Police in Indonesia say that a U.S. couple being held in connection with the brutal killing of a 62-year-old Chicago woman while the three vacationed in Bali could face the death penalty if they are charged with premeditated murder.
The body of Sheila von Wiese-Mack was found stuffed in a bloodied suitcase on the resort island of Bali on Tuesday. After a preliminary investigation, Indonesian police detained the woman’s 19-year-old daughter, Heather Mack, and Mack’s boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, 21.
The couple have been designated as prisoners but not been formally charged, pending the completion of the investigation, Reuters reports.
The Globe and Mail quotes Bali’s deputy police chief, Brigadier-General Ngurah Raharja Subyakta, as saying witness accounts and crime scene evidence tie the two to the woman’s death.
The newspaper writes:
“Police said the couple hired the taxi and then placed the suitcase inside the trunk. They told the taxi driver that they were going to check out of the hotel and would return. After they didn’t show up, hotel security guards who found blood spots on the suitcase suggested the driver take the taxi to the police station, where officers opened the suitcase and discovered the body.
“The couple told investigators that von Wiese-Mack was killed by robbers while they managed to escape, according to the police chief for Bali’s provincial capital of Denpasar, Colonel Djoko Hari Utomo.
“Utomo said that contradicted testimonies by the taxi driver and hotel employees.
“Von Wiese-Mack, also from Chicago, and her daughter arrived at the St. Regis on Saturday, while Schaefer checked in on Monday, police said.
“CCTV footage shows that the victim had an argument with Schaefer on Monday in the hotel’s lobby.”
Reuters quotes an unnamed official at the hospital that conducted the autopsy as saying von Wiese-Mack had been repeatedly hit on the face and head with a blunt object.
The news agency reports that the victim was a former editor for oral historian Studs Terkel and also studied with Nobel Prize-winning author Saul Bellow at the University of Chicago. Her husband and the female suspect’s father was the composer James Mack, who died in 2006.