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A Chicago woman who killed her mother and stuffed the woman’s body in a suitcase at an upscale hotel in Indonesia is “scared” to return to the United States after serving nearly a decade in prison overseas.
Heather Mack, who along with her boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, was convicted in Indonesia in 2015 in the brutal slaying of Mack’s mother, whose remains were recovered from a bloody suitcase.
In 2014, Schaefer fatally bludgeoned 62-year-old Sheila von Wiese-Mack with a metal fruit bowl in a luxury St. Regis hotel room in Bali, the Associated Press reported. The couple later put Wiese-Mack’s body in a suitcase and fled the property in a taxi cab. Mack and Schaefer were arrested after the driver tipped off authorities. They were arrested shortly after at another nearby hotel, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Von Wiese-Mack suffocated because of a broken nose, according to an autopsy.
Schaefer was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Mack received a decade for her role in her mother's gruesome slaying.
Indonesian officials recently approved Mack’s early release, WGN-TV reported. She’s scheduled to go free in October. Mack, though, who gave birth behind bars, says she’s afraid for her and her daughter.
“I am fearful and nervous of returning to Chicago,” Mack recently told the New York Post. “I’m not worried about the idea that people cannot understand the tragedy for my sake. But I’m nervous for [my daughter] Stella. I’m scared that if she comes back to the States with me, she will be exposed to what happened.”
Mack’s daughter, Stella, now 6, has been living with a foster family in Bali since she was 2 years old. She’s now debating whether to bring the young girl back to the U.S., or to leave her in the Indonesian family’s care.
“I could not have wished for a better family to raise her,” Mack added. “However, it’s hard not being with her, particularly when she is sick or for important moments like graduating kindergarten.
Mack, now 25, however, said her daughter is unaware as to why she’d been locked up.
“I absolutely regret what happened,” Mack explained. "I loved my mom — I still do. 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.”
Mack said she’s maintained a relationship with her daughter over video calls while she’s been incarcerated.
“Out of seven years in jail, the hardest part has been the past 18 months because I have not seen Stella,” Mack stated. “Video-calling Stella three times a week from the prison phone is my only option. I’m grateful I can do that.”
In 2017, Mack confessed to killing her mother in a startling video uploaded to YouTube. In the self-recorded footage, Mack said she had no qualms about her role in the hotel killing.
“I don’t regret killing my mother…I made it up in my heart, in my mind, in my soul, in my blood, in the oxygen running through my body that I wanted to kill my mother,” Mack told the camera.
Mack also claimed her mother killed her father in Greece when she was a child, which fueled her own plot to end her mother’s life. She also repeatedly apologized to Schaefer in the widely viewed video — and absolved him of any involvement.
Mack’s father, James Mack, was an acclaimed jazz musician and composer, according to the Guardian.
While in prison, Mack’s relaxed detention conditions were criticized after a video of her participating in a group dance class went viral.
According to prison officials, Mack has worked as a choreographer for prison dance classes, is a fitness coach, and also participates in a choir group.
“Heather has never been violent to other prisoners or the guards and is a helpful aid in daily life,” Mrs. Lili, chief of the women’s prison, told the New York Post. “She teaches Zumba classes daily, conducts dances for special festivals and participates in the spiritual life.”
Mack will reportedly plans to return to Chicago and live with a friend. In 2018, she relinquished her mother’s $1.56 million estate to her daughter.
“I think that I am kind, and I have become a peacemaker in the jail, which is a strange thing for a murderer to say,” Mack said.
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