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

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

“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.

Key points

  • Mack is sentenced to 26 years in US prison for Bali murder

  • ‘Suitcase killer’ Heather Mack pleads for leniency in US courts

  • Prosecutors seek 28 years in US prison for Heather Mack

  • What happened to Sheila von Wiese-Mack?

  • A chilling Bonnie and Clyde plot

  • How Sheila von Wiese-Mack suffered years of domestic violence prior to Bali murder

Welcome to The Independent’s live blog

Wednesday 17 January 2024 10:16 , Rachel Sharp

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

The chilling case of Heather Mack

Wednesday 17 January 2024 10:35 , Rachel Sharp

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

Sheila von Wiese-Mack’s murder

Wednesday 17 January 2024 10:55 , Rachel Sharp

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
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.

Heather Mack’s conviction in Bali

Wednesday 17 January 2024 11:15 , Rachel Sharp

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)
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.

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

Wednesday 17 January 2024 11:35 , Rachel Sharp

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’s release from Indonesian prison – and arrest on US soil

Wednesday 17 January 2024 11:55 , Rachel Sharp

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.

A chilling Bonnie and Clyde plot

Wednesday 17 January 2024 12:15 , Rachel Sharp

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
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.

Feature: Heather Mack’s mother told police she feared her daughter would kill her. They were powerless to prevent it

Wednesday 17 January 2024 12:35 , Rachel Sharp

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

Prosecutors seek 28 years in US prison for Heather Mack

Wednesday 17 January 2024 12:55 , Rachel Sharp

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.

What time is Heather Mack in court?

Wednesday 17 January 2024 13:15 , Rachel Sharp

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.

ICYMI: ‘Suitcase killer’ Heather Mack pleads guilty to conspiracy to murder

Wednesday 17 January 2024 13:35 , Rachel Sharp

“Suitcase killer” Heather Mack is facing up to 28 years in US prison after she pleaded guilty to conspiring to murder her socialite mother Sheila von Wiese-Mack at a luxury 5-star resort in Bali back in 2014 – finally bringing some sort of conclusion to a horror case that has rumbled on for almost eight years.

Mack reached a plea deal with prosecutors in federal court in Illinois in June, pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to kill a US national so that she and her then-boyfriend Tommy Schaefer could gain access to a $1.5m trust fund.

“I plead guilty, your honor,” she told US District Judge Matthew Kelley during the short hearing.

Under the terms of the agreement, prosecutors recommend that she faces a maximum sentence of 28 years in prison, with consideration given to the seven years that she’s already served in Indonesian jail.

If she is sentenced to 28 years, she could be eligible for release in 2042 – taking into account the time served in Indonesia and behind bars in the US. She will be 46 years old.

Catch up here:

‘Suitcase killer’ Heather Mack pleads guilty to conspiracy to murder socialite mother

Murder of Sheila von Wiese-Mack came after years of domestic abuse

Wednesday 17 January 2024 13:55 , Rachel Sharp

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

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

But friends later said, despite being fearful of what her daughter might do, she decided to take her on holiday with her in the summer of 2014. This trip ended up being the last von Wiese-Mack would ever take.

Sheila von Wiese-Mack (Provided/Caxton Club)
Sheila von Wiese-Mack (Provided/Caxton Club)

What are the terms of Heather Mack’s plea deal?

Wednesday 17 January 2024 14:15 , Rachel Sharp

In June, Heather Mack reached a plea deal with prosecutors in federal court in Illinois, pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to kill a US national so that she and her then-boyfriend Tommy Schaefer could gain access to a $1.5m trust fund.

“I plead guilty, your honor,” she told US District Judge Matthew Kelley during the short hearing.

Under the terms of the agreement, prosecutors recommend that she faces a maximum sentence of 28 years in prison, with consideration given to the seven years that she’s already served in Indonesian jail.

If she is sentenced to 28 years, she could be eligible for release in 2042 – taking into account the time served in Indonesia and behind bars in the US. She will be 46 years old.

Sheila von Wiese-Mack’s family released statement on plea deal

Wednesday 17 January 2024 14:35 , Rachel Sharp

The devastated family of murdered socialite Sheila von Wiese-Mack issued a statement after Heather Mack reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors back in June.

William Wiese and Debbi Curran, von Wiese-Mack’s siblings, said:

“After almost nine years, we are very relieved that the mastermind of Sheila’s murder admitted her guilt today.

“We will continue to be our sister Sheila’s voice throughout the sentencing process to ensure that real justice is achieved.

“It has been devastating to witness the corruption in Indonesia which prevented true justice from being obtained eight years ago.

“Thanks to the incredible efforts of the US Attorney’s Office and FBI, we are hopeful for a sentence that more appropriately reflects the heinous and premeditated nature of the crime.”

Who were Heather Mack’s accomplices?

Wednesday 17 January 2024 14:55 , Rachel Sharp

Tommy Schaefer

Heather Mack’s boyfriend Tommy Schaefer flew out to Bali in August 2014 where the couple then murdered her mother Sheila von Wiese-Mack in the luxury hotel room.

Schaefer and Mack then stuffed her body into a suitcase.

He was arrested charged with premeditated murder alongside Mack.

He pleaded guilty and avoided the death penalty by firing squad.

Schaefer was sentenced to 18 years in April 2015.

He is still behind bars in Indonesia before he too will face charges on US soil.

Ryan Bibbs

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

He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit the foreign murder of a US national and was sentenced to nine years in US federal prison.

Heather Mack sentencing hearing under way

Wednesday 17 January 2024 16:09 , Rachel Sharp

Heather Mack has entered the courtroom in Chicago to be sentenced over the murder of her mother.

Dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit and wearing glasses, she appeared to acknowledge someone in the gallery as she entered.

Sheila von Wiese-Mack’s family and Tommy Schaefer’s mother are present in the courtroom.

Sheila von Wiese-Mack’s brother speaks in court

Wednesday 17 January 2024 16:15 , Rachel Sharp

The first person to speak in the courtroom is Sheila von Wiese-Mack’s brother – Heather Mack’s uncle – Bill Wiese.

Note: Von Wiese-Mack’s family welcomed the plea deal being reached last year.

Heather Mack branded a ‘monster’ by uncle

Wednesday 17 January 2024 16:25 , Rachel Sharp

Heather Mack has been branded a “monster” and a “master manipulator” by her uncle in the courtroom.

Sheila von Wiese-Mack’s brother Bill Wiese addressed his niece at the sentencing hearing.

“Heather, your brutal actions killed my sister, Sheila, on August 12 2014,” he said, reportedThe Chicago Sun-Times.

Mr Wiese said the pain she had inflicted on the family was “sickening”.

“Heather is a master manipulator. She always knows exactly what she is doing,” he said.

Family says Heather Mack should spend life behind bars

Wednesday 17 January 2024 16:35 , Rachel Sharp

Heather Mack’s uncle went on to say that he wants her to spend the rest of her life behind bars.

“If it were up to me, Heather would spend the rest of her life behind bars. She has lied so many times about her life and her mother’s murder that I’ve stopped counting,” Bill Wiese told the court.

Mr Wiese said that his niece should not be given credit for pleading guilty now after spending years lying about her murder.

He also said that she should not be “allowed to parent” Stella – Mack and Tommy Schaefer’s daughter who was born in a Bali prison.

Note: Under the terms of the plea deal, she faces up to 28 years. Prosecutors are seeking the full 28 years, while Mack’s legal team is asking for 15 years including 7 years time served in Indonesia.

What happened to Stella?

Wednesday 17 January 2024 16:52 , Rachel Sharp

In March 2015, in the middle of her trial in Indonesia, Heather Mack gave birth to her baby with Tommy Schaefer.

The little girl, Stella, was raised in prison for the first two years of her life.

Then she was placed in the care of an Australian woman living in Indonesia who Mack had befriended behind bars.

When Mack was released from prison in Bali in October 2021, she was briefly reunited with Stella, then six.

But when the mother and daughter flew back to the US, Mack was arrested at the airport.

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 Wiese-Mack’s niece Lisa Hellman in Colorado – against Mack’s wishes. Ms Hellman continues to care for Stella, now eight.

Next: Statement from Heather von Wiese-Mack’s sister

Wednesday 17 January 2024 17:08 , Rachel Sharp

Next to speak is Heather Mack’s cousin Lindsay Lococo, who is reading a statement to the court on behalf of her mother – Heather von Wiese-Mack’s sister – Debbi Curran.

Victim’s sister reveals trauma every time she sees a suitcase

Wednesday 17 January 2024 17:14 , Rachel Sharp

Sheila von Wiese-Mack’s sister spoke of the trauma every time she sees a suitcase, after her sibling’s body was stuffed inside one and dumped in a taxi in Bali.

In the statement, Ms Curran said that von Wiese-Mack was a “warrior mom” who had her “head and face bludgeoned and her bloody body stuffed into a suitcase.”

“Whenever I travel or simply see a suitcase [she said she sees] “horrific images” [in her mind] “that are impossible to erase during the day or night,” she said.

Von Wiese-Mack’s family members sobbed loudly in the court as the statement was read.

Heather Mack mouths ‘I love you’ at family

Wednesday 17 January 2024 17:18 , Rachel Sharp

Heather Mack mouthed “I love you” at her family as they sobbed in the courtroom and called for her to get the harshest possible sentence.

Next: Stella’s guardian addresses the court in statement

Wednesday 17 January 2024 17:20 , Rachel Sharp

A statement from Lisa Hellmann – who is Sheila von Wiese-Mack’s niece – is now being read to the court by relative Carolyn Wiese.

Ms Hellman was granted guardianship of Stella in 2022 and continues to care for the eight-year-old now.

Heather Mack exploited her daughter, says family

Wednesday 17 January 2024 17:24 , Rachel Sharp

In Lisa Hellman’s statement, she told the judge that Heather Mack had exploited her daughter Stella – who was born behind bars in a Bali prison.

“Heather Mack knowingly and willingly put her daughter into exploitative situations time and time again for monetary gain, without regard to the detrimental consequences such actions could have on Stella,” she said.

She pointed out that Mack was receiving money from a production company during the custody battle over her daughter.

Ms Hellman said that Stella, now eight, has told her therapist multiple times that she doesn’t want to be raised by or speak to her mother.

She asked the judge to give Mack the longest possible sentence of 28 years for Stella’s sake so that the little girl “has the time, protection, safety and resources she needs to have a fully developed adult brain, and strong emotional armour before she has to face her connection to Heather”.

Next: Sheila von Wiese-Mack’s close friend Diane Edelman

Wednesday 17 January 2024 17:31 , Rachel Sharp

Next to speak is Sheila von Wiese-Mack’s close friend Diane Edelman.

Ms Edelman slammed Heather Mack for treating her mother like “something to be beaten up, scrunched up and discarded like a piece of paper”.

She told the judge that Mack had many chances not to go through with her plans to murder her mother but chose to carry them out.

If she is released, she said she fears she “will do it again”.

Next: Heather Mack’s father’s cousin Onita Mack

Wednesday 17 January 2024 17:38 , Rachel Sharp

Next to address the court is Heather Mack’s father’s cousin Onita Mack.

Mack is the daughter of socialite Sheila von Wiese-Mack and famed musician James L Mack, who died in 2006.

Onita Mack described a dysfunctional home life for Mack, where James was scared of von Wiese-Mack and

She told the judge that she and their other family members that von Wiese-Mack would not allow them to see Mack because they are Black.

Next: Social worker who worked with Heather Mack and Sheila von Wiese-Mack

Wednesday 17 January 2024 17:57 , Rachel Sharp

A social worker who worked with Heather Mack and Sheila von Wiese-Mack years before the murder is speaking now.

She told the court that von Wiese-Mack isolated her daughter from her family.

Next: Heather Mack’s legal team asks for leniency

Wednesday 17 January 2024 18:08 , Rachel Sharp

Heather Mack’s attorney Michael Leonard is asking the judge for leniency claiming that she was not a “leader or organiser” in her mother’s murder.

He also claims that Mack was “groomed” and that her mother was trying to marry her off to a 36-year-old man.

Prosecutors instead claim that Mack was worried about this relationship – and that Mack’s claim about this is another attempt to shirk responsibility.

Next: Prosecutors ask judge for 28 year sentence

Wednesday 17 January 2024 18:11 , Rachel Sharp

Prosecutors are now asking the judge to hand down the harshest possible sentence of 28 years.

Justice Department prosecutor Frank Rangoussis said that the sentence is warranted based on how vicious the murder was, the premeditated nature of the crime, and Mack’s history of abusing her mother.

Heather Mack’s mother was ‘inhaling her own blood'

Wednesday 17 January 2024 18:30 , Kelly Rissman

In asking for a 28-year sentence, the prosecutor Frank Rangoussis emphasised how Heather Mack’s mother died.

Mr Rangoussis said, “Ms. von Wiese died a painful death. She suffocated after repeated blows to her face fractured her nasal bone and her jaw bone, resulting in an obstructed airway.” In her last moments, von Wiese-Mack “was inhaling her own blood,” the prosecutor said.

“She struggled to stay alive and in that moment the defendant showed no mercy,” he added.

The prosecutor also noted the texts Mack and her boyfriend exchanged ahead of the murder. Mack allegedly texted Tommy Schaefer that she “literally cant wait” for her mother’s death.

‘Web of lies'

Wednesday 17 January 2024 18:33 , Kelly Rissman

“This was a vicious beating of a defenseless, vulnerable, older woman as she lay in her hotel bed,” the prosecutor argued.

After the murder, he said, Mack “plotted a web of lies.”

Mack’s alleged lying has become a theme. Wiese-Mack’s brother, Bill Wiese, told the court that Mack is “so accustomed to lying that she doesn’t even know what is true.” He also described her as a “master manipulator.”

Chillingly, he said, “If it were up to me, Heather would spend the rest of her life behind bars. She has lied so many times about her life and her mother’s murder that I’ve stopped counting.”

Up now: Mack’s defense attorney is now speaking to the judge

Wednesday 17 January 2024 18:39 , Kelly Rissman

Mack’s attorney, Jeffrey Steinback, argued that “Heather Mack was abused.”

The lawyer said that it is “human nature” to “deify” someone lost in a “tragic and horrible way” and to “completely eradicate any of the good” exhibited by the perpetrator.

The defence is trying to portray Mack as a victim

Wednesday 17 January 2024 18:48 , Kelly Rissman

Mr Steinback, Mack’s attorney, told the court: “The government would have us believe that Heather Mack suddenly just grew up into a teenager and somewhere around 15 or 16 started, without provocation or any kind of reason, attacking her mother.” He previously said that Mack was “abused.”

He added, “ “It doesn’t strike people as unusual, that that just happened unprovoked? She chose to do this?”

Defence attorney talks up Mack

Wednesday 17 January 2024 18:57 , Kelly Rissman

Mack’s lawyer said: “We’re blaming Heather Mack because she finally got big enough and strong enough to say: ‘I’m not going to take this anymore. I won’t be beaten. I won’t be humiliated. I won’t be forced to do things that are humiliating.’”

Mr Steinback then, seemingly trying to portray Mack in a favourable light, said that his client aided in preventing a fellow inmate’s suicide attempt at Chicago’s Metropolitan Correctional Center.

Mack’s Bali prison time

Wednesday 17 January 2024 19:08 , Kelly Rissman

Mr Steinback is now discussing Mack’s time in Bali prison. The attorney claimed that the photos taken of Mack smiling while at the facility were staged. He added that his client was told to speak highly of the prison to improve its reputation.

He also tried to paint a contrast to the prosecution’s description of Mack’s time in Bali, saying that the facility held 25 inmates per room, had no beds, and a provided hole in the floor for a toilet.

“Seven years in that hell hole and we want to dismiss it as though it was nothing,” Mr Steinback said.

Judge rejects defence’s argument

Wednesday 17 January 2024 19:19 , Kelly Rissman

Mack’s attorney argued that she could have benefitted had the US government indicted her sooner.

Judge Kennelly replied, “It’s baloney. It’s just baloney. There’s no way that she was going to come back here until her time was over.”

ICYMI: Why is Heather Mack in court?

Wednesday 17 January 2024 19:22 , Kelly Rissman

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.

In June, she pleaded guilty to a federal charge of conspiracy to kill Wiese-Mack to get access to a $1.5 million trust fund.

Now, federal prosecutors in Chicago are recommending a 28-year prison sentence for Mack.

Read the full story...

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

Mack’s relationship with her mom revisited

Wednesday 17 January 2024 19:31 , Kelly Rissman

Mr Steinback called Mack’s relationship with her mom “an ugly, toxic relationship in the main. And it cannot be discarded with a narrative that would suggest that it was only hate by Heather and love by her mother. That’s not true.”

‘There was no plan’: defence attorney claims

Wednesday 17 January 2024 19:39 , Kelly Rissman

Mr Steinback said that when Mack left for Bali with her mother, she had told others that “she wasn’t going to go through with” the murder.

He added, “There was no hand over the mouth. There was no plan.”

Talking about her boyfriend, he said, “There was no plan ahead of time for Tommy to come over.”

“This was not what the government talks about as being a very meticulous and sophisticated plan. What happened, as heinous, violent, brutal as it was, occurred on the fly, ad hoc, and essentially unplanned,” Mr Steinback argued.

Potential conflicting argument

Wednesday 17 January 2024 19:42 , Kelly Rissman

As a reporter pointed out, Mack’s attorney’s argument seems to stray from some of her plea deal admissions.

In the plea agreement, for example, it says: “As part of the agreement, Mack communicated to Schaefer that she intended to share the proceeds of Von Wiese's estate with Schaefer once Von Wiese was dead.”

Up next: Heather Mack

Wednesday 17 January 2024 19:52 , Kelly Rissman

Mr Steinback concluded, “Heather’s got about nine years, four months of uninterrupted prison time, served either under 23.5-hour lockdown for the most part, or in a place where you’d rather be locked down 23.5 hours. … That’s got to mean something.”

Now, Heather Mack is about to speak to the court.

Mack speaks: ‘I’m responsible for my decisions’

Wednesday 17 January 2024 19:58 , Kelly Rissman

Mack claimed responsibility for ‘her decisions’ and dismissed her turbulent relationship with her mother: “There’s no excuse for trying to harm her.”

“I made my decision. I can’t sit here and blame them for those decisions,” she said. She pointed out how much she misses her mom: “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her. I miss her smile. Her ‘I love yous’ and mostly her holding me.”

Despite Mack’s statements, her defence attorney just described Mack as having a “toxic relationship” with her mother. The lawyer said that it is “human nature” to “deify” someone lost in a “tragic and horrible way” and to “completely eradicate any of the good” exhibited by the perpetrator.

The judge is about to rule

Wednesday 17 January 2024 20:09 , Kelly Rissman

“We can speculate what exactly happened. I don’t know why we need to. It was a brutal premeditated crime and there was a concerted effort to cover it up...That’s kind of enough,” the judge said.

Mack sentenced to 26 years in US prison for Bali murder

Wednesday 17 January 2024 20:23 , Kelly Rissman

After murdering her mother at a luxury Bali resort and stuffing her body in a suitcase, Mack has now been sentenced to 26 years in prison.

Heather Mack, a 28-year-old from Illinois, pleaded guilty back in June to conspiring to murder her socialite mother Sheila von Wiese-Mack at the five-star St. Regis resort in Bali back in 2014.

Mack reached a plea deal with prosecutors in federal court in Illinois, pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to kill a US national so that she and her then-boyfriend Tommy Schaefer could gain access to a $1.5m trust fund.

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‘Suitcase killer’ Heather Mack is sentenced to 26 years in US prison for Bali murder

Not just prison time

Wednesday 17 January 2024 20:26 , Kelly Rissman

The judge ordered Mack to pay more than $260,000 in restitution to her mother’s estate and pay a $50,000 fine.

ICYMI: A dramatic day in court

Wednesday 17 January 2024 21:00 , Kelly Rissman

Before the judge handed down the sentence, the court heard heartbreaking impact statements from von Wiese-Mack’s family where they begged for the harshest possible sentence, described her as a “monster” and spoke of the trauma they experience when they are reminded of what the 62-year-old endured in her final moments.

Bill Wiese, Von Wiese-Mack’s brother – Heather Mack’s uncle, branded his niece a “monster”, “master manipulator” and “morally reprehensible”.

“If it were up to me, Heather would spend the rest of her life behind bars. She has lied so many times about her life and her mother’s murder that I’ve stopped counting,” he told the court.

Recap: What was Mack on trial?

Wednesday 17 January 2024 21:31 , Kelly Rissman

On 12 August 2014, Mack, then 18, and her then-boyfriend Tommy Schaefer, 21, bludgeoned von Wiese-Mack to death with the metal handle of a fruit stand at the luxury 5-star St. Regis resort in Bali.

They then stuffed her body into a suitcase, hailed a taxi and loaded it into the trunk of the car.

When they were unable to check out of the luxury resort – using her mother’s credit card – the couple fled the scene, leaving the bloodstained suitcase behind.

They were soon tracked down to a budget motel and arrested on suspicion of murder.

At the time of the murder, Mack – the daughter of socialite von Wiese-Mack and famed musician James L Mack – was pregnant with Schaefer’s child.

Prosecutors revealed that she had flown her lover out on a $12,000 business-class ticket just hours earlier charged to her mother’s credit card. Chilling text messages also showed how the couple likened themselves to the notorious duo Bonnie & Clyde and plotted methods of murder with the help of Schaefer’s cousin Ryan Bibbs.

They were both convicted of premeditated murder in Indonesia and narrowly avoided facing the firing squad. Mack’s baby Stella was born in Bali prison and was allowed to stay with her there for the first two years of her life. She is now being raised by von Wiese-Mack’s niece in Colorado.

Bibbs was also convicted of conspiracy to kill von Wiese-Mack and sentenced to nine years in prison.

After Mack served seven years in an Indonesian jail, she was extradited to the US, where she was arrested on charges of conspiracy to murder in a foreign country in November 2021.

For almost two years, Mack has been held behind bars in Illinois awaiting trial.

Then in June, she pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to murder a US national under a plea agreement with prosecutors despite believing – by her own admission – that she has already done her time for her crime.

She is facing sentencing on 17 January 2024.

It’s a horror case that has transfixed the nation for the past eight years and raised several questions due to the sheer brutality of von Wiese-Mack’s demise: How could a daughter have plotted her own mother’s death? How could she have then stuffed her own mother’s corpse in a suitcase? And why did she do it?

But the bigger question – and one that has rarely been asked over the years – is could von Wiese-Mack’s murder have been prevented?

'I plead guilty, your honor’

Wednesday 17 January 2024 22:00 , Kelly Rissman

Mack reached a plea deal in the case in June.

Under the terms of the agreement, prosecutors recommend that she faces a maximum sentence of 28 years in prison, with consideration given to the seven years that she’s already served in Indonesian jail.

On 17 January, she was sentenced to 26 years behind bars, meaning she won’t be released until she’s 43 years old.

Recap: What were prosecutors seeking?

Wednesday 17 January 2024 23:00 , Kelly Rissman

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

Sentencing happened in Chicago on Wednesday – 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.

What was Heather Mack’s sentence?

Thursday 18 January 2024 01:00 , Kelly Rissman

The 28-year-old was sentenced to 26 years behind bars. Mack was also ordered to pay more than $260,000 in restitution to her mother’s estate, with an additional fine of $50,000.

Mack’s lengthy prison sentence now brings some sort of conclusion to the case that tore a family apart, shocked America and spanned two nations for the best part of eight years.

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‘Suitcase killer’ Heather Mack is sentenced to 26 years in US prison for Bali murder

Who is Tommy Schaefer?

Thursday 18 January 2024 03:00 , Kelly Rissman

Tommy Schaefer was Mack’s boyfriend at the time of the murder.

He was 21 at the time of the murder and Mack was 18 — and pregnant with his child.

Mack’s mother, socialite Sheila von Wiese-Mack invited the young couple on her luxury vacation. 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.

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.

He is still in prison in Bali.

WATCH; Who is the woman who pleaded guilty to her mother’s murder in Bali?

Thursday 18 January 2024 05:00 , Kelly Rissman

The Bali convictions

Thursday 18 January 2024 07:00 , Kelly Rissman

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.

Read the full story...

The chilling case of Heather Mack

ICYMI: What happened to Sheila von Wiese-Mack?

Thursday 18 January 2024 09:00 , Kelly Rissman

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.

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)
Sheila von Weise-Mack, 62, was found stuffed in a suitcase in Bali (Provided/Caxton Club)

A harrowing history of violence

Thursday 18 January 2024 11:00 , Kelly Rissman

In the years leading up to the murder, police records reveal that officers responded to a string of violent incidents committed by Mack against her mother at their home in Illinois.

Oak Park Police records show at least 35 interactions with officers since 2008 including reports of Mack breaking her mother’s arm, biting her and punching her. The records also include reports of stealing credit cards and money – an apparent motive for the murder.

While only Mack now knows when the violence first began, the first record of police being called to the home came in April 2008 for a report that the then-13-year-old had locked her mother in a room and threatened her.

The next police report came in January 2010 when Mack allegedly punched her mother’s broken ankle.

Sgt Freelain first met von Wiese-Mack in November of that year when she reported that her daughter had stolen her credit card and $1,060 cash.

A detective specialising in youth and family issues at the time, he was assigned the case and says he met von Wiese-Mack in person and spoke with her on the phone several times. It was also the first time he met Mack, then aged 15.

After interviewing her, Mack admitted that she stole her mother’s credit card but denied stealing the cash.

“In that first meeting, I certainly saw how Sheila was torn in terms of what to do about Heather,” Sgt Freelain recalls.

“She suspected and then knew that she had stolen from her but didn’t want to follow through on pressing charges against her daughter which is understandable but as things progressed that infliction would make things very difficult for us to be able to help Sheila.

“In that first meeting it was clear something was wrong – in terms of both the financial side of things but also her daughter’s behaviour.

“But it was the next time when I met Sheila in February 2011, that alarm bells really went off.”

Sgt Freelain says that von Wiese-Mack turned up at the police department that night with her right arm broken and in a cast.

In one violent incident that January, Mack had pushed her mother causing her to fall and break arm, according to a police report later filed.

“Her body language – she looked so beaten back,” Sgt Freelain says of that day in February 2011.

“In November, it was clear there was some kind of domestic dynamic that wasn’t good but Sheila hadn’t been forthright in elaborating about what was going on.

“But that night I got her more comfortable talking and she opened up about the physical and verbal abuse. We established a good rapport that night that stayed over the next two-and-a-half years.”

Von Wiese-Mack told him what had happened to her arm.

“I told her ‘I’ve worked with families where the kids abuse the parents and it doesn’t fix itself’,” he says.

In photos: the Heather Mack case

Thursday 18 January 2024 13:00 , Kelly Rissman

Heather Mack and her boyfriend are charged with the murder of her  mother (AP)
Heather Mack and her boyfriend are charged with the murder of her mother (AP)
EEUU-INDONESIA-MADRE ASESINADA (AP)
EEUU-INDONESIA-MADRE ASESINADA (AP)
Heather Mack has given birth to a daughter (Getty)
Heather Mack has given birth to a daughter (Getty)
Heather Mack received a more lenient sentence after giving birth in prison
Heather Mack received a more lenient sentence after giving birth in prison

A chilling Bonnie and Clyde plot

Thursday 18 January 2024 15:00 , Kelly Rissman

The couple referred to themselves as Bonnie and Clyde before the murder in text messages.

In the exchange, the couple plotted methods of murder 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.

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.