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'Suitcase Killer' Heather Mack Remains Behind Bars After Waiving Detention Hearing

The federal hearing Wednesday brought Heather Mack face-to-face with her murdered mother's siblings for the first time in more than seven years. 

By Jill Sederstrom
'Suitcase Killer' Arrested In U.S. Upon Return From Bali

“Suitcase Killer” Heather Mack will remain behind bars on federal conspiracy to commit murder charges after her attorneys agreed to waive a detention hearing.

Mack, who has been accused of plotting to kill her mother Sheila von Wiese-Mack during a trip to Indonesia in 2014, is free to ask for a bond hearing at a later date, but for now, the 26-year-old will remain in federal custody as the case against her proceeds, according to The Chicago Sun-Times.

Mack was released from an Indonesian prison late last month after serving seven years behind bars for the brutal murder, but after being deported back to the United States, she was arrested again by the FBI last week in connection with the conspiracy to commit murder charges.

Federal prosecutors contend that Mack, her then-boyfriend Tommy Schaefer, and Schaefer’s cousin Robert Bibbs conspired to carry out the murder while in the United States, before Mack—who was pregnant at the time—and her mother flew to Indonesia on Aug. 2, 2014, according to an indictment in the case obtained by Oxygen.com.

Schaefer flew to the country just over a week later and authorities say the couple exchanged messages about “how and when” they planned to kill von Weise-Mack before Schaefer beat her death in a St. Regis Bali Resort hotel room.

The couple then stuffed the body into a suitcase and left it in the back of a taxi.

In court Wednesday, Mack came face-to-face with her murdered mother’s siblings for the first time in more than seven years.

Mack, who wore an orange jail jumpsuit and had her hair pulled into a ponytail, appeared to gaze in the direction of her relatives, but said little during the hearing other than to confirm that she did not want to say anything on record, the local paper reports.

Von Wiese-Mack’s siblings, Bill Wiese and Debbi Curran, had been prepared to testify against Mack during the detention hearing if necessary, according to The Chicago Tribune.

As they left the court house, Weise said they were “incredibly relieved and appreciative” that Mack would remain in custody.

“As difficult as this is for our family and all of Sheila’s friends, we are pleased that Sheila will finally have her day in court,” he said while reading from a prepared statement.

Even if the detention hearing had gone forward, there was little chance Mack—who is facing a possible life sentence—would have been released on bond, according to the paper. Her attorneys would have needed to prove that she posed no risk to herself or others and was not a flight risk.

In an arraignment earlier this month, Assistant U.S. Attorney Terry Kinney said he planned to demonstrate that she was a “danger to the community” by subpoenaing medical and psychiatric records for Mack that illustrated past “violent attacks” against her mother.

After her arrest, Brian Claypool, one of Mack’s attorneys, told The Chicago Tribune he believed the federal government only arrested Mack because they didn’t agree with the 10-year-sentence she received for the murder in Indonesia. Mack was released early last month after serving just seven years of the sentence because of good behavior.  

“It’s all sour grapes, all high drama and no legal traction,” Claypool said at the time, adding that he planned to file a motion to dismiss the charges.

Kinney said Wednesday that the prosecutors believe the evidence against her is “truly, truly voluminous,” according to The Chicago Sun-Times.

Schaefer remains in Indonesia where he is serving an 18-year sentence for the murder, according to WGN.

His cousin is also behind bars in Michigan, where he is serving a nine-year sentence for his role in the slaying.  

Prosecutors have said all three plotted to kill von Wiese-Mack to gain access to a $1.5 million trust fund.

Schaefer’s mother was also at Wednesday’s hearing to ask for custody of Mack and Schaefer’s young daughter, Stella.

One of Mack’s attorneys, Vanessa Favia, is currently serving as the girl’s guardian, Fox News reports.

Stella lived with her mother in prison in Indonesia until she was 2 and then was raised by a foster mother before she was sent back to the United States earlier this month along with Mack.