MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that a Lynbrook man and his girlfriend were arraigned on Friday on grand jury indictment charges related to the murder of a Long Beach woman who was attacked in December 2016.
Ralph Keppler, 28, was arraigned before Acting Supreme Court Justice Christopher Quinn on charges of Murder in the Second Degree (an A-I felony) and Conspiracy in the Second Degree (a B felony). The defendant was remanded and is due back in court today for a bail hearing. If convicted of the top count, the defendant faces up to 25 years to life in prison.
Francesca Kiel, 21, was arraigned before Judge Quinn on charges of Murder in the Second Degree (an A-I felony), Conspiracy in the Second Degree (a B felony), Criminal Facilitation in the Second Degree (a C felony) and Hindering Prosecution in the First Degree (a D felony). Bail was set at $1.5 million bond or $750,000 cash and the defendant is due back in court on December 19. If convicted of the top count, the defendant faces up to 25 years to life in prison.
“This former corrections officer and his girlfriend are charged with a brutal, premeditated attack that left Theresa Kiel in a vegetative state for nearly two years with catastrophic injuries that ultimately took her life,” DA Singas said. “Violence will never be tolerated in Nassau County, and our prosecutors are committed to holding these defendants accountable for the horrific murder alleged in this indictment.”
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 allegedly attacked by Keppler and struck several times on the head and face with a metal barbell. Kiel suffered severe brain damage, a shattered skull, 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.
Keppler has been fired by the Department of Correction.
District Attorney Singas commends the Long Beach Police Department 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.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.