NCPD (2) Francesca Kiel and Ralph Keppler
A 23-year-old New York woman was sentenced Thursday to 13 years in prison for her role in helping to plan her mother’s brutal murder with a barbell, which left the older woman in a coma for nearly two years before she died.
On July 14, Francesca Kiel of Lynbrook pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter for helping her boyfriend, Ralph Keppler, plan the attack on her mother, Theresa Kiel, 56, a teacher and school principal from Long Beach.
Keppler, 30, a former city correction officer, pleaded guilty in December 2019 to charges of murder in the second degree, conspiracy in the second degree, and criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree. On June 30, he was sentenced to 22 years to life in prison.
“Francesca Kiel and her boyfriend meticulously planned the attack and murder of her own mother, Theresa Kiel, in December 2016,” Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement.
“This was a particularly challenging investigation because the co-defendants had worked hard to cover their tracks both before and after the attack.”
NCPD Francesca Kiel
In 2018, Singas had called the attack against Theresa, who had worked in the Malverne School District for 30 years, “barbaric," LIHerald.com reported.
"Theresa Kiel was robbed of all quality of life when this defendant allegedly shattered her skull with a metal barbell as she walked to her Long Beach apartment,” Singas said in a statement at the time, LIHerald.com reported.
“This barbaric attack, allegedly motivated by a business dispute and perpetrated by a man employed as a corrections officer, has left Ms. Kiel in a persistent vegetative state, and prosecutors in my office are committed to holding this defendant accountable," Singas said.
On Dec. 4, 2016, at about 10:30 p.m., Keppler lay in wait for Theresa to come home to her apartment before attacking her, Singas said in the statement.
When Theresa stepped inside the entrance corridor to her apartment complex, Keppler struck her “several times on the head and face with a metal barbell,” Singas said.
Theresa suffered severe brain damage, a shattered skull, a depressed right eye, and lost some teeth.
She was rushed to a local hospital where she remained in a “vegetative state” until she died nearly two years later, on Nov. 10, 2018.
Keppler fled the scene and returned to the Lynbrook home he shared with Kiel.
NCPD Ralph Keppler
Authorities later learned about Kiel's role in her mother’s death: She had purchased a GPS tracking device that was ultimately placed on her mother’s car, Singas said in the statement.
She also “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,” Singas said.
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On the night of the murder, authorities also discovered that Kiel had called the same Long Beach taxi company that picked up Keppler in the vicinity of the murder scene.
On January 24, 2018, Keppler was arrested at Rikers Island -- where he worked -- and charged with attempted murder, which was upgraded when Theresa died.
After Keppler’s arrest, the District Attorney’s office and the Long Beach Police Department continued the investigation, which revealed Kiel’s involvement.
She was arrested on November 11, 2018.
“Our condolences are with Theresa’s mother and brother, as well her many friends and coworkers in the Malverne School system,” Singas said in the statement.
Attorneys for Kiel and Keppler did not immediately return PEOPLE”s calls for comment.