Chicago Couple Sentenced in Bali for Murder of Mother

Tommy Schaefer (r) and Heather Mack (l) were convicted and sentenced in Bali for the murder of Sheila von Wiese-Mack.
Tommy Schaefer (r) and Heather Mack (l) were convicted and sentenced in Bali for the murder of Sheila von Wiese-Mack.

The Denpasar District Court in Indonesia, on Tuesday, handed down a conviction of “guilty” of premeditated murder to Chicago woman, Heather Mack, age 18, and her boyfriend,  Tommy Schaefer, age 21, and sentenced the Americans for the murder of Mack’s mother, Sheila Ann von Wiese-Mack in August. Wiese-Mack was the widow of jazz and classical composer, James L. Mack, who died in 2006 at the age of 76.

It was in August of 2014 that the three traveled to Indonesia on vacation. The mother, Wiese-Mack, did not approve of the relationship between the two, the court heard in testimony, and had threatened to kill the child, the defense stated.  Wiese-Mack was bludgeoned to death during their stay, when, according to Schaefer, Wiese-Mack attempted to strangle him in the hotel room and he hit her over the head with a metal fruit bowl. Schaefer said he was “distraught,” with his eyes watering,  he “started swinging” the fruit bowl.

The prosecution used text messages that the two had sent each other to show that the murder was premeditated. The prosecution also showed the court that Schaefer came to the room that the mother and daughter were sharing, with the fruit bowl that he would later use to kill her.

Afterward, the prosecutors contended, the two then stuffed the mother’s half naked body into a suitcase, placed the bloody suitcase into a garbage bag, and later loaded the suitcase into the trunk of a taxi at the St Regis Bali Resort. After telling the driver that they would return after checking out, the two instead disappeared. They were arrested the following day.

The Bali court sentenced Mack to 10 years in prison. Prosecutors had asked the court for a sentence of 15 years, but the court exhibited leniency to Mack. Mack had a month earlier, given birth to a baby girl while in prison awaiting trial. The Bali judge stated when handing down the sentence, “Her newborn baby badly needs a mother’s love and breastfeeding.”

Mack’s boyfriend, Schaefer, received the 18-year sentence that prosecutors were seeking in the case. Although Schaefer could have faced a firing squad for the shocking brutal beating death of Wiese-Mack, Judge Made Suweda said that Schaefer’s politeness and remorse in court contributed to the 18-year sentence that was handed down.

Following sentencing as the two were led away and loaded on a bus. Schaefer’s polite manner that he exhibited in court, disappeared as he swatted cameras away then when he was once on the bus, flipped off the cameramen and reporters.

After sentencing, Mack laughed and joked with reporters, after which, she too was loaded on the prison bus for the trip to the Kerobokan Prison.