CHICAGO (CBS) — Heather Mack, the Oak Park woman convicted in Indonesia of helping her boyfriend Tommy Schaefer kill her mother in Bali, was arrested when she returned to Chicago on Tuesday, facing federal conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges.
A 2017 federal indictment against Mack and Schaefer was unsealed Wednesday morning as she arrived at O’Hare International Airport, after being deported from Indonesia. She was released from prison in Indonesia last week after serving 7 years of her 10-year sentence for helping Schaefer kill her mother, Sheila von Wiese-Mack, in August 2014.READ MORE: Chicago Police Officer Shot, Wounded In Calumet Heights; One Suspect Also Shot
The indictment accuses Mack and Schaefer of conspiring to kill von Wiese Mack in her hotel room at a Bali resort on Aug. 12, 2014.
The indictment specifically says the couple, while in the United States, “conspired with each other” to kill Mack’s mother. It says, “on or about August 2, 2014, Mack boarded an airplane at O’Hare” and “arranged for Schaefer to travel from Chicago, Illinois to Bali, Indonesia.”
According to the indictment, they also “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.”
The indictment also accuses the couple of conspiring with Schaefer’s cousin, Robert Ryan Justin Bibbs, who did not participate in the killing, but pleaded guilty to advising Schaefer with how to get away with the murder.
Prosecutors say Schaefer exchanged messages with Bibbs, “regarding different ways to kill Von Weise” and that Mack and Schaefer exchanged messages discussing “how and when to kill Von Weise.”
Bibbs pleaded guilty in 2016 to conspiracy to commit foreign murder of U.S. national, and later was sentenced to 9 years in prison.
As CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot reported, Mack pleaded not guilty to the charges at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse Wednesday afternoon.
Schaefer is still in prison in Indonesia, serving an 18-year prison sentence.
The two conspiracy charges against Mack carry a life sentence. The obstruction of justice charges carry 20 years in prison.
Mack returned to Chicago on Wednesday with her daughter, Stella, and the foster mother who helped care for the child while Mack was in prison, according to Mack’s attorney, Brian Claypool, who had expressed concern that Mack would be arrested when she landed at O’Hare.READ MORE: Jussie Smollett Trial: Abel Osundairo, One Of Two Brothers Who Said He Was Paid To Help Stage Attack, Says Smollett 'Wanted Me To Fake Beat Him Up'
Claypool denounced Mack’s arrest on federal charges for her mother’s murder after she was already convicted of the crime 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. This was not a kangaroo court in Indonesia. Heather was 18 at the time of this alleged crime,” he said. “She’s done her time.”
Claypool said he believes Mack’s arrest violates federal law, and he plans to file a motion to throw out the charges.
In court, Mack’s attorney objected to a request by the prosecution for Mack’s psychological records. The prosecution said the records would show a series of attacks on Von Weise by Mack, showing her violent behavior and that Mack poses a danger to the community.
The judge said he would allow the records.
Meanwhile, even before Mack arrived in Chicago, her lawyers filed an emergency court order to make sure her daughter, Stella, would not be taken into child protective services – and instead would be taken to a private individual in Chicago with whom all were comfortable.
Stella was born while Mack was in custody in Indonesia, and has been living with her foster mother while Mack was in prison.
Schaefer’s mother, Kia Walker, was at court – and said she is fighting to get custody of her granddaughter.
“I’m standing here for Stella. I’m Stella’s voice,” Walker said. “Everyone knows the 6-year-old has already served two years of her life in prison.”
As for Stella, the 6-year-old is with a court approved guardian.
Sheila von Wiese-Mack’s brother and sister, Bill Wiese and Debbi Curran, released the following statement Wednesday night, focused on Stella’s wellbeing and justice for their slain sister:
“The last seven years have been incredibly long and stressful for us and our entire family. We have been simultaneously mourning the loss of our beautiful sister Sheila, keeping her spirit alive, assisting in the quest for justice, and advocating for the wellbeing of Stella. Sheila can no longer speak for herself, so we have become her voice.
“We are forever thankful to all the FBI agents and the US Justice Department officers who have spent endless hours finding and preserving evidence as well as searching for the truth in order to obtain real justice for Sheila. Every single one of them should be recognized because they all contributed to today’s arrest and indictments of Heather and Tommy.”