Joe Ahrens was 21 years old when he discovered the body of his mother, who was fatally shot by a woman dressed up as a clown more than 27 years ago in Florida.
Ahrens, now 49 and living in Iowa, didn’t immediately return a request for comment, but in a post on Facebook, he wrote: “I got some good news today. They cot [sic] the murder[er] that killed my mom 27 years ago.”
Washington County Sheriff’s Office
Ahrens’ mom, Marlene Warren, was shot in the head when she answered the door of her home in Wellington, Florida, on May 26, 1990.
Ahrens told investigators at the time that he ran to the door when he heard the shot and saw the assailant leave in a car with no license plates.
The shooter was wearing a clown suit and a red or orange clown wig, and she was carrying flowers and two balloons — one with the inscription “You’re the greatest!” and the other embossed with Snow White.
Warren died two days later. Investigators now say they believe her husband later married the killer clown, whom they identified as Sheila Keen-Warren, 54.
Keen-Warren was arrested Tuesday in Abingdon, Virginia, on a fugitive warrant, court records show. She waived an extradition hearing on Wednesday and will be sent back to Florida to answer a grand jury indictment handed up Aug. 31 in Palm Beach County charging her with first-degree murder.
No attorney of record for Keen-Warren was listed in court documents.
“I didn’t think that it would ever happen,” Marlene Warren’s mother, Shirley Twing, 87, of Las Vegas, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel newspaper.
“There’s always hope, but I’d prefer to have her, instead,” Twing said. “It’s taking me back to the memory of it, and it’s kind of hard. I feel like crying now, but I’m glad it’s over.”
At the time of the shooting, Keen-Warren, then known as Sheila Keen, was working at the car rental agency run by Marlene’s husband, Michael Warren. Authorities said Keen and Michael Warren were having an affair — and in 2002, they got married.
In recent years, the Warrens had been running a popular restaurant, the Purple Cow, in Kingsport, across the state line in Tennessee, authorities said. They sold it last year.
Investigators said that they suspected both Warren and Keen almost from the beginning but that they never had enough evidence to bring charges. But when they learned of their marriage in 2014, they reopened the long-cold case.
By then, DNA testing was far more advanced than it had been in the early 1990s, and they decided to pursue charges against Keen-Warren after they retested orange fibers and hair strands they found in the car the killer was believed to have used.
Palm Beach County sheriff’s Sgt. Richard McAfee said Tuesday: “Taking another person’s life is a horrific incident. It just took us 27 years to bring closure to the victim’s family. Murder cases never go away.”
He added: “Any murder’s horrific. It doesn’t matter whether you’re wearing a clown costume or not.”