‘Killer clown’ to go on trial for first-degree murder three decades after bizarre crime
Marlene Warren had just finished having breakfast with her son and his pals. This was around 10:45 a.m. on May 26, 1990.
It would be her final meal.
The 40-year-old had noticed a Chrysler Le Baron pull into the driveway of her Palm Beach County, Florida home.
Exiting the vehicle was a woman dressed like a clown who walked casually to the front door.
"The person dressed as the clown was carrying a flower arrangement and two balloons," the sheriff’s office said at the time.
One of the balloons featured an image of Snow White, the other carried the words, "You're the Greatest!"
Her son John Ahrens told 48 Hours that he recalled his mother saying: "Oh, how pretty." And then the boy heard a gun go off.
"At first we thought maybe it was a balloon that popped, but when we saw her fall, we knew something was definitely seriously wrong," Ahrens said. "I remember that being one of the worst days of my life."
Warren had been shot once in the face and died two days later in hospital.
The murder is one of the most bizarre in Florida history and the Sunshine State seldom has a shortage of twisted homicides.
Marlene’s family has spent years without their “special girl.”
“Everyone got robbed when she was killed," her stepfather Bill Twing said.
Now, more than three decades after Marlene Wallace breathed her last, the woman accused of being the "Killer Clown", Sheila Keen-Warren, is poised to go on trial for first-degree murder.
Cops had good reason to suspect Keen-Warren, 27 at the time of the murder. She worked for Marlene's husband Michael repossessing cars.and the two were engaged in a torrid affair. Sheila too was married but she and Michael were making plans to start a new life together.
But the evidence didn't stack up in the early 1990s and Sheila (now known as Debbie) and Michael got on with their lives and got married, first in Tennessee where they opened a restaurant and later Virginia.
Enter a Maine jailbird named Edward Bahr who boasted to a fellow convict "that he murdered a woman in Wellington, Florida" decades ago.
Detectives from Florida travelled north where they interviewed Bahr, who promised to tell them "everything he knows" if the cops could promise he wouldn't put him in the electric chair. The investigator said he couldn't promise that so the convict lawyered up.
As for her husband, the defence team claims that prosecutors have long suspected Marlene's hubby of being involved in the murder plot. He has never been charged in connection with the crime and denies any wrongdoing.
Still, Bahr possessed a number of titillating details including a bombshell - Bahr claimed that Marlene Warren's husband, who he knew from the Mermaid Bar, hired him to take his wife off the board because the couple were splitting and she was going to get the car lot.
In 2022, Bahr denied any involvement and said that he learned the details on TV. What he didn't mention was that there is no TV in solitary confinement.
Cold case detectives reopened the investigation in 2014. Advances in DNA technology would do the trick. DNA found in the stolen Chrysler Le Baron used in the hit was linked to Keen-Warren.
On Sept. 26, 2017, Palm Beach County finally arrested Sheila Keen-Warren in Virginia for murdering her love rival nearly three decades earlier.
Keen-Warren's defence team are fighting to have certain evidence — and the case itself — tossed because of the nearly six-year delay.
Expected to testify will be employees of the Spotlight Capezio, a West Palm Beach costume shop. Store employees said it was Keen-Warren who bought an orange wig, a "yellow and hot pink" clown suit and a makeup kit, but no mask, two days before Marlene Warren’s brazen execution.
Keen-Warren's long-awaited trial is slated, to begin with, jury selection sometime in May.
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