Heather Mack, who was convicted of stuffing her mom’s beaten body in a suitcase in Bali when she was a teen, was arrested by federal agents on Wednesday just moments after landing in Chicago O’Hare Airport.
She was charged in a 2017 indictment with two counts of conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country, and obstruction of justice, in connection with the 2014 murder of her mom, Sheila von Wiese-Mack, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The indictment, unsealed Wednesday, alleges that Mack and her then-boyfriend, Tommy Schaeffer, planned part of the murder while they were still in Chicago, including exchanging text messages that appeared to hint at their intentions, even calling themselves “Bonnie and Clyde.”
The arrest was anticipated by Mack’s lawyers after she was released from prison in Indonesia on Friday after serving seven years of a 10-year prison sentence.
In August 2014, the beaten body of Mack’s 62-year-old mother was found in the trunk of a taxi outside the ritzy St Regis resort in Bali. The next day, Mack, 18 at the time and pregnant, was arrested for assisting her 21-year-old boyfriend in killing Wiese-Mack and stuffing her body in a suitcase in order to access Mack’s $1.5 million trust fund.
Mack’s daughter, Stella Schaefer, was born shortly before her parents were convicted in 2015. She spent the first two years of her life with her mom in a jail cell before she was handed over to a foster parent who took custody of her until Mack’s release.
Mack’s legal team had filed an emergency court order to ensure that Stella wouldn’t be snapped up by child protective services when she arrived back in the U.S. this week.
Stella was originally supposed to fly with Mack and her guardian to Los Angeles, and stay with family in Beverly Hills. But the Chicago Tribune reported that those plans were dashed when the FBI told Mack she had to travel to Chicago alone and make separate arrangements for her daughter. According to court records, a probate judge appointed family attorney Vanessa Favia as Stella’s guardian.
As for Mack, her attorney Brian Claypool told the Chicago Tribune that he believes U.S. authorities are only trying to prosecute her here because they think her 10-year sentence in Indonesia was too lenient.
“They’re thinking, ‘We need to be punitive and pound Heather into the dirt and put her through another trial,’” Claypool said. “Well, they’re gonna be in for a dogfight.”
Weise-Mack had planned the 2014 Bali trip in an effort to repair a tumultuous and at times violent relationship with her daughter, relatives said. (According to the Chicago Tribune, Mack’s mom had apparently filed complaints against Mack for battery and theft, among other claims.)
Hours before the murder, Mack’s boyfriend showed up at the mom-and-daughter island getaway. After quarreling with Weise-Mack in the hotel lobby, he beat her to death, prosecutors said.
Schaeffer claimed he killed Weise-Mack after she threatened to kill his and Mack’s unborn baby. He is serving an 18-year sentence.
Schaefer’s cousin, Robert Bibbs, 31, was separately charged by federal prosecutors in Chicago for aiding the couple in the murder in exchange for a portion of the multimillion-dollar estate. Bibbs is currently serving a nine-year sentence in Michigan.