Indonesian authorities convicted an American couple on Tuesday for murdering the woman’s mother. The body was later discovered inside a suitcase. Indonesia’s Denpasar District Court found 21-year-old Tommy Schaefer guilty of beating Sheila von Wiese-Mack to death in a hotel room on the island of Bali last summer and sentenced him to 18 years in jail. Schaefer’s girlfriend, Heather Mack and the victim’s daughter, was convicted of aiding him and was sentenced to 10 years in jail.
The panel of three judges said it was trying to be lenient toward Mack because she recently gave birth to a child. Mack gave birth last month in a hospital near the jail where she and Schaefer were being held, the Chicago Tribune reported. The Tribune reported that Mack feared the baby would be born in prison because she did not have the funds for a partial down payment to the hospital but her attorney, Anthony Scifo wired money to Indonesia after negotiating an agreement with her uncle who controls her $2 million trust fund until she reaches the age of 30.
Schaefer and Mack, both from Chicago, were tried separately in the same court with the same judges and prosecutors. The couple were arrested a day after the victim’s badly battered body was found in the suitcase. The charge of premeditated murder carries a maximum penalty of death. Prosecutors had sought an 18-year jail term for Schaefer and a 15-year term for Mack.
Judge Made Suweda called Schaefer’s deeds as sadistic, but said his politeness and expression of remorse during the trial meant he did not receive a heavier sentence. Schaefer told the panel of judges that von Wiese-Mack was angry when she learned about her daughter’s pregnancy and tried to strangle him, prompting him to strike her with metal fruit bowl. Prosecutors said Mack helped Schaefer stuff her mother’s body into the suitcase by sitting on it to enable Schaefer to close it. They then placed the suitcase in the trunk of a taxi outside the hotel and told the driver they were going to check out and would return, but never did, prosecutors said.
Judge Suweda read the verdict aloud saying “Taking into account Chapter 340 of the criminal code and other related laws, (the panel) declared that the defendant Tommy Schaefer has been legally and convincingly guilty of committing premeditated murder.” The case generated headlines around the world after von Wiese-Mack’s body was found stuffed in a suitcase outside the St. Regis Hotel, where the three, all from Chicago, were staying.