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Florida ‘Killer Clown’ case: Man copped to 1990 murder decades before Sheila Keen-Warren arrest, defense says

The trial for a Florida woman accused in the state’s infamous "Killer Clown" case from 1990 is nearing fruition more than 32 years after Marlene Warren was gunned down.

Attorneys representing accused Florida "Killer Clown" Sheila Keen-Warren are asking a judge to allow them to include details about an inmate who allegedly bragged about carrying out the 1990 murder for which their client has been charged, records show.

A Maine inmate named Edward Bahr boasted to a cellblock neighbor decades ago "that he murdered a woman in Wellington, Florida," a defense court filing states. He allegedly made similar statements to corrections staff, and while also incarcerated in Connecticut.

When confronted by police about his alleged claims, Bahr told the detective "’he would tell him everything he knows" concerning the death of Marlene Warren if [the detective] "could promise him he would not get the electric chair,’" the motion states. But when the detective "told Bahr that he could not promise him that, Bahr requested to speak to an attorney before answering any more questions."

The latest motion comes as a judge is already mulling several other requests from the defense team – including that he dismiss the case altogether because lawyers argue the prosecution dragged their feet too much on bringing charges. 


Police arrested Sheila Keen-Warren on Sept. 26, 2017, 27 years after Marlene Warren’s death.

Investigators learned Keen-Warren, who was married to someone else at the time of the murder, went on to wed Marlene Warren’s husband in 2002. The pair had been living in Tennessee, where they operated a restaurant, police said.

Defense attorneys have argued that prosecutors suspect Warren’s husband was involved in the murder scheme, though he has never been charged in connection with the crime. 


Marlene Warren, 40, was shot and killed at her Wellington, Florida, home Saturday, May 26, 1990, officials said. Warren had just finished breakfast with her son and his friends around 10:45 a.m., when they spotted a Chrysler LeBaron roll into the driveway, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said. 

A person dressed like a clown exited the vehicle and walked to the home’s front door, police said. 

"The person dressed as the clown was carrying a flower arrangement and two balloons," the sheriff’s office explained. One balloon reportedly bore a picture of Snow White, the other was emblazoned with the words, "You're the Greatest!" 

"Marlene answered the front door and as the clown offered the items to her, witnesses heard a gunshot and Marlene fell to the ground," police said. "The person dressed as a clown calmly walked back to the LeBaron and drove away." 

Warren suffered a gunshot wound to the face and was rushed to a local hospital, where she died two days later.

Over a year later, in August 1991, a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office detective received a call from authorities in Maine, who said a prisoner – later identified as Bahr – had confessed to the killing, the defense filing states.


According to the document, Bahr gave a fellow inmate at Maine State Prison accurate details related to the murders, such as that "he dressed up as a clown and shot the woman, that her husband owned a used car lot named Bargain Motors, that a young male had come out of one of the rooms right after the shooting." Both inmates were being housed in solitary confinement at the time. 

He also allegedly told the inmate "that a ‘female biker type’ got the clown costume from the Stoplight costume shot," and that "he was hired by the husband of the murder victim during a meeting at the Mermaid Bar."

The inmate later sat for a recorded, sworn interview, in which he described how Bahr said the Warren murder was "the ‘biggest thing’ he had ever done," the filing states. 

"[H]e stated that in broad daylight he dressed up as a clown, then he went up to this residence where this woman was living and had knocked on the door and said delivery, and she opened the door, he pointed a gun to her face and said, ha-ha, and shot her in the face," the inmate told police, according to a transcript of the recorded interview. 

Bahr allegedly told the inmate, "this guy had offered him a substantial amount of money to kill his wife," the motion states. 

The transcript continues: "He said he wanted – he wanted his wife dead because… she was divorcing him (Inaudible) and she was to take over the car dealership." 

Attorneys described how he was "known to brag about committing a murder in the Ft. Lauderdale or Metro Dade area."

Bahr was not in jail at the time of Warren’s killing. 

When re-interviewed during a deposition in September 2022, Bahr "denied telling [the inmate] that he murdered Marlene Warren," the filing states. He told investigators he did talk about the "clown homicide," but only based on details he had seen reported on TV news.

But there was one glaring discrepancy: "There was, however, no TV in solitary."

Keen-Warren’s defense team is asking Circuit Judge Scott Siskauer to file an order allowing the team to use Bahr’s "out-of-court statements" and other evidence of "third-party culpability" at trial because they constitute exculpatory evidence that is "necessary" for her defense. 

Warren was charged with first-degree murder in 2017. Her long-awaited trial is slated to begin with jury selection in May. 

Just last week, both sides called for the exclusion of testimony from one of the detectives who handled the investigation decades ago. The agreed order states that Detective William Williams, who has since retired from the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, should not be called as a witness "because he is unable to observe, remember and recount the facts about which the witness would testify."


Siskauer has signed the order to exclude Williams’ testimony. 

But Siskauer has yet to rule on several other motions regarding various elements related to the circumstances of the killing. He is expected to issue orders after holding hearings over the course of two days in early March.

Specifically, defense attorneys have asked the jurist to prohibit prosecutors from making any mention of evidence or witnesses that allegedly show Keen-Warren purchasing a clown costume two days before the murder.

Evidence that Keen-Warren was the person who purchased the clown costume from West Palm Beach’s Spotlight Capezio on May 24, 1990, is "irrelevant and unreliable," and would "deprive" her of "her rights to a fair trial and due process," her attorneys argued in a motion filed in November. Store employees said the person bought an orange wig, a "yellow and hot pink" clown suit and a makeup kit, but no mask, two days before Marlene Warren’s broad daylight execution. 

However, defense attorneys argued that witnesses had different descriptions of the clown costume from the one that was purchased at Spotlight. 

"[T]hat clown suit is not the one described by eyewitnesses to Marlene Warren’s murder," they wrote in the motion.

One witness "said the clown was wearing a gray jumpsuit, like a mechanic’s uniform," and wore a wig similar to "Bozo the Clown," the motion states.


Another witness said the clown "was wearing a white clown suit with red hearts or diamonds," while a third described the costume as having "blue dots on it," the attorneys wrote. Both witnesses told police the wig was red, the motion states.

Defense attorneys have also filed a motion seeking to exclude details related to a white Chrysler LeBaron convertible that was found in a Winn-Dixie parking lot after it had been reported stolen, and any evidence that was recovered from inside the vehicle. 

They argued that the vehicle "is not the car driven by the clown who murdered Marlene Warren."

But prosecutors previously said that DNA found inside the getaway vehicle tied Keen-Warren to the crime.

The defense is also seeking to exclude any mention on a "six-to-eight-inch hair or fiber" that was allegedly found on a ribbon attached to one of the balloons handed to Warren before she was shot. 

Just Wednesday, the defense team filed a motion asking Siskauer to dismiss the charges against Keen-Warren because prosecutors made "tactical decisions" in dragging their feet and in turn prevented the defense from being able to build a case, the document states.

"This is not a ‘cold case’ in the traditional sense: the State merely picked up their investigation decades later and conducted new tests on some of the trace evidence."

Prosecutors deliberately chose to delay the indictment of Keen-Warren for decades, and then charged her with the murder of Marlene Warren in 2017 despite the lack of new evidence, the defense team argued.

As a result, defense attorneys were faced with untraceable or now-deceased witnesses, people who no longer remembered what they did or saw, and even some who had suddenly changed their accounts of events over the course of 30-plus years, lawyers wrote in a motion to dismiss for pre-indictment delay.

"More than 30 years after Marlene Warren’s murder, much of the evidence that Sheila Keen-Warren could have relied on to establish that someone else has confessed to the murder, to impeach the State’s witnesses, or present an alibi defense is unavailable for various reasons," the motion states. 

It adds: "The law permitted the State to take their time in filing charges, but not to force Sheila Keen-Warren to fight her case blindfolded with one arm tied behind her back."

Prosecutors have not responded to the motions so far. Both sides are expected to make their respective arguments in court on March 7 and 8.

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