MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that a Lynbrook man was sentenced today to 22 years to life in prison for a 2016 attack on his girlfriend’s mother that led to the woman’s death in 2018.
Ralph Keppler, 30, pleaded guilty on December 20, 2019, before 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). Judge Quinn sentenced the defendant to 22 years to life in prison today.
“Ralph Keppler is a cold, calculating killer, who ambushed Theresa Kiel and savagely beat the beloved teacher with a barbell outside her Long Beach home in December 2016,” DA Singas said. “Remarkably, Theresa survived the attack but endured nearly two years in a vegetative state before dying from her injuries. Ralph Keppler deserves every day of his 22 years to life in prison and we hope that today’s sentence helps Theresa’s family and friends in the mourning process.”
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 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 July 14.
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.