Heather Mack pleads guilty to conspiring in mother's 2014 Bali suitcase murder

Nearly nine years after the brutal murder of her mother in Indonesia, Heather Mack pleaded guilty Friday to federal charges related to the August 2014 killing of Sheila von Wiese-Mack.

Mack stood before U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly in orange jail garb and orange slippers as he asked her questions before she was set to enter a plea. She spoke confidently and calmly as the judge asks her that she was giving up her rights to remain silent at the motion hearing. "Yes, your honor," she responded from a podium.

After the judge explained the charge against her, Mack pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to kill a U.S. national.

Mack, 27, was convicted in Indonesia in 2015 of being an accessory to Sheila von Wiese-Mack’s murder with her then-boyfriend in a bid to gain access to a $1.5 million trust fund. Mack, then 18 and pregnant, covered her mother’s mouth in a hotel room while Tommy Schaefer bludgeoned Wiese-Mack with a fruit bowl, prosecutors say.

Mack, who lived with her mother in suburban Chicago’s Oak Park, served seven years of her 10-year Indonesian sentence. She was then deported in 2021 and U.S. agents arrested her immediately after she landed at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

Schaefer was convicted of murder and remains in Indonesia, where he is serving an 18-year sentence. He is charged in the same U.S. indictment.

Mack gave birth to her daughter, Estelle Schaefer, during her Indonesian trial. Mack was released from prison there more than six years later, in October 2021, and authorities deported Mack and her daughter back to the United States.


"You never feel good about pleading guilty," said Mack's attorney Mike Leonard. "You always want your day in court. We obviously believe that serving a 10-year, which turned out to be a seven-year sentence in Indonesia under pretty Draconian conditions is more than enough."

Mack's daughter was placed in the care of a relative after a custody fight.

Heather Mack, 19, of the United States looks on in jail after her verdict hearing on April 21, 2015 in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia. An Indonesian judge has sentenced Heather Mack to 10 years and her boyfriend Tommy Schaefer to 18 years in jail after th

In successfully arguing against bond for Mack, prosecutors said she and Schaefer had planned the killing for months. They also said they had video evidence that showed both Mack and Schaefer trying to get the suitcase with Wiese-Mack’s body inside it into an Indonesian taxicab.

The judge set a Dec. 18 sentencing date for Mack. Her plea deal calls for a sentence of no more than 28 years.

The Associated Press and the Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.