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'Suitcase Killer' Heather Mack Arrested Upon Return to U.S., Charged with Conspiracy to Kill Mom

People logo People 11/3/2021 KC Baker
Agung Parameswara/Getty Images Heather Mack © Provided by People Agung Parameswara/Getty Images Heather Mack

Heather Mack, the young American woman who helped her boyfriend kill her mother in 2014 while vacationing in Bali, Indonesia, was arrested by the FBI when she returned home to the U.S. Wednesday for the first time in seven years, Forbes, Fox News and the Associated Press report.

In 2017, while Mack, 26, and her now-former boyfriend Tommy Schaefer, were serving out their prison sentences in Indonesia, they were charged in U.S. Federal Court in Chicago with conspiring to kill Mack's mother, 62-year-old Chicago socialite Sheila von Wiese-Mack, at an upscale hotel in Bali in 2014. The pair then stuffed the victim's body into a suitcase they left in a taxi, earning Mack the monicker the "Suitcase Killer" in the media.

Heather Mack © Agung Parameswara/Getty Images Heather Mack

On Wednesday morning, the federal indictment was unsealed to reveal the charges — and then quickly resealed in federal court in Chicago, the Associated Press, WGN 9 News and Fox News report.

Mack and Schaefer were found guilty in 2015 in Indonesia of killing her mother. At the couple's trial, Schaefer confessed to the killing and admitted to hitting von Wiese-Mack repeatedly with a metal fruit bowl.

Mack, who was pregnant with Schaefer's baby during the 2015 trial, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for helping Schaefer kill her mother. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

In August, after serving nearly seven years of her sentence, Mack was approved for early release from Indonesia's Kerobokan Prison due to good behavior, Mack's U.S.-based attorney, Vanessa Favia, told PEOPLE at the timeThe BBC reports sentence reductions are common in Indonesia.

Mack was deported back to the U.S. on Tuesday. Accompanied by U.S. federal authorities, she and her daughter Stella flew back to Chicago, landing at O'Hare Airport on Wednesday.

On Sunday, before Mack left Indonesia, her Indonesia-based attorney, Yulius Benyamin Seran told PEOPLE in an email that she was looking forward to returning home.

P & L Media Stella Schaefer with her foster mother, Oshar Putu Melody Suartama © Provided by People P & L Media Stella Schaefer with her foster mother, Oshar Putu Melody Suartama

"Heather already completed her sentence and now starts her new life," Seran wrote.

"She learned a lot about life inside prison and she will dedicate her life for her daughter Stella," he wrote. "From Bali, I wish [the] Chicago government protects [the] innocent child Stella and guarantees Stella gets her right to .... normal life" like every child.

Cab Driver Notified Police of Grisly Discovery

At the couple's trial, Schaefer confessed to the killing.

He claimed that when von Wiese-Mack found out Mack was pregnant, she became enraged and threatened to kill the couple's unborn baby — and then tried to strangle him for nearly 30 seconds.

After the slaying, the couple stuffed von Wiese-Mack's body in a suitcase and, hours later, placed the suitcase in the trunk of a taxi outside the St. Regis Bali Resort. Then, they fled.

The driver notified police after he spotted blood leaking from the luggage.

Mack's Lawyer Says U.S. Charges Amount to 'Double Jeopardy'

Mack gave birth to her daughter in 2015, while behind bars. The girl was allowed to live with Mack in prison until she turned 2. Mack turned Stella over to a woman living in Bali who befriended Mack after her arrest.

Mack's longtime attorney Brian Claypool said in a statement to PEOPLE that he will argue that U.S. authorities "will be guilty of engineering a double jeopardy case" and plans to fight the charges.

He is also worried about Mack's daughter, saying in the statement that he is "concerned that Stella will end up being a pawn in this international legal scandal."

He said he will fight to avoid having Stella placed into the custody of Child Protective Services (CPS) instead of releasing her to the foster mother who cared for her while Mack was in prison.

The Chicago Tribune reports a Cook County probate judge issued an emergency order on Tuesday appointing family attorney Vanessa Favia as Stella's temporary guardian.

The girl's paternal grandmother, Kia Walker, wants guardianship of Stella, and will file a legal claim for custody, ABC 7 reports. The outlet reports Walker came to the airport hoping to see Stella, but the girl was whisked away from her.

Three-Count Federal Indictment

The federal indictment filed in 2017 charges Mack and Schaefer with three counts.

Besides being charged with conspiring to kill von Wiese-Mack, they face an obstruction of justice charge, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Associated Press report.

They are also charged with destroying, mutilating and concealing objects to impair the availability for an official proceeding "by forcing the body of [von Wiese-Mack] into a suitcase after she had been killed and removing the suitcase from the place of the murder," the Chicago Sun-Times and the Associated Press report.

The FBI and Mack's attorneys did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's requests for comment.

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