Clown murder suspect may face death penalty in cold case

A woman who authorities say committed murder in Florida while dressed as a clown 17 years ago may face the death penalty after being charged this week.

A new examination of DNA collected in 1990 helped lead to the arrest of Sheila Keen-Warren in the fatal shooting of 40-year-old Marlene Warren, cops said during a press conference on Thursday. Keen-Warren is now married to the victim's husband, Michael Warren.

Keen-Warren had been the primary suspect all along, but authorities say a conviction may not have been realistic without the advancements in DNA technology.

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"You basically get one shot and if you roll the dice and take that chance and she is found not guilty, you never get that chance again," Palm Beach Sheriff's Detective Paige McCann said. "Sometimes patience is the best."

McCann and Sheriff Ric Bradshaw did not give any details on the genetic material or where it was found.

Michael Warren has not been charged, but detectives refused to rule him out as a suspect. He was interviewed again Wednesday.

Authorities say Marlene Warren answered her front door in Wellington in May of 1990 to find a clown in an orange wig, red nose and white face paint handing her flowers and foil balloons.

"How pretty!" she said.


(Photo via Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office)

The clown then pulled a gun and shot Warren in the face. She died two days later.

Keen-Warren, 54, was arrested Tuesday at the home she shared with Michael Warren in Virginia, and was jailed without bail to await extradition to Florida. She has been charged with first-degree murder, and a determination on whether to seek the death penalty will be made after she is brought back to the jurisdiction.

Keen-Warren, who worked at Michael Warren's used car lot at the time of the shooting, has been married to him since 2002.

Witnesses told investigators in 1990 that Sheila Warren and Michael Warren, now 60, were having an affair. Both denied it.

Investigators did not make an arrest or charge anyone until reopening the cold case in 2014. By that time investigators knew that the Warrens got married and owned the Purple Cow restaurant in Tennessee.

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