11:46 AM PDT, August 24, 2021
A Chicago woman convicted of killing her socialite mother and stuffing her body in a suitcase at a luxury resort in Bali was granted early release from an Indonesian prison after serving nearly a decade behind bars, officials said.
Heather Mack, now 25, and who was serving a 10-year prison sentence, is expected to be freed in October, nearly three years early. According to Mack’s U.S.-based attorney, Vanessa Favia, she became eligible for release this year because of good behavior, People reported.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo made the decision last week, The New York Post reported.
In August 2014, Mack and her former boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, were found guilty of the heinous murder of Mack’s mother, 62-year-old socialite Sheila von Wiese-Mack, who was beaten to death with a metal fruit bowl inside a room at the exclusive St. Regis resort, according to the Post.
At trial, Schaefer admitted to the killing. He said he hit von Wiese-Mack with a metal bowl repeatedly during a violent argument. He claimed she became irate after learning that her daughter was pregnant. He claimed that von Wiese-Mack threatened to kill their unborn baby and said she tried to strangle him for nearly 30 seconds, according to a previously reported story in People.
After the killing, the couple stuffed von Wiese-Mack’s body into a suitcase and placed it into the trunk of a taxi before leaving the hotel. Once the driver noticed blood leaking from the luggage he contacted the authorities. The couple fled to a nearby hotel, but were taken into custody by police, according to the news outlet.
The sensational story made international headlines.
Mack, an American heiress who was 18 at the time, and Schaefer, 21, were found guilty of first-degree murder. The couple, who were facing possible execution by firing squad, were eventually sentenced to time in prison.
In 2015, Mack had her baby in prison, a little girl she named Stella. Under Indonesian law, Stella had been allowed to live in a cell with her mother at Kerokokan Prison until she turned 2, People reported.
An Australian-Balinese woman named Oshar Putu Melody Suartama became Stella’s guardian. Suartama ,who is married to a Balinese man and has two other children, struck up a friendship with Mack while the pregnant teen while incarcerated. She brought her food and prenatal vitamins and paid for her medical care, People reported.
Mack will be deported back to the United States. It is unclear whether her daughter, who is now 6, will stay with her foster family in Indonesia or return to the States with Mack.
Mack told The New York Post that her daughter is unaware of the events leading to her parents’ incarceration and grandmother’s death and said she was “fearful and nervous of returning to Chicago.”
Mack was raised in a $1.5 million home in Oak Park, Illinois. Her father was a renowned jazz arranger and composer, and guest conductor for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, James L. Mack.
Mack had met Schaefer when the two were in high school. He was an aspiring rapper who was not employed, according to the Post.
While Mack and Schaefer dated, Mack’s mother called the police on Schaefer after her daughter and Schaeffer used her credit card to throw a party at the Conrad Chicago Hotel, Inside Edition previously reported.
After the credit card incident, von-Wiese took her daughter on a dream vacation to Bali, despite friends telling her not to.
“Friends of the woman were begging her not to go on vacation with her daughter. They were warning her! ‘Don’t do it! Don’t go off with your daughter and her boyfriend.’ Please!” von-Wiese Mack’s friend, Jane Velez-Mitchell previously told Inside Edition Digital.
Heather was reportedly close with her father, James Mack. He was 66 when he married Sheila von Wiese, who was 22 years his junior. The pair were part of high society.
In 2006, James, who had been suffering from Stage IV colon cancer, died of a pulmonary embolism while the family was on a vacation in Athens, Greece. It was reported that von-Wisen left her husband’s body in a Greek morgue while she and her daughter resumed their holiday that involved a cruise off to Santorini. Heather Mack, who was 10 years old at the time, told the Post that was when “my anger at my mother started.”
“I absolutely regret what happened. I loved my mom — I still do,” Mack told the Post this year. “She wasn’t evil, and she didn’t deserve to die the way she did. I didn’t kill her for money. It was for my freedom and Stella’s freedom, or so I thought at the time. I think of her a thousand times a day.”