Heather Mack was 'directly involved' in mother’s murder, should stay in jail: feds

Federal prosecutors opposing the release of onetime Chicago socialite Heather Mack said Monday that the 27-year-old not only conspired to have her mother killed overseas in 2014 — but that she "was directly involved in her mother’s murder."

They said Mack and her onetime boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, once explained to a relative of Schaefer’s how Sheila von Wiese-Mack was killed in an Indonesian hotel room. The pair allegedly said that Schaefer hit the 62-year-old Oak Park woman with a fruit bowl and that Mack covered her mother’s mouth with her hand.

In a recorded call, the relative purportedly asked Mack why she covered von Wiese-Mack’s mouth. Mack allegedly explained that her mother had to die because Schaefer would have been in even bigger trouble if she survived.

Those allegations appeared in a 15-page court filing Monday in which the feds asked U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly to reject a request from Mack for release while she awaits trial for conspiring to have her mother killed in Indonesia.


The judge is expected to consider the request during a hearing Thursday at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse. Mack’s attorneys insist she poses no danger to the community and is not a flight risk.

For now, Mack is being held in the downtown Metropolitan Correctional Center. Her request came just days after a Cook County judge ordered Mack’s 7-year-old daughter, Estelle Schaefer, into the temporary care of a maternal cousin of Mack’s.

Prosecutors said von Wiese-Mack’s autopsy report documented signs of asphyxiation, in addition to more than a dozen blows to her head and defensive wounds to her right and left lower arms.

The feds pointed to the well-documented allegations that Mack had been violent toward her mother in the years leading up to the killing, as well as the giddy text messages Mack and Schaefer allegedly traded in the moments before von Wiese-Mack died at the St. Regis Bali Resort.

They also said a proposed third-party custodian, a family friend who lives in California, "is not suitable" and has said she was not willing to post money or property toward bond. Though the person is not named in court filings, Mack has said she hopes to live with Diana Roque Ellis of California.

Von Wiese-Mack’s body was discovered in a suitcase left outside the St. Regis Bali Resort on Aug. 12, 2014, kicking off what has been a nearly decade-long international legal drama.

Mack and Schaefer were arrested and convicted in Indonesia. Schaefer was sentenced to 18 years in prison for beating von Wiese-Mack to death, and Mack was sentenced to 10 years for helping. During their 2015 trial, she gave birth to their daughter, known as Stella.

Mack served about seven years in Indonesia before she was released and deported with her daughter to the United States. As their flight neared O’Hare Airport in November 2021, an indictment was unsealed in U.S. District Court in Chicago that charged Mack and Schaefer with conspiring to kill von Wiese-Mack.

Mack is now set to go on trial July 31.