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Lynbrook woman pleads guilty for role in mothers death

Guilty plea comes a weeks after boyfriend sentenced for murder

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A Lynbrook woman pled guilty Tuesday for her role in a 2016 attack on her mother in Long Beach that led to the woman’s death in 2018.

Francesca Kiel, 23, pled guilty before Judge Christopher Quinn to first-degree manslaughter charges. This comes two weeks after Kiel’s boyfriend Ralph Keppler, 30, was sentenced to 22 years to life for second-degree murder, second-degree conspiracy and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

According to authorities, Keppler beat Theresa Kiel, the mother of his girlfriend, Francesca Kiel, with a metal barbell outside her New York Avenue apartment in Long Beach on Dec. 4, 2016, at about 10:30 p.m. Theresa was a teacher and principal in the Malverne School District for 30 years.

“The shocking murder of Theresa Keil was made all the more horrific by her daughter’s involvement, helping her boyfriend Ralph Keppler track her mother by GPS, and calling the cab in which he fled after crushing her skull with a barbell,” Singas said. “Thanks to the hard work of the Long Beach Police Department, Nassau County Police Department’s Electronics Squad, and our prosecutors, Theresa Kiel’s killers were brought to justice.”

Acting Long Beach Police Commissioner Philip L. Ragona said, “Our investigators worked seamlessly with the DA’s office on one of the most complex and challenging cases I have seen and secured convictions on both defendants. I also commend the tireless efforts of Detective Lieutenant Stefan Chernaski, Lieutenant William Dodge, Detective Ted Christianson, the entire LBPD Detective Division, Detective Joe Brady from NCPD electronics, Senior Assistant District Attorney Stefanie Palma and Bureau Chief Michael Walsh of the NCDA’s Major Offense Bureau.”

According to Singas, Theresa Kiel and Keppler were involved in a business dispute at the time of the attack. The victim was inside the entrance corridor to the apartment complex when she was attacked by Keppler and struck several times on the head and face with a metal barbell.

Kiel suffered severe brain damage, a shattered skull, a depressed right eye and lost teeth. She was transported to South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside at the time and was in a vegetative state until she died on Nov. 10, 2018, at 56.

Theresa Kiel’s attorney, Thomas Liotti, said in January 2018 that Keppler had invested $350,000 with her to develop an app for college students. Keppler was attempting to get his money back, which Liotti claimed was a motive for the attack. He had sent threatening emails and texts to Kiel before the assault, Liotti added.

Senior Assistant District Attorney Stefanie Palma of Singas’ Major Offense Bureau is prosecuting the case, while Keppler was represented by Marc Gann, Esq. and Francesca Kiel is represented by Geoffrey Prime, Esq.

After the attack, Keppler left the scene and returned to his Lynbrook home that he shared with Francesca. Leading up to the incident, Francesca allegedly purchased a GPS tracking device that was placed in her mother’s car. Francesca allegedly set up email alerts that notified her when Theresa’s car was in the vicinity of her mother’s home or work. She also allegedly called a Long Beach taxi company on the night of the murder, the same taxi company that allegedly picked up Keppler in the vicinity of the murder scene.

Keppler, who worked as a New York City correction officer, was arrested at Rikers Island by members of the Long Beach Police Department on Jan. 24, 2018, on attempted murder charges. Those charges were upgraded when Theresa died and Keppler was fired from the department.

Francesca is due back in court on September 9 and is expected to be sentenced to 13 years in prison.