Heather Mack was convicted of helping murder her mother, whose body was discovered stuffed in a suitcase while on vacation in Bali in 2014, but now the imprisoned Chicago-area woman appears to be confessing on YouTube that she alone committed the killing, motivated by revenge.
She further states that her then-boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, who was convicted after testifying at trial that he delivered the fatal blow with a metal handle of a fruit bowl, was merely part of the crime’s attempted cover-up. She said she entrapped him into that role and on video expressed her remorse for it.
In a series of three videos, posted Thursday and titled “Confession,” Mack, 21, starts out by saying “the truth sets you free” and that she doesn’t want to “live in a lie anymore.” She goes on to claim in the videos that her mother, Sheila von Wiese-Mack, had killed her father in a hotel in Athens and that this prompted Mack to murder her mother. But she does not say how she carried out the crime.
“Two weeks before I came to Bali, I found out that she killed my father, and I made it up in my heart, in my mind, my soul, in my blood, in the oxygen running through my body, that I wanted to kill my mother,” she says in the videos. “… I got this whole new savage idea in my head that I wanted to kill her in a hotel room, because she had killed my father in a hotel room. We were going to Bali, so I began to plot.”
Debbi Curran, the younger sister of von Wiese-Mack, called Heather’s claims “completely false.”
“Since the brutal murder of my dear sister, Sheila, two and a half years ago, our family has had to endure endless lies about what actually happened in Bali,” Curran, of St. Louis, said in a written statement. “Heather Mack’s stories about her relationship with her mother and the events in Bali have changed so many times; it is impossible to discern truth from deception. However, her accusation about Sheila killing Jim is completely false. Sheila loved Jim very deeply and was devastated by his death. We are also struck by the utter lack of any remorse from Heather over her mother’s murder.”
Mack, who grew up in Oak Park but most recently lived in Chicago before going to Bali, is serving a 10-year prison sentence overseas but has access to email, a cellphone and the Internet.
Neither Mack, an attorney who has represented her in Cook County court nor Schaefer’s mother responded to requests for comment as of Saturday afternoon.
She and her mother were on a lavish vacation in August 2014 when the body of von Wiese-Mack, 62, was found in a suitcase. Von Wiese-Mack planned the trip as a new beginning in their troubled relationship, the victim’s siblings and friends have told the Tribune, and had not known her daughter’s boyfriend, Schaefer had also been traveling to the island.
Mack and Schaefer were convicted in April 2015 of the murder; authorities have alleged that Mack and Schaefer openly texted about their murderous plot.
But in the recent videos on YouTube, Mack contends she was the sole killer and apologizes to Schaefer. She says she had asked Schaefer to help her murder her mother or find someone else to do so for $50,000 but that he had said no. She also says she had faked the text messages prior to the trip by taking his phone when he was asleep.
“I trapped him here,” she says in the videos. “And that is what I regret. I don’t regret killing my mother, and as evil as that may sound, that’s my reality. … But I regret bringing Tommy into it. I regret being selfish. I regret trapping an innocent person into this, because it was my battle, it was my mother, it was my father.”
Mack also says on the video that she forced Schaefer to help clean the room and hide the body by threatening to tell authorities he was the killer and paying to have him arrested; she adds that she persuaded him to take the blame in court to avoid the death penalty, in the hope that she could go free and keep a sizable trust fund. She professes her love for him and says the only way he took part in the crime was hiding the body.
“So he lied in the court because of me,” she says in the videos. “My motivation for doing this was for myself. It’s from inside of me, and it’s my battle. It wasn’t Tommy’s. Tommy’s an innocent man.”