Bali: “suitcase killer” released from prison

An American woman convicted with her boyfriend for killing her mother and stuffing the body in a suitcase at a luxury hotel in Bali was released from prison on Friday.

In the notorious case, then-teenage Heather Mack was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2015, while her boyfriend Tommy Schaefer was sentenced to 18 years for the murder of Chicago socialite Sheila von Wiese Mack on the Indonesian vacation island.

Schaefer beat the 62-year-old victim to death with a bowl of fruit during a heated argument at the five-star St. Regis resort, before the couple abandoned the suitcase containing the beaten body in a taxi and fled.

Mack, who was pregnant at the time of the crime, was convicted of a lesser charge of assisting murder.

Now 25, she was released from Kerobokan Prison in Bali on Friday, the head of the prison’s women’s section said, saying Mack was granted early release for good behavior.

“Heather is totally free,” said prison director Lili, who, like many Indonesians, has only one name.

“When she was released she was a little shocked and moved. She hesitated and was afraid, but we comforted her.”

Wearing sunglasses and an orange prison vest, Mack, who was 19 at the time of his conviction, was turned over to immigration officials pending deportation to the United States.

Bali’s immigration office declined to comment on her case or say when she would be repatriated by plane.

It was not immediately clear whether Mack’s now six-year-old daughter, who was raised in a foster home in Bali, would also be deported at the same time.

Earlier, Mack’s lawyer had told AFP that she did not want her daughter to be deported and “harassed by the (American) media”.

Since the pandemic, Mack – who is now fluent in Indonesian and Balinese – has had only video contact with his daughter, the prison official said on Friday.

The 2014 murder rocked the usually calm holiday island, with details of the grisly murder emerging during the closely watched trial.

The court heard how the badly beaten body of von Wiese Mack was discovered in the taxi outside the luxurious hotel where she was staying with her daughter and Schaefer.

The couple had fled to another part of Bali, where police arrested them.

Schaefer, who remained in prison, confessed to the murder during his trial, but claimed he was defending himself in an argument with von Wiese Mack, who was unhappy his 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 insult at Schaefer, who is black.

During the attack, Mack hid in a bathroom but then helped Schaefer stuff the body into a suitcase, the lawsuit has learned.

bur-dsa-pb / jah

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