Couple charged with murder over body found in suitcase in Bali

Indonesian police officers escort Tommy Schaefer, center, covering his face, to a hospital for medical check. Photo / AP
Indonesian police officers escort Tommy Schaefer, center, covering his face, to a hospital for medical check. Photo / AP

Indonesian police last night charged an American couple with murder after the body of the woman's 62-year-old mother was found stuffed in a suitcase on the resort island of Bali.

Heather Mack, 19, and her boyfriend Tommy Schaefer, 21, both from Chicago, were arrested on Wednesday in Bali's Kuta area, a day after the body of Sheila von Wiese-Mack was found inside the trunk of a taxi parked in front of the St Regis Bali Resort.

The charges are based on witnesses and crime scene evidence, said Bali deputy police chief Brigadier General Gusti Ngurah Raharja Subyakta. He added that the couple refused to speak to investigators without a lawyer following initial questioning, and were being tested for illegal drugs.

Police said the couple hired the taxi and then placed the suitcase inside the trunk. They told the taxi driver that they were going to check out of the hotel and would return.

However, after two hours, Mack and Schaefer had not reappeared. Hotel security guards who found blood spots on the suitcase suggested the driver take the taxi to the police station, where officers opened the suitcase and discovered the body.

Von Wiese-Mack, also from Chicago, and her daughter arrived at the St Regis on Saturday, while Schaefer checked in on Monday, police said.

CCTV footage shows that the victim had an argument with Schaefer on Monday in the hotel's lobby.

Von Wiese-Mack's body was being autopsied at a hospital in Denpasar, Bali. Head of forensics Ida Bagus Putu Alit said there were signs of violence on the body indicating the victim fought before she died.

"We found scars on both forearms and the broken left-hand fingernail," Alit said following an external examination. "That indicated a resistance in a fight."

During initial questioning on Wednesday, Mack acknowledged her mother died, but refused to disclose how, according to Haposan Sihombing, an Indonesian lawyer assigned by police to accompany the couple.

Sihombing said that Mack and her mother arrived in Bali on August 4, and stayed first at Simanyak Hotel before moving to St Regis on August 9.

Mack signed investigating documents after Wednesday's questioning while Schaefer refused, saying he wants to wait for his lawyer to arrive from America, Sihombing said.

- AP

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n2 at 22 Oct 2014 02:41:41 Processing Time: 341ms