‘Suitcase killer’ Heather Mack is arrested and appears in a Chicago court over her mother’s 2014 murder, a day after she’ deported from Indonesia, accompanied by her prison-born six-year-old daughter
Suitcase killer Lois Heather Mack is arrested over her mother’s 2014 murder as she arrives back in the US from Indonesia with her prison-born little girl, six
Mack, 26, appeared in a Chicago court Wednesday, charged with conspiring with her boyfriend to kill and dispose of her mother, Sheila Von Wiese-Mack in 2014
Wealthy Chicago socialite and political strategist Wiese-Mack, 62, was battered to death inside a hotel room, and her body stuffed in a suitcase, then loaded into the trunk of a taxi during a vacation on the Indonesian island of Bali
She was arrested Wednesday morning moments after landing in the US or the first time since she was convicted of helping murder her mother in Bali, seven years ago
Mack landed in Chicago at 9:30am after being deported from Indonesia on Tuesday following her release from prison 34 months early for good behavior
She arrived at O’Hare Airport accompanied by the daughter she bore behind bars only to find Federal agents waiting for her at the gate
Mack at 19 was sentenced to 10 years in 2015 for aiding her boyfriend Tommy Schaefer, then 21, in the murder of her mother, Sheila von Wiese-Mack, and then stuffing her body in a suitcase
Mack gave birth to her daughter Stella during the trial and raised her in prison until she turned two
Stella, six, was traveling with her mother and Oshar Putu Melody Suartama, an Australian woman married to a Balinese man, who had been raising Stella and is now caring for the child
Mack faces a lifetime prison sentence, if convicted as charged
Tommy Schaefer, Mack’s boyfriend at the time of the murder and Stella’s father, continues to serve his 18 year sentence for Wiese-Mack’s murder
‘Suitcase Killer’ Lois Heather Mack made her first appearance in a federal courtroom Wednesday in Chicago’s Loop, her legs shackled and her eyes darting over her face mask, ending seven years of waiting ended for her mother’s family.
The gruesome 2014 murder of Sheila von Wiese-Mack, a wealthy socialite and political strategist from Chicago’s Oak Park, became international news fodder after her body was discovered in a suitcase outside the St. Regis Bali Resort in Indonesia.
Four years of waiting ended for U.S. prosecutors, who secretly secured the indictment of Mack and her former boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, in 2017.
The five-page document became public Wednesday as a flight carrying Mack neared O’Hare Airport.
Heather Mack, 26, conspired with her boyfriend to kill her mother, Sheila Von Wiese-Mack, stuff her body in a suitcase and load it into the trunk of a taxi during a vacation on the Indonesian island of Bali, the US Justice Department said. Indonesian authorities arrested Mack and her boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, 28, after the August 2014 killing.
Mack is facing charges that carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The Chicago woman dubbed ‘Suitcase killer’ after she killed her mother and stuffed the body in a suitcase before being jailed for the crime in Indonesia was arrested on her return to the US on Wednesday just moments after setting foot on US soil for the first time since helping her boyfriend kill her socialite mother at a five-star Bali resort in 2014.
Mack arrived at Chicago O’Hare Airport accompanied by the little girl she bore behind bars only to find federal agents waiting for her at the gate.
The arrest was anticipated by her legal team who have vowed to wage ‘war’ to allow convicted killer Mack to start afresh, citing double jeopardy laws and the impact it will have on her six-year-old daughter, Stella.
Mack who was 18 and pregnant when she helped murder Sheila von Wiese-Mack and stuff the corpse into a suitcase – was released early last week for good behavior, seven years and two months into a 10-year sentence.
She was arrested shortly after getting off a 13-hour flight from Seoul, South Korea at 9:30am CT, on charges stemming from a three-count federal indictment in 2017 that was briefly unsealed in federal court Wednesday.
Mack and her co-conspirator Tommy Schaefer, now 28, are charged with two counts of conspiring to kill her mother and one count of obstruction of justice.
Schaefer, her boyfriend and father of her daughter Stella who she had while in prison, remains behind bars.
The grand jury indictment was filed in July 2017 but remained under seal until Federal authorities caught wind of Mack’s imminent return.
A government motion filed Wednesday morning said: ‘The United States has learnt that defendant Heather Mack was released from prison in Indonesia on October 29, 2021, and plans to return to Chicago, Illinois on or about November 3, 2021.
‘An arrest warrant has been issued for Heather Mack based upon the Indictment and the FBI intends to execute the warrant when the defendant arrives at O’Hare Airport.’
The order asked the US District Court for Northern Illinois to unseal the historic indictment immediately upon Mack’s arrest.
Mack reportedly, would likely to be in court for arraignment later Wednesday.
Mack has claimed that she was hiding in a bathroom when Schaefer, then aged 21, bludgeoned Sheila to death with a fruit bowl inside a room at a plush Regis resort in Bali in 2014.
But prosecutors say she helped him cram the body into a suitcase and wheel it downstairs where they hailed a cab and loaded it into the trunk. The pair ran away when the driver became suspicious but were arrested shortly afterwards at a nearby budget hotel and put on trial.
The indictment – which was resealed later Wednesday morning – includes a list of ‘overt acts’ by Mack and Schaefer allegedly conspiring to kill her mother, such as Mack arranging her boyfriend’s travel to Bali on August 10, 2014, and the couple discussing how and when to kill her in messages two days later.
They are accused of obstruction justice by ‘destroy[ing], mutilat[ing] and conceal[ing] objects’ by stuffing von Wiese-Mack’s body into a suitcase and removing it – as well as the ‘linens and items of clothing worn during the killing’ – from the scene.
Lois Heather Mack was arrested on charges stemming from a three-count federal indictment in 2017 that was briefly unsealed in federal court Wednesday. Mack and boyfriend 28-year-old Tommy Schaefer, who remains who is still in prison are charged with two counts of conspiring to kill her mother and one count of obstruction of justice
With the convicted killer’s arrest as she stepped off the Delta flight in Chicago, her six year-old daughter Stella is being cared for by Oshar Putu Melody Suartama, an Australian woman married to a Balinese man, who has been raising Stella and escorted to mother and daughter back to the States.
Even before her arrival, Mack’s legal team was prepping for a range of scenarios, fearing she could face arrest on the tarmac or have her daughter taken away by Child Protective Services (CPS).
Before her latest ordeal Mack had begged Indonesian officials to let Stella escape her infamy by staying behind in Bali to be raised by foster parent and close friend Oshar Suartama. Her plea however, was turned down as mother and daughter were reunited this week before embarking on the grueling 24-hour trip home taking in stops in Jakarta, Seoul and touching down in the US where agents and a government attorney waiting at O’Hare’s terminal five took her into custody.
Attorney Brian Claypool sought an emergency hearing Tuesday to ensure that, in the event Mack was taken away, her daughter would instead be left in the care of Oshar, who accompanied the mom and daughter on their flight to the US. Claypool applied to Cook County for the emergency order after hearing that FBI agents boarded the same flights and shadowed the trio as they travelled half way around the world, though his claim is yet to be confirmed.
‘We didn’t want Stella going into CPS,’ Claypool said.
‘First, she has a foster mom, who she considers to be mommy number two. They have a loving, caring relationship. ‘Second, once a child gets into the foster care system it is a lot harder to extricate them.’
Claypool said that if the Feds decide to arrest Mack on new charges – perhaps some sort of conspiracy charge related to the plotting of her mother’s death, rather than the act itself – he would fight any such charges on the basis of double jeopardy.
‘It’s gonna be a dog fight because they are being punitive towards Heather,’ he told the Chicago-Sun Times.
Among those at international arrivals Wednesday awaiting a glimpse of Stella was Schaefer’s mom Kia Walker, who told reporters she planned to fight for custody of the little girl.
‘I’m Stella’s grandmother and I want custody of my granddaughter,’ she said, fighting tears.
‘The question is, who’s going to stop Heather Mack. Who’s going to do it? Who’s going to be the one?
‘Because there was a circus in Indonesia and I don’t want there to be a circus in America. I’m speaking up for my granddaughter. There is a lot of wrong going on here.
‘I want custody of my granddaughter. The lawyers don’t need custody. Oshar doesn’t need custody. Stella has family here. She has me.
‘All this craziness has to stop. I’m asking that we, the people of America, do this for Stella.’
At one point, Walker got her son on the phone from his jail cell in Bali but the killer said he didn’t want to talk to the media and hung up.
She said Schaefer had suffered from a litany of health complaints including Covid and multiple organ failure while languishing behind bars but she stopped short of defending him.
‘Sheila has always been first, always,’ Walker added. ‘My son knows how I feel about a woman putting their hands on a woman or a man putting their hands on a woman.
‘My son deserves to be in prison. He knows how I feel, but he also deserves adequate medical care. He needs help.’ Eventually Walker gave up waiting after learning that Stella and Suartama had left via a US customs and Border Protection office situated elsewhere in the terminal.
Stella was born in prison while her mom and then-boyfriend Tommy Schaefer stood trial for murdering Sheila, 62, in August 2014.
Both were convicted of first degree murder and locked up in Kerobokan prison, where Mack’s wannabe rapper ex is still serving out his 18-year stretch.
Judges were lenient towards Mack, however, because she had just given birth at the time and last week it was revealed she would be released three years early because of her good behavior and immediately deported.
Under Indonesian law, Stella was allowed to live with her mother in her cell until she turned two when Mack gave custody of her to Australian native Suartama, whom she befriended during her trial.
Mack, who had not seen her daughter for 20 months because of Covid visiting restrictions, asked for the arrangement to continue only to be knocked back by the Indonesia government.
‘Minors must be accompanied by their mothers when their mothers are deported. There is no policy that allows a mother to leave her underage child here,’ said Amrizal, chief of the Bali immigration office.
Mack inherited a $1.6m fortune from her mom but she signed it over to her daughter in 2018. It’s not clear if Mack is able to access any of that money herself to fund their new start in the States.
The agreement was brokered by Claypool, her attorney for the past six years, who said Mack could also head to Los Angeles to live with a friend.
She has half-siblings from her dad’s side of the family, believed to be based in Texas, and is also said to have kept up with a handful of friends from her teens.
‘I am fearful and nervous of returning to Chicago,’ Mack told writer Andrea Dixon ahead of her release.
‘I’m not worried about the idea that people cannot understand the tragedy for my sake. But I’m nervous for Stella. I’m scared that if she comes back to the States with me, she will be exposed to what happened.’
Mack claimed in a previous interview that she would return to Bali, declaring: ‘I might get deported on release but if that happens I hope it will only be for a maximum of six months. I’ll return as quickly as I can.’
The chances of that looked this week bleak, however, after Jamaruli Manihuruk of Indonesia’s Law and Human Rights Ministry said earlier this week that steps were underway to stop Mack from re-entering Bali, which is part of Indonesia.
‘We will propose a lifetime ban for Heather. But the decision will be made by Immigration official in Jakarta,’ he said, referring to the nation’s capital.
Mack enjoyed a privileged upbringing in Chicago’s upscale Oak Park suburb, growing up in a $1.5m mansion with political researcher and strategist mom Sheila and her father James L. Mack, a renowned jazz composer, who died in 2006 while the family vacationed in Greece.
During her incarceration Mack recalled how Sheila had left her husband’s body in the morgue to go sailing in Santorini, triggering a simmering hatred that intensified when her mother tried to stop her dating Schaefer in high school.
When Mack dropped out and became pregnant Sheila flew her daughter to Bali to try to convince her to terminate the baby. But she stole her mom’s credit card instead and used it to fly out Schaefer in a $12,000 business class seat, her trial was told.
In text messages presented in court Schaefer urged his teen lover to suffocate Sheila so they could claim her estate, which he believed was worth up to $11 million.
He ended up doing the job himself in gruesome fashion, battering the 62-year-old woman with a metal bowl until she suffocated from a broken nose.
At trial Schaefer testified that Weise-Mack had racially abused him and tried to strangle him during an argument about the pregnancy.
In reality, the besotted lovers had plotted to kill her months and had already tried but failed to kill her by overdose. They also enlisted advice from his US-based cousin Robert Bibbs, who was later jailed for nine years in the US for his part in the scheming – offering an avenue Feds could explore to bring a fresh prosecution.
Behind bars, Mack was said to have left her life of crime behind, however, going to church, organizing fashion shows and teaching other inmates to dance.
In her a 2019 interview Mack claimed she also felt ‘more Indonesian than American’, and could speak both the Indonesian language and the local Bahasa Balinese dialect.
‘My daughter is more Indonesian than American. She has a good life here,’ Mack said.
He ended up doing the job himself in gruesome fashion, battering the political strategist with a metal bowl until she But while Mack has expressed remorse over her mother’s killing, Sheila’s siblings don’t buy it.
Her maternal uncle Bill Weise believes her early release is a ‘joke’ and a ‘travesty of justice’.
Mack’s stint behind bars, ‘seemed like she was having a party behind bars,’ Weise said.
Mack was seen holding hands with her prison-born daughter Stella Schaefer, 6, as they were deported from Indonesia to America on Tuesday.
Mother and daughter were escorted by a heavy security presence through Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali as they got set to fly to Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, on Tuesday before heading to Mack’s hometown Chicago.
Stella arrived at the airport Tuesday with Mack’s lawyer and was taken to a departure area to meet her mother. She had been staying with a friend for most of the time Mack was incarcerated.
According to Jamaruli Manihuruk, head of Bali’s Law and Human Rights Ministry, Mack had requested that her daughter remain in Bali, but that request was denied.
‘She can’t leave her daughter,’ Manihuruk said.
The badly beaten body of Mack’s mother, wealthy Chicago socialite Sheila von Wiese-Mack, was found in a suitcase inside the trunk of a taxi parked at the upscale St. Regis Bali Resort in August 2014.
The killing generated national and international attention for years, in part because of photographs of the suitcase that appeared far too small to hold an adult woman’s body.
Mack, who was almost 19-years-old and a few weeks pregnant, and her then-21-year-old boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, were arrested a day later after they were found at a budget hotel about six miles from the St. Regis.
Their daughter, Stella Schaefer, was born shortly before her parents were convicted in 2015.
Under Indonesian law, she was allowed to live with her mother in her cell in Kerobokan female prison until she turned two, when Mack gave custody of her young daughter to an Australian woman, Oshar Suartama, who befriended Mack during the murder trial in 2014, until her release from prison.
Her attorney, Yulius Benyamin Seran, said earlier that Mack had asked for the girl, who is now six-years-old, to remain with her foster family to avoid media attention in the U.S. However, Indonesian regulations refused.
‘Minors must be accompanied by their mothers when their mothers are deported. There is no policy that allows a mother to leave her underage child here,’ said Amrizal, chief of the Bali immigration office.
She expressed her fears of returning to Chicago with Stella to The New York Post: ‘I am fearful and nervous of returning to Chicago. I’m not worried about the idea that people cannot understand the tragedy for my sake. But I’m nervous for [my daughter] Stella.’
‘I’m scared that if she comes back to the States with me, she will be exposed to what happened.’
‘I do not want anyone shoving a camera into Stella’s face. I know that it will happen to me but I will do my best to protect Stella from that trauma.’
Mack’s sentence was shortened by President Joko Widodo by a total of 34 months due to reductions often granted to prisoners on major holidays because of good conduct.
After being released, Mack stayed at an immigration detention center for four days while waiting for her flight tickets and travel documents to be ready.
She was closely escorted by immigration officers to Bali´s airport for a flight to Jakarta on Tuesday afternoon.
Jamaruli Manihuruk, chief of the Bali regional office of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, said she would fly from Jakarta to Chicago on Delta Airlines. He said his office has asked the central government to ban Mack from Indonesia for life.
Mack previously said that she does not plan to stay in Chicago, where she will be living with a friend, for long.
‘I might get deported (back to America) on release but if that happens I hope it will only be for a maximum of six months. I’ll return as quickly as I can,’ she said.
Mack was taken aback by the media crowded outside the prison awaiting her release on Friday: ‘Oh my God, you are crazy,’ she said as she left.
Lili, the prison chief warden, who goes by a single name, said that Mack was overjoyed at being released and also frightened, crying and almost fainting.
‘All prisoners must be happy once they can leave the prison, including Heather,’ Lili said.
‘She felt happy, a little bit shocked, doubt, and a little bit worried when she found out she would leave the prison. But we tried to calm her down. She cried when she said goodbye to her friends inside.’
Wearing jeans and a t-shirt, with an orange safety vest on top, Mack was greeted by friends outside the prison, including the woman who raised her daughter.
She reportedly had a troubled relationship with her mother, with officials in the U.S. confirming that police had been called to the family’s Oak Park, Illinois home dozens of times.
Von Wiese-Mack repeatedly filed and eventually dropped charges against her daughter throughout her teenage years. At one point, Mack spent a week in the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center in 2010 and placed on psychiatric holds due to her violent outbursts.
Mack dropped out of high school in 2014 and became pregnant while dating Schaefer, an unemployed aspiring rapper. Von Wiese-Mack reportedly booked the Bali vacation in an attempt to convince her daughter to terminate her pregnancy.
Bali police said the hotel’s surveillance camera showed that Mack and Schaefer had argued with the girl’s mother in the lobby shortly before the killing, which allegedly took place inside a room in the hotel.
The young couple allegedly plotted to murder von Wiese-Mack and split her $1.6million estate. Mack has since settled a legal battle with her mother’s estate and will not receive ‘any property, benefit, or other interest.’
The sole beneficiary on von Wiese-Mack’s estate will be Mack’s daughter.
Schaefer testified in court that von Wiese-Mack was angry at him when she learned about her daughter´s pregnancy. He said she insulted him and Mack, wanted her to get an abortion and strangled him in a heated argument before he beat her to death with a fruit bowl.
Prosecutors said Mack hid in the bathroom during the attack but later helped stuff her mother’s body in the suitcase by sitting on it to enable Schaefer to close it.
Later video from the corridor showed Mack bringing a cart to move the suitcase and Schaefer carrying the suitcase to the cart. Video also showed the couple talking to a taxi driver. The two allegedly abandoned the suitcase in a taxi and left through the hotel’s back door.
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