Heather was 18 when her mum was murdered on a luxury holiday. She orchestrated the whole thing.

It had all the hallmarks of a Hollywood crime thriller – a luxury hotel, a wealthy heiress and the grisly discovery of a body in a suitcase.

But for 18-year-old Heather Mack, it was the horrifying reality when a family getaway to a five-star resort ended with her mother – socialite Sheila von Weise-Mack – brutally bludgeoned to death.

And the biggest twist? 

Mack was the one who orchestrated her mum’s demise. 

Fast forward to the present and Mack, 28, has been sentenced to 26 years in prison. Her attorney, Michael Leonard, expects her to remain behind bars for roughly 20 years.

Before her sentence was read on Wednesday, Mack apologised to her mother's siblings.

"It breaks my heart, hearing you cry," she told her aunt,who was visibly distressed as the victim statement was being read out.

"There's no excuse for trying to harm her," Mack said. "I miss and love my mother."

When handing down her sentence, US District Judge Matthew Kennelly said, "This was a brutal and premeditated crime."

In addition to Mack's prison term, Judge Kennelly ordered her to pay a $50,000 fine and $262,708 in restitution to her mother's estate.

Mack and her mother had always had a tumultuous relationship, which became more strained after the death of Heather's father – renowned musician and composer James Mack – in 2006. 


“It was complicated,” Heather later told PEOPLE.

“She never wanted to be separated from me, and yet she also hated everything about me.” 

Sheila had also called the police on her daughter several times, accusing her of theft and physical violence, but then never proceeding with charges. 

Regardless, they seemed to be trying to put everything behind them as they jetted off first-class to the St Regis Bali Resort in August 2014. 

Watch Heather Mack talk about her mother's death in a series that she uploaded to YouTube. Post continues after video.

Video via YouTube.

However, unbeknownst to Sheila, Heather was busy texting her 21-year-old boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer – to whom she was pregnant. She had also bought him a business-class ticket to Bali on her mum’s credit card. 

Their chilling messages foreshadowed the horror that was to come. 

“I can’t wait to be rich,” Tommy said. 

“Keep your head up… trip going as planned baby. Trust,” Heather responded.  


The loved-up couple even referred to themselves as Bonnie and Clyde – the infamous crime duo. 

Their goal? To gain access to a $1.5 million trust fund.  

So on August 7, Tommy arrived at the five-star resort and they broke the news to Sheila about Heather's pregnancy. 

As an argument broke out, prosecutors allege Heather then held her hand over her 62-year-old mother’s mouth, while Tommy bludgeoned her to death with a metal fruit bowl. 

They then stuffed her body into a suitcase and left it in the back of a taxi before fleeing to a motel. The alarm was raised when the taxi driver noticed blood coming from the luggage. 

Heather was pregnant with boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer. Image: Supplied. 


At the couple’s trial, Tommy admitted to bludgeoning his girlfriend’s mother but claimed she had threatened to kill their unborn baby when she found out about the pregnancy. 

He also said Sheila tried to strangle him for nearly 30 seconds. 

Tommy was found guilty of premeditated murder and sentenced to 18 years in a Balinese prison. 

Meanwhile, Heather – who maintained she went and hid in the bathroom when the confrontation turned violent with her mum – was sentenced to 10 years for her part in the killing. 

Quickly dubbed the ‘Suitcase Killer’ as she made headlines around the world, Heather gave birth to her daughter, Stella, behind bars. 

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Under Balinese rules, Stella was able to stay with her mum for two years before eventually being taken into care by a family member. 

After serving seven years in Bali’s Kerobokan Prison, Heather was granted early release for good behaviour and returned to the United States in 2021. 


However, she was immediately arrested when she touched down and charged with the conspiracy to kill a US national. 

According to the BBC, prosecutors said the charges did not violate rules against trying the same person twice for a crime because conspiracy was not part of the original case in Bali. 

Heather, then 27, pled guilty to the charge. 

Sheila von Weise-Mack was stuffed into a suitcase. Image: Supplied. 

 “(We’re) very relieved that the mastermind of Sheila’s murder admitted her guilt today,” Sheila’s family said in a statement, according to AAP.


“We will continue to be our sister Sheila’s voice throughout the sentencing process to ensure that real justice is served.” 

But what could motivate a young woman, seemingly with the world at her feet, to commit such a heinous act. And, more importantly, could she have been stopped?

It’s a question that haunts retired police sergeant, Rasul Freelain, who arrested Heather multiple times as a teen for allegedly abusing her mother. 

He told The Independent he has tragically seen many cases like this where the violence escalates, but the police were powerless when Sheila would then refuse to press charges against her own daughter,

“It was like watching a slow-moving train derailment – we can see it and we all look and see it falling off into a ravine,” Sgt Freelain told The Independent

“I feel that on some level the entire criminal justice system failed Sheila.

“Her daughter of course failed her the most. Her child who she loved and raised and doted on and did everything she could to win her affection and approval betrayed her in a way no one could match.”

This article was originally published on June 26, 2023, and has since been updated with new information.

Feature Image: Supplied.