Pair Guilty of Killing Mom, Stuffing Her in Suitcase

Bali convicts Chicago couple of battering woman's mom to death on vacation
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 21, 2015 6:01 AM CDT
Pair Guilty of Killing Mom, Stuffing Her in Suitcase
Heather Mack of Chicago, center, carries her baby daughter as she arrives at the Denpasar District Court before her verdict trial in Bali, Indonesia, Tuesday, April 21, 2015.   (Firdia Lisnawati)

An Indonesian court found an American couple guilty of premeditated murder and sentenced them to prison today in the death of the woman's mother on the resort island of Bali. The Denpasar District Court sentenced Tommy Schaefer to 18 years in prison and Heather Mack to 10 years for intentionally killing Sheila von Wiese-Mack while vacationing last August. The body was found in a suitcase inside the trunk of a taxi at the St. Regis Bali Resort. The three-judge panel said it decided to be lenient toward Mack, 19, because she recently gave birth to the couple's daughter. The court ruled that Schaefer, 21, was guilty of battering von Wiese-Mack to death in a hotel room, and that his girlfriend helped with the Aug. 12 killing.

Schaefer and Mack, both from Chicago, were tried separately in the same court. They were arrested a day after the battered body of von Wiese-Mack, 62, was found in the suitcase. Premeditated murder carries a maximum penalty of death. The presiding judge described Schaefer's deeds as sadistic but said his politeness and remorse during the trial resulted in a lighter sentence. Schaefer testified that von Wiese-Mack was angry when she learned of her daughter's pregnancy and tried to strangle him, prompting him to strike her with a metal fruit bowl. Prosecutors said Mack helped Schaefer stuff her mother's body into the suitcase by sitting on it. They then placed the suitcase in the trunk of a taxi and told the driver they were going to check out and would return, but never did. (More Bali stories.)

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