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As it happenedended1705738583

‘Suitcase killer’ Heather Mack sentenced to 26 years for mother’s Bali murder: Updates

Mack, now 28, appeared in federal court in Illinois, where she was given a 26-year prison sentence for the Bali murder of Sheila von Wiese-Mack

Rachel Sharp,Kelly Rissman
Saturday 20 January 2024 08:16 GMT
Heather Mack: Who is the woman who pleaded guilty to her mother’s murder in Bali

“Suitcase killer” Heather Mack was back in court in Illinois on Wednesday to be sentenced over the 2014 murder of her mother at a luxury Bali resort.

Mack, 28, was sentenced to 26 years in prison.

In the courtroom, she was confronted by her family members who told the judge she should not be granted any leniency over Sheila von Wiese-Mack’s murder.

Prosecutors sought a 28-year sentence while Mack’s attorneys are asking for 15 years with credit for seven years spent in an Indonesian prison.

The tragic case began in August 2014 when Illinois socialite von Wiese-Mack, 62, took her then-18-year-old pregnant daughter on vacation to the St. Regis resort.

Mack’s boyfriend Tommy Schaefer, 21, flew out to the island and the pair bludgeoned von Wiese-Mack to death, stuffed her body in a suitcase and left it in the trunk of a taxi.

Both Mack and Schaefer were convicted of murder in Indonesia in 2015.

Mack served 7 years in prison before being deported and arrested as soon as she stepped foot on US soil.

After two years in federal prison awaiting trial, Mack reached a plea deal in June, pleading guilty to conspiracy to kill a US national.

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Follow live updates as “suitcase killer” Heather Mack is sentenced over her mother’s 2014 murder in Bali

Rachel Sharp17 January 2024 10:16
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The chilling case of 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 has been reached as Chicago woman Heather Mack is about to be sentenced over 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.

After serving seven years in an Indonesian jail for murder, Mack was extradited to the US where she was arrested on arrival and hit with fresh charges of conspiracy to murder in November 2021.

After years of fighting for her freedom – and blaming her mother for her own senseless killing – Mack, now 28, pleaded guilty in federal court in Illinois in June to one count of conspiracy to kill a US national.

Now, Mack is about to learn her fate at her sentencing on 17 January.

As Mack looks towards her future beyond her mother’s shocking murder, it’s still very much a case that shocks and horrifies America – a case involving a Bonnie and Clyde fantasy, a mother’s body stuffed in a suitcase and a baby born behind bars.

Here’s everything you need to know:

The chilling case of Heather Mack

As Chicago woman Heather Mack is facing sentencing for the murder of her socialite mother Sheila von Weise-Mack at a 5-star Bali resort in 2014, 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 Sharp17 January 2024 10:35
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Sheila von Wiese-Mack’s murder

It was August 2014 when wealthy socialite Sheila von Wiese-Mack took her troubled 18-year-old daughter Heather Mack 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 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.

The bloody suitcase containing Sheila’s body

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.

Rachel Sharp17 January 2024 10:55
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Heather Mack’s conviction in Bali

Following the murder, Heather Mack and Tommy Schaefer were arrested in Bali.

In custody, their stories changed several times.

Initially, they allegedly told Indonesian investigators that Sheila von Wiese-Mack was killed by robbers.

Then, Indonesian police said Schaefer confessed to murdering von Wiese-Mack and Mack confessed to helping shove her mother’s body in the suitcase – before Mack later denied the allegations.

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.

Mack and Schaefer were both charged with premeditated murder and faced the death penalty by firing squad.

While Schaefer ultimately pleaded guilty, Mack did not.

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).

Heather Mack (AP)

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.

Mack’s story would change again when she appeared to confess that she alone murdered her mother in a YouTube video from prison. Her lawyers later walked back the video saying Schaefer coerced her to say it.

Rachel Sharp17 January 2024 11:15
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‘Suitcase killer’ Heather Mack pleads for leniency in US over mother’s Bali murder

A Chicago woman who helped her boyfriend kill her mother and stuff the body in a suitcase while on vacation at a luxury Bali resort nearly a decade ago is pleading for leniency.

Heather Mack, 28, was infamously dubbed the “suitcase killer” after she and her boyfriend Tommy Schaefer, then 21, bludgeoned her socialite mother Sheila von Wiese-Mack, 62, to death and stuffed her body in a suitcase.

After serving seven years in an Indonesian jail for murder, Mack was extradited to the US where she was arrested and hit with fresh charges of conspiracy to murder in November 2021.

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.

Read the full story here:

‘Suitcase killer’ Heather Mack pleads for leniency in US over mother’s Bali murder

Heather Mack and her boyfriend Tommy Schaefer murdered her mother Sheila von Wiese-Mack at a luxury Bali resort in 2014

Rachel Sharp17 January 2024 11:35
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Heather Mack’s release from Indonesian prison – and arrest on US soil

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 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.

Photos captured the convicted killer and her young daughter as she was 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.

A custody battle then ensued over the care of little Stella.

She was initially placed in the care of Chicago attorney Vanessa Favia while several relatives and friends battled in the courts for guardianship of her. In November 2022, Stella was then placed in the care of Von Weise-Mack’s niece Lisa Hellman in Colorado – against Mack’s wishes.

For two years, Mack fought against the charges, arguing that she paid for her crime during her prison time in Bali.

Then, in June 2023, she reached a plea deal with prosecutors.

Rachel Sharp17 January 2024 11:55
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A chilling Bonnie and Clyde plot

Before carrying out the brutal murder, the young lovers exchanged messages describing themselves as the notorious criminal duo Bonnie and Clyde and in which prosecutors say show how they plotted and conspired to kill their 62-year-old victim.

In the messages, revealed in US federal court documents earlier this year, the couple plotted methods of murder, egged each other on and spoke about how “rich” they would be when Mack inherited her mother’s wealth after she was dead.

On the day that Mack and her mother von Wiese-Mack set off on their trip, Schaefer allegedly sent his girlfriend a text saying: “I can’t wait to be rich… Its crazy af Like Money Nothing rules the world.”

The next day, Mack replied telling him the “trips going as planned baby … faith”.

When Schaefer told her he had “a lot of faith” in her but “that a lot of things aren’t in her control”, Mack replied with chilling messages describing how she had been “watching” her “witch” mother.

Heather Mack with her daughter in jail

Referring to herself as “bonnie” of Bonnie and Clyde, she urged her boyfriend not to “underestimate me”.

“I also know what is in my control … I know what makes people tick … the witch … I know what make [sic] her tick … I’m with her so much … I know her habbit [sic]… how she acts … what she does at certain times … its like breaking out of jail … It takes several years of watching … I have been watching her routine … and I know what I do control … Im sneaky … Im smart … and I watch … trust bonnie … Dn’t make everyone else mistake and under estimate me,” she wrote, per the court documents.

Other text messages revealed Schaefer encouraging Mack to smother her mother to death.

Rachel Sharp17 January 2024 12:15
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Feature: Heather Mack’s mother told police she feared her daughter would kill her. They were powerless to prevent it

The world first heard the story of American teenager Heather Mack and her mother Sheila von Wiese-Mack when the 62-year-old’s body was found stuffed in a suitcase in Indonesia.

But the story actually begins many years earlier.

Behind the headlines about the so-called “Suitcase Killer” is a tragic story of a mother who endured years of domestic violence at the hands of her child inside the home they shared in the Oak Park suburb of Chicago.

Abuse which ultimately escalated to that day in 2014 when the 18-year-old and her 21-year-old boyfriend bludgeoned her to death at a 5-star resort in Bali.

Rasul Freelain, a retired Oak Park Police sergeant who arrested Mack multiple times for allegedly abusing her mother, tells The Independent that the warning signs were there as soon as he met the pair for the first time back in 2010.

What he saw was a sadly typical case of a domestic abuse victim reluctant to speak out or take action against the abuser that she loved.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp reports:

Heather Mack’s mother feared her daughter would kill her. Police couldn’t stop it

Behind the headlines about the so-called “Suitcase Killer” is a tragic story of a mother who endured years of domestic violence at the hands of her child. A retired police officer tells Rachel Sharp how authorities were helpless to save her

Rachel Sharp17 January 2024 12:35
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Prosecutors seek 28 years in US prison for Heather Mack

Prosecutors are seeking a 28-year prison sentence for Heather Mack, after she reached a plea deal in June.

Sentencing is scheduled Wednesday in Chicago – almost a decade after Mack and her then-boyfriend Tommy Schaefer murdered her mother.

Justice Department prosecutors are seeking the longest possible sentence of 28 years, five years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine and restitution of $262,708.

In a filing last week, 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’s defence is instead seeking a 15-year prison term, with credit for seven years spent in Indonesian prison.

“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,” her attorney Michael Leonard said in a recent court filing.

Rachel Sharp17 January 2024 12:55
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What time is Heather Mack in court?

Heather Mack is scheduled to appear in court for her sentencing at 10am CT (11am ET).

The 28-year-old will appear in US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois before Judge Matthew Kennelly.

She faces up to 28 years in prison on a conspiracy to murder charge.

Rachel Sharp17 January 2024 13:15

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