Joe Aherns was home in Wellington on May 26, 1990.
“That morning, I do remember, we were eating breakfast, nice calm Saturday I believe it was,” he said in an interview with the NBC station, KWWI, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
His mom, Marlene Warren, answered the door. It was a clown carrying flowers. The clown greeted Marlene with gunfire. She died days later.
“It was one of the worst days of my life,” he said.
For 27 years, authorities hadn’t made an arrest in the case.
“I could not grieve because there was no closure in the case, which made me think ‘is this killer still out there?’ Killers, killer, someone out there still killing people or still can. That was my biggest concern,” he said.
A detective told Joe justice would be served eventually.
“’Joe, it might take us 20-25 years, but we are going to catch the person who did this,’” he recalls the detective said.
DNA evidence, police say, put Shelia Keen Warren under the mask in September of last year. She was arrested.
Joe had always had a feeling it was her.
“They got married, WOW!” he said.
Shelia married Marlene’s widow, and Joe’s stepdad, Michael Warren.
“That’s my happiness right now in the case, we got a killer off the streets,” he said.
Joe moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and started his own construction company. His work distracted him from his grief.
“It’s been hell and hopefully it gets better,” he said.
Joe expects to return to Palm Beach County to testify in the trial. The state is seeking the death penalty against Shelia Keen Warren.
No charges have been filed against Michael Warren.