Heather Mack, the woman who killed her mother in Bali with the help of her boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, was arrested immediately upon returning to the United States on Wednesday on charges of federal conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
Authorities arrested the Oak Park woman minutes after her plane from Indonesia touched down in Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, claiming that newly unsealed indictments from 2017 stated that Heather Mack was never tried in the U.S. for conspiracy to commit murder abroad, which could send her to prison in the U.S. for life.
Heather Mack already served seven years in an Indonesian prison for the murder and was expecting to return home to the U.S. and start a new life. She was shocked at what happened instead when they were bombarded by FBI agents.
“Little things like going to the grocery store, the park, and the swimming pool with Stella will be wonderful,” she said regarding plans she had to spend time with her 6-year-old daughter. “Even paying an electricity bill will be nice.”
Her boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, is still in prison in Indonesia with an 18-year sentence. Back in 2014, the two conspired together to murder Heather Mack’s mother, Sheila von Wiese-Mack, where she was later found on vacation in Bali, stuffed into her suitcase.
According to The Washington Post, Heather Mack’s father was jazz composer James L. Mack, and his daughter and Sheila had a very heated relationship that brought the police to their home 86 times over the course of a nine-year span between 2004 and 2013, before the murder.
After she returned to the U.S. seven years later on Wednesday, authorities argued that the couple were never charged in the U.S. with conspiracy for planning the murder, and obstruction of justice by taking a trip to Bali to commit the crime.
The indictment stated that the couple, while in the United States, “conspired with each other” to kill Mack’s mother, before flying off to a resort in Bali, Indonesia to commit the crime. The couple also allegedly, “corruptly destroyed, mutilated and concealed objects, and attempted to do so, with intent to impair the object’s integrity and availability for use in an official proceeding, by forcing the body of Sheila A. Von Wiese into a suitcase after she had been killed and removing the suitcase from the place of the murder, and by removing linens and items of clothing worn during the killing.”
Robert Ryan Justin Bibbs, the couple’s cousin, was also allegedly part of the scheme. Bibbs exchanged messages with Heather Mack and Tommy Schaefer detailing “different ways to kill Von Weise,” and pleaded guilty in 2016. He was sentenced to 9 years in a federal prison.
In court on Wednesday, Heather Mack pleaded not guilty to the new charges read against her in the United States.
Mack’s attorney, Brian Claypool, told CBS News Chicago that he was aware that she could be arrested after landing at O’Hare, but has denied the charges, stating that she already served her time in Indonesia.
“Heather has already faced a legitimate trial in Indonesia that included evidence that was assisted by the FBI, in front of a three-judge panel,” he said. “This was not a kangaroo court in Indonesia. Heather was 18 at the time of this alleged crime. She’s done her time.”
Claypool stated that he believes the arrest at O’Hare Airport violated federal law, and he plans to file a motion to have the new charges thrown out. “Everything about how this has been handled has been inappropriate and reprehensible,” he said.
Speaking with The New York Post, Heather Mack said, “I loved my mom. I still do.”
“She wasn’t evil, and she didn’t deserve to die the way she did,” she reflected. “It was for my freedom… or so I thought at the time. I think of her a thousand times a day.”