As Chester County authorities traveled to Colorado on Wednesday to retrieve a murder suspect, a slain father's friends and family worked to protect the future of his three young children.

Police with cadaver-sniffing dogs unearthed the body of Kevin Mengel Jr., 33, on Saturday behind Marple Newtown High School. Authorities say his wife, Morgan Mengel, 34, conspired with her lover, Steve Shappell, 21, to kill her husband on June 17.

Morgan Mengel has been in Chester County Prison since Friday, while Shappell, who worked at the victim's landscaping firm, was arrested Sunday in Denver. He waived an extradition hearing and will returning to Chester County shortly, police said.

In the meantime, Kevin Mengel Sr., the victim's father, said friends and family had brainstormed about ways to ensure that his son's children — a daughter, 12, and sons ages 10 and 6 — are well cared-for.

"He was a hard-working, small businessman who was struggling," said Mengel Sr., adding that the business was not insured.

He said his colleagues at the Exton Chamber of Commerce, where he once was president, had an idea that resonated with the family, and began the Kevin Mengel Jr. Children's Trust Fund at Penn Liberty Bank in Downingtown.

"Kevin lived for his children," said his sister, Michele Hopkins, 30. "He worked so hard, sometimes 18 hours a day, because he wanted them to have a good life."

Hopkins said her brother was the quintessential, protective, older sibling to her and her brother, Christopher Mengel, 31. She said Kevin always asked them to look out for his children, but they never could have imagined the horrific circumstances that have made that necessary.

"Those children deserve to have the world given to them because they've just had theirs taken away," she said.
She said she had set up a memorial Facebook page so that people would learn "what an amazing person" her brother was, a fact she believes has gotten lost in the tragic drama of his death.

Contact staff writer John P. Martin at 610-313-8120 or