Twenty-seven years after a clown carrying flowers and two balloons shot a woman to death at her front door, Florida authorities announced an arrest in one of the more bizarre cold case investigations in a state known for bizarre crimes.
Sheila Keen Warren, 54, was arrested without incident in Washington County, Virginia, on a charge of first-degree murder with use of a firearm in the killing of Marlene Warren, 40 — her current husband’s previous wife — in 1990, officials said Tuesday.
“Any murder’s horrific. It doesn’t matter whether you’re wearing a clown costume or not,” Palm Beach County sheriff’s Sgt. Richard McAfee said at a news conference Tuesday.
“Taking another person’s life is a horrific incident,” McAfee said. “It just took us 27 years to bring closure to the victim’s family. Murder cases never go away.”
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office said Warren was arrested in Abingdon, Virginia, about 5 miles from the Tennessee state line.
Warren was arraigned Wednesday morning in Washington County General District Court and waived extradition, officials said. She was set to be moved to Florida from the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail.
Warren had been a suspect in the murder almost from the beginning, but prosecutors never had enough evidence to charge her until new technology allowed them to retest DNA evidence after the cold case was reopened in 2014.
Marlene Warren was shot in the face when she answered the front door of her home in Wellington, near West Palm Beach, and was confronted by a brown-eyed woman carrying balloons and wearing a clown costume and an orange clown wig on May 26, 1990, authorities said.
One of the balloons said “You’re the greatest!” and the other had Snow White painted on it, according to news coverage at the time.
“This is the strangest thing I’ve seen in all my 19 years in law enforcement,” Bob Ferrell, then a spokesman for the Palm Beach County sheriff’s office, told the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel newspaper the day after the murder.
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SOURCE: NBC News, Alex Johnson