No bond for woman charged in death of socialite mom

CHICAGO — A judge declined to ease bond conditions Thursday and release a Chicago woman who is charged with conspiracy in the 2014 death of her wealthy mother during a luxury vacation in Bali.

The decision means Heather Mack, 27, will remain in custody without bond while awaiting a July trial in federal court in Chicago.

Mack was arrested in Chicago in November 2021 after serving more than seven years in an Indonesian prison for murder. The body of her socialite mother, Sheila von Wiese-Mack, was stuffed in a suitcase and left in a taxi outside a hotel on the island of Bali.

Although Mack was convicted in Indonesia, U.S. prosecutors filed their own case, accusing her of conspiring with a former boyfriend before they traveled to the islands in 2014.

Defense attorney Michael Leonard said Mack has behaved well while in custody and would not pose a flight risk or a threat to the public if granted bond. He cited her “loving” relationship with her now 7-year-old daughter, who was born shortly before Mack and the child’s father were convicted of killing von Wiese-Mack in 2015.

But U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly declined to release Mack. “There are plenty of reasons to believe she would pose a danger to others,” he said.

Mack reportedly had a fraught, often violent relationship with her mother. Police responded dozens of times to the family’s home in Oak Park, Illinois.

Von Wiese-Mack’s siblings testified that that they feared for their safety if Mack were to be released.

Through tears, von Wiese-Mack’s younger sister Debbi Curran said she had been a “second mother” to Mack all her life, but called her niece a “master manipulator.”

Mack, who had appeared impassive throughout the hearing, wiped away tears as Curran spoke. Mack’s child is in the custody of Curran’s daughter.

Defense attorney Leonard said he and Mack were “disappointed” that she was denied bail but understood the judge’s decision due to the serious allegations against her.

In 2017, Robert Bibbs was sentenced to nine years in a U.S. prison for advising Mack and Tommy Schaefer about how to kill Mack’s mother. Their motive apparently was to inherit money from von Wiese-Mack, who was the widow of jazz and classical composer James L. Mack.


Savage is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.