Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Kellers and Their Millions

Net Worth Soars

The 1990s were very good for Keller Trust Co.

The $17 million net worth that Fred Keller had brought into his marriage to Rose had increased more than fourfold by 2000, in part through additional acquisitions but largely through escalation of real estate prices in the hot south Florida and Washington, D.C., markets.

Although he later claimed Rose did not have the temperament to be successful in business, Keller was paying Rose a $131,000 annual salary when she filed for divorce. By then, Keller Trust owned more than 60 commercial properties, two-thirds of them within an hours drive of the companys headquarters in Riviera Beach, just across the water from the Kellers Lake Worth mansion.

Riviera Beach from the air
Riviera Beach from the air

Kellers net worth was estimated at as much as $72 million, although he claimed his assets totaled just under $60 million. When Rose filed for divorce, Keller offered her a maximum of $5.7 million, or the 10 percent agreed upon in the pre-nup.

Rose and her attorneys, meanwhile, sought half of Kellers assets, plus all legal fees.

The divorce became a three-year ordeal of accusations and counter-accusations.

Judge Kathleen Kroll
Judge Kathleen Kroll

On Oct. 30, 2003, Judge Kathleen Kroll signed a divorce decree that ruled fully in favor of Rose. In a harshly worded decree that took Keller to task for lying, Judge Kroll awarded Rose half of Kellers property as well as permanent custody of Fredchen. She order Keller to pay the womans full legal feeseventually figured at $1.4 millionand $8,659 a month in child support.

If Keller was distressed over the ruling, he did not betray his feelings to employees. He had moved on romantically; his new girlfriend was a young Russian for whom he had purchased breast implants in the summer of 2003.

On Nov. 10, 11 days after Krolls decision, Rose and Fred Keller agreed to meet at Keller Trust offices at 8:30 a.m. to talk over some of the details of divvying up the assets. Rose brought along her brother, Wolfgang Keil, 31.

The dragon ladys here, Keller muttered to an employee.

Oddly, neither Rose nor Fred invited their lawyers. So the German siblings and Keller found themselves sitting in a conference room that morningRose at the head of the table, Keller and Wolfgang facing one another.

Rose did not know that Kellers attorney had filed an appeal of Krolls ruling that same day. Nor did she know that her ex-husband was armed with a .38-caliber revolver.

.38 caliber revolver, similar to the weapon used by Keller
.38 caliber revolver, similar to the weapon used by Keller

He had begun carrying the gun that summer, claiming he feared that Rose could get violent. Four days before the meeting, he had faxed a letter to the local police to complain that Rose had threatened to shoot his employees.

According to Wolfgang Keil, the meeting had just begun when Keller suddenly pulled his pistol, pointed it across the table and shot Keil in the chest. He then turned toward Rose and fired a shot that hit her in the neck, severing her spinal cord.

Keil said he rushed around the table and struggled with Keller for the weapon. He was shot a second time, in the back, and another shot grazed Kellers cheek.

According to Kellers account, he pulled his gun after he saw Wolfgang wield a black object that he believed was a gun but turned out to be a cellphone. Keller said he and Keil struggled over the pistol, and the gun discharged several times, with one shot striking Rose.

 

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