Daughter of Sheila von Wiese-Mack pregnant, claims abuse in Indonesian prison awaiting murder trial

Heather Mack, accused of murdering her mother while they vacationed in Bali, is pregnant and accusing her jailers of sexually abusing her.
By Gabrielle Levy  |  Aug. 19, 2014 at 12:09 PM
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DENPASAR, Indonesia, Aug. 19 (UPI) -- The Chicago woman accused of beating her mother to death and stuffing her in a suitcase in Bali is pregnant and claims she has been mistreated in jail.

Denpasar, Bali, Police Chief Djoko Hari Utomo confirmed Monday that Heather Mack is pregnant, but said it was a normal pregnancy, not an ectopic pregnancy, as she had claimed.

Mack, 19, and her boyfriend Tommy Schaefer, 21, were arrested last week on suspicion of the murder of Mack's mother Sheila von Wiese-Mack, 62, after von Wiese-Mack's body was discovered at the luxury St. Regis resort where they had been staying.

Mack's lawyer, Michael Elkin, says his client sounded dazed and confused, sometimes incoherent, and has been sexually assaulted three times since she was taken into police custody.

"I said, 'Were you touched?' And she said 'Yes,'" Elkin said. "I said, 'Were you touched inappropriately?' And she said, 'Yes.'"

Elkin blamed Mack's incoherence on dehydration and said she's been given strong vitamin pills. He insisted Mack is innocent of her mother's murder and a team of lawyers, private investigators and doctors are preparing to travel to Bali. Mack and Schaefer have spoken to Indonesian investigators but have insisted on waiting until their American lawyer arrives before answering further questions.

Police Chief Utomo denied that Mack had been mistreated in Denpasar custody, instead saying police had "especially" taken care of her.

"We have already given treatment that is more than normal," he said. "We give the same food for all suspects. We also give special attention to her as she is still young. This is a transition period for her."

Police said they had given the couple KFC, which Schaefer called an insult because he is black and fried chicken is connected to the history of racism in the U.S. Schaefer's Indonesian captors said they were surprised that Schaefer had taken offense, since KFC is expensive in Indonesia and not available to many of the poorer locals.

Meanwhile, Mack's pregnancy will complicate calls for her to face the death sentence, which is carried out by firing squad in Indonesia.

In the Indonesian criminal justice system, suspects may be held for some time without charges being filed, which likely won't happen until after the investigation is complete and trial begins.

Police said Mack and Schaefer hailed a taxi at the St. Regis in Nusa Dua on the morning of August 12, loading a silver suitcase into the trunk before reentering the hotel. When they didn't reappear after two hours, the driver spoke to hotel management and they opened the suitcase to discover von Wiese-Mack's body inside.

Mack and Schaefer were located asleep at a hotel about 6 miles away, claiming they had been able to escape attack by an armed gang, on whom they blamed von Wiese-Mack's murder.

A forensic team found numerous wounds on the body, including those made from blunt objects and many defensive wounds, which they said showed von Wiese-Mack struggled hard against her assailant.

An investigation by the Chicago Tribune found the mother and daughter were repeatedly in contact with police in recent years. According to police records, Mack bit and punched her mother, locked her in a closet, stole money and once shoved her hard enough to break her arm.

The report says authorities recommended Mack be admitted to a mental health facility, but that von Wiese-Mack "refused to allow Heather to be hospitalized."

Von Wiese-Mack's body is expected to be sent back to the U.S. for examination by the FBI, but the timing of its arrival is unclear.

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