

Publix officials said a woman matching her description bought the balloon an hour before the shooting.

Sheila Keen Warren

Costume store employees said Keen-Warren bought the clown suit (Image: Tallahassee.com)

Michael Warren and Sheila Keen Warren

Michael Warren had an affair with Keen-Warren (Image: Daily Mail)

Orange hair-like fibers were found inside the suspected getaway vehicle, a white Chrysler convertible that was reported stolen from Michael’s car lot for a month in April 1990.

The car was found abandoned in a parking lot four days after the murder.

However, authorities lacked conclusive evidence to charge Keen-Warren.

Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Investigators linked her to the murder after decades of improvements in DNA technology proved her hair was found on the clown’s getaway car.

Palm Beach County Prosecutor Dave Aronberg said: “Sheila Keen-Warren was finally forced to admit that she was the one who dressed up as a clown and took the life of an innocent victim.

“She will be a convicted murderer for the rest of her day.”

However, given the timing of the crime, she is likely to be released within months, Keen-Warren’s attorney Greg Rosenfeld said.

State prison policies allow prisoners to shorten some of their sentences through good behavior – this is known as “time saving”.

FILE - This booking photo, provided by the Palm Beach County, Florida Sheriff's Office, shows Sheila Keen-Warren, who was arrested on Oct. 3, 2017. Keen-Warren pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Tuesday, April 25, 2023 for the 1990 shooting of Marlene Warren. (Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office via AP, file)

It took investigators years to link her to the case, which was only possible after improvements in DN technology (Image: AP)

Current policy states that inmates must serve at least 85% of their sentence regardless of accrued winning time – but Keen-Warren is not subject to this requirement as it was not in force in 1990.

“The state of Florida originally wanted to execute her,” Rosenfeld said, “but now she’s going home in 10 months.

“While it was difficult to plead guilty to a crime she didn’t commit, it was kind of a no-brainer when there’s a guarantee you’ll be home with your family.”

However, Aronberg’s office says Keen-Warren is likely to serve two years in prison.

In 1994, Michael was convicted of grand larceny, racketeering and odometer tampering.

He spent four years behind bars, a sentence his lawyers at the time said was excessive and fueled by suspicions he had a hand in his wife’s death.

Keen-Warren’s conviction was a long time coming.

A laundry list of logistical issues delayed the trial for years beginning in early 2020, including the coronavirus pandemic, eleventh-hour discoveries and hard-to-find witnesses who forget what happened, according to The Palm Beach Post.

Rosenfeld and defense attorneys Amy Morse and Jess Isom filed hundreds of motions to prevent the court from using the hair fibers and other key evidence before the May 12 trial.

She eventually pleaded guilty, prosecutor Scott said, “because she is guilty.”

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Justin Scaccy

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