FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — In a bizarre case from 1990, Marlene Warren was murdered by a clown delivering flowers and balloons at her doorstep. On Tuesday, Sheila Keen-Warren, the second wife of Marlene’s husband, pled guilty to the crime, finally bringing closure to the case.
Sheila, 59, entered a guilty plea for second-degree murder, and is expected to be released from prison within two years. She had been the prime suspect and was jailed for first-degree murder since 2017 after DNA technology linked a hair found in the clown’s getaway car to her. Despite this, Sheila maintains her innocence.
The State Attorney for Palm Beach County, Dave Aronberg, said that the plea deal provided some justice for Marlene and her son. The plea hearing took place quietly during a lunch break in West Palm Beach, avoiding any public attention.
Florida ‘Killer Clown’ admits to 1990 murder https://t.co/EmYYcopRHG
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Aronberg stated that Sheila has now admitted to dressing as a clown and killing an innocent woman, and will be a convicted murderer for the rest of her life.
Sheila’s lawyer, Greg Rosenfeld, still claims she is innocent, calling the outcome a win for his client. The deal includes a 12-year sentence, but with time already served and good behavior, she is expected to be released early next year.
Originally, prosecutors sought the death penalty, but later dropped it. Sheila’s trial was scheduled to start next month, and if convicted, she would have faced a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 25 years.
Rosenfeld disputes the prosecution’s timeline, stating his client will be home within 10 months. The State Attorney’s office, however, contends she will serve at least two more years.
Marlene’s son, Joseph Ahrens, who witnessed his mother’s murder when he was 21, watched the proceedings online and offered a message of forgiveness.
The trial had faced delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic and disputes over evidence. Sheila had been an employee of Michael Warren, Marlene’s husband, at his used car lot. The couple later married in 2002 and moved to Virginia, where they operated a restaurant.
Detectives believed that Sheila and Michael were having an affair at the time of the murder. Witnesses identified Sheila as the woman who purchased a clown costume and balloons just before the killing. The getaway car, a white Chrysler convertible, had been reported stolen from Michael’s car lot a month earlier.
Marlene, who was 40 when she died, had allegedly told her mother that if anything happened to her, it was her husband’s doing. Michael has never been charged and denies any involvement.
Rosenfeld argued that the state’s case was weak, with questionable DNA evidence and conflicting witness accounts. Aronberg admitted that the case had holes due to the time it took to go to trial and the loss of key witnesses.
Michael Warren was convicted of grand theft, racketeering, and odometer tampering in 1994, serving almost four years in prison. He did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.