A New York City correction officer from Lynbrook faces an attempted murder charge in connection with a 2016 targeted attack that left a Long Beach woman he sued over a bad business deal with “catastrophic head and brain injuries,” according to police and civil court records.
Ralph Keppler, 27, of Spencer Avenue, is accused of assaulting the woman on Dec. 4, 2016 after lurking near her home, Long Beach police said Thursday.
Police took Keppler into custody Wednesday at Rikers Island where he worked.
Keppler, who started working as a correction officer shortly after the woman was attacked, has been fired, city correction officials said.
He appeared for his arraignment Thursday at Long Beach City Court on charges of second-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault, police said. Keppler was remanded into custody without bail and is due back in court Tuesday, police said.
Keppler had given the woman thousands of dollars to invest in a dating app being developed by her son but she spent the money on other purchases instead, according to his attorney, Jim Druker of Garden City, and his lawsuit.
Druker said Keppler was home wrapping holiday gifts at the time of the attack.
“This arrest yesterday came out of the clear blue,” Druker said. “I want to find out what evidence they have to tie Ralph Keppler to the crime.”
In an interview with News12 Long Island, the victim’s attorney, Thomas Liotti, identified her as Theresa Kiel, 54. Liotti told News12 Keppler later emailed death threats to Kiel and her son, Vincent.
According to a criminal complaint, Keppler laid in wait outside the woman’s New York Avenue home at about 10:30 p.m. and attacked her from behind, bashing her head with a metal barbell handle. She lost her right eye and suffered a partially collapsed cranium in the attack, the complaint said.
The victim has remained in a vegetative state ever since at South Nassau Communities Hospital, according to the complaint.
Keppler gave the woman $65,000 to invest in her son’s app, Wink, which would have let users in close proximity send notifications, or “winks,” in hopes of sparking a romantic meet-up, according to Druker and the lawsuit.
Instead of investing the money, Druker said, the woman spent it on lavish cars and cosmetic surgery.
“I’ve never believed he did it,” Druker said, referring to the charges against Keppler. “I just can’t imagine this case is going to go anywhere.”
A spokesman for the Nassau County district attorney’s office, which is prosecuting the case, declined comment.