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On Season Two Of The Felonious Florida Podcast: Wellington's Killer Clown

South Florida Sun Sentinel file photo
Paramedics rush Marlene from the scene of the shooting. May 1990.

The Sun Sentinel has released Season 2 of its popular podcast Felonious Florida, with an investigation into a murder that happened nearly three decades ago in Wellington. 

On a Saturday morning in 1990, 40-year-old Marlene Warren opened her door to a surprise visitor: a person dressed as a clown with a delivery of balloons and flowers. The clown proceeded to pull a gun from its pocket, point it at Marlene's face, fire and run from the scene. Marlene was rushed to the hospital and died two days later from her injuries. 

The crime remained unsolved until September 2017 when police made a break in the case, arresting the current partner of Marlene's widowed husband, Sheila Keen. The latest episode of the podcast explains the bizarre circumstances behind the case, the relationship between Michael and Marlene Warren, and why the story remains so important to residents in Palm Beach County. Sundial host Luis Hernandez spoke with the reporter who followed the story, Tonya Alanez, and her editor, Juan Ortega. 

WLRN: What was happening at the time of the murder between the three characters in this story, Sheila Keen, Michael Warren and Marlene Warren? 

Alanez: Well it seemed like Marlene and Michael's relationship was not as close as they had once been. You know they had been married 20 years at this point. It seems like his life is all about work. She's busy managing rental properties, he's not home a lot, long nights out, just not around. It seems like there's unhappiness there. And Sheila just shows up one day and kind of bounds onto the car lot and into everyone's lives. 

Hernandez: There was a strange situation I actually didn't know until I heard your podcast where Michael Warren had a conversation with an attorney that probably should have set off a lot of alarms. Tonya, can you explain? 

Alanez: Marlene's younger son Joey had gotten into some trouble so they were in court to resolve a plea deal. And Michael is there, Marlene is there, Joey is there, Joey's attorney is there. And after the hearing Marlene and Joey are out of earshot.

Michael, you know, inquires for some legal advice from the attorney and quietly asked him, "What would happen to a wife's estate if she were killed?" And the attorney, you know, is taken aback and just thinks the question is nuts. Not only, why would you ask that, but why would you ask that with your wife just down the hall? And you know he tells him, "Well you know if if somebody other than the husband did it and they can't link it to the husband, well the husband would get away and the estate would go to the husband.”

I've noticed newspapers are getting into the podcast business pretty hard.

Alanez: I think it's definitely caught on. People like it. And the feedback we're getting, the number of downloads we're getting, seems to indicate that that's the direction to go. You know and it feels like something new.

Ortega: Yeah it's an exciting medium. I think part of why we even started this is because we ourselves are enthusiasts of podcasts and how they're so available, right? You can listen while you're cooking and driving. So it's an extra opportunity to reach an audience.

Chris knew he wanted to work in public radio beginning in middle school, as WHYY played in his car rides to and from school in New Jersey. He’s freelanced for All Things Considered and was a desk associate for CBS Radio News in New York City. Most recently, he was producing for Capital Public Radio’s Insight booking guests, conducting research and leading special projects at Sacramento’s NPR affiliate.