Woman, boyfriend beat her 56-year-old mother to death with barbell over $65,000 business dispute

27-year-old Ralph Keppler and his girlfriend Francesca Thiel have been charged with second-degree murder in the beating death of 56-year-old Theresa Thiel


                            Woman, boyfriend beat her 56-year-old mother to death with barbell over $65,000 business dispute

A court heard that a former prison guard and corrections officer accused of beating his girlfriend's mother into a vegetative state laughed sadistically when he was told about his victim's condition.

27-year-old Ralph Keppler of Lyn Brook, Long Island, was initially charged with attempted murder and assault after he savagely beat girlfriend Francesca Thiel's mother, 56-year-old Theresa Kiel, with a barbell on the night of December 4, 2016.

Kiel has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with her mother's beating death (Source: Nassau County Police Department)
Kiel has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with her mother's beating death (Source: Nassau County Police Department)

According to the Daily Mail, the pair attacked the elder Kiel, who was a teacher, at her Long Beach apartment. The vicious assault saw the 56-year-old lose her right eye and multiple teeth, and also suffer a fractured skull, leaving her in a vegetative state until she most recently succumbed to the injuries at the North Shore Manhasset Hospital last month. Her death saw Keppler's charges upgraded to second-degree murder, with Kiel, who had previously not been charged, similarly charged as well.

The New York Post reports that, at Keppler's bail hearing, Nassau County prosecutor Stefanie Palma revealed how neither Kepple nor Kiel showed any remorse after committing the assault. "[Keppler] and Francesca were laughing over the fact that she lost an eye," Palma told the court.

She also said that Keppler texted 'LMAO' (short for 'laughing my a*** off') on being told of the victim's injuries and that he later texted "That bitch got what she deserved." However, it is unclear who was the recipient of the 27-year-old's messages.

A press release by Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas from when Keppler was initially indicted read, "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."

"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."

Keppler had his charges upgraded to second-degree murder and was denied bail (Source: Nassau County Police Department)
Keppler had his charges upgraded to second-degree murder and was denied bail (Source: Nassau County Police Department)

The business dispute mentioned in the press release alludes to Keppler lending Thiel and her son $65,000 to develop a new dating app. However, a lawsuit filed against them by Keppler in May 2016 — half a year before the attack — accused them of spending the money on cosmetic surgeries, a luxury car, hair salon appointments, and clothes.

The family, in turn, filed documents alleging Keppler had kept Kiel "under his control as a financial, emotional, and sexual hostage." It claimed that the 27-year-old monitored Kiel's phone and email, forced her to get breast implants, and then convinced her to say her mother was prostituting her.

Keppler, who had been out on bail before the charges were upgraded, has been now ordered to be held in jail without bail while Kiel remains in jail in lieu of a $1.5 million bond.