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  • Writer's pictureElyse Dehlbom

Episode 62 : Marlene Warren: The Killer Clown Case

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Episode Summary: Marlene Warren - Killer Clown Case

### The Case of the Killer Clown: The Disturbing Murder of Marlene Warren

Today's episode starts with a confession. They say that the first step to overcoming a problem is acknowledging it. So, here it goes: Hi, my name is Elyse, and I have coulrophobia—a fear of clowns. I can't recall when this started, but basic costumes and mascots, especially clowns, have always terrified me. Covering today's case didn't help either.

When you think of clowns in relation to true crime, your mind might jump straight to John Wayne Gacy, one of America's most notorious serial killers. However, today's focus isn't on Gacy but on a chilling case that brings this irrational fear to life: the story of Marlene Warren, a beautiful young mother whose murder sparked a decades-long hunt for her killer.

#### The Early Life of Marlene Warren

Marlene Warren was born in 1950 in a small Michigan town. An incredible artist, Marlene often painted clowns—a passion shared with her mother, Shirley. Their home was filled with clown art and figurines, a thought that makes my skin crawl. Marlene married young, had two sons, John and Joseph, and eventually divorced. In 1972, she met Michael Warren, who became her second husband and stepfather to her sons. The family moved to Wellington, Florida, where the couple ran a car rental company.

#### Tragedy Strikes

Tragedy first struck the Warren family on September 26, 1988, when Marlene's oldest son, John, died in a car accident at just 22. Devastated, Marlene's marriage to Michael began to suffer. The loss was too much for their relationship to bear, and Marlene's younger son, Joseph, noticed that Michael became increasingly absent.

On the morning of May 26, 1990, Michael was away, heading to the racetrack with friends, while Joseph, recovering from a broken leg, was at home with Marlene. As Marlene prepared breakfast, she saw a white Chrysler LeBaron pull into the driveway. To her shock, a clown stepped out, complete with costume, wig, makeup, and a red nose. The clown carried balloons and flowers, leading Marlene to believe it was a friendly gesture, perhaps from one of Joseph's friends.

#### The Murder of Marlene Warren

As Marlene greeted the clown at the front door, expressing delight at the flowers, the clown raised a gun and shot her in the face. Joseph, hearing the gunshot, saw the clown fleeing and noted the brown eyes behind the makeup. Despite his broken leg, he attempted to see the vehicle but was unable to provide much detail. Marlene was rushed to the hospital but succumbed to her injuries two days later. Her son, Joseph, was left devastated.

#### The Investigation Begins

The police began their investigation by questioning everyone at the scene but found it challenging due to the clown costume’s concealment of the assailant’s features. Joseph could only say the clown had brown eyes and was driving a white Chrysler LeBaron. With few leads, the police dived into Marlene's life to find potential enemies.

Their focus soon shifted to Michael. Employees at their businesses and neighbors reported Michael's affair with Sheila Keen, an employee in his car rental business. Despite both Michael and Sheila denying their relationship, the police uncovered more layers of deceit. Sheila had rented a clown costume the night before the murder, and the vehicle involved in the crime had been linked to Michael through shady business deals.

#### Stalled Justice

Despite the circumstantial evidence, including fibers from a clown wig found in the car and Sheila's apartment, the lack of concrete proof meant the case went cold for 27 years. Advances in DNA technology finally linked Sheila Keen Warren to the crime, leading to her arrest in 2017.

#### The Arrest

The arrest brought a shocking revelation: Michael and Sheila had married in 2002 and moved to Tennessee under new identities. They had opened a burger joint and lived a quiet life until Sheila's arrest. Despite overwhelming suspicions, Michael was never charged. Sheila's trial faced delays, and ultimately, she pled guilty to second-degree murder in 2023, receiving a 12-year sentence. With time served, she is set to be released next year.

#### Conclusion

The murder of Marlene Warren was methodically planned, with Michael and Sheila seemingly set to benefit the most. Despite the odds, justice was partially served, but many questions remain about Michael's involvement. As we close this case, remember Marlene Warren—a loving mother taken too soon. Thank you for joining me in exploring the unsettling case of the Killer Clown.

If you enjoyed this read, please like, follow, subscribe, and share. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Did Sheila act alone, or was Michael the mastermind behind it all? Stay tuned for next week's case. As always, until then....

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