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Teen Accused of Mom's Murder in Bali Not a 'Crazy, Cold-Blooded Killer,' Says Lawyer

Sheila von Wiese-Mack died of asphyxiation due to a broken nose. Her daughter, who says she's pregnant, faces death by firing squad.

Teen Accused of Mom's Murder in Bali Not a 'Crazy, Cold-Blooded Killer,' Says Lawyer

Caption: Sheila von Wiese-Mack | Heather Mack at the Bali police station


The 19-year-old Oak Park woman accused of killing her mom in Bali faces the possibility of execution by firing squad — and she’s told authorities she’s pregnant.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports police believe the murder at the St. Regis Hotel, a posh resort, was premeditated and particularly brutal. But if Heather Mack is pregnant, that would complicate imposition of the death penalty.

Sheila von Wiese-Mack, 62, died of asphyxiation, according to autopsy results released Saturday, after a blow to her nose blocked her airway, the newspaper reports. Bones in her back were also broken.

NBC Chicago reported Saturday morning that Heather Mack and her boyfriend, 21-year-old Tommy Schaefer, also of Oak Park, passed psychiatric tests to determine their sanity and could face trial within three months. Murder charges were filed Friday.

“This is premeditated murder. Why? Because we can see how they put the body in the suitcase,” Bali police chief inspector general Albertus Julius Benny Mokalu told AU News.

Mack and Schaefer, who met at Oak Park-River Forest High School, each requested an American lawyer, NBC reported. Mack must be examined by doctors to confirm the pregnancy claim.

Von Wiese-Mack’s dead body was stuffed into a suitcase and put into a taxi. Authorities found a vase with blood on it in the hotel. They also found bloody sheets and towels, and police said blood was mopped up from the floor of the hotel room.

Initially, Mack and Schaefer told police a gang killed von Wiese-Mack and that they had escaped from the gang’s clutches.

Authorities say Mack and Schaefer are not cooperative in their interviews and have not explained why Schaefer and von Wiese-Mack were arguing the day before her body was found — an argument caught on video tape in the hotel lobby. Various news reports suggest the two were arguing over who would pay for Schaefer’s hotel room.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Mack and Schaefer tried to get into von Wiese-Mack’s hotel safe deposit box to get their passports, but hotel officials refused.

Mack’s lawyer, Michael Elkin, already has spoken to his client. Elkin must find a lawyer in Bali to represent his client. Schaefer is still waiting on his attorney.

“She claims to be innocent and I have some corroborating evidence,” Elkin told the Chicago Sun-Times. “This is becoming a fiasco. My client was portrayed as a psycho or some crazy cold-blooded killer.

“There’s more than meets the eye.”

The Sydney Morning Herald asked police to confirm reports that the couple had sex in the hotel room after the murder, but police declined to discuss the matter.

Police are keeping Mack and Schaefer separated so they cannot confer about their stories.

The FBI dispatched an agent to Bali to assist police in the investigation. The U.S. State Department said it is monitoring the proceedings.

According to a Sun-Times timeline of events, von Wiese-Mack and Heather arrived in Bali on Aug. 4. They moved from one hotel to the St. Regis, a five-star luxury beach resort, on Saturday, Aug. 9, and the teen’s boyfriend checked in on Monday. Schaefer and the mother argued on Monday. On Tuesday, the couple brought the suitcase to a taxi and said they would return to depart the hotel. A few hours passed. The taxi driver and hotel officials found blood on the suitcase. Hotel employees told the taxi driver to take the suitcase to police, who pried it open and found the body. Authorities tracked the coupled to another hotel the next day, where they found them sleeping, and took them into custody.

Heather Mack’s father, the composer-conductor James Mack, died in 2006. Mother and daughter continued to live in Oak Park at a home on Linden Avenue until 2013, when von Wiese-Mack moved to a Gold Coast condominium. Von Wiese-Mack would take her daughter on exotic vacations every year.

Their neighbors told the Chicago Sun-Times that mother and daughter fought often. Oak Park officials confirmed earlier this week that police were called to the home 86 times in the last decade to deal with the squabbles and complaints. Mack was arrested once, in December 2011 after a fight with her mother, on domestic battery, aggravated battery and battery charges, according to Cook County juvenile records reviewed by the Chicago Tribune.

Von Wiese-Mack tried for years to repair her troubled relationship with her daughter, according to a report in Saturday’s Tribune, seeking help from “teachers, therapists, doctors, attorneys, neighbors, even the most casual of friends. She wanted their advice and insights, anything to help put her daughter, Heather, on a healthier path.”


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