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‘It’s gonna be a war’ if feds arrest Heather Mack when she returns to Chicago, attorney warns

Mack’s lawyer said she is due to land at O’Hare Airport around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday on a flight from Seoul. He said he expects Mack will at least be detained by federal authorities who may want to question her about the murder of Sheila von Wiese-Mack of Oak Park. 

In this file photo taken on January 21, 2015 Heather Mack waits inside a holding cell at a court in Denpasar on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali.
In this file photo taken on January 21, 2015 Heather Mack waits inside a holding cell at a court in Denpasar on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali.
Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP via Getty

With his client bound for Chicago for the first time since the 2014 murder of her mother in Bali, an attorney for Heather Mack warned “it’s gonna be a war” if federal authorities arrest the infamous Chicagoan who served a little more than seven years for the brutal crime.

“It’s gonna be a dog fight, because they are being punitive toward Heather,” attorney Brian Claypool told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Claypool said Mack was due to land at O’Hare Airport around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday on a flight from Seoul. He said he expects Mack will at least be detained by federal authorities for questioning about the murder of Sheila von Wiese-Mack of Oak Park.

But Claypool also said that “serving her with an arrest warrant seems to be on the table as well.” That’s because arrangements had originally been made for Mack to fly into Los Angeles following her release last week from an Indonesian prison, according to Claypool. He said the FBI contacted Mack a few days ago and told her she would be flying to Chicago.

“If the federal government wants to succumb to public pressure to put my client through a federal charge and potentially another federal trial, then you know we’re going to be arguing several constitutional violations,” Claypool said.

A spokesman for U.S. Attorney John Lausch could not immediately be reached for comment.

Claypool also said an emergency hearing was held in Cook County probate court Tuesday to make arrangements for Mack’s 6-year-old daughter, Stella. He said the woman who has served as Stella’s foster mother overseas is flying to Chicago, along with Mack and Stella.

He said a court order was secured that will allow a temporary guardian to take custody of Stella, if necessary, and he said the foster mother will be able to go with them.

Still, Claypool already has plans to challenge any charges filed against Mack. He said federal law prevents a U.S. citizen prosecuted in a foreign country from being prosecuted “for the same crime” in the United States. If prosecutors try to argue she is being charged here with a different crime, he said “we’re going to fight that to the bitter end.”

He also alleged the FBI helped Indonesian prosecutors access cell phones that contained evidence already used to convict Mack and her then-boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer.

Signs have long pointed to a possible U.S. prosecution if Mack returned home. Prosecutors here have said von Wiese-Mack was bludgeoned to death with the metal handle of a fruit stand so that Mack, Schaefer and Schaefer’s cousin, Robert Bibbs, could enrich themselves with the proceeds of von Wiese-Mack’s $1.5 million estate.

Von Wiese-Mack’s body was discovered inside a suitcase left in a taxi outside the St. Regis Bali Resort on Aug. 12, 2014.

Schaefer was sentenced overseas to 18 years in prison for battering von Wiese-Mack to death, and Mack was sentenced to 10 years for helping.

Bibbs was prosecuted in federal court in Chicago and sentenced to nine years in prison. Still, prosecutors wrote in 2017 that he was “significantly less culpable than Schaefer and Mack.”

Claypool said Tuesday that it “doesn’t matter. You can’t have two bites at the apple.”

Heather Mack, center, escorted by officers to an immigration detention center in Jimbaran, Bali, Indonesia, on Friday. Indonesian authorities on Tuesday announced that Mack, convicted of helping to kill her mother on Indonesia’s tourist island of Bali in 2014, left the island to be deported to the United States after serving seven years of a 10-year sentence.
Firdia Lisnawati/AP