DENPASAR: An American woman convicted with her boyfriend of killing her mother and stuffing the body in a suitcase at a luxury Bali hotel is to be freed from prison early, her lawyer said yesterday. In 2015, teenager Heather Mack was handed a 10-year jail term while her boyfriend Tommy Schaefer got 18 years for the murder of Chicago socialite Sheila von Wiese Mack on the Indonesian holiday island. Schaefer beat the 62-year-old victim to death with a fruit bowl during a heated argument at the five-star St Regis resort, before the couple abandoned the suitcase containing the battered body in a taxi, and fled.
Mack, who was pregnant at the time of the crime, was found guilty on a lesser charge of assisting in the murder. The woman, now 25, was set to be released from Bali’s Kerobokan prison in October, about three years early, her lawyer said, citing sentence reductions due to good behavior. “Her sentence will be completed in October… and then she’ll be completely free,” Yulius Benyamin Seran told AFP, without giving a specific release date. Mack, who was 19 at the time of her conviction, would face deportation back to the United States following her release, he added.
But she wanted to stay in Indonesia to care for her six-year-old daughter, who was being raised in a Bali foster home. “She doesn’t want her daughter deported back to the US… and hounded by the media,” Seran said. Indonesian prison officials declined to comment on Mack’s release date. In 2014, von Wiese Mack’s badly beaten body was discovered in the taxi, outside the ritzy hotel where she had been staying with her daughter and Schaefer. The couple had fled to another part of Bali, where police arrested them.
Schaefer confessed to the killing during his trial but claimed he was defending himself during an argument with von Wiese Mack, who was unhappy that her daughter was pregnant. Prosecutors alleged that Schaefer “blindly hit” von Wiese Mack with the fruit bowl in a fit of rage after she hurled a racial slur at him. Schaefer is black. While her mother was being murdered, Mack hid in the bathroom and the couple then stuffed the body into the suitcase together, the trial heard. – AFP