Heather Mack, convicted in Bali of killing mom and stuffing body in suitcase, pleads guilty in US

by Chloe Baker
0 comment
suitcase murder

Heather Mack, who was convicted in Bali for the murder of her mother and the subsequent concealment of the body in a suitcase, has entered a guilty plea in a federal court in Chicago. Her defense attorney expressed hope that this plea would help her avoid a life sentence behind bars.

Mack, at the age of 18 and pregnant at the time, has pleaded guilty to conspiring with her then-boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, to kill Sheila von Wiese-Mack in order to gain access to a $1.5 million trust fund. According to prosecutors, Mack suffocated her mother by covering her mouth in a hotel room while Schaefer bludgeoned her with a fruit bowl.

The change-of-plea hearing marks another significant development in a widely publicized case, partly due to the infamous photographs of the suitcase, which appeared too small to contain an adult woman’s body.

Now 27 years old, Mack appeared composed and self-assured in her orange prison attire and slippers. Occasionally brushing her hair away from her eyes, she responded to the judge’s inquiries, acknowledging that she understood she was waiving her right to remain silent during the hearing.

When asked if she fully comprehended the plea agreement negotiated with the prosecutors over the preceding weeks, Mack hesitated before assuring the U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly of her understanding.

“Yes, your honor,” she responded.

As part of the plea agreement, two other charges against Mack will be dropped upon completion of the sentencing process. Schaefer, who was convicted of murder and is currently serving an 18-year sentence in Indonesia, faces additional charges in the same U.S. indictment.

Following the hearing, family members of Wiese-Mack released a statement expressing their relief that the mastermind behind Sheila’s murder had admitted her guilt.

“We will continue to be Sheila’s voice throughout the sentencing process to ensure true justice is served,” they affirmed.

The plea agreement stipulates a maximum sentence of 28 years, but Judge Kennelly has not yet decided whether to accept this proposed sentencing cap. If he rejects it, Mack would have the option to retract her plea, leading to new discussions or a trial. The judge has scheduled the sentencing for December 18.

An unresolved matter arising from pre-hearing negotiations between the prosecution and defense was whether the years Mack spent in an Indonesian prison for her 2015 conviction as an accessory to Wiese-Mack’s murder would be deducted from any sentence imposed by Judge Kennelly in the United States.

Mack, who resided with her mother in Oak Park, a suburb of Chicago, served seven years of her ten-year Indonesian sentence. She was deported in 2021 and immediately arrested by U.S. authorities upon her arrival at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

Mack’s attorney, Michael Leonard, informed reporters that her decision to plead guilty stemmed, in part, from her desire to avoid a life sentence, which would be off the table if the judge approves the plea deal.

During sentencing, Leonard plans to present evidence demonstrating Mack’s personal growth and her role as “a fantastic mother” to her and Schaefer’s daughter, who was born in Indonesia following her arrest.

“She is a different person from who she was,” Leonard asserted. “She has undergone personal development.”

At the time of Mack’s arrest in Chicago, her then-six-year-old daughter was accompanying her. After a custody battle, the child was eventually placed with a relative.

Leonard highlighted that Mack had the opportunity to spend time with her daughter while serving her Indonesian sentence and that reuniting with her child is her top priority.

“The most important thing for her is to be reunited with her daughter,” he emphasized.

Prosecutors successfully argued against granting Mack bail in 2021 by asserting that she and Schaefer had meticulously planned the murder for several months. They also cited video evidence showing both defendants attempting to transport the suitcase containing Wiese-Mack’s body in an Indonesian taxi.

Certain relatives of Wiese-Mack voiced dissatisfaction with the leniency of the Indonesian sentence. In legal filings, prosecutors maintained that the U.S. charges do not violate constitutional protections against double jeopardy since they allege conspiracy and other acts not covered by the Indonesian case.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about suitcase murder

What was Heather Mack accused of?

Heather Mack was accused of helping to kill her mother and stuffing her body in a suitcase during a luxury vacation to Bali.

What charges did Heather Mack plead guilty to?

Heather Mack pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to kill her mother, Sheila von Wiese-Mack, with her then-boyfriend in order to gain access to a $1.5 million trust fund.

What is the potential sentence Heather Mack could face?

Under the plea agreement, Heather Mack could face a sentence of no more than 28 years. However, the judge has not yet decided whether to accept this proposed sentencing cap.

What happened to Tommy Schaefer, Heather Mack’s then-boyfriend?

Tommy Schaefer, Heather Mack’s then-boyfriend, was convicted of murder and is currently serving an 18-year sentence in Indonesia. He is also charged in the same U.S. indictment.

What was the significance of the suitcase in this case?

The case gained international attention partly due to the infamous photographs of the suitcase, which appeared too small to hold an adult woman’s body. The size of the suitcase became a notable aspect of the case’s media coverage.

Will the time Heather Mack spent in an Indonesian prison be considered in her U.S. sentence?

The decision on whether the years Heather Mack spent in an Indonesian prison for her accessory conviction will be subtracted from her U.S. sentence has not been finalized. It remains an unresolved issue discussed during the plea negotiations.

What impact did Heather Mack’s plea have on the possibility of a life sentence?

Heather Mack’s decision to plead guilty was motivated, in part, by her desire to avoid a life sentence. If the judge approves the plea deal, a life sentence would be off the table as a potential punishment.

More about suitcase murder

You may also like

Leave a Comment


BNB – Big Big News is a news portal that offers the latest news from around the world. BNB – Big Big News focuses on providing readers with the most up-to-date information from the U.S. and abroad, covering a wide range of topics, including politics, sports, entertainment, business, health, and more.

Editors' Picks

Latest News

© 2023 BBN – Big Big News