US Woman in Bali 'Suitcase Murder' Walks Free

Heather Mack of Chicago was arrested for helping her boyfriend kill her mother
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 6, 2021 11:40 AM CDT
Updated Oct 29, 2021 12:34 AM CDT
American in Bali 'Suitcase Murder' to Be Freed Years Early
In this April 21, 2015, file photo, Heather Mack of Chicago, center, is mobbed by reporters as she arrives in the courtroom for her sentencing hearing at a district court in Denpasar, in Bali, Indonesia.   (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati, File)

(Newser) Update: The Chicago woman who, along with her then-boyfriend, murdered her mother on Bali in 2014 and stuffed her body in a suitcase walked free Friday after serving seven years of a 10-year sentence, the AP reports. Heather Mack, now 26, was escorted through a crush of reporters outside the Kerobokan Female Prison in Denpasar, the Bali provincial capital, into a waiting car that took her to an immigration office near Bali’s international airport on Friday morning. She will wait in a detention room there until her flight back to the US. Our original story from Oct. 6 follows:

A Chicago woman convicted of assisting her boyfriend in her mother's murder and stuffing the body in a suitcase on Indonesia's resort island of Bali in 2014 is being released early from a 10-year sentence, a prison official confirmed Wednesday. Heather Mack, who was 18 when she was arrested a day after the discovery of Sheila von Wiese-Mack's body in the trunk of a taxi parked near the St. Regis Bali Resort, will be freed and deported to the US on Oct. 29, said Lili, the Kerobokan Female Prison chief. Lili, who goes by a single name, told the AP that Mack received a total of 34 months of sentence reductions, which are often granted to prisoners on major holidays, including a six-month sentence remission awarded to her by the Indonesian government during the country’s Independence Day in August.

"She has shown to be a good person, she was entitled to the sentence reduction," Lili said. "She looked happy when she learned this ... and began to pack up excitedly." Mack and her then-boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, were detained in August 2014 and convicted in April 2015. Schafer received an 18-year sentence. In 2016, Robert Bibbs, a cousin of Schaefer, pleaded guilty to helping plan the killing in exchange for $50,000 that Mack was expected to inherit, and was sentenced the next year to nine years in prison.

Before Mack was convicted, she gave birth to her and Schaefer's daughter, Stella Schaefer. Upon her release, Mack can under Indonesian law be reunited with her daughter, who's now 6. But her Indonesian attorney, Yulius Benyamin Seran, has said that Mack—who hasn't seen the little girl for about 20 months because authorities halted prison visits during the coronavirus pandemic—had asked Indonesian authorities to let the girl remain with her foster family to avoid media attention. (In 2017 Mack changed her story, claiming she, not Schaefer, was responsible for the murder.)

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