A young American tourist couple have until tomorrow to lodge an appeal against sentences handed down by an Indonesian court at the end of their murder trial, which stemmed from the killing of the woman’s mother at a luxurious Bali hotel. The mother’s corpse was then stuffed into a suitcase.
Bali police made the grim discovery after prying open the case, found in the boot of a taxi.
Denpasar District Court found the couple guilty of premeditated murder and sentenced them to lengthy prison terms.
Starwood’s prestigious St Regis Bali Resort, a short drive from Ubud Art Village, was where the body of the victim, Sheila von Weise-Mack, 62, was stuffed into the suitcase last August. Denpasar police chief Djoko Hariutomo said the victim had been beaten to death. See: Corpse in suitcase at top Bali hotel was tourist’s mother
The daughter of the deceased, Heather Mack, 19, and her 21-year-old boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, were later found by police sleeping in a hotel room in Kuta.
Police said the young couple claimed they were abducted at the St Regis Bali Resort by a gang of armed desperadoes who then killed Sheila, but that they had later managed to escape.
Their tale soon fell apart.
The court sentenced Tommy Schaefer to 18 years imprisonment and Heather Mack to 10 years for intentionally killing Sheila von Wiese-Mack while on holiday last August. The victim’s severely beaten body was found in a suitcase inside the boot of a taxi at the St Regis Bali Resort.
The taxi driver told police Heather Mack and Schaefer hailed him at the St Regis, placing a suitcase in the boot and two more bags in the back seat. They then reportedly returned to the hotel and did not emerge.
Two hours elapsed, the taxi driver made inquiries at the hotel and he and a manager opened the taxi’s boot. Seeing blood on the luggage they drove to a police station, where police pried open the case and made the grisly discovery.
The court found Schaefer guilty of beating von Wiese-Mack to death in a hotel room at the resort. It found Mack had assisted in the murder, though such deeds as sitting on the suitcase with her mother’s body in it, to make sure it closed.
The sentences are lenient by the standards of Indonesian justice. The maximum penalty for premeditated murder is death by firing squad – a penalty much in the public mind this week. Prosecutors had sought an 18-year jail term for Schaefer and a 15-year sentence for Mack.
The three-judge panel said it had decided to be lenient towards Mack because she recently gave birth.
“Her newborn baby badly needs a mother’s love and breastfeeding,” the verdict said.
Schaefer told the court that von Wiese-Mack had grown angry at the St Regis Bali Resort when she learned about her daughter’s pregnancy and had tried to strangle him. He retaliated by striking her with a metal fruit bowl and the situation escalated.
Written by Peter Needham