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John Riebe was murdered by his friend of 20 years, Eric Babos, over a $150 debt

Mugshot of Eric Babos
Eric Babos was given a life sentence for shooting his friend John Riebe Ohio Dept. of Corrections.

This week on Investigation Discovery, the team on A Time To Kill look at the murder of John Riebe, a heating and air conditioning contractor from Sylvania Township near Toledo, Ohio.

The killer was Eric Babos, who had been Riebe’s friend and colleague for 20 years before they had an argument over a debt of $150.

The 39-year-old Riebe was found dead at his home by his two teenage daughters, who arrived home from school to find their father shot seven times with a low caliber handgun.

Investigators believe that Jamie, 14, and Nicole, 13, arrived home from school just a few minutes before their father was murdered.

Babos was supposedly a friend, as well as a colleague to Riebe. He regularly helped out Riebe with his heating and airconditioning business.

A few days before the murder, Babos had carried out some work for him at a firm in Toledo for which he was owed the $150. Babos had told others that he needed the money to buy his son a Game Boy system for his son.

Babos telephoned early on the day of the murder, asking if he could collect the money, and continued to demand his cash until the killing. He also made a series of phone calls to A-1 Heating, which was the company for which the pair had carried out the work, and demanded that they pay the money.

From the telephone records, the police could see that Babos went to Riebe’s home to further demand payment. A panicky sounding Riebe was then heard telephoning A-1 Heating to ask if he could have the cash as there was someone with him waiting for the money.

Prosecutors argued that Babos then shot his friend of 20 years and fled the scene on foot just seven minutes before Riebe’s daughters returned home.

Assistant prosecutor Andrew Lastra said, “He was a desperate man motivated by an arguably paltry amount of money. The motive for the murder was enormously tragic. How could someone engage in such brutal and heinous conduct in the killing of someone over a small amount of money.”

In August 2005, Babos was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Babos has consistently argued that he is innocent and that Riebe was a drug addict who got himself into trouble with owing money to another individual. He has claimed that another perpetrator admitted to the killing.

More from Investigation Discovery

Follow the links to read about more vicious crimes profiled on ID.

In Florida, in 1986, Gary Troutman approached a former classmate, the pregnant 24-year-old Angela Savage, and her 6-month son, and raped and murdered her. He left her splayed on the road and her infant son on a neighbors porch.

Margarita Fisenko Scott was murdered by her drug-dealing boyfriend, Anthony Pratt Jr, in Portland, Maine. Her estranged husband thought she’d run away to New York until he found her corpse stuffed into an SUV.

A Time To Kill airs Thursdays at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.

Jerry was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, but is now based in the UK. He specializes in true crime and entertainment news stories. When... read more
Jerry Brown

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