A 27-year-old woman from Chicago accused of participating in her mother’s murder and stuffing her body in a suitcase in Bali back in 2014 has pleaded guilty to being an accessory in the killing.
The daughter of an American woman whose body was found stuffed inside a suitcase at an Indonesian resort island is scheduled to appear in Chicago federal court to change her plea to guilty on charges she helped kill her mother in Bali nine years ago. https://t.co/B7U80PpUP8
— The Associated Press (@AP) June 16, 2023
Heather Mack, who was just 18 years old at the time of her mother’s tragic demise, had been convicted of the crime in Indonesia and had served seven years of her 10-year sentence. Upon her release, she was immediately arrested by U.S. authorities and deported back to her homeland.
Prosecutors say that Mack, who was pregnant at the time, covered her mother’s mouth while her boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, ruthlessly beat Sheila von Wiese-Mack to death using a fruit bowl. This happened while they were on vacation to the tourist destination.
She had previously pleaded not guilty, but during her recent court appearance, dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, she surprised everyone by changing her plea to guilty on one count of conspiracy to kill a U.S. national. Witnesses in the courtroom mentioned that she spoke calmly while addressing the judge.
Reports suggest that Mack and her mother had a troubled relationship, with frequent police visits to their Oak Park, Illinois home. On the fateful day of the murder, hotel surveillance cameras captured her and Schaefer arguing with her mother in the hotel lobby shortly before the incident occurred.
Prosecutors say that the then-18-year-old carried out the murder in an attempt to gain access to a substantial $1.5 million trust fund. According to them, she and Schaefer planned the murder for months as they pointed to video evidence that showed the two trying to fit the suitcase with the body inside a taxi in Indonesia.
Mack has since given birth to Schaefer’s child, while Schaefer himself is still serving an 18-year sentence in Indonesia for the heinous crime. He is also facing charges in the U.S.
Schaefer’s cousin, Robert Bibbs, was also involved in the murder as he pleaded guilty in 2016 to helping with the murder. He admitted to receiving $50,000 from Mack’s inheritance in exchange for his assistance. As a result, Bibbs was sentenced to nine years in prison.
Back in 2021, when Mack was arrested in the U.S., her attorney Brian Claypool voiced a strong belief that the charges brought against her were nothing more than a “witch hunt,” fueled by public pressure following her release from the Indonesian prison.
The initial reporting of the crime drew international attention, largely due to the shocking pictures of the suitcase that contained the lifeless body of Sheila von Wiese-Mack. The suitcase’s size seemed unfitting for an adult woman, sparking widespread curiosity.