Back in Chicago, Woman Is Charged in Killing of Mother on Indonesian Vacation

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Heather L. Mack, 26, had already served much than six years successful situation successful Indonesia for the 2014 sidesplitting of her mother, whose assemblage was recovered successful a suitcase astatine a Bali resort.

Heather L. Mack was escorted by Indonesian migration  officials aft  she was released from situation  successful  Bali connected  Friday.
Credit...Made Nagi/EPA, via Shutterstock

Nov. 3, 2021, 10:56 p.m. ET

It was a homecoming of sorts erstwhile Heather L. Mack arrived astatine O’Hare International Airport successful Chicago connected Wednesday aft having served much than six years successful an Indonesian situation aft the find of her mother’s assemblage stuffed successful a suitcase astatine a Bali resort.

Ms. Mack, 26, was promptly taken into custody by national agents.

Later connected Wednesday, she appeared successful a national courtroom to look U.S. charges successful the 2014 sidesplitting of her mother, Sheila A. Von Wiese, 62, the affluent widow of a Chicago composer. The charges — 1 number of conspiracy to termination successful a overseas country, 1 number of conspiracy to perpetrate overseas execution of a U.S. nationalist and 1 number of obstruction — stem from a 2016 indictment returned by a expansive assemblage portion Ms. Mack was imprisoned successful Indonesia.

Federal prosecutors said the mounting for the execution was a tropical edifice successful Bali, wherever Ms. Mack, past successful her teens, traveled with her parent successful August 2014. A week into the trip, Ms. Mack arranged for her fellow astatine the time, Tommy E. Schaefer, to alert to Bali, and they aboriginal exchanged substance messages successful which they planned Ms. Von Wiese’s murder, according to the 2016 indictment, which was released by the U.S. attorney’s bureau for the Northern District of Illinois.

Mr. Schaefer had besides texted his relative Robert Ryan Justin Bibbs astir however to get distant with the crime, prosecutors said. Mr. Bibbs was sentenced successful 2017 to nine years successful prison aft helium pleaded blameworthy to a complaint of conspiracy to perpetrate overseas execution of a U.S. national.

When Mr. Bibbs pleaded guilty, helium told prosecutors that Ms. Mack had offered her fellow astir $50,000 to termination her parent aft she failed to termination Ms. Von Wiese herself. Mr. Bibbs told his relative astir antithetic ways to termination Ms. Von Wiese, including drowning and suffocation, prosecutors said.

Mr. Schaefer, who was tried and convicted successful Indonesia, killed Ms. Von Wiese successful a edifice country portion Ms. Mack was present, the indictment alleges. They past stuffed the assemblage into a suitcase and loaded it into the trunk of a taxi earlier fleeing the resort, prosecutors said successful 2017.

An Indonesian tribunal sentenced Ms. Mack to 10 years successful situation for aiding successful the murder, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. She was released aboriginal for bully behaviour and deported, her lawyer, Brian Claypool, said. Mr. Schaefer, present 28, is serving the remainder of an 18-year condemnation successful an Indonesian prison.

Although the motive for the execution was unclear, Mr. Schaefer expected to person millions of dollars aft the sidesplitting from Ms. Von Wiese’s estate, of which Mr. Bibbs expected to person a cut, Mr. Bibbs told prosecutors erstwhile helium pleaded guilty.

Ms. Von Wiese’s hubby and Ms. Mack’s father, James L. Mack, was a well-known composer who died successful 2006, according to The Chicago Tribune. The household was affluent and often took international trips. Ms. Mack and her parent had a hard relationship, and they often got into fights, she told successful a 2019 interrogation from situation successful Indonesia.

On Wednesday, Mr. Claypool called the charges against Ms. Mack “ridiculous” and said this was a lawsuit of treble jeopardy that they would contest.

The U.S. attorney’s bureau for the Northern District of Illinois did not instrumentality telephone calls seeking remark connected Wednesday.

There is besides the question of who volition person custody of Ms. Mack and Mr. Schaefer’s 6-year-old daughter, Stella, with whom Ms. Mack was large astatine the clip of the murder. An Indonesian foster parent named Oshar had raised the kid portion Ms. Mack was successful prison, Mr. Claypool said. The miss is present successful the impermanent custody of an unidentified idiosyncratic successful Chicago who is acquainted to the family, but Mr. Schaefer’s parent wants to person custody, Mr. Claypool said.

Ms. Mack’s lawsuit echoes the ordeal of Amanda Knox, an American who was arrested successful 2007 connected a survey overseas travel successful Italy and served situation time successful the decease of her roommate. The lawsuit attracted aggravated media attraction for years connected some sides of the Atlantic arsenic radical debated Ms. Knox’s imaginable relation successful the murder. An Italian tribunal acquitted her successful 2015.

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