Woman charged in suitcase murder case to remain locked up

Posted at 10:31 PM, November 10, 2021 and last updated 9:39 AM, June 8, 2023

By DON BABWIN Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago woman arrested in the U.S. last week on a murder conspiracy charge in the 2014 slaying of her mother in Indonesia will remain locked up after her attorney waived a detention hearing Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle agreed to waive the hearing in which attorneys would have argued over whether Heather Mack should be allowed to post bond. Mack, who served seven years behind bars in Indonesia for killing Sheila von Wiese-Mack, sat in the courtroom wearing a orange jail-issued jump suit and shackled at the ankles.

FILE – Heather Mack of Chicago, Ill., center, is mobbed by reporters as she arrives in the courtroom for her sentencing hearing at a district court in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, April 21, 2015. Mack, who served more than seven years in an Indonesian prison for killing her mother at a luxury resort in Bali has been indicted on federal murder conspiracy charges and taken into custody by FBI agents at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago on Wednesday Nov. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati, File)

Norgle said Mack’s attorney can request another hearing at any time, but if no other hearing is scheduled she will remain in federal custody at least until her next court appearance on Jan. 18.

Attorney Keith Spielfogel did not explain his reasons for deciding against a detention hearing and Mack did not say anything other than to confirm that she did not wish to make a statement.

In an indictment unsealed last week, Mack, 26, and her former boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, were charged with conspiring to commit murder in a foreign country and obstruction of justice in von Wiese-Mack’s killing. The maximum sentence on the murder conspiracy charge is life in prison and the obstruction of justice charge carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence.

Schaefer remains in prison in Indonesia after being convicted of killing von Wiese-Mack at a luxury resort on Bali then stuffing her body in a suitcase that they left in the trunk of a taxi.

Mack was released after serving a little more than seven years of a 10-year sentence and quickly deported to the United States. She was arrested on arrival at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. Mack’s 6-year-old daughter, Stella, arrived in the U.S. with her and court records show that a Cook County judge issued an emergency order appointing one of Mack’s attorneys as the girl’s guardian.

Mack appeared in court later that day, where she pleaded not guilty to the charges. At the time, Norgle ordered that she remain in custody until the hearing scheduled for Wednesday.

According to the indictment, Mack and Schaefer exchanged messages about “how and when to kill” von Wiese-Mack, and tried to cover up the crime by removing the clothing they wore when they did it.