‘Killer clown’ Sheila Keen-Warren pleads guilty in cold case murder

Posted at 1:05 PM, April 25, 2023 and last updated 3:45 PM, July 7, 2023


PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. (Court TV) — A ‘killer clown’ has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in a notorious cold case murder that happened nearly 33 years ago.

Sheila Keen Warren pleads guilty to the second-degree murder

Sheila Keen-Warren pleads guilty to the second-degree murder of Marlene Warren on April 25, 2023. (Court TV)

Sheila Keen-Warren stood accused of shooting 40-year-old Marlene Warren on her doorstep in Wellington, Florida, on May 26, 1990.

On April 25, 2023, after years of trial delays, Keen-Warren pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. She was immediately sentenced to 12 years in prison, with credit for the more than 2,000 days she’s been in custody.

During the plea hearing, the victim’s son, Joseph Ahrens, told the judge he “didn’t see any remorse” from the defendant during proceedings.

On May 26, 1990, Marlene was in her kitchen with her 22-year-old son, Joseph Ahrens, and several of his friends when they saw a white Chrysler LeBaron park in the driveway, according to authorities. A person dressed as a clown then exited the vehicle carrying a floral arrangement and balloons.

When Marlene answered the door, witnesses said they heard a gunshot before the suspect “calmly walked back to the LeBaron and drove away.” Marlene died two days later. Her case ultimately went cold until 2014.

That year, investigators learned once-suspect Sheila Keen-Warren had married Marlene’s widow, Michael, in 2002. At the time of Marlene’s murder, Sheila reportedly worked for Michael.

Family photo of Marlene Warren

Marlene Warren was fatally shot in the face by a woman who was dressed as a clown in May 1990. (Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office)

During their investigation, new DNA analysis reportedly linked Sheila to the murder, and three years later in 2017, she was arrested and charged with First-Degree Murder.

The defendant was initially facing the death penalty, however, prosecutors announced they would not pursue it in February 2020, according to court documents.

Sheila Keen-Warren was initially scheduled to go to trial in May 2020, but a series of delays, including the COVID-19 pandemic, postponed her trial.