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Hey, Prime members. You can binge eight new episodes of the Mr. Ballon podcast one month early, and all episodes ad-free on Amazon Music. Download the Amazon Music app today. On the morning of May 26, 1990, Marlene Warren was at home inside of her beautiful mansion in Florida when she heard a knock on the front door. Marlene was busy and was hoping that her adult son might go answer the door, but when she looked over to the living room where her son was, she saw he was laying down watching TV and didn't even seem to have heard the knock on the door. So Marlene sobbed and just walked over to the front door herself and opened it up. And to her surprise, standing on the other side of the door was a person dressed up in a clown costume, holding flowers and balloons. Now, Marlene loved clowns, and she had recently celebrated her 40th birthday, so she figured this must be someone's birthday gift to her, and she was thrilled. But after the clown handed Marlene the flowers and balloons, there was this loud popping sound inside of Marlene's house, and then Marlene Jeanine fell to the floor, blood pouring down her face.


But before we get into that story, if you're a fan of the Strange, Dark, and mysterious Delivered in Story format, then you've come to the right podcast because that's all we do, and we upload twice a week, once on Monday and once on Thursday. So if that's of interest to you, please sneak in to the Amazon Music Follow Buttons house in the middle of the night and super glue their nostrils shut. Okay, let's get into today's story.


I'm Afua Hirsch. I'm Peter Frankerpern. And in our podcast, Legacy, we explore the lives of some of the biggest characters in history. This season, we're exploring the life of Cleopatra. An iconic life full of romances, seages, and tragedy. But who was the real Cleopatra? It feels like her story has been told by others with their own agenda for centuries. But her legacy is enduring, and so we're going to dive into how her story has evolved all the way up to today. I am so excited to talk about Cleopatra, Peter. Love Cleopatra. She is an icon. She's the most famous woman in antiquity. It's got to be up there. We're the most famous women of all time. But I think there's a huge gap between how familiar people are with the idea of her compared to what they actually know about her life and character. So for Pyramids, Cleopatra and Cleopatra's Nose. Follow Legacy Now wherever you get your podcasts, or you can binge entire seasons early and ad-free on WNDYRI Plus. Have you ever felt like escaping to your own desert island? Well, that's exactly what Jane, Phil, and their three kids did when they traded their English home for a tropical island they bought on mind.


But paradise has its secrets, and family life is about to take a terrifying turn. You don't fire at people in that area without some consequence.


And he says, Yes, ma'am, he's dead.


There's pure cold-blooded terror running through me. From Wundery, I'm Alice Levine, and this is the Price of Paradise, the real-life story of an island dream that ends in kidnap, corruption, and murder. Follow The Price of Paradise wherever you get your podcasts or binge the entire season right now on WNDYRI Plus.


In January of 1990, 39-year-old Marlene Warren made her way across her sprawling backyard in Wellington, Florida. Marlene Marlene and her husband, Michael, were hosting a barbecue for some of their friends and family and coworkers. And so far, the Florida winter weather had not disappointed. It was sunny in about 75 degrees Fahrenheit, so a perfect day for an outdoor party. Marlene looked down and checked the food on the grill. It smelled delicious and was almost ready to be served. Then she looked up and saw all the people in her yard who were talking and laughing and having a great time, and she smiled. Her backyard, and really her entire house, were made for big parties like this one. Where Marlene lived, Wellington, Florida, was a small upscale village not far from West Palm Beach that was filled with mansions and golf courses. Marlene and Michael's five bedroom home was over 5,000 square feet. It had a pool, and it even had an attached airplane hangar for Michael's prop plane. Marlene enjoyed the luxury that her house and her neighborhood provided, but really what she loved the most was all the space she had on her property so she could throw these big parties for all the people she loved.


The smell of the food drifted across the backyard, and after a while, a few guests began heading towards the grill. And amongst those guests were a young couple, Sheila and Richard Keen, who walked up and asked Marlene if she needed any help. But Marlene said she had everything under control, and really, she was just happy that Sheila and Richard had made it to the party. Sheila and Richard both worked for Marlene's husband, Michael, at the used car dealership that he owned, and so Marlene was just happy to meet some of these people that spent so much time with her husband. Sheila and Richard chatted for a little bit longer, and then they turned and headed back towards the party, at which point Marlene began taking the food off the grill and putting them out on serving dishes. As soon as Marlene's 21-year-old son, Joey, and a few of his friends saw Marlene putting the food out, they rushed over and grabbed some paper plates and began piling them full of food. Joey's father, Marlene's husband, Michael, spotted the boys doing what they were doing, and he laughed and told them to please save some food for the other guests.


Then Michael walked over to the grill and put his arm around Marlene, and she leaned her head on his shoulder. Both of them had been so busy with work lately that it felt like they barely got any time together. So it was nice now to have a moment to relax together and just to enjoy the company of their friends and family. Marlene and Michael had been together for almost 18 years, and even though things weren't always perfect, Marlene couldn't imagine her life without her husband. Back in the mid-1960s, Marlene had gotten married to a different man. She gave birth to her first son at the age of 16, and she had Joey a few years later when she was 19. But not long after that, her first husband died, and Marlene felt completely lost. She was now a widow at just 20 years old, and she was trying to raise two young boys all on her own. At the time, she had gotten a lot of support from her parents, but there were still moments when she just felt like surviving was almost impossible. Then she had met Michael, and it was like everything in her life got better.


Michael was kind, he was handsome, he was driven to succeed, and he almost immediately became this loving father figure to Marlene's two boys. And Michael was just as taken with Marlene Marlene as she was with him. He thought she was absolutely stunning with her beautiful red hair and blue eyes. But more importantly, he thought of Marlene as being a really strong person who had managed to overcome this terrible tragedy, losing her first husband at such a young age. And so clearly, Marlene was just this really mature person. And also, Michael really liked how driven Marlene was to succeed just like he was. Marlene and Michael had gotten married in 1972, and they eventually moved to Florida. They started a real estate business that Marlene ran, and over the years, they'd come to own multiple rental properties. Michael had also opened up a used car dealership that specialized in selling and renting cars to people who struggled to get loans because of their credit. And ultimately, both the real estate and car business had taken off in ways that not even Marlene and Michael had seen coming. And so they ended up making millions and millions of dollars between them and then buying their beautiful home here in Wellington.


In the backyard, Marlene and Michael stepped away from the grill and mingled with their guests. Marlene said she was glad people from different aspects of their life, friends, family, and work, all seemed to be getting along so well. Then Marlene and Michael split up to cover more ground and to see if any of their guests needed anything. A little while later, Marlene went back to the grill to cook more food, and her mother-in-law approached her. Marlene had a great relationship with Michael's mom, and they always had plenty to talk about, but her mother-in-law had a serious look on her face, so Marlene asked if everything was okay. Her mother-in-law leaned in like she was about to tell Marlene some big secret. Then she just pointed towards some of Michael's employees, Sheila and Richard Keen, the two that Marlene had spoken to at the grill earlier. And in a quiet voice, she told Marlene to watch out for Sheila because she was young and pretty. Marlene understood that her mother-in-law was just trying to help. They both knew Michael could be a bit of a flirt, but Marlene wasn't too worried about anything like that. And so she ended up not really saying anything back to her mother-in-law after she made this comment.


But inside, if she was going to worry about either of the Keens, it would not be Sheila, it would be Richard. Richard had a bit of a shady past. He'd faced weapons possession and drug charges with the police, and he worked for Michael as a repo man, which meant he took cars back from people when they were behind on payments. It was a difficult job, and a lot of people did not want to give up their cars, but Richard was known as a tough guy who people did not want to mess with. And so no matter how much people fought him, he would get them to give up their cars. Still, Well, Marlene was not about to hold anybody's past against them. She knew Richard was one of Michael's hardest working employees, and the two men, Michael and Richard, really seemed to get along well. So if Marlene's husband trusted him, then she did, too. The party lasted into the night, and by the time the final guests left, Marlene felt exhausted but really happy. The barbecue had clearly been a success. Inside the house, she and Michael sat down on the couch and put their feet up.


Michael looked over at his wife and said, Hey, pretty soon we're going to have to start thinking about our next party, your 40th birthday. Marlene laughed because her 40th birthday was still almost five months away. But Michael said it was never too early to start thinking about it. After all, turning 40 was a big deal. Marlene and Michael sat and talked a bit longer. Then Michael said he was tired and kissed his wife and headed to bed. Marlene stayed in the living room by herself, and as she sat there, it really hit her that she was going to turn 40 soon. Now, there was a time when she would have seen that as getting old and she would have dreaded the birthday, but Marlene actually felt excited for her birthday. For her age, she had actually accomplished a ton. She had the life that people envied, and she believed that everything would just keep on getting better as she got older. About six months later, at around 11:00 AM on Saturday, May 26, 1990, Marlene was cooking food again. This time, though, she was in the kitchen making breakfast for her son, Joey, and two of his friends who were over at the house.


Marlene finished up the food and then hollered for the boys to come and get it. Joey and his two friends rushed into the kitchen. They got their breakfast and then went back into the living room to keep watching TV. Marlene was happy to have a relaxing weekend ahead of her. A little bit earlier, Michael had headed out to a racetrack in Miami with a friend about 70 miles away, so Marlene was totally solo, and she figured she might just spend the day driving around. Michael had surprised her for her 40th birthday with her dream car, a Candy Apple Red Firebird. Marlene loved this sports car, and today felt felt like the perfect day to go out for a drive. But before she could head outside to hop in her car, the doorbell rang. Marlene was pretty sure her son and his friends were not going to get up to answer the door, so she headed to the front door and she opened it up. And as soon as she did, Marlene smiled because standing there was a clown. It was this person in a clown costume with a curly red wig and white makeup, and this clown was holding balloons and a small picnic basket filled with flowers in one of their hands.


At this point, Joey and his friends looked up from the couch towards the door, and when they saw the clown, they just started laughing. They wondered why there was a clown at the house, but they quickly turned back to the TV. As for Marlene, she figured these balloons and flowers must be some late birthday present or just a random nice surprise from Michael. The clown grinned and handed the balloons and flowers to Marlene. Marlene said, Oh, these are so pretty, and then began looking for a card to see who had sent this to her. But as she did this, Marlene didn't notice the clown pulled her other hand out from behind their back. And then a second later in the living room, Marlene's son, Joey, suddenly heard a loud pop, and then he turned and looked towards the front door, and he saw the clown had turned and begun running away from the house, and his mother was now lying on the floor. Joey and his friends had no idea what just happened, but they ran over to Marlene's side, and right away, they saw her face was covered in blood. She had been shot.


The boys ran out the door screaming for this clown and screaming for help. And then at the end of the road, they saw a white Chrysler Sedan, called a LeBaron racing away around the corner. One of Joey's friends rushed back inside to call 911. Joey ran straight for his car. He hopped inside and began flying down the road after this Chrysler. But Joey After turning the corner and driving all around the neighborhood, he could not find the white Chrysler LeBaron. It was gone. Not long after the 911 call, Detective Michael Harrison of the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Department arrived outside of Marlene's house. When Harrison had first gotten the call to investigate a shooting carried out by a clown in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the county, he wondered if he was hearing everything right or if maybe a fellow officer was playing some twisted joke on him. But Harrison quickly realized this was not a joke. After being shot, Marlene had been rushed to the hospital, and she was now fighting for her life. All Harrison knew about the person who had shot her was that they were last seen wearing a clown costume.


Harrison walked towards Marlene's property. Officers who had arrived first on the scene had already cordoned off the yard with police tape, and out front, they had gathered Joey, his two friends, and a neighbor who had heard the shooting while he was out walking his dog. Joey and his friends stood there with police, still in total shock. Joey's hands trembled, and the first thing he told Detective Harrison was that he'd gone after the shooter but he had failed to catch them. Harrison did his best to calm Joey down. He knew this young man really just wanted to go to the hospital to see his mom, and Harrison also knew that the chaos of what had just happened would just make it really difficult for Joey to focus. But Joey and his friends were Harrison's best witnesses, and so he hoped he could get at least some information out of them right now. So Harrison asked Joey if there was anything he remembered about the shooter beyond them being dressed as a clown. After taking a deep breath and collecting himself, Joey would say that the shooter had a lot of white makeup on, like even more makeup than a circus clown would wear.


So as a result, it was almost impossible to tell what the shooter actually looked like. But Joey said as far as he could tell, the shooter was a man who was probably about 5'9 tall, and he had what looked like really big hands. Joey's friends would agree with that description. Detective Harrison said this was extremely helpful, and then he asked them if there was anything else they remembered. Joey just shook his head, and his friend said that was all they could think of. But then, Joey looked up at Harrison like something had just come back to him. He said there actually was one thing that really stood out, but he hadn't really thought about it at the time. Joey said when the clown came to the door, there was a part of his costume that seemed a bit off. Instead of wearing the typical oversize clown shoes, this clown was wearing black combat boots. This was an interesting piece of information, but it didn't really surprise Harrison. The detective figured the shooter had planned this whole shooting out, and they knew they would need to make a quick getaway and trying to run back to their car in giant clown shoes would have been very difficult.


Harrison thanked Joey and his friends for their help. And as they walked away, Harrison just could not imagine what Joey must have felt witnessing his mother get shot like that right in front of him. Harrison walked over to the neighbor who had been out walking his dog at the time of the shooting. The man would tell Harrison that he only heard a single gunshot. He also said he was sure the shooter had sped off in a white Chrysler LeBaron that didn't have a license plate. Harrison thanked the neighbor, and then he made one of the weirdest phone calls he'd ever made in his entire law enforcement career. He contacted the Sheriff's Department and asked them to issue a Bolo, which is a be on the look out message to other law enforcement agencies and the general public. Harrison said the Bolo should let people know they were searching for a white Chrysler Le Beren that was being driven by a clown. Harrison made his way inside of Marlene's house, and right away, he was stunned at just how little evidence there was, considering a shooting had taken place right there. There was very minimal blood in the entryway, and there were no bullet casings, no weapon, and no bullet holes in the wall.


Harrison still needed to get some information from the hospital where Marlene had been taken But based on his conversation with the neighbor and also based on what he saw at the crime scene, Harrison's first impression of this crime was that the clown, the shooter, fired one bullet, and that bullet must be lodged somewhere in Marlene's body. The lack of ballistics evidence and the fact that the shooter was fully disguised meant that Harrison and his team did not have a lot to go on. But he crouched down in the entryway and focused on the evidence he did have, the balloons and the basket of flowers. One of the balloons was pretty generic, but the other one was red, heart-shaped, and had a message on it that said, You're the greatest. For now, that balloon was the best clue Harrison had. So he instructed his team to cover every place in the area that sold balloons to see which of those places sold heart-shaped balloons like the one left behind at the scene. Harrison's team worked fast, and his tactic paid off. Later that day, he learned there was only one grocery store in town that sold that particular balloon.


So Harrison had his first major break in a search for the clown who had shot Marlene. Members of the investigative team went to the grocery store where they believe the balloon left at Marlene's house had come from. And one of the clerks there remembered selling the balloon in flowers to someone about an hour and a half before Marlene was shot. Now, the clerk could not provide a description of the person who bought these items, but this information was still very valuable because now, Detective Harrison thought there was a strong possibility that their shooter, the clown was somebody local, that they would have known to come to this particular grocery store to get that particular balloon and those flowers. And so with that theory in mind that their shooter was local, Harrison turned his attention to local costume shops. If the shooter purchased the balloons and flowers in town, then they very likely got their clown costume locally, too. And later that day, a bell jangled over Harrison's head when he walked through the door of a small, dimly-lit costume shop. He walked past shelves of masks and racks filled with all different kinds of costumes, and at the back of the shop, he found two young women sitting behind a large glass counter that had costume makeup displayed in it.


Harrison introduced himself to the young women, and they were clearly very surprised to see a detective in their store. Harrison told them they had nothing worry about and that he just had a couple of basic questions for them. Then he asked both of them if they were called selling a clown costume recently. The women looked at each other and their eyes went wide. Then one of the young women turned back to Harrison and told him they'd actually just been talking about a clown costume that they had sold a couple of nights earlier. She said the costume itself was not the weird part. It was the customer who bought it that made the whole transaction so strange. She said this customer had come into the shop while they were locking up for the night, and so the women had told this customer they were closed, but this person said they were desperate to get a clown costume, and they had to have it right now. The young women could tell this customer seemed very, very anxious and on edge, and so ultimately they decided to help. They walked the customer to the back of the store and showed them the clown costumes they had, and eventually the customer found the costume they liked, and they also bought a red curly wig, a clown nose, and a bunch of white makeup.


Harrison asked if this customer had also bought clown shoes, and one of the women said, Actually, that was another interesting thing about this transaction. The customer had been so adamant that they wanted a full clown costume, but then when it was time to actually get the clown costume, they said they did not want the shoes that came with it. So Harrison asked for a description of this customer. But both women said it was the strangest thing. When this customer came in, it was like they already were in disguise because they had a hat pulled down over their face and they had their jacket pulled up high around their neck, and they kept looking down and barely speaking. And so the two women just did not have a clue what this person looked like. They couldn't really even tell if it was a man or a woman. But what they could recall was that this person was maybe 5'8 or 5'9, and they appeared to have some brown hair but they didn't know how long it was. While this description obviously was not very helpful, it did match the description that Marlene's son, Joey, had given of the clown that shot his mother.


He basically described an average-sized man, and that seemed like that's what the customer was. Harrison hoped this customer had bought the clown stuff using a credit card, and then he could just follow the credit card transaction history right to the shooter. But unfortunately, when he asked the women for the credit card receipt, they said that the customer had paid in cash. And so there was no paper trail. Harrison thanked the two young women for their time, and then he headed back outside and made his way back to the Sheriff's Department.


Some stories were never meant to be heard. Beneath the visible world of parliament's politicians and civil servants lies an invisible state filled with secret operatives playing to very different rules. From WNDYRI, I'm Indra Vama, and this is the Spy Who. This month, we open the file on Nour Anayat Khan. The Spy Who Wouldn't Lie. When Germany invades France, Nour and her family are forced to flee to Britain. But Nour decides she can't just sit out the war, so she accepts one of the most dangerous spy missions of World War II. Who, a job that will put her deep into enemy territory. Follow The Spy Who now wherever you listen to podcasts. Or you can binge the full season of The Spy Who Wouldn't Lie early and ad free with WNDYRI Plus. Hi, I'm Anna. And I'm Emily, and we're the hosts of Terrible Famous, the show that takes you inside the lives of our biggest celebrities. And we are really excited about our latest season because we are talking about someone very, very special. You're so sweet. A fashion icon. Well, actually, just put this on. A beautiful woman. Your words, not mine. Someone who came out of Croydon and took the world by storm.


Okay, Anna, don't tell them where I live. A muse, a mother, and a supermodel who defined the '90s. I don't remember doing the last one. Wow, Emily, not you. Obviously, I mean Kate Moss. Oh, I always get us confused. Because you're both so small. How dare you? We are going to dive back into Kate's '90s heyday and her insatiable desire to say yes to absolutely everything life has to offer. The parties, the Hollywood heartthrobs, the Rockstar bad boys. Have I said parties? You did mention the parties. But saying yes to excess comes at a price as Kate spirals out of control and risks losing everything she's worked for. Follow Terrible Famous wherever you listen to podcasts or listen early and ad-free on Wondering Plus on Apple Podcasts or the Wondering app.


The next day, so May 27th, 1990, the day after the shooting, Detective Harrison led Marlene's husband, Michael, into a small office at the Sheriff's station. Michael looked dazed and like he hadn't slept in a long time. The day before, Michael had been halfway to Miami when he got a call on his car phone. That was how he had learned his wife had been shot. Michael had turned around immediately and sped to the hospital to be with Marlene, and he had stayed with Marlene the entire time until Harrison had asked him to come to the Sheriff's station. Harrison sat down across from Michael. The detective knew Michael had an air tight alibi, having been on the road when the shooting took place. But when a violent crime is committed, spouses are often the first suspect. So even if Michael didn't pull the trigger, Harrison could not yet rule out that he was involved in some way. And even if Michael wasn't connected to the shooting, Harrison hoped Michael could provide some key information that might push the investigation forward. Harrison asked Michael if he had any idea who would want to hurt his wife, but Michael looked like he barely even heard the question.


He just said he wished the shooter had gotten him instead of Marlene. He said she was such a good person and everybody loved her. Detective Harrison said he understood how hard this was for Michael, but he asked the question again, did he know of anybody who might want to hurt his wife? Michael finally slumped over and he rubbed his eyes. He took a minute to either think or collect himself, and then he looked back up at Harrison. Michael said the only thing he could think of had to do with his and Marlene's real estate business. They had several rental properties, and periodically, they would have to evict people from these properties. And because Marlene managed the real estate business, she was the one who handled these evictions. And people who get evicted don't like being evicted. There's lots of opportunity for conflict. So Michael thought it was possible that maybe an angry former tenant who had been evicted by Marlene had attacked Marlene to get some revenge on her for getting kicked out of their apartment. That made sense to Harrison, and so he made a note to have his team look into all the people Marlene had evicted over the years.


Then he asked Michael if he and his wife had fighting recently or if their marriage was strained in any way. Michael said he would do anything for his wife and vice versa. He said, Sure, they argued like any married couple did, but it was usually just over small stuff, and they always made up, and they loved each other. Then, Michael told Harrison that what he really wanted right now was just to be back at the hospital with his wife. Harrison nodded and thanked Michael for coming to the station and then let him leave to go back to his wife. Later that day, members of Harrison's team started tracking down the names and locations of the people who Marlene had evicted and who might, because of that eviction, have a grudge against her. And Detective Harrison reached out to Marlene's friends and family to see if they might know something that Michael was unaware of or forgot to mention. And in doing that, Harrison got one piece of information that completely threw him for a loop. Apparently, Marlene loved clowns. Marlene's parents told Harrison that when Marlene was little, she had clown decorations all over her room, and she was always drawing pictures of clowns.


And they Instead, this love of clowns did not go away when Marlene got older. She would still get very excited if she saw a clown or if she heard the circus was in town. And so Detective Harrison still thought looking into disgruntled former tenants made a lot of sense. But this new information sparked a different idea about the case for him. Had someone who knew Marlene really well tried to kill her dressed up as the one thing that she loved, who would do that? It's so dark and twisted. The following day, so May 28th, two days after the shooting, Marlene's family made the heartbreaking decision to take Marlene off of life support, and so Marlene passed away in the hospital. It was Memorial Day, and Marlene's son, Joey, knew it was the holiday that his mom would have loved to celebrate by hosting another big backyard barbecue for her friends and family. Joey had held on to hope that his mom would survive this ordeal, but now that she was gone, Joey just felt lost. The family dealt with the shock of losing a wife, mother, and child, and at the same time, Detective Harrison now knew he had a homicide case on his hands.


But at least he felt like he had a few decent leads. For example, his team was able to locate all the people Marlene had evicted, so Harrison pursued the idea that this could have been a grudge killing. But Harrison found himself feeling more surprised after he spoke to each of these evicted former tenants. Even though Marlene had kicked them out of their apartments, they all still spoke very fondly of her. They said she was a genuinely a good person and a decent landlord. Some said they had even remained friends with Marlene after they had been evicted. Harrison couldn't actually rule any of them out yet, but during all those interviews with these former tenants, he never felt like he was talking to a killer. Then on May 30th, so four days after the shooting, Harrison got a major break in the case. The white Chrysler Le Beren car, the car the clown had jumped into and sped often that Joey had chased after and couldn't find, well, that car was found. A little after 9:30 AM, Detective Harrison and County Forensics Investigators arrived at a grocery store parking lot where the car had been abandoned.


The car didn't have any license plates on it, so instead, Harrison called in the vehicle identification number or VIN number that's assigned to every vehicle, and you can find it typically on the inside of your car door. He called that number in to his department so they could begin to try to look it up at the same time that the forensics team began to comb through this car to look for evidence. And And at some point, one of the forensics investigators who was in the driver's side of the car called out to Harrison, and so Harrison walked over to the driver's door, and the investigator pointed out red fibers on the door, and then showed Harrison that more of those same red fibers had been found in the driver's seat. They would need to run test to confirm this, but everybody at the scene felt confident those red fibers must have come from the red clown wig the shooter was seen wearing. The forensics investigators continued their sweep of the car, and would also find two strands of brown hair. They bagged the red fibers and brown hair as evidence and then prepared them to be sent off to an FBI crime lab to be analyzed.


At the time, DNA testing was still in its early days, and so hair analysis was also very limited. The FBI had greater testing capabilities than the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Department, but Harrison knew there was still no guarantee that these hair samples would actually lead him anywhere. Still, they had a car that matched the description of the one that had been seen speeding away from the crime scene, and they had red fibers that could match the description of the red clown wig, and Harrison believed the shooter had brown hair based on the description he'd gotten from the two young women at the costume shop, and they had those brown hairs that were found in the car. So it seemed clear to Harrison that they had found the shooter's car, and he wouldn't have to wait for the FBI's test results to find a connection between that car and the victim. Police ran that vehicle identification number, and they discovered that the Le Béron was a rental car, and About a month earlier, it had been returned to the used car dealership that Marlene's husband, Michael, owned. Harrison left the grocery store parking lot and quickly went back to the station.


But when he arrived, he discovered that the story surrounding the Le Béron was a lot stranger than he'd imagined. It would turn out the Le Béron had not originally been rented from Michael's company. Instead, the couple who had rented this Le Béron had apparently accidentally called Michael's Company and asked where they should drop the car off when they returned it. And somebody at Michael's Company, who was used to cars getting returned all the time, and so did not think to ask this couple, Hey, did you rent with us or did you rent somewhere else? They just told the couple, Okay, yeah, just leave the car at this specific location and leave the keys inside. Harrison didn't know what to make of this. He thought it would have been a lot more cut and dry if the car simply belonged to Michael's company. But now he needed to to figure out if this was all just some bizarre coincidence that the killers happened to drop off the car at Michael's company by accident, or if Michael, or one of his employees for that matter, had taken this opportunity to get a hold of a car that they thought would not be traced back to them.


So Harrison went to interview some of Michael's employees, and he thought he found another potential suspect when he spoke to Sheila and Richard Keen, the young couple who had been at Marlene's Barbecue who had walked up to Marlene when she was at the grill and they had asked her if she was doing okay. Also, the same couple that Marlene's mother-in-law had warned Marlene about, saying that Sheila was young and pretty, so be cautious of her. But Marlene was actually thinking, Sheila's not the problem, it's Richard. He's this big intimidating repo man guy. Harrison and his team dug in to Sheila and Richard's background, and they would discover that Richard had a criminal record. And in virtue of him being a repo man who worked all over the area, he would know his way around the neighborhood, and he could have easily figured out a route to quickly escape Marlene's neighborhood, and he probably would have had a good idea where to abandon the getaway car where it wouldn't be found for at least a few days. But after actually meeting with Richard, Harrison couldn't find anything linking him directly to Marlene's shooting. And there was no evidence that Richard was the employee at Michael's company who had taken that call about returning the LeBaron and then told the renters where to leave it.


So over the next couple of weeks, Harrison continued to pursue leads connected to Michael and his business, but he started to feel the answers to this case were just out of his grasp. He had a strong hunch that either Michael or someone who worked for him was behind the shooting, but the evidence just wasn't coming together. And news from the FBI did very little to point Harrison in the right direction. Test results did show that the red fibers found in the Le Beren were most likely from a wig, but the two strands of brown hair that investigators had also found could not be analyzed fully enough to identify who they belong to. And so after all this work, that Harrison and his team had done, they still basically had very little to go on. So Harrison decided to keep digging into Michael's used car dealership because he still thought the abandoned white Le Beren was the strongest clue they had. Detective Harrison and his team spent the months following Marlene's murder delving into her husband, Michael's business practices at his used car dealership, and they found significant evidence of illegal activity. Now, it was nothing that tied Michael or any of his employees to Marlene's murder, but still there was way too much evidence of these other crimes for Harrison to just overlook.


So on October 26th, 1990, exactly five months after Marlene's murder, Michael was arrested on multiple charges, including racketteering, auto theft, and filing false insurance claims. Michael's attorney argued that the only reason police made the arrest was because they were frustrated with their own inability to find Marlene's killer. Michael would eventually be sentenced to four years in prison, but during all that time, Detective Harrison did not get any closer to identifying the person who had murdered Marlene. Harrison had a strong hunch about who he thought had done it, but he didn't have the clear-cut evidence to back it up. And as more time went by, stories of the killer clown in the upscale Florida neighborhood seemed more like a strange urban legend than an active actual homicide investigation. And eventually, the killer clown case went cold, and it would stay that way for decades. But But 23 years after Marlene's murder, so in 2013, the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Department received a federal grant of $125,000. The grant money was to be used to help solve cold cases, and one of the very first cold cases the Department reopened was Marlene's murder. The new investigators started by reviewing all of the evidence and putting the case back together piece by piece.


They located and re-interviewed past suspects and witnesses, and they also tracked down Marlene's husband, Michael, who was now living in Tennessee with his new wife, a blonde woman named Debbie. But early on in the new investigation, police still could not find any evidence that pointed them in the right direction. But like Detective Harrison before them, the new investigative team could not shake the connection between Michael's used car dealership and the white Chrysler LeBaron that the clown had used as a getaway car. And they were convinced if they kept looking into that connection, they would eventually discover something that would pay off. It took a few more years, but they were right. Their method did finally pay off. In December of 2016, so over 26 years after Marlene's murder, detectives from the Palm Beach Sheriff's Department traveled to Tennessee, and they would follow local police to an establishment called the Purple Cow, a fast food burger place that Michael and his new wife, Debbie, owned. The investigators spoke to current employees about the couple, and everybody talked about what incredible bosses Michael and Debbie were and what a great place the Purple Cow was to work.


So the detectives left the fast food restaurant and met up with former employees of the Purple Cow, thinking maybe they would be more candid about their experience with Michael and Debbie. And inside of a small house in Tennessee, the Florida investigators met with a former Purple Cow employee who said he had all the details from an insane conversation Michael's new wife, Debbie, had had with a friend of his. The information this former employee provided about this drunken conversation led investigators to dig through photos photos that had been taken at the Purple Cow, and one of those photos leapt out at the investigators, and they were sure they had finally found proof of who killed Marlene. Still, investigators were not willing to put an entire case on the line with a single photograph, especially for a case that dated back almost 27 years. They wanted scientific evidence to back up their claims, so they reached out to the FBI. Dna testing and hair analysis had taken massive leaps forward since Detective Harrison initial investigation into this case back in 1990. And so this time, when the FBI tested the two strands of brown hair that had been found inside of the abandoned white Chrysler Le Beren, they were able to find a clear match.


And the person those tests pointed to was the same person investigators had seen in the Purple Cow photo, and that person was Marlene's killer. Based on those DNA tests, the infamous Purple Cow photo and evidence collected across 27 years, here is a reconstruction of what investigators believe happened to Marlene Warren on the morning she was killed, May 26, 1990. On that day, so May 26th, the killer dipped a small triangle-shaped sponge into a container of clown makeup. The killer then ran the sponge across their face over and over again, painting their face white. The process took a while, but they wanted to be sure that any of their recognizable facial features disappeared under all their makeup. When they were satisfied with the makeup, the killer took a clean sponge, dipped it in red makeup, and gave themselves big red dots on their cheeks and also a wide red smile. The killer fitted a red curly wig on their head and tucked their brown hair underneath it. Then they added the final touch, a clown knows. The killer then looked in the mirror. They were sure nobody would know who they were. Finally, they picked up two balloons and a basket of flowers off the floor.


They grabbed their 38 caliber handgun off the makeup table, and they headed out the door. At around 11:00 AM, the killer clown drove a white Chrysler Le Beren past the mansions in Marlene's neighborhood. The killer was nervous, but they told themselves they had the perfect disguise, so there was nothing to worry about. The killer eventually pulled up in front of Marlene's house. There was a car that was already on the long circular driveway, so the killer parked the Le Beren on the street. The killer glanced in the rear view mirror just to make sure their costume and wig were all in place. Then they stepped out of the car and they opened up the back driver's side door. They reached inside and grabbed the balloons and flowers in one hand, and they grabbed the gun with the other. The killer clown then walked up the driveway towards the front door, hiding the gun behind the basket of flowers. The clown stepped onto the porch and and slipped their gun behind their back. Then they took a deep breath and rang the doorbell. A moment later, the door opened and the killer clown saw Marlene standing there.


The killer gave a huge clown smile and handed Marlene the flowers and balloons. Marlene beamed and said, Oh, how pretty, and then began looking through the flowers for a card to see who sent it. And it was at this point that the killer clown quickly swung their arm out from behind their back. They raised their gun up, aimed it at Marlene's head, and fired. The bullet tore through Marlene's head, and she crumpled to the floor. Screens came from inside the house, and the killer turned and ran back towards their Chrysler. Once they were inside, they hit the gas and sped off. But not long after that, they heard a car racing down the street behind them. The killer glanced in the rear view mirror and saw somebody was in pursuit. So the killer turned off Marlene's street and sped through the neighborhood and lost whoever was following them in the process. Once they were sure they were not being tailed anymore, the killer made their way across town and parked the Le Beren in a grocery store parking lot. Then they got into another car that they had stashed there, and they drove off. Not long after that, the killer was back at home, washing off all their makeup.


The killer knew Marlene's husband, Michael, would get the news about his wife soon, and he would be very upset. But the killer just didn't worry too much about that. Now that she had gotten Marlene out of the way, all she had to do was divorce her own husband, and soon she and Michael could be together forever without having to hide it. Sheila Keen, Michael's young pretty employee who Marlene's mother-in-law had specifically warned Marlene about, murdered Marlene. It turned out that Sheila and Michael had been having an affair. They had done their best to hide it from Marlene and Sheila's husband, but Sheila had grown tired of not being able to live the life she wanted with the man she loved. So she disguised herself as a clown to hide her identity and killed her romantic rival. Early on in Detective Harrison's investigation, so the initial investigation, he had believed he was looking for a man because of descriptions he had gotten from witnesses. But the large clown costume and thick white makeup had made it basically impossible for anyone to actually get a good look at the shooter, so no one really knew if it was a man or a woman.


It was just this running assumption that it had to be a man. But eventually, Detective Harrison had stopped thinking about the various descriptions he had gotten from witnesses because he basically thought they were not reliable, and And instead, he had begun to consider Sheila as a major suspect because he was almost certain she and Michael were having an affair. But there simply wasn't enough evidence at the time to credibly tie Sheila to the murder, so the case had gone cold. Decades later, when the Sheriff Police Department reopened the case, they discovered that Michael was remarried to this blonde woman named Debbie. But when police tracked down the couple's marriage certificate, they learned that blonde-haired Debbie was actually brown-haired Sheila. Michael and Sheila had married just a few years after Michael had gotten out of prison. And so this was obviously a huge red flag for investigators. It took a while, but they eventually met with that former Purple Cow employee in Tennessee, and he would say that one night, Sheila, who he knew as Debbie, had gotten totally drunk and told his friend that she had once dressed up as a clown and killed a woman in Florida.


And not long after that, investigators found that infamous photo of Sheila working at the Purple Cow drive-through, wearing clown makeup. And so investigators were convinced Sheila had to be Marlene's killer, and soon the FBI confirmed that she was. They ran new tests on the brown hair that had been found in the Chrysler Le Beren, and they were able to match that hair to Sheila's hair. And so in September of 2017, over 27 years after Marlene's murder, investigators track Sheila down and put her under arrest. In April of 2023, Sheila pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. She was sentenced to 12 years in prison, but she could get out as early as the summer of 2024. Some of the investigators involved still suspect that Michael must have played a role in this murder, but there was no evidence found that linked him to the crime, and so he was never charged. Michael also maintains that despite Sheila's plea deal, she is innocent and was wrongfully accused. Thank you for listening to the Mr. Balin podcast. If you enjoyed today's stories and you're looking for more bone-chilling content, be sure to check out all of our studio's podcasts, Mr.


Balin's Medical mysteries, Bedtime Stories, and Runful. All you have to do is search for Balin Studios wherever you get your podcasts. To watch hundreds more stories just like the ones you heard today, head over to our YouTube channel, which is just called Mr. Balin. So that's going to do it. I really I appreciate your support. Until next time. See you. Hey, Prime members, you can binge eight new episodes of the Mr. Balin podcast one month early and all episodes ad-free on Amazon Music. Download the Amazon Music app today. And before you go, please tell us about yourself by completing a short survey at wondry. Com/survey. Hey, Mr. Balin fans, here's some great news. You can now listen to all Balin Studio shows ad-free on Amazon Music. That's right, You can listen to shows like Run Bull, Bedtime Stories, and Mr. Balin's Medical mysteries without any ads. What's more, you get access to the Mr. Balin podcast, Strange Dark and Mysterious Stories, one month early and ad-free, and all this is included included with your prime membership. You also get access to other amazing shows like Morbid, 48 Hours, and 2020 Ad Free, too. You know what that means?


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