The creepy clown trend has made it to Florida.
After a rash of clown sightings in the South and beyond — including one that allegedly tried to lure children into the woods — authorities are warning that this joke is getting old. Threats from clown Facebook pages have caused lockdowns at schools in Alabama, North Carolina and Georgia and led to arrests of some of the pranksters. Two Georgia teens cited for chasing kids at a bus stop with a clown mask “did it to scare people and have fun,” WRDW news reported.
Although it’s illegal in Florida to conceal one’s identity with a mask on private or public property, officials are mostly worried the next clown prank could end in violence if the victim is armed.
The latest residents spooked by a man in a clown costume live in Gerogetown Apartments in Gainesville. Danielle Curley told WUFT news she was taking out her trash Wednesday when “strange noises” led her to a clown standing by the complex’s back gate.
“He had on all black — he had a black and white mask on with clown hair, and he was just staring at us, making noises, trying to get our attention,” she told the station.
She called 911, but the man was gone by the time police arrived.
A Palm Bay woman walking her dog at dusk on Monday was scared when she saw two men clown-dressed in “hobo-style clothes” and what she called “funky” black hats. She called police, who didn’t find the costumed pranksters.
“I saw them …two clowns just sitting there staring at me,” she told Florida Today. “I never run but I turned and ran back to my home as fast as I can. These clowns have to go away.”
Last week, a man in Ocala caught a creepy clown on camera. He posted the 10-second cellphone video on Facebook, adding that he left when the person peering out from the woods, clad in a camo hoodie, jeans and clown mask, moved.
“Not trying to die today,” he wrote.
Deputies told WKMG News 6 a handful of people called 911 about the person in the woods.
So far, none of these incidents have ended with injuries. (Minus the Georgia man who falsely told police he was jumped and shot by clowns. Deputies say he admitted it was actually a drug deal gone wrong.)
But these cases call to mind an unsolved clown killing from 26 years ago. A clown showed up on the doorstep of a Wellington home, and the woman who answered the door ended up dead.
Marlene Warren answered a knock on her front door to find a person dressed in a clown suit. The clown handed her a bouquet of flowers and balloons, then shot her in the head. Her son watched from the living room as the clown walked back to a Chrysler LeBaron parked in the driveway and drove away.
Although police never arrested anyone, they suspected the woman with whom Warren’s husband was having an affair. Witnesses saw Sheila Keen buy a clown outfit, balloons and flowers, police said. The alleged getaway car, which police said was stolen by Keen and Warren’s husband months earlier, had orange fibers from a clown wig and brown hair, just like Keen’s.
Sheila Keen and Michael Warren married in Las Vegas in 2002.