Daughter arrested over Bali body in suitcase

Heather Mack, stands at the police district headquarters after she was brought in for questioning in relation to the death of her mother in Bali, Indonesia. Photo / AP
Heather Mack, stands at the police district headquarters after she was brought in for questioning in relation to the death of her mother in Bali, Indonesia. Photo / AP

A blood-smeared suitcase found to be containing the battered body of an American tourist has sparked a murder inquiry in Bali where police have arrested the woman's daughter and her daughter's boyfriend.

Police claim CCTV footage shows the woman fighting with her daughter's boyfriend a day before she disappeared.

Officers said the young couple were detained early on Wednesday, a day after the body of 62-year-old Sheila von Wiese Mack was found inside a piece of luggage that had been loaded into a taxi at a luxury resort. The body of Mrs Mack, the widow of a US composer and who once worked for the late Ted Kennedy, was found wrapped in a sheet and tied with tape.

Police said Mrs Mack, from the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, had been staying at the St Regis Bali Resort in the south of the island for several weeks with her daughter, Lois Heather Mack, 19. Her daughter's boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, 21, had reportedly joined them this week.

On Tuesday, a taxi arrived at the hotel expecting to pick up Mrs Mack. Instead, say reports in the local media, Ms Mack and Mr Schaefer appeared with several pieces of luggage which they loaded into the car. Reports said they had declined offers from hotel staff for help with the luggage.

The couple then went back inside but did not reappear. After waiting two hours, the taxi driver contacted hotel staff who checked the couple's room and found there was nobody there. The taxi then went to a nearby police station where the luggage was examined.

On Wednesday, the hotel refused to comment. A spokesman said the resort was cooperating with police. "There is no more information at this stage. An investigation is proceeding," said the spokesman, who asked not to be named.

Police said Mrs Mack's daughter and Mr Schaefer had been detained in another hotel in the Legian area of the island. Col Djoko Hari Utomo, the police chief in Bali's capital, Denpasar, told the Associated Press they were studying CCTV footage that had been provided to them by the hotel. He said that the footage showed Mrs Mack having an argument with Mr Schaefer in the hotel lobby on Monday.

Another senior police officer, Gede Redastra, told the Jakarta Post, that after loading the luggage into the taxi, Ms Mack and Mr Schaefer had left the hotel without checking-out.

"We suspect that Tommy and Heather are a couple and that they are the perpetrators," said Mr Redastra. "Tommy and the victim had a fight last night in the hotel lobby."

Is it understood Mrs Mack was a member of the Caxton Club, a historical and literary society based in Chicago. In an interview last year with the club's magazine, Mrs Mack said that after leaving university, where she had studied political science, she had worked for Senator Kennedy as a researcher.

She later returned to college to complete a PhD at the University of Chicago under the direction of the novelist Saul Bellow, who died in 2005. "It was an extraordinary time," she told the magazine. "We studied the books Bellow wanted to study, which included the authors Joyce, Fitzgerald, Dickens, and Balzac. Of course, I also read all of his own books, but we never discussed them."

Mrs Mack was married to the composer and arranger James Mack. He died in 2006. He had worked on more than 60 albums for artists including Nancy Wilson and Jerry Butler.

- UK Independent

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