Lynbrook couple indicted on murder charges for 2016 attack on Long Beach woman


A Lynbrook couple was indicted last weekend for allegedly murdering a Long Beach woman in Dec. 2016.

Ralph Keppler, 28, and Francesca Kiel, 21, the victim’s daughter, were arrested in November. According to Newsday, Francesca ordered a GPS tracking device that she installed on her mother’s car and followed her. Authorities said Keppler then beat Francesca’s mother, Theresa Kiel, with a metal barbell outside her Long Beach apartment on Dec. 4, 2016. His DNA was later found on the barbell, Newsday reported.

The victim lost her right eye and was left in a vegetative state for nearly two years after the attack caused catastrophic head and brain injuries. On Nov. 10, she was pronounced dead at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset. She was 56.

Keppler was arraigned on Dec. 7 on charges of second-degree murder and second-degree conspiracy. He was detained and was due back in court on Dec. 10 for a bail hearing. If convicted, Keppler could face up to 25 years to life in prison.

Francesca Kiel, meanwhile, was arraigned on charges of second-degree murder, second-degree conspiracy, second-degree criminal facilitation and first-degree hindering prosecution. Bail was set at $1.5 million bond or $750,000 cash. She is due back in court on Dec. 19. If she is convicted, she could face up to 25 years to life in prison.

They had previously pleaded not guilty at First District Court in Hempstead.

According to Theresa’s attorney, Thomas Liotti, Keppler dealt and abused drugs and had threatened Theresa before the attack. Liotti went on to say that Keppler was the only one with a motive to kill Theresa. “He’s basically a narcissist, and he used a barbell to attack Theresa,” Liotti said last month. “There are telltale signs everywhere and direct evidence everywhere.”

Mineola-based attorney Marc Gann who is representing Keppler, however, called Liotti’s claims “outlandish.”

“I don’t know where that comes from,” he said last month. “My client has never been arrested in his life, does not use drugs and has never sold drugs.”

In January, Liotti said that Keppler had invested $350,000 with Theresa 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 attack, Liotti added.

Keppler, who worked as a New York City corrections officer, was arrested at Rikers Island by members of the Long Beach Police Department on Jan. 24. He was fired by the Department of Correction soon afterward.

Liotti said that the Kiel family tried to persuade Francesca to stop dating Keppler, with whom she lived on Spencer Avenue in Lynbrook, but she wouldn’t listen. “And now she’s charged with murder,” Liotti said last month. “It’s just a shame; it’s just terrible.”

Mike Smollins contributed to this story.