Clowns - especially ones capable of terrifying acts - are easily in the top 10 of shared fears in America. And combining clown crimes with nefarious Florida happenings, it's downright terrifying. In 1990, Sheila Keen slathered on her white face paint and an orange wig to become the woman who took the life of her lover's wife - Marlene Warren - while dressed as a clown. Years later, in 2002, Keen married the widower, Michael Warren. It's a rather bizarre true story. Rather than apprehend Keen for Marlene's passing - which most believed she was responsible for - Keen was free for almost 30 years. That is until 2017.
The Sheila Keen case is just one story in a wide swathe of creepy random clowns popping up across America. What is it about someone who dresses like a children's entertainer that makes them inherently horrifying? Does the clown life drive you to commit heinous actions? Or is it simply a way to add an extra layer of terror to your legal charges? Although the trial is not tentatively set to take place until late 2019, Keen faces first-degree charges for the loss of Marlene Warren's life.
Marlene Warren Was Targeted When She Unwittingly Answered The Door
In 1990, 40-year-old Marlene Warren answered the door to her home in Wellington, FL, and came face to face with someone wearing an orange wig and white face paint. The clown was delivering flowers and a bouquet of balloons. Marlene's son from her previous marriage, Joe Ahrens, remembered hearing his mother say, "How nice." Then, the clown pulled out a gun and shot Marlene in the face. Amidst the chaos, the clown escaped in a white Chrysler Le Baron convertible.
Marlene's son, who was in a cast at the time, gave chase, but he never managed to catch up to the car. Local police reported finding a white Chrysler LeBaron convertible littered with orange wig hair abandoned in Royal Palm Beach, but the basic DNA testing technology at the time couldn't link a perp. Shortly afterward, the trail went cold.
As The Case Went Cold, The Rumors Started To Swirl
There were a few different theories about why Marlene Warren was targeted in cold blood on her doorstep in 1990. Initially, investigators believed it was a crime of passion. Sheila Keen, a woman who worked with Marlene's husband, Michael, was immediately singled out as a suspect. Although there was a rumor she was having an affair with Michael, there was no concrete evidence.
There was also a theory Michael himself could be the culprit. In 1994, authorities apprehended and subsequently convicted Michael, who owned and operated Bargain Motors, on over a dozen fraud counts. He served less than four years.
According to people who were close to Michael and Marlene, their marriage had been on the rocks for some time. However, they had accumulated over $1 million in property and business assets together. Court documents from 1991 reveal that Michael had asked lawyer Christ DeSantis a hypothetical question regarding Florida property law in the event of his wife's unexpected passing. DeSantis confirmed that Michael would inherit all of Marlene's assets, as long as Michael wasn't convicted.
Marlene Previously Said She Was Scared Her Husband Might Try To End Her Life
Marlene's parents remembered before her passing that she told them she was worried Michael might try to hurt her. Reportedly, Marlene's husband had gotten physical with her the year prior. Her parents, who were living on the West Coast at the time, confirmed the suspicion that Michael was having an affair Keen.
Allegedly, Marlene's family affirmed to reporters back in 1990 that Marlene feared for her life and wanted to leave her husband, in part due to his extramarital affair. However, the Warrens' collective assets were in Marlene's name, and she feared reprisal.
In the investigative reports from 1990, an employee of Bargain Motors revealed that "Michael wished he could get rid of the b*tch and wished that he had never married her." The employee went on record saying that he heard his boss often end phone conversations with Marlene by remarking: "I'm gonna [end] the b*tch."
The Getaway Car Came From A Lot Near Michael's Auto Dealership
One of the largest mysteries surrounding Marlene's unexpected passing is how the white Chrysler LeBaron managed to get away so quickly. By the time it was found, the only evidence left inside were small hairs and fibers from the clown's orange wig. Police knew that Michael owned a used car lot, and he could have easily supplied the car to the clown.
An investigation into the car later proved it was from another used car lot - Payless - that was near Bargain Motors. Prior to the LeBaron's discovery, Payless reported the car as missing after the renters left the vehicle in an abandoned lot, per the instruction of who they believed to be Michael Warren. However, this wasn't enough evidence to implicate Michael.