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Heather Mack hearing: Suitcase killer pleads guilty over Bali murder of Sheila von Wiese-Mack


Woman’s body found in suitcase

“Suitcase killer” Heather Mack has pleaded guilty in a Chicago court today over the 2014 murder of her socialite mother in Bali, bringing some sort of conclusion to the shocking case.

In August 2014, Mack, then 18 and pregnant, and her boyfriend Tommy Schaefer, then 21, bludgeoned Sheila von Weise-Mack, 62, to death with a metal fruit stand while on vacation at the luxury 5-star St Regis resort on the Indonesian island.

The couple, who described themselves as “Bonnie and Clyde” in chilling text messages, then stuffed her body in a suitcase and left it in the trunk of a taxi.

They were both convicted of premeditated murder in Indonesia – narrowly escaping death by firing squad.

After serving seven years in a Bali jail (where her daughter was born), Mack was extradited to the US where she was arrested on arrival in Chicago and hit with fresh charges of conspiracy to murder in a foreign country in November 2021.

Since then, she has been behind bars fighting the charges but had a change of heart and decided to take a plea deal.

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Illinois police records reveal years of abuse before murder

Heather Mack was the daughter of socialite von Wiese-Mack and famed musician James L Mack and had a privileged upbringing in the Oak Park suburb of Chicago.

But, following James L Mack’s 2006 death, von Wiese-Mack called the police to their home dozens of times due to incidents of domestic violence.

Oak Park Police records reveal at least 35 interactions with officers since 2008 including accusations that Mack broke her mother’s arm, bit and punched her.

In 2012, she was convicted of battery in juvenile court for an attack on her mother.

In 2013 – just over one year before her murder – von Wiese-Mack confided in a detective that she feared Mack was going to kill her.

Rachel Sharp15 June 2023 13:10

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Heather Mack’s conviction in Indonesia didn’t stop her facing charges in the US. Here’s why

The filing of US charges against a Chicago woman convicted of killing her wealthy mother during a luxury vacation in Bali raised questions about how someone who has spent time in an overseas prison can be hauled into an American court on similar charges.

The US Constitution prohibits prosecuting someone twice for the same acts, commonly known as double jeopardy. But the allegations in von Wiese-Mack’s death involve two countries with their own laws and their own claims to jurisdiction, an expert said.

It’s a federal crime to kill a US citizen abroad, Barbara McQuade, a University of Michigan law professor and former US attorney in Detroit, told The AP in 2021.

“The United States government is a different sovereign than the government of Indonesia ” she explained.

The US must believe “there is some substantial federal interest that was not vindicated by the prior case,” McQuade said. “I don’t know what all the reasons are. But this appears to be a very premeditated plot. This could be the kind of thing where they say: ‘Seven years? That is just not enough.’”

The 2017 grand jury indictment publicly revealed this week in Chicago was sealed while Mack and Tommy Schaefer were imprisoned overseas. The US Justice Department has always had discretion to dismiss the case or stick with it.

“If the new administration had wanted to put the brakes on it, they certainly could have done that,” McQuade said Thursday.

Rachel Sharp15 June 2023 13:30

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Heather Mack’s criminal case in Indonesia:

In 2014, Heather Mack and Tommy Schaefer were both charged with premeditated murder and faced the death penalty by firing squad in Indonesia.

While Schaefer ultimately pleaded guilty, Mack did not. Schaefer testified at trial that he killed the 62-year-old because she attacked him when she found out her daughter was pregnant. Meanwhile, Mack was allegedly motivated by a desire to be free from her controlling mother.

In March 2015, in the middle of her trial, Mack gave birth to the couple’s daughter Stella (who she raised in prison for the first two years of her life when she was placed in the care of an Australian woman living in Indonesia who Mack had befriended behind bars).

Both Mack and Schaefer were convicted of premeditated murder and – after prosecutors asked for the death penalty be taken off the table – Mack was sentenced to 10 years in prison while Schaefer was sentenced to 18 years in April 2015.

In 2017, Schaefer’s cousin Ryan Bibbs, then 24, was also convicted of conspiracy to kill von Wiese-Mack and sentenced to nine years in prison after it emerged that he had coached the two killers in different murder methods.

Rachel Sharp15 June 2023 13:50

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Heather Mack’s US criminal case:

Heather Mack was released from prison in Bali in October 2021 after serving seven years – three years early due to good behaviour – and was briefly reunited with her daughter Stella, then six, who she planned to begin a new life with. But her newfound freedom was short-lived.

Five days later, the then 26-year-old was deported from the Indonesian island back to the US and was arrested as soon as she touched down on American soil.

The convicted killer and her young daughterwere greeted by waiting FBI agents at the gate at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and was immediately taken into US federal custody.

She was indicted on two counts of conspiring to commit murder in a foreign country and one count of obstruction of justice. The indictment, which was filed in 2017 but remained sealed while she remained in Indonesian prison, also charged Schaefer with the same counts.

In the more than two years since Mack has been behind bars in the US, she has fought against the charges, arguing that she paid for her crime during her prison time in Bali.

The case was set to go to trial on 1 August in Chicago before Mack revealed her intentions for a change of plea.

Rachel Sharp15 June 2023 15:30

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ICYMI: FBI arrests ‘suitcase killer’ as she arrives back in US after release from Bali jail

The FBI has arrested “suitcase killer” Heather Mack as she arrived back in the United States following her release from a Bail prison.

Mack was taken into custody at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport as she and boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, were indicted in Illinois on charges of conspiracy to kill in a foreign country, one count of conspiracy to commit foreign murder of a US national, and one count of obstruction.

Mack and Schaefer were convicted in Indonesia of killing her socialite mother in 2014 and stuffing her body into a suitcase at a luxurious Bali resort in an plot to access her trust fund.

Rachel Sharp15 June 2023 17:30

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Heather Mack’s conviction in Indonesia didn’t stop US charges. Here’s why

The filing of US charges against a Chicago woman convicted of killing her wealthy mother during a luxury vacation in Bali raised questions about how someone who has spent time in an overseas prison can be hauled into an American court on similar charges.

The US Constitution prohibits prosecuting someone twice for the same acts, commonly known as double jeopardy. But the allegations in von Wiese-Mack’s death involve two countries with their own laws and their own claims to jurisdiction, an expert said.

It’s a federal crime to kill a US citizen abroad, Barbara McQuade, a University of Michigan law professor and former US attorney in Detroit, told The AP in 2021.

“The United States government is a different sovereign than the government of Indonesia ” she explained.

The US must believe “there is some substantial federal interest that was not vindicated by the prior case,” McQuade said. “I don’t know what all the reasons are. But this appears to be a very premeditated plot. This could be the kind of thing where they say: ‘Seven years? That is just not enough.’”

The 2017 grand jury indictment publicly revealed this week in Chicago was sealed while Mack and Tommy Schaefer were imprisoned overseas. The US Justice Department has always had discretion to dismiss the case or stick with it.

“If the new administration had wanted to put the brakes on it, they certainly could have done that,” McQuade said Thursday.

Rachel Sharp15 June 2023 19:30

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What happened to Tommy Schaefer?

Tommy Schaefer was 21 when he bludgeoned Sheila von Wiese-Mack to death with Heather Mack back in 2014.

He was arrested along with Mack and charged with premeditated murder.

Schaefer later testified at trial that he killed the 62-year-old because she attacked him when she found out her daughter was pregnant. Meanwhile, Mack was allegedly motivated by a desire to be free from her controlling mother.

Schaefer was sentenced to 18 years in April 2015.

Now, Schaefer is still serving his 18-year sentence in Indonesia before he too will face charges on US soil.

Rachel Sharp15 June 2023 21:30

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What we know about the chilling case of ‘suitcase killer’ Heather Mack

It’s a chilling case that has spanned two different continents and rumbled on for the best part of eight years.

Now finally, some sort of conclusion is about to be reached as Chicago woman Heather Mack is expected to plead guilty this week to her part in her mother’s heinous 2014 murder.

Infamously dubbed the “Suitcase killer”, Mack, then 18 and pregnant, and her boyfriend Tommy Schaefer, then 21, bludgeoned her socialite mother Sheila von Weise-Mack, 62, to death and stuffed her body in a suitcase while on vacation at a luxury 5-star resort in Bali.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp delves into the case here:

The chilling case of Heather Mack

As Chicago woman Heather Mack prepares to plead guilty over the killing of her socialite mother Sheila von Weise-Mack at a 5-star Bali resort in 2014, all these years on America remains horrified by the case involving a Bonnie and Clyde fantasy, a body stuffed in a suitcase and a baby born behind bars. Rachel Sharp reports

Rachel Sharp15 June 2023 23:30

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Heather Mack’s plea hearing: Schedule

– Hearing type: Change of plea hearing

– Time: 8.30am local time

– Judge: Matthew F Kennelly

– Location: US District Court, Illinois

Rachel Sharp16 June 2023 01:30

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What happened to Sheila von Wiese-Mack?

In August 2014, wealthy Illinois socialite Sheila von Wiese-Mack took her troubled 18-year-old daughter on vacation to the 5-star St. Regis hotel in Bali.

After they arrived at the luxury resort, Mack used her mother’s credit card to buy a $12,000 business-class ticket for her then-boyfriend Tommy Schaefer to join them and a single night’s stay at the hotel.

In the early hours of the morning on 12 August 2014 – hours after Schaefer arrived – Mack, von Wiese-Mack and Schaefer were captured on hotel surveillance footage arguing in the lobby of the hotel.

Sometime after that, Schaefer bludgeoned von Wiese-Mack to death with the metal handle of a fruit stand.

Schaefer and Mack then stuffed her body into a suitcase and wheeled it down into the hotel lobby.

They hailed a taxi, loaded the suitcase into the trunk of the car and tried to check out of the luxury resort.

But, because von Weise-Mack had told the hotel not to let her daughter use her credit card, they were prevented from doing so and fled the scene.

The taxi driver – suspicious of the bloodied suitcase wrapped in hotel sheets – called the police who made the grim discovery of what was inside. The couple was soon tracked down to a budget motel and arrested on suspicion of murder.

Sheila von Weise-Mack, 62, was found stuffed in a suitcase in Bali

(Provided/Caxton Club)

Rachel Sharp16 June 2023 03:30


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