What Happened to Marlene Warren? 2024 Update & Background

Marlene Warren was born in 1950 and grew up in a small town in Michigan. She was known for her artistic talent, particularly her ability to paint and draw. Marlene’s early years were marked by her strong work ethic and her dedication to her family. She was described by those who knew her as kind-hearted, compassionate, and deeply involved in her community.

Marlene married her first husband and had two sons, Joe and John Aherns. After her first marriage ended, she met and married Mike Warren in 1972. Together, they moved to Wellington, Florida, where they established a comfortable life. Marlene and Mike owned several businesses, including Bargain Motors, a used car dealership, and various rental properties in West Palm Beach.

Life in Wellington

The Warrens’ home in the Aero Club community of Wellington was a reflection of their success. The neighborhood was unique, featuring private runways for residents who owned airplanes. Marlene was an active member of the community and enjoyed the upscale lifestyle that their businesses afforded them. She was also known for her artistic pursuits, often painting in her free time.

Despite their outward success, Marlene’s life was not without challenges. In 1988, her son John tragically died in a car accident, a loss that deeply affected her. Additionally, Marlene began to suspect that her husband Mike was having an affair, which added to the strain in their marriage. These suspicions would later prove to be a crucial element in the investigation of her murder.

The Tragic Event

On May 26, 1990, Marlene Warren’s life was brutally cut short. That morning, as she was having breakfast with her son Joe and his friends, a white Chrysler LeBaron pulled into their driveway. A person dressed as a clown, carrying a bouquet of flowers and two balloons, approached the front door. Marlene, thinking it was a friendly gesture, opened the door. The clown then pulled out a gun and shot Marlene in the face before calmly walking back to the car and driving away.

Joe Aherns, who witnessed the attack, immediately called 911 and attempted to chase the clown but was unsuccessful. Marlene was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. Despite the doctors’ efforts, she remained on life support for two days before passing away on May 28, 1990. The murder left the community in shock and her family devastated.

Investigation and Breakthrough

The investigation into Marlene Warren’s murder was complex and spanned several decades. Initially, suspicion fell on her husband Mike Warren due to their troubled marriage and Marlene’s prior warnings to her son and mother that if anything happened to her, Mike would be responsible. However, Mike had an alibi; he was on his way to the racetrack with friends at the time of the murder.

Attention then turned to Sheila Keen, an employee at Bargain Motors who was rumored to be having an affair with Mike. Witnesses described a woman matching Sheila’s description purchasing a clown costume and the flowers and balloons used in the murder. Despite these leads, there was not enough evidence to make an arrest at the time. It wasn’t until 2013, when the case was reopened and new DNA technology was used, that investigators were able to match a hair found in the getaway car to Sheila Keen.

Arrest and Legal Proceedings

On September 26, 2017, 27 years after Marlene Warren’s murder, Sheila Keen-Warren was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. By this time, she had married Mike Warren, and the couple was living in Tennessee under new identities. The prosecution initially sought the death penalty, but later reevaluated the case and decided not to pursue it.

The trial faced numerous delays, including those caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2023, Sheila Keen-Warren accepted a plea deal, pleading guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for a 12-year prison sentence. Due to time served, she is expected to be released in 2025. Throughout the legal proceedings, Sheila maintained her innocence, even as she admitted guilt in court.

Legacy and Impact

Marlene Warren’s murder left a lasting impact on her family and the community. Her son Joe Aherns struggled with the trauma of witnessing his mother’s murder, battling addiction and grief for many years. Over time, Joe found some peace by focusing on positive memories of his mother rather than the violent way she was taken from him.

The case of Marlene Warren remains one of the most infamous in Florida’s history, serving as a stark reminder of the complexities and challenges in seeking justice. While the plea deal brought some closure, questions and controversies about the handling of the case and the true extent of the involvement of those accused linger. Marlene’s life and untimely death continue to resonate, highlighting the profound effects of violent crime on families and communities.


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Ryan Gill

Ryan is a passionate follower of true crime television programs, reporting on and providing in-depth investigations on mysteries in the criminal world.

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