Bali Suitcase Killer Heather Mack Faces Potential 28-Year Sentence in Chicago Murder Case

CHICAGO — U.S. prosecutors in Chicago are seeking a 28-year prison sentence for Heather Mack, a woman who was involved in the brutal killing of her mother at a luxury resort in Bali. Mack has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to kill a United States national for her mother’s slaying in 2014.

In 2014, an Indonesian court found Mack guilty of holding Sheila von Wiese’s mouth shut as her boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, beat her to death. The pair then stuffed her body into a suitcase at the St. Regis hotel and left it in a taxi.

“The murder of von Wiese at the hands of the defendant and Schaefer was vicious,” federal prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo earlier this week. “The evidence indicates von Wiese struggled to stay alive, meaning that, in the last moments of her life, she realized that her daughter, and only child, was responsible for her death.”

Mack’s lawyers are seeking a sentence of 15 years maximum with time served credit for her Indonesian incarceration, arguing it would be “unwarranted” to keep her in prison longer after co-conspirator Robert Bibbs received a nine-year sentence for helping to plot the murder.

The prosecution has recovered text messages between Mack and Schaefer in which they coordinated the murder and fantasized about how to spend the money. An autopsy found defensive wounds on von Wiese’s body and determined she died of blunt force trauma that fractured her nose and jaw and obstructed her airway.

Mack was released after serving seven years of her 10-year Indonesian sentence and deported to the U.S., where police arrested her as soon as she arrived. Schaefer is still in prison overseas.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has argued that a lengthy sentence is necessary to hold Mack accountable for her crime, while Mack’s defense team argues for a shorter sentence, taking into account the time she has already served.