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Woman Who Helped Plot Boyfriend's Fatal Barbell Beating On Her Own Mother Sentenced To 13 Years

Ralph Keppler viciously beat Theresa Kiel with a barbell outside her Long Island apartment, an attack Kiel's daughter Francesca helped orchestrate.

By Gina Tron

A Long Island woman who helped plot a fatal barbell beating on her own mother has been sentenced to 13 years behind bars for her role in the attack. 

Theresa Kiel lost an eye and suffered a partially collapsed skull in 2016 after she was struck multiple times in the face by a metal barbell. The injuries put her in a persistent vegetative state until she died as a result in 2018.

Her daughter Francesca Kiel, 23, pleaded guilty to first degree manslaughter in July and was sentenced Thursday to 13 years in prison, the Nassau County District Attorney's office announced in a press release.

Francesca’s boyfriend Ralph Keppler, the one who physically committed the act, was sentenced to 22 years to life in prison back in June. The former Rikers Island correctional officer pleaded guilty in December 2019 to second-degree murder, second-degree conspiracy and related charges. He and Theresa, a school teacher, were involved in a “business dispute” when he attacked her, authorities said. Before the attack, he had filed a lawsuit alleging she'd misused thousands of dollars his family gave her and her son for development of a dating app, Newsday reports.

Francesca Kiel Pd

Theresa was inside the entrance corridor of her Long Beach apartment complex when Keppler struck her several times on the head and face with a metal barbell. It was an attack her own daughter helped orchestrate. Leading up to the incident, Francesca bought a GPS tracking device which was placed on Theresa's car, prosecutors said. She also set up email alerts that notified her when the car was by her mom's home and work. Francesca also called a Long Beach taxi company on the night of the attack, which was the same taxi company that picked up Keppler near the scene of the crime.

The couple wasn’t arrested until 2018.

“This was a particularly challenging investigation, because the co-defendants had worked hard to cover their tracks both before and after the attack,” Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas noted in the press release. 

Francesca expressed remorse during her sentencing, which occurred over Skype due to COVID-19 concerns.

"I have allowed myself to be a participant in actions that are horrible and unfathomable," she said, according to Newsday. "Nothing can compare to the self-loathing I have for the role I played in this."

She added that she feels shame and embarrassment in addition to the realization that she betrayed her own family.

"I don’t think we will ever know or understand how a daughter who loved her mother so much could take that love and turn it into absolute hatred," prosecutor Stefanie Palma said during Thursday’s sentencing.