FORT LAUDERDALE | It took more 27 years for authorities to make an arrest in South Florida’s killer clown case. There won’t be a rush for a trial either.
Through her attorney, Sheila Keen Warren on Monday waived her right to a speedy trial on a first-degree murder charge. She also will be excused from attending any more routine court hearings.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for the 54-year-old woman accused of wearing a clown disguise during the May 26, 1990, slaying of Marlene Warren, 40, in Wellington.
The shooting victim and Keen Warren share the same last name yet were not related. But Warren’s husband, Michael, is now married to Keen Warren. He was not in court Monday.
Defense attorney Richard Lubin told Circuit Judge Samantha Schosberg Feuer that his client does not use Keen in her name, although that is how it appears in court records.
Sheila Warren has pleaded not guilty and is being held at Palm Beach County Jail without bond.
Wearing blue jail scrubs, and long golden hair partially obscuring her face, Warren didn’t speak during Monday’s brief hearing.
The next court hearing will be a case status check between the judge and the attorneys on Jan. 23.
Defense attorney Richard Lubin said prosecutors just days ago handed over the first batch of evidence in the case, which he called “complicated” because it’s so old.
“I don’t really know anything about the case yet,” Lubin told the judge.
Detectives say Marlene Warren answered the door to her home in the Aero Club community to accept a bouquet and two balloons from a clown wearing an orange wig, a red bulb nose, gloves and a smile painted on its white face.
Immediately, the clown fired at Warren’s face. She died within two days.
The clown fled in a white Chrysler LeBaron, which was found four days later abandoned at a shopping center parking lot. Sheila Keen and Michael Warren were originally identified as persons of interest but neither was charged at the time.
Keen, then 27, had been working for Warren’s used car dealership, Bargain Motors Inc. of West Palm Beach, helping to repossess cars.
The case went cold until 2014, when Palm Beach County detectives took a fresh look at DNA evidence. They also learned the Warrens married in Las Vegas in 2002.
Sheriff Ric Bradshaw and State Attorney Dave Aronberg have told reporters that Sheila Warren’s Sept. 26 arrest in southwest Virginia resulted from a DNA link and recent witness interviews.
They did not offer any specifics about the evidence, and there is no arrest report filed in the case that outlines what led to the charge.
After the killing, detectives told reporters that a search of Keen’s home yielded fibers from a bright orange wig. And similar fibers were found in the getaway car.
For the past 15 years, the Warrens lived in small, historic Abingdon, Virginia, within the Blue Ridge Mountains.
They had a reputation as a hardworking, sociable couple who until last year operated a popular fast-food restaurant in nearby Kingsport, Tennessee.
After news of Sheila Warren’s arrest made national headlines, their neighbors and customers have said they were unaware of their past alleged ties to one of South Florida’s high-profile murders.