ABINGDON, VA - The neighborhood in Abingdon, Va., where the suspected "killer clown" in the 27-year-old Wellington cold case was arrested Tuesday , is still in shock over the arrest.
“She would be the last person on Earth I would ever suspect,” said Brook Blevins, who lives nearby. “She’s just so loving.”
Neighbors of the Warrens said, up until this week, they had no idea Michael Warren’s former wife, Marlene, had been murdered years ago.
“Not until Tuesday night,” Blevins said. “I got on the internet and read up on that.”
They could barely believe his current wife, Sheila Keen Warren, is being blamed for dressing up as a clown and shooting her.
“I felt shaken,” Blevins said. “Very, very shocked.”
“I said, ‘You’re just making this up,’” recalled another neighbor, Yvette Wampler, of the moment she heard about the arrest from a neighbor. “She said, ‘Yvette, do you think I have the mind to make this up?”
The Warrens live just outside the town of Abingdon in Heron Point, an upscale, secluded neighborhood nestled in the mountains. Their house backs up to a lake. Neighbors describe Heron Point as a close-knit community.
“We have wonderful neighbors here and they fit right in,” Wampler said.
“Right now, if I didn’t have anything to do I’d get in my golf cart and go down and see what Debbie and Michael were up to,” Blevins said. “And maybe they’re at the boat dock or working in their yard.”
However, Sheila Keen Warren wasn’t known as Sheila in the neighborhood. She went by the name of Debbie.
“I trust her with my life,” Blevins said.
Blevins said up until recently, the couple spent six days of the week working at their small, drive-through restaurant, the Purple Cow, in Kingsport, Tennessee.
“Very hard workers and we would only see them on Sundays,” she said. “They’d come and stay Sundays at their home and we’d get together or meet out. They’d see us out and they’d come up the driveway.”
She said they retired this year, spending more time at their home in Heron Point.
“I just felt so welcome in their home and them in ours too,” she said.
She said the arrest has been hard for her to comprehend.
“I feel bad for the people in Florida, the family that lost a daughter,” Blevins said. “I just can’t believe that was Debbie. Not the Debbie I know.”
Blevins said she ran into Michael Warren on a walk Tuesday, just after Keen Warren was arrested down the street as she was driving home into the neighborhood, but she didn’t know about that yet. She said he looked shaken and upset. Since then, she’s talked to him on the phone.
“He’s not doing well. He sounds very, very distraught,” she said. “We talked on the phone. He said, ‘You know Brook, she did not do this.’ I said, ‘I believe you. I love you both. No matter what.”
Michael Warren wasn’t home Friday. A woman answered the door saying she was just watching the house.
Keen Warren continues to await extradition to Palm Beach County, where she could possibly face the death penalty.
“I kept thinking in my mind, someone has set her up, someone has set her up,” Blevins said. “She’s not this person. She can’t be that person.”
Authorities said new DNA technology led to the arrest.
They have refused to say whether or not Michael Warren could face charges in the case.