Woman Pleads Guilty to Murder Conspiracy

5 months ago

An Illinois woman pleaded guilty today for her role in a conspiracy to murder her mother while they vacationed in Bali, Indonesia, in August 2014. 

According to court documents, Heather Mack, 27, originally from Chicago, and her boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, conspired to kill Mack’s mother while Mack and her mother vacationed in Bali. Mack arranged for Schaefer to travel to Bali using her mother’s credit card. After Schaefer arrived, Mack and Schaefer exchanged a series of text messages about how and when to kill Mack’s mother, which included a discussion about suffocating or beating the victim. Shortly after these text messages were exchanged, on Aug. 12, 2014, Schaefer entered her mother’s hotel room and, while Mack was present, brutally beat and killed Mack’s mother. Mack and Schaefer then placed the victim’s body into a suitcase and tried to leave the hotel in a taxi. When the driver of the taxi refused to accept their fare, Mack told hotel employees that she was going to go call her mother. Mack and Schaefer then fled the hotel and abandoned the suitcase containing the victim’s body in the taxicab. Mack and Schaefer were arrested by Indonesian police at another hotel in Bali the day after the murder.

In 2015, Mack and Schaefer were convicted in Indonesia of local criminal charges related to the murder. Mack was sentenced to 10 years in prison and released after serving seven years. Schaefer was sentenced to 18 years in prison and currently remains imprisoned in Indonesia. In November 2021, upon arrival in the United States, Mack was arrested on U.S. federal charges relating to the murder. Schaefer was also charged in the U.S. indictment, and those charges remain pending against him.

Mack pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to kill a U.S. national. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 18 and faces a maximum penalty of 28 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Morris Pasqual for the Northern District of Illinois, and Special Agent in Charge Robert W. “Wes” Wheeler Jr. of the FBI Chicago Field Office made the announcement.

Senior Trial Attorney Frank Rangoussis of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Marie Ursini for the Northern District of Illinois are prosecuting the case. 

Valuable assistance was provided by the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, as well as the FBI Legal Attaché Office in Jakarta, Indonesia. 

An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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