Family hopes for justice following arrest in cold case murder

Posted: Updated:
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- Thanks to the diligence of the Phoenix Police Department's cold case homicide detectives, the family of a slain Valley businessman believes justice might finally be in sight after nearly 20 years.

Glendale resident Dean Richmond Babbitt IV, 69, has been charged with one count of first-degree murder in the shooting death of his business partner, Robert Krahn.

According to police, the 41-year-old was killed at Merchandise Outlet on Feb. 3, 1996. He was shot once in the back of the head in a storage room of the business near Grand and 27th avenues.

"My husband is a very caring and thoughtful man that really didn't deserve to lose his life in such a cruel act," Krahn's wife said Thursday.

The memory of that day is still painful for the victim's father, Bob Krahn.

"My daughter says on the phone, 'Bobby's dead,' " he recalled. "Nobody should lose their kids."

Police said Krahn was the financier and Babbitt was the operations manager for Merchandise Outlet, which sold used office equipment and furniture.

The business was in the midst of complete closure and the partners had arrived about 6 a.m. the day of the homicide to remove the last few items, according to police.

Police said Krahn was killed with a handgun that Babbitt had reported stolen in an alleged burglary on Aug. 6, 1995. The gun was found on the floor a few feet from Krahn.

Babbitt was contacted by police at the scene and interviewed but then released.

Police said he was arrested and booked Tuesday.

"There is new information that we were able to develop from old relationships and reinvestigating this case that we believe we're 100 percent sure that Mr. Babbitt is responsible for the death of Mr. Krahn," Phoenix Police Det. Clark Schwartzkopf said.

Carol Babbitt, however, told 3TV's Mike Watkiss that her husband is innocent.

Dean Babbitt has been released from jail on $750,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court May 6.

"It looks to me like it's coming to the end," Bob Krahn said. "He had 18 years that my son didn't have."