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Posted on: December 20, 2019

Former New York City Correction Officer Pleads Guilty to Murdering Girlfriend’s Mother

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MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that a Lynbrook man pleaded guilty today to murder and related charges for a 2016 attack on his girlfriend’s mother that led to her death in 2018.

Ralph Keppler, 29, pleaded guilty before Acting Supreme Court Justice Christopher Quinn to charges of Murder in the Second Degree (an A-I felony), Conspiracy in the Second Degree (a B felony) and Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree (an A misdemeanor). The defendant was remanded and is due back in court for sentencing on January 24. He is expected to be sentenced to 22 years to life in prison.

“Ralph Keppler stalked Theresa Kiel for more than a week and then brutally attacked her outside her Long Beach home, leaving the woman in a persistent vegetative state until she succumbed to her injuries nearly two years later,” DA Singas said. “This defendant was remarkably calculating in his plan to murder Theresa Kiel. Thanks to the hard work of the Long Beach Police Department, Nassau County Police Department’s Electronics Squad and my prosecutors, we were able to unravel this plot and hold this defendant accountable for this senseless murder.” 

DA Singas said that on Sunday, December 4, 2016, at approximately 10:30 p.m., Theresa Kiel was walking towards her apartment door at 5 New York Avenue in Long Beach.

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.

The victim was transported to South Nassau Communities Hospital at the time and was in a vegetative state until she passed away on November 10, 2018 at the age of 56.

Keppler allegedly fled the scene and returned to his Lynbrook home that he shared with Kiel’s daughter, Francesca.

Prior to the murder, Francesca Kiel allegedly purchased a GPS tracking device that was ultimately placed on her mother’s car. The defendant allegedly set up email alerts that notified her when her mother’s car was in the vicinity of her mother’s home or place of work. Francesca Kiel 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 January 24, 2018 on attempted murder charges. Those charges were upgraded when Theresa Kiel passed away.

After the initial arrest of Keppler, the District Attorney’s office and the Long Beach Police Department continued the investigation and it revealed the alleged involvement of Francesca Kiel.

Francesca Kiel was arrested on November 11, 2018. She is due back in court on January 6, 2020.

Keppler has been fired by the Department of Correction.

District Attorney Singas commends the Long Beach Police Department and the Nassau County Police Department’s Electronics Squad for their outstanding investigative work on this case.

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

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