American Slain in Bali, Daughter Had Troubled Past
By Jason Keyser 20 August 2014
CHICAGO — A Chicago woman whose beaten body was found stuffed in a suitcase on the Indonesian resort island of Bali was repeatedly and violently abused by the daughter who has been arrested in her killing, according to police reports.
A Chicago-based lawyer for the 19-year-old daughter, Heather Mack, meanwhile, says he is concerned for her well-being after she told him she has been sexually assaulted in custody. Indonesian police deny any mistreatment.
The body of Sheila von Wiese-Mack, 62, was found last week inside a suitcase in the trunk of a taxi in front of the upscale St. Regis Bali Resort in Bali’s exclusive Nusa Dua district. Her body is expected back in the United States on Wednesday.
An autopsy found she died of asphyxiation after her nose was broken by a blunt blow. Other bones were broken in her head and face, and wounds on her hands indicate she tried to defend herself, Indonesian authorities say.
Mack and her boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, 21, also of Chicago, have been arrested in the killing. Neither has been charged, but Indonesian police say they are investigating it as a possible case of premeditated murder, which carries a maximum sentence of death.
Police in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park were called 86 times in 10 years to the house where the young woman and her mother once lived. The Chicago Sun-Times obtained the police reports through an open records request.
The reports detail repeated episodes in which von Wiese-Mack said her daughter attacked her and stole her credit cards, money and jewelry. One report says the daughter was arrested in 2011 on suspicion of knocking her mother to the floor and breaking her arm.
In another, the woman accuses her daughter of locking her in her room and preventing her from calling 911. In 2010, she reported that her daughter punched her already-broken ankle during an argument over household chores.
Mack’s US attorney, Michael Elkin, said she has told him by phone from Indonesia that she’s been sexually assaulted at least three times in custody and was being drugged.
“Heather stated in our last conversation that she found what appeared to be needle marks on various areas of her body,” he said in a written statement, adding that she sounded dazed and incoherent at times.
She’s also told him that she’s not getting enough water and that she is two months pregnant, he said.
Elkin said in an interview Tuesday that he is concerned for Mack’s safety.
Col. Djoko Hari Utomo, the police chief in Bali’s provincial capital, Denpasar, denied the sexual abuse claim.
“We never treat her like that,” Utomo said. “We even treat her better than treatment for other detainees here.”
Haposan Sihombing, an Indonesian lawyer assigned to accompany the couple, also denied the abuse allegations.
Addressing her reported pregnancy, Utomo said she would be provided health care.
Von Wiese-Mack’s body was to be flown home early Wednesday on a Korean Air flight, said Ida Bagus Putu Alit, head of forensics at Sanglah Hospital in Denpasar.
An FBI agent who arrived in Bali on Friday and investigated possible criminal activity by the couple in the United States saw the handover of von Wiese-Mack’s body on Tuesday afternoon, Alit said.
Associated Press writer Ali Kotarumalos contributed to this report from Jakarta, Indonesia.