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Lynbrook woman sentenced to 13 years for role in 2016 attack that led to her mother's death

Victim Theresa Kiel lived in Long Beach, worked in Malverne schools


A Lynbrook woman was sentenced to 13 years in prison for her role in her boyfriend's barbell attack on her mother outside of her Long Beach apartment, which led to her death two years later. 

Francesca Kiel, 23, pleaded guilty before Judge Christopher Quinn on July 14 to first-degree manslaughter in the death of her mother, Theresa Kiel, a  principal in the Malverne School District for more than 30 years, and the sentence was announced by District Attorney Madeline Singas on Thursday.

Francesca's  boyfriend, Ralph Keppler,  pleaded guilty in December 2019 to charges of second-degree murder, second-degree conspiracy and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Quinn sentenced him to 22 years to life in prison on June 30.

"Francesca Kiel and her boyfriend meticulously planned the attack and murder of her own mother, Theresa Kiel, in December 2016," Singas said in a statement. "This was a particularly challenging investigation, because the co-defendants had worked hard to cover their tracks both before and after the attack. Thanks to extraordinary detective work from the Long Beach and Nassau County police departments, we unraveled this case and brought Theresa's killer to justice. Our condolences are with Theresa's mother and brother, as well her many friends and coworkers in the Malverne school system." 

According to authorities, Keppler beat Theresa with a metal barbell outside her New York Avenue apartment in Long Beach on Dec. 4, 2016, at about 10:30 p.m.

Singas said that Theresa  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 '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 Theresa before the assault, Liotti added.

After the attack, Keppler left the scene and returned to his Lynbrook home that he shared with Francesca. According to authorities, leading up to the incident, Francesca  purchased a GPS tracking device that was placed in her mother’s car. Francesca  set up email alerts that notified her when Theresa’s car was in the vicinity of her mother’s home or work. She also  called a Long Beach taxi company on the night of the murder, the same taxi company that  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 was arrested on Nov. 11, 2018.