clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Bali police conclude investigation into death of Chicago woman

BALI, Indonesia — Indonesian police said Monday that they completed an investigation of a Chicago area couple accused of battering the woman’s mother to death and stuffing her body into a suitcase at an upscale Bali resort.

State prosecutor Eddy Arta Wijaya said police formally handed over their investigation to prosecutors on Monday. Prosecutors have 20 days to decide whether to formally charge the couple and bring the case to court. If the couple is found guilty, they could be sentenced to death by firing squad.

Heather Mack, 19, and her boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, 21, have been in custody since the badly beaten body of Sheila von Wiese-Mack, 62, was discovered in a blood-smeared suitcase that had been left in the trunk of a taxi last August.

The couple hired the cab outside the St. Regis Bali Resort, placed the suitcase in the trunk and then wandered off, authorities said.

Police say the couple had argued with her in a hotel lobby shortly before the killing, which is alleged to have taken place inside a room at the hotel.

In September, Indonesian authorities alleged that Schaefer confessed to killing von Wiese-Mack, who is the widow of the acclaimed jazz and classical composer James L. Mack.

But Thomas Durkin, a Chicago-based lawyer who says he is representing Schaefer, has said no such confession was given.

Oak Park police reports and Cook County court records show von Wiese-Mack struggled to handle her daughter, whom she had a volatile relationship with — especially after the death of James L. Mack, who died in 2006 at age 76.

The records suggest Mack’s poor health before his death had a lasting impact on his daughter, whom he had doted on before falling ill.

But even before his death, police were being called to the Macks’ Oak Park home. Since January 2004, police were called to the home 86 times, often to deal with Heather Mack ’s violence toward her mother.

The two allegedly quarreled over homework, chores — and the mother’s accusations that her daughter stole cash and credit cards, according to police reports.

As recently as July, police were called after von Wiese-Mack discovered suspicious credit card charges billed to Conrad Chicago Hotel on Rush Street.

At the hotel, Chicago Police found Heather Mack and Schaefer partying with seven others in an eighth-floor room charged to the credit card.

Since their arrest, Mack, who is six months pregnant, and Schaefer have been held in separate cells.

On Monday, the couple met in a small cell at the prosecutors’ office while waiting for the transfer process. They kissed and cuddled, and Schaefer stroked Mack’s belly several times.

“My baby is a girl, she is fine,” Mack told reporters from her cell. “I want her to stay in Bali so she can visit me anytime while I’m in jail.”

Bali police Col. Djoko Hariutomo said that officers had questioned 12 witnesses and that their case included information from the FBI.

Officers brought the physical evidence to the prosecutors in large sacks, including the iron grip of a fruit bowl alleged to be the weapon used in the slaying and several computer hard drives containing hotel surveillance camera videos.

A Chicago-based attorney for Heather Mack, Michael Elkin, declined Monday to discuss the investigation. But Elkin said in a statement that Mack has told him that Indonesian authorities have treated her “with decency and in a humane manner.”

Durkin, the attorney for Schaefer, told the Sun-Times he was aware the investigation was ending.

Contributing: Brian Slodysko and Jon Seidel