Guilty plea in Chester Co. love triangle killing

Morgan Mengel

February 5, 2013 3:41:56 PM PST
A Chester County woman, accused goading her lover to help kill her husband, has entered a guilty plea.

Morgan Mengel, 37, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder charges on Tuesday morning on what would have been the opening day of her trial.

She admitted to convincing her lover, 22-year-old Stephen Shappell, to beat Kevin Mengel to death with a shovel.

This came after their plot to poison her husband's ice tea had failed to kill him.

It all went down back in June of 2010 at the landscaping business the couple owned.

Shappell was an employee of theirs that Morgan Mengel had seduced into the murder scheme.

The break came when police discovered text conversations between Morgan Mengel and Shappell talking about the murder.

This is a transcript of one conversation:

Morgan: Uh, U okay?
Shappell: Ya I'm fine just waiting to see if the snapple works take ur time with the spak plugs
Morgan: He drinkin it?
Shappell: Ya kinda, really just waiting for him to bend over I have a shovel in my hand haha
Morgan: Nice babe.

Morgan Mengel confessed after police confronted her with the texts.

The following is taken from police interrogation tapes:

Police: Somebody was killed, you understand that? Who is that person?
Morgan: Kevin.
Police: Kevin who?
Morgan: Kevin Mengel.
Police: And who is that person to you?
Morgan: My husband.
Police: Who killed him?
Morgan: Steve.
Police: And how did he kill him?
Morgan: He hit him in the back of the head with a shovel.

Morgan Mengel went on trial a year ago, but a mistrial was declared.

That came after the judge ruled the jury was 'unavoidably tainted' after a West Goshen police officer described, during testimony, a conversation with Mengel's father in which he said his daughter 'could be despicable.'

The judge ruled the statement as inadmissible, but later said he saw way for the jury to completely disregard it.

Jury selection for Morgan Mengel's new trial was completed yesterday, but overnight she and her lawyer decided the guilty plea was the way to go.

Shappelle pled guilty and testified for the government.

He's serving 40 to 80 years in prison.

"This is one of the coldest, heartless crimes I've seen in my 30 years of being a prosecutor. Ms. Mengel washed her hands of her husband, her lover, and her children," Chief Deputy District Attorney Patrick Carmody said.

Kevin Mengel's father was in court on Tuesday and said the "harshest possible sentence is what she deserves."

"We find some comfort and peace in knowing that she will never spend another day outside of prison. It will not bring my son back. We're all going to miss him," the victim's father, Kevin Mengel, Sr., said.

Morgan Mengel's mother, Betty Ann Wixon, watched today's court proceedings and spoke to Action News briefly as she left the courthouse.

"There are no winners in this case. There's a lot of love in there and heartbreak," Wixon said.

Tonight, Morgan Mengel heads off to prison for life with no chance for parole.

The Mengel family heads home, facing the ongoing challenge of raising three young children who have no parents now.