Heather Mack update: Oak Park native sentenced to 26 years in connection with mother's Bali murder

ByDiane Pathieu, Michelle Gallardo, and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Thursday, January 18, 2024
Heather Mack gets 26 years in connection with mother's Bali murder
Who is Heather Mack? The Oak Park native was sentenced to 26 years on Wednesday in the Bali murder of her mother, Sheila von Weise Mack.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Oak Park native Heather Mack has been sentenced to 26 years in prison for helping her boyfriend kill her mother and stuffing her body in a suitcase.

Mack looked on impassively as U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly handed down her sentence in Chicago on Wednesday, bringing to the nearly decade-long salacious murder saga that has captured headlines across the world to an end. She is now headed to federal prison, guilty of conspiracy to commit murder on U.S. soil.

Mack pleaded guilty last June to helping her boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, kill her mother, Sheila Von Weise Mack, and stuffing her body in a suitcase while on vacation in Bali.

Mack has been at the downtown Metropolitan Correctional Center since November 2021. She has already served seven years behind bars in Indonesia, where the crime happened nearly a decade ago in 2014.

Federal prosecutors sought a 28-year sentence for Mack, while her attorneys wanted a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and credit for time served in Indonesia. Mack was eligible for a life sentence, but she submitted a plea agreement that stated she would not withdraw her plea if the judge agreed to sentence her to 28 years or less in prison.

"We started looking at a life sentence, but have 26 years, but we understand the loss here," said Michael Leonard, Mack's attorney.

The emotionally-charged sentencing hearing featured four victim impact statements delivered by family and friends of Mack's brutally murdered mother.

Bill Weise, the victim's brother, has called his niece a monster, saying she never showed any remorse and has continued to steal from her mother, even in death. He spoke following the hearing on Wednesday.

"It's been devastating and exhausting. We all knew justice was not served in Indonesia nine years ago. We are relieved the court, today, gave Sheila the justice she deserves," Weise said. Sheila was wicked smart and had such wit. She loved listening to classical music and going to the opera. She had more books than anyone I know. She was very thoughtful and had a beautiful smile. She loved taking family photos. Please remember her this way and not as the woman stuffed in the suitcase."

Arguments on both sides Wednesday sought to paint a picture of an emotionally and physically abusive relationship, with the victim of said abuse being mother or daughter depending on who was speaking. Mack herself spoke up before the judge issued his sentence.

"It doesn't matter what my relationship with my mom was. That is no excuse. There's no excuse for trying to harm her. I am responsible for my decisions," Mack said.

In addition to the prison time, Mack has been required to pay a $50,000 fine and another $262,000 in restitution to her mother's estate. Her attorneys said they will seek to have her serve her sentence in Colorado which is where Mack's daughter Stella is now living in custody of her mother's family.

Schaefer, who faces the same federal conspiracy charges Mack does, is still in prison in Bali for his involvement.