Marilyn Habian, Richard Penque: ID’s TV Show Profiles Murder of Dance Teacher Found Dead, Shot In Heart By Neighbor

Marilyn Habian, the beloved school teacher and dance instructor who was found dead with a gunshot wound to the heart, will have her tragic story told on Investigation Discovery’s Motives And Murders: Cracking The Case. Thursday night’s episode, “Dancing With The Devil,” will chronicle the story of a loving teacher who was found dead in her home and how police finally cracked the case years later. ID’s Motives And Murders frequently profiles cold cases that took years to solve. Richard Penque, 25, was the neighbor responsible for the killing. Today, he is serving 33 to life, according to News Herald.


When Marilyn Habian didn’t show up to work that day at the Alexander Graham Bell School in 2008, her employees started making calls. It was unlike the teacher not to show up to school. Everyone seemed to like her, stating that she was a caring person who was fun to work with. However, no one could have guessed the same teacher who was known for inspiring her dance students was the same one who would later be found lying dead in her basement.

A friend of Habian had gone over to her home on Ball Avenue to check on her. But, once he arrived, he found the woman on the ground in a pool of blood. Shocked and devastated, he stayed with her and held her until police arrived. He even took pictures of the dead woman’s body at the scene. An autopsy showed that 54-year-old Marilyn Habian had been shot one time in the heart.

According to Fox-19, it appeared that the teacher had left her home, but then abruptly returned, surprising the intruder in the process. Marilyn Habian’s vehicle was still in the driveway, running, when her friend arrived. Detectives found her purse on the table and her uneaten breakfast nearby.

Wearing a flowered skirt and shirt, it was noted that the victim had been dragged from another area of the basement, to where the body finally rested. Officers initially had one suspect in mind, but without evidence to arrest him, the case went cold. The unsolved murder bothered neighbors. The question on everyone’s mind was–is this a random intruder killing? Or was Marilyn Habian killed by someone watching her—someone she knew?

About three years later, law enforcement finally got a tip that led to Richard Penque—a young man from Euclid who was already in jail for assaulting someone with a baseball bat. The tipster turned out to be a prison cellmate who stated that Penque told him that he kept dreaming about a woman he killed with green eyes. Court records reveal the contents of inmate’s letter.

“The letter stated that Penque had told Elswick that he was having nightmares in which he could not stop seeing the murdered woman’s green eyes.old Elswick that he had broken into the woman’s house and was waiting for her to go to work before he robbed it, but her dogs kept barking at the top of the basement stairs. When the woman, who Penque said was wearing a flowered dress and pantyhose, went into the basement and found him, they struggled for a second over the gun before he shot her in the heart.

“Penque said that she hit her head when she fell, and he dragged her into the basement bathroom. He then went upstairs, stole some jewelry and cash, and ate some strawberries before he left the house. Penque told Elswick that he had gone to school with the victim’s son, Billie, and wanted to steal Billie’s video games. He also told Elswick that after he left the scene, he realized he had lost the cross from the rosary he had been wearing.”

Held on $1 million bond, Richard Penque looked stoic and unconcerned at his arraignment. A 2012 jury found him guilty of the murder and sentenced him to life in prison. The tiny slice of justice gave family, friends, residents, and former students of the Cleveland Music School Settlement the peace they needed—knowing that the killer was off the street. Still, they were missing Marilyn Habian and couldn’t help but remember her as the wonderful and kind teacher that helped them along the way. Watch Investigation Discovery’s Motives And Murders: Cracking The Case this Thursday at 9/8 p.m. central. Last week on Motives And Murders, the case of missing teen Jessica McHenry was profiled.

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