Prosecutors seek 28-year sentence for Heather Mack in mom's Bali slaying, stuffing into suitcase

Federal prosecutors in Chicago are recommending a 28-year prison sentence for an American woman who pleaded guilty to helping kill her mother and stuffing the body in a suitcase during a vacation at a Bali resort nearly a decade ago

Corey Williams
Thursday 11 January 2024 18:33 GMT
Indonesia-US-Suitcase Murder
Indonesia-US-Suitcase Murder (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Federal prosecutors in Chicago are recommending a 28-year prison sentence for an American woman who pleaded guilty to helping kill her mother and stuffing the body in a suitcase during a luxury vacation at a Bali resort nearly a decade ago.

That's considerably more time behind bars than Heather Mack's defense lawyers are expected to ask for when she's sentenced next week for conspiring to kill Sheila von Wiese-Mack.

The government also is seeking five years of supervised release for Mack, a fine of $250,000 and restitution of $262,708. In a filing Wednesday, prosecutors said the recommended sentence "is warranted and sufficient, but not greater than necessary to serve a just and appropriate punishment for Mack’s heinous crime.”

Mack pleaded guilty last June to one count of conspiring to kill Wiese-Mack with her then-boyfriend to get access to a $1.5 million trust fund. Prosecutors have said that Mack, then 18 and pregnant, covered her mother’s mouth in a hotel room while Tommy Schaefer bludgeoned Wiese-Mack with a fruit bowl.

The case garnered international attention in part because of photographs of the suitcase Wiese-Mack was placed in, which seemed too small to hold an adult woman’s body.

Prosecutors have said Mack and Schaefer planned the killing for months. They also said they had video evidence that showed both Mack and Schaefer trying to get the suitcase with Wiese-Mack’s body inside it into an Indonesian taxicab.

Mack, who lived with her mother in suburban Chicago’s Oak Park, served seven years of her 10-year Indonesian sentence. She was deported in 2021 and U.S. agents arrested her immediately after her plane landed at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

Mack's then-6-year-old daughter was with her when she was arrested. The girl later was placed with a relative after a custody fight.

Mack’s lawyers are seeking a 15-year prison term — but with credit for seven years spent in the Indonesian prison for her 2015 conviction of being an accessory to Wiese-Mack’s murder. Separately, she would automatically get credit for more than two years spent in custody in Chicago since her return to the U.S.

“For the taxpayers to incur the hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars to incarcerate Ms. Mack for an extended period of time within the BOP is particularly unnecessary,” attorney Michael Leonard said in a recent court filing, referring to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

The plea agreement calls for a sentence of no more than 28 years. As part of the plea deal, two other charges against Mack will be dropped at the end of the sentencing process.

Schaefer was convicted of murder and remains in Indonesia, where he is serving an 18-year sentence. He is charged in the same U.S. indictment.

Prosecutors said in Wednesday's filing that “Mack was the driving force of the conspiracy which resulted in the murder of her mother.”

“First, murdering Von Wiese was Mack’s idea, and something she explored as early as February 2014,” the filing read. “Mack then solicited codefendant Schaefer’s assistance. In February 2014, Schaefer confided in a mutual friend using Facebook Messenger that Mack wanted to kill her mother. Specifically, Schaefer confided to his associate that Mack offered Schaefer $50,000 to find someone to murder her mother.”


Williams reported from West Bloomfield, Michigan.

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