CHICAGO (CBS) — Heather Mack has “confessed” to her mother’s murder.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s telling the truth.
Mack claims in a series of YouTube videos posted Thursday that she killed her mother, Sheila von Wiese-Mack, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting. She said she let her child’s father, Tommy Schaefer, take the fall so she could collect her inheritance. And finally, Mack said she plotted von Wiese-Mack’s murder because she had discovered her father had been killed by von Wiese-Mack during a family vacation to Greece.
Federal prosecutors in Chicago seem to have evidence that could undermine Mack’s story if the couple ever faces charges here.
Von Wiese-Mack’s body was found inside a suitcase in the trunk of a taxi outside the St. Regis Bali Resort in August 2014. Schaefer and Mack were later convicted in Indonesia. Schaefer, 23, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for beating von Wiese-Mack to death. Mack, 21, was sentenced to 10 years for helping.
Schaefer’s cousin, 26-year-old Robert Ryan Justin Bibbs, also pleaded guilty in federal court in Chicago to helping plot the murder. He is set to be sentenced in May.
Now Mack claims in three YouTube videos that “Tommy and Ryan are innocent.” Mack said, “I killed her, myself,” without offering details of the killing.
“I found out that [von Wiese-Mack] killed my father,” Mack said. “And I made it up in my heart, in my mind, my soul, in my blood, in the oxygen running through my body that I wanted to kill my mother.”
Schaefer’s mother, Kia Walker, declined to comment. Von Wiese-Mack’s brother did not respond to messages.
Until now, the couple had maintained that Schaefer killed von Wiese-Mack in self-defense after von Wiese-Mack broke into a racist rant and attacked Schaefer because Mack was pregnant with Schaefer’s baby. Federal prosecutors believe Schaefer beat von Wiese-Mack to death because he thought he would get a cut of Mack’s inheritance.
Now Mack has invoked the death of her father, James Mack, who died of a pulmonary embolism in August 2006. She claims she discovered the foul play surrounding her father’s death two weeks before she left for Bali with her mother. That’s when she said she decided to kill von Wiese-Mack.
But Mack had already offered Schaefer $50,000 to kill her mother six months earlier, court records allege.
Mack acknowledged that offer — just not the timing — in her confession video. She said Schaefer declined. She also said she stole Schaefer’s cellphone while he was sleeping and created fake text conversations between his phone and hers. She said she deleted them before he found them, and she said she started doing this in Chicago.
“I didn’t want to get arrested by myself in a different country,” Mack said. “So I came to Bali, and I told Tommy that he was going to come here for a vacation.”
The feds have used piles of text messages between Schaefer, Mack and Bibbs to support their theory of what happened. And while Mack’s claim may explain some of them away, the feds say Schaefer sent incriminating text messages while Mack was in Bali — separated from Schaefer’s phone by an ocean.
Mack left with her mother for Bali on Aug. 2, 2014. Schaefer joined them 10 days later. Two days before that, he asked someone on Facebook for $200. In exchange, Schaefer allegedly said he would forgive a larger debt because, when he returned from an overseas trip, “I’ll have enough money so I’m not even going to ask for the rest.”
While at O’Hare Airport that same day, Schaefer texted Bibbs: “Now I’m a millionaire; I come back for a week or two then it’s off to italy … In about a year or so I’ll have all that money … A couple mil prob.”
The feds also have at least five pages of heated text messages exchanged in the moments before von Wiese-Mack’s death between Mack and Schaefer. In one, Schaefer allegedly wrote, “let me just creep up and wack her.”
Additionally, prosecutors have a surveillance photo of Schaefer on the third floor of the Bali resort with something stuffed under his shirt. Mack and her mother were staying in room 317. Authorities believe Schaefer bludgeoned von Wiese-Mack with a fruit stand.
“The only thing Tommy is not innocent of is hiding the body,” Mack said. “And the only reason he did that, is because of me.”
Schaefer told Bibbs he and Mack had been discussing von Wiese-Mack’s death before the trip, according to Bibbs’ plea agreement. And in that document, Bibbs said he “believed that Schaefer and Mack were serious about murdering” her.
When he appeared in court to plead guilty last year, Bibbs gave an additional, but vague, explanation to a judge. He told her there had been a “situation” in 2014 with Mack, who was pregnant but was being encouraged by her mother to “kill the kid.” Bibbs also said von Wiese-Mack had complained about the race of the baby’s father, Schaefer.
Though Bibbs had spoken to Mack about her desire to have her mother killed, he made no mention in court of the alleged killing of Mack’s father.
Bibbs did, however, tell the judge he didn’t think Schaefer was capable of committing such a brutal crime.
He told the judge: “I thought Heather was going to do it.”
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2017. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)