Heather Mack, convicted in mother’s murder in Bali, plans to plead guilty in US, attorney says

Jun 1, 2023, 11:54 AM

CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago woman facing federal conspiracy charges in the 2014 killing of her mother during a luxury vacation in Bali plans to plead guilty, her attorney said Thursday.

The details of any plea agreement or potential penalties under discussion by Heather Mack and U.S. prosecutors remain unclear. Her attorney, Michael Leonard, said Mack’s defense has been in negotiations with federal prosecutors “over the last several weeks” ahead of her trial set to begin Aug. 1.

“We anticipate that the parties will be in a position to enter a written plea agreement, and proceed with a change of plea hearing on June 15,” Leonard said in an email.

The Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times reported that prosecutors also told a judge Thursday they expect Mack will plead guilty but the parties were still negotiating.

A representative for the office of the U.S. Attorney of the Northern District of Illinois did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Mack was convicted in Indonesia in 2015 of being an accessory to her mother’s murder, served seven years of her original 10-year sentence and then was deported back to the U.S. along with her then-six-year-old daughter. The violent case drew international attention.

The body of Sheila von Wiese-Mack was found stuffed into a suitcase, which had been left in the trunk of a taxi. Mack, who was 19 and a few weeks pregnant, and her then-boyfriend Tommy Schaefer were arrested at a hotel about 6 miles (10 kilometers) from the hotel where her mother’s body was discovered.

Schaefer was convicted of murder and is still imprisoned in Indonesia.

Federal agents arrested Mack when she arrived at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport in November 2021 on the U.S. charges, accusing her of conspiring with her former boyfriend to kill her mother while on vacation in Bali.

Legal experts have said the allegations involve two countries with their own laws and jurisdiction, which doesn’t violate the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on prosecuting someone twice for the same acts.

U.S. prosecutors say text messages, surveillance video and other evidence from the Indonesian cases show Mack and Schaefer planned von Wiese-Mack’s killing for months and cleaned up her body and the hotel’s bloody linens together.

According to a court document filed by the U.S. prosecutors, a relative who visited Schaefer and Mack while they awaited trial in Indonesia later told authorities that the couple said Schaefer hit von Wiese-Mack with a fruit bowl and Mack covered her mother’s mouth with her hand.

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Heather Mack, convicted in mother’s murder in Bali, plans to plead guilty in US, attorney says