An American woman who was convicted of murdering her socialite mother before stuffing her body into a suitcase has been released from a Bali prison after six years of a 10-year sentence.
Heather Mack, now 25, was taken from Denpasar Women’s Prison in Bali at 9am local time on Friday and transported to the Immigration Detention Center.
From there she will be deported back to the United States – likely without her six-year-old daughter Stella, who was born shortly before sentencing.
Mack has said she wants Stella to remain with her foster family for the time being, to limit the impact on the child.
Mack’s mother, a wealthy Chicago socialite, Sheila von Wiese-Mack, 62, was found badly beaten inside the trunk of a taxi parked at the upscale St. Regis Bali Resort in August 2014.
Heather Mack, a Chicago-born 25-year-old, was released from prison in Bali on Friday after serving six years of her 10-year sentence for participating in the murder of her mother
Mack, in an orange prison-issue vest, is escorted by Immigration guards from the Kerobokan prison
Mack is seen being escorted out of the prison on Friday
Mack will be deported back to the United States. She has previously said she wanted to remain in Indonesia to be with her six-year-old daughter, Stella. When Mack and her then-boyfriend told Mack’s mother about her pregnancy, she was unamused and the boyfriend killed her
Mack cried and almost fainted when she was told she would be released, the prison warden said
Mack is seen surrounded by photographers as she left prison after six years behind bars
Mack (left), was serving a 10-year sentence for the murder of her mother, socialite Sheila von Wiese Mack (right), whose corpse was found stuffed into a suitcase in Bali in 2014
Mack, who was almost 19 and a few weeks pregnant, and her then-21-year-old boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, were arrested a day later after they were found at a hotel about six miles from the St. Regis.
Police said the hotel’s CCTV showed the couple had argued with the girl’s mother in the lobby of the hotel shortly before the killing, which is alleged to have taken place inside a room in the hotel.
On Friday the Chicago-born Mack was taken aback by the media crowd outside the prison, exclaiming: ‘Oh my God, you are crazy.’
Lili, the prison chief warden, who goes by a single name, said that Mack was overjoyed at being released and also frightened, crying and almost fainting.
‘All prisoners must be happy once they can leave the prison, including Heather,’ Lili said.
‘She felt happy, a little bit shocked, doubt, and a little bit worried when she found out she would leave the prison.
‘But we tried to calm her down.
‘She cried when she said goodbye to her friends inside.’
Lili said that Mack was entitled to the sentence reduction under Indonesian law for good behavior and Mack also got involved in activities arranged by correctional officers, such as organizing fashion shows featuring designs by inmates, and teaching them to dance.
‘She taught modern dance to her fellow prisoners. She really loves dancing,’ Lili said.
Sheila von Wiese-Mack, 62, was murdered by her daughter’s boyfriend in Bali in 2014
Wearing jeans and a grey t-shirt, with an orange safety vest on top, Mack was greeted by friends outside the prison, including Oshar Putu Melody Suartama, an Australian woman married to a Balinese man, who has been raising Stella.
Mack;s Indonesian attorney, Yulius Benyamin Seran, has said earlier that Mack, who has not seen the little girl for about 20 months because authorities halted prison visits during the coronavirus pandemic, had asked Indonesian authorities to let the girl remain with her foster family to avoid media attention.
‘She doesn’t want her daughter deported back to the US and hounded by the media,’ her lawyer said.
In 2015, Mack was sentenced to 10 years in prison while her then-boyfriend was given 18 years for the murder.
Schaefer beat the 62-year-old victim to death with a fruit bowl during a heated argument at the five-star resort, before the couple abandoned the blood-stained suitcase containing the battered body in a taxi, and fled.
Mack, who was pregnant at the time of the crime with Schaefer’s daughter, was found guilty on a lesser charge of assisting in the murder.
Mack is seen in tears inside the courtroom in April 2015, when she was sentenced to 10 years
Mack is pictured being led from court in Denpasar in 2015 after they were caught when a taxi driver noticed blood seeping out of the suitcase which contained Sheila’s body
Police inspect a blooded suitcase containing von Wiese Mack’s broken corpse in August 2014
The couple were convicted of killing Mack’s millionaire mother at the five-star Bali hotel and stuffing her broken body into a suitcase as they tried to flee.
They claimed 62-year-old von Wiese-Mack became violent after Mack revealed she was pregnant, and Schaefer lashed out to defend himself.
The then-couple were caught when a taxi driver noticed blood seeping out of the suitcase which contained von Wiese-Mack’s body. The driver alerted police and the couple was arrested at a nearby budget motel.
Mack confessed to killing her mother in a YouTube video but has since retracted her statement
Prosecutors alleged during trial that Schaefer ‘blindly hit’ von Wiese-Mack with the fruit bowl in a fit of rage after she hurled a racial slur at him. Schaefer is black.
While her mother was being murdered, Mack hid in the bathroom and the couple then stuffed the body into the suitcase together, the trial heard.
Mack’s attorney said in August that his client’s sentence was reduced due to good behavior.
Mack told The New York Post in an interview in August that she was ‘fearful and nervous of returning to Chicago’ and having her daughter subjected to media scrutiny.
‘I’m scared that if she comes back to the States with me, she will be exposed to what happened,’ Mack said.
Stella was born in prison.
The child has been in the care of a foster family in Bali since she was two.
Stella has been shielded from the reasoning behind her parents’ imprisonment and Mack wants it to remain that way.
‘I do not want anyone shoving a camera into Stella’s face,’ Mack said.
‘I know that it will happen to me but I will do my best to protect Stella from that trauma.
‘I could not have wished for a better family to raise her.
‘However, it’s hard not being with her, particularly when she is sick or for important moments like graduating kindergarten.’
Stella has been living with a foster family since age two. Mack said she was considering leaving her with her Indonesian caretakers
Mack said Stella, now 6, does not know why both her mother and father are imprisoned, and she wants to keep it that way
The couple claimed 62-year-old von Wiese-Mack became violent after Mack revealed she was pregnant and Schaefer lashed out to defend himself
Mack says her ex-boyfriend Schaefer has it tougher in the men’s jail where drugs, corruption and violence run rampant
Mack has not seen Stella since March 2020, when authorities stopped prison visits because of the coronavirus pandemic.
She had limited visitation due to her imprisonment before that.
‘Out of seven years in jail, the hardest part has been the past 18 months because I have not seen Stella,’ Mack said.
‘Video-calling Stella three times a week from the prison phone is my only option. I’m grateful I can do that.’
In a 2019 interview with DailyMailTV, Mack said Schaefer had since found God and is a ‘committed Christian’.
‘He’s very, very religious. I’m a Christian, too, but I am not as extreme as he is,’ Mack explained.
‘We’re not together any more but I still want Stella to know him so that she knows he’s her daddy.’
She said Shaefer was the one who killed von Wiese-Mack.
‘I didn’t kill my mom it was all down to him,’ she said.
‘I was hiding in a bathroom when he did it.’
Mack said at the time: ‘I never want to go back home to Chicago,’ noting that she was ‘more Indonesian than American now’.
Mack, pictured here in jail, said she ‘feels more Indonesian than American’ and even if she is extradited to her hometown of Chicago, will returned to Bali with her daughter
She reportedly learned to speak the Indonesian language and mastered the local Bahasa Balinese dialect.
She claims to have significantly changed in prison.
‘I have learned things about myself that I didn’t even know before. I like to make people laugh, and I know how to put other people before myself. I do this to the point of stupidity,’ Mack said.
‘I think that I am kind, and I have become a peacemaker in the jail, which is a strange thing for a murderer to say.’
Mack also notes that Stella has grown up in Bali and has a good life in the country.
‘My daughter is more Indonesian than American. She has a good life here,’ Mack told DailyMailTV in 2019.
‘The people are nicer and it’s better and safer than back home. Back there I was getting in with a bad crowd. It’s violent, there are guns, drugs. To be honest I’m glad not to be there. It’s actually better and safer here in prison.’
Mack, who signed von Wiese-Mack’s $1.56 million estate over to Stella in 2018, will return to her hometown of Chicago with nothing more than her clothing.
She is expected to stay with a friend.
She has previously said that even if she was extradited to the US, she would return to Bali with Stella.
As for her mother’s murder, Mack said: ‘I am … disgusted with myself just as much as anyone else is.’
In 2017 DailyMail.com revealed that Mack was enjoying life in prison with her lesbian lover, Rafael.
Photos we obtained showed Mack cuddling and caressing her long-term partner.
Mack had been spending her time in prison taking drugs and selfies with her lesbian lover Rafael (pictured together) but told DailyMailTV in 2019 she’s ‘not into that now’
But Mack said in DailyMail.com’s 2019 interview that the relationship is over and she doesn’t plan on taking a female lover in the future.
‘I am single, I have had a girlfriend in the past but I’m not into that now,’ she said.
‘I don’t want to draw any attention to myself.’
In the revealing interview Mack also said how she is a big fan of Meghan Markle, after reading about her from behind bars.
Mack kept abreast of what’s going on in the world by reading copies of The Jakarta Post newspaper which is often left around the prison.
‘I liked to read about Princess Meghan Markle having her baby,’ she said.
‘That was really sweet. I’m a fan of hers.
‘I know the world is a different place now to when I went to jail.
‘I used to have an iPhone 4S but now there’s the iPhone X and all these new things which I have no idea about.
‘I can’t wait to see what the world is like when I get out of here.’