A former New York City correction officer has pleaded guilty to murder, conspiracy and other crimes in what prosecutors have described as a "barbaric" killing of his girlfriend's mother with a barbell.
Ralph Keppler, a 29-year-old from Lynbrook, is expected to be sentenced to 22 years to life in prison in the death of 56-year-old Theresa Kiel, who was rendered comatose after he attacked her with a barbell in front of her own Long Beach home in 2016. Kiel died about two years later from her injuries.
Keppler was dating Kiel's daughter Francesca and was also involved in a business dispute with the mother at the time of the attack. Prosecutors have said Kiel was inside the entrance corridor to her apartment complex when Keppler, who they say had been stalking her, bashed her repeatedly on the head and face with a metal barbell. Kiel suffered severe brain damage, a shattered skull, a depressed right eye and lost teeth in the ambush.
Keppler fled to the scene, back to the Lynbrook apartment he was sharing with Francesca Kiel at the time. Francesca Kiel also allegedly had a role in her mother's death. Prosecutors say she bought a GPS tracking device prior to the killing and that device was placed on her mother's car.
She allegedly set up email alerts that notified her when her mother's car was near her mother's home or workplace. Francesca Kiel also allegedly called a taxi company on the night of the murder, the same taxi company that picked Keppler up near the scene where he killed Theresa Kiel.
Keppler was arrested at Rikers Island, where he was working as a correction officer, on attempted murder charges. Those charges were upgraded when Theresa Kiel died. He was fired by the Department of Correction after his arrest. Keppler is expected to be sentenced next month.
His then-girlfriend Francesa was arrested the day after her mother died. She is due back in court in early January.