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Felon faces life in prison for snatching 6-year-old girl at her Wheatfield home

A 65-year-old registered sex offender who tried to kidnap a 6-year-old girl from her Wheatfield home last summer will likely spend the rest of his life in prison.

Larry K. Keiper — considered a persistent violent felon because of his 47-year record of rape and burglary — pleaded guilty Friday to attempted second-degree kidnapping and second-degree burglary.

The girl's parents watched the Niagara Falls man admit his guilt in Niagara County Court.

"It was a roller coaster of emotions — anger, sorrow," said Richie Zmozynski, her father.

Judge Sara Sheldon scheduled sentencing for April 12 and indicated she will sentence him to 16 years to life in prison. He'll be eligible for parole when he's 81.

Keiper said he was diagnosed with bladder cancer six years ago and underwent a new biopsy on his tumors Feb. 8.

"The likelihood of him seeing the light of day is slim to none," District Attorney Caroline A. Wojtaszek said. "He will likely not be a free man again, ever."

Keiper entered Ward Road home about 3:20 a.m. June 28 and pulled the girl from her bed.

The girl's mother heard the commotion and chased the intruder out of the house. He dropped the girl on the front steps and ran away.

But Keiper left behind evidence that clinched the case — his blood on the girl's pajamas, from which a DNA match was made.

Joyelle Zmozynski, the girl's mother, said Keiper tripped over the girl after dropping her.

"He fell and hit his head, I presume, on the railing," the mother said.

At first, she mistakenly identified a neighbor as the intruder. He was promptly arrested and spent 12 days in jail before the DNA led to the arrest of Keiper.

Keiper was arrested the next day for an unrelated break-in at a Ward Road shed. Capt. Bruce Elliott, head of the Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigation Bureau, said the clothes he wore were similar to those the mother said the kidnapper wore. Then the DNA test on the blood clinched the case and freed the neighbor.

"There's nothing worse than sending the wrong person to jail," Elliott said.

Keiper, a parole violator, had cut off his ankle monitor to elude authorities.

Keiper's record includes a 1983 rape of a 14-year-old girl in California, burglaries in Niagara County in 1971, 1997 and 2004; and a 1978 Erie County burglary. He is a Level 3 sex offender, the most dangerous classification.

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