Illinois Woman Sentenced to 26 Years for Conspiracy to Murder Her Mother

WASHINGTON DC (January 18, 2024) - The Office of Public Affairs U.S. Department of Justice reports that an Illinois woman was sentenced yesterday to 26 years in prison for her role in a conspiracy to murder her mother while they vacationed in Bali, Indonesia, in August 2014. 

According to court documents, Heather L. Mack, 28, originally from Chicago, admitted in a plea agreement that she and her boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, conspired to kill Mack’s mother while Mack and her mother vacationed in Bali. Mack arranged for Schaefer to travel to Bali using her mother’s credit card. After Schaefer arrived, Mack and Schaefer exchanged a series of text messages about how and when to kill Mack’s mother, which included a discussion about suffocating or beating the victim. Shortly after these text messages were exchanged, on Aug. 12, 2014, Schaefer entered the victim’s hotel room and, while Mack was present, brutally beat and killed the victim. Mack and Schaefer then placed the victim’s body into a suitcase and tried to leave the hotel in a taxi. When the driver of the taxi refused to accept their fare, Mack and Schaefer fled the hotel and abandoned the suitcase containing the victim’s body in the taxicab. Mack and Schaefer were arrested by Indonesian police the day after the murder at another hotel in Bali.

“Heather Mack planned to violently murder her own mother while on vacation in Bali,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “In Bali, Mack stood by while her mother was savagely beaten to death and then callously and unsuccessfully tried to dispose of her mother’s body. This significant sentence holds the defendant to account for this heinous crime. The department will continue to pursue justice for Americans, both at home and abroad.”

“The successful prosecution of the defendant’s heinous crime was the result of exhaustive investigative work by law enforcement in the United States and Indonesia,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Morris Pasqual for the Northern District of Illinois. “The sentence imposed sends a message that the U.S. justice system remains a powerful tool to hold accountable those who harm American citizens abroad.”

“The FBI works diligently with its international law enforcement partners to bring perpetrators of violent crime to justice and closure to victims’ families,” said Assistant Director Michael Nordwall of the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division. “The sentencing demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to investigating violent crime—no matter how long or how far it takes us.”

“This case is the result of the FBI’s unwavering commitment to seeking justice for all Americans throughout the world,” said Special Agent in Charge Robert W. “Wes” Wheeler Jr. of the FBI Chicago Field Office. “We will never stop working with our partners to hold violent offenders accountable, no matter where in the world they commit their crimes.”

In 2015, Mack and Schaefer were convicted in Indonesia of local criminal charges related to the murder. Mack was sentenced to 10 years in prison and released after serving seven years. Schaefer was sentenced to 18 years in prison and currently remains imprisoned in Indonesia. 

In November 2021, upon arrival in the United States, Mack was arrested on U.S. federal charges relating to the murder. Schaefer was also charged in the U.S. indictment, and those charges remain pending against him. Mack pleaded guilty on June 16, 2023, to one count of conspiracy to kill a U.S. national. 

The FBI Chicago Field Office investigated the case, with valuable assistance from the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs and the FBI Legal Attaché Office in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Senior Trial Attorney Frank G. Rangoussis of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Marie E. Ursini for the Northern District of Illinois prosecuted the case. 

Updated January 18, 2024


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