Murder case with Snapple, shovel to start

Police believe a Chester County mother had no regard for her three children — or human life — when she goaded her young lover into killing her husband on June 17, 2010.

Jury selection begins today in the murder case against 36-year-old Morgan Marie Mengel, who is accused of conspiring with Stephen M. Shappell, 22, to poison and fatally bludgeon Kevin Mengel, 33, at the landscaping business the couple ran in West Goshen Township.

Morgan Marie Mengel

Police said Morgan Mengel and Shappell, 22, an employee of the couple, spiked the victim's lemon Snapple with liquid nicotine. When that did not work fast enough, Shappell bludgeoned him with a shovel and buried the body behind Shappell’s alma mater, Marple Newtown High School.

Shappell pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and is expected to testify against his former paramour, but not the way his co-defendant had apparently planned, police said.

Prosecutors said the evidence will include texts Morgan Mengel sent to Shappell outlining the murder plot and urging him on as well as letters she sent from prison after the fact. In the latter, she allegedly fabricated a story that she had given birth to Shappell's twin boys in prison and that she needed Shappell to take the fall for the murder so she could raise them. She even provided a birth announcement with the infants' weight and eye color, police said.

Prosecutor Patrick Carmody said that when Shappell learned from investigators that he'd been duped, "he was devastated." Is it any surprise that some TV shows have been closely monitoring this case? Stay tuned for a telemovie.