Tommy Schaefer is comforted by his translator inside Denpasar court on the Indonesian island of Bali on Tuesday. (Reuters Photo/Darren Whiteside)

Lengthy Jail Terms for US Couple in Bali Suitcase Murder Case


APRIL 21, 2015

Denpasar. An Indonesian court on Tuesday sentenced a US man to 18 years in prison for the murder of his girlfriend's mother, whose body was found stuffed into a suitcase on the resort island of Bali.

Tommy Schaefer, from the Chicago area, was arrested with his girlfriend, Heather Mack, last August after staff at a luxury hotel discovered the body of Mack's mother, Sheila von Wiese-Mack, in an abandoned suitcase in a taxi.

Schaefer was charged with premeditated murder after he said in court he had killed Wiese-Mack in self-defense.

Mack was charged with being an accessory to murder and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Schaefer was seen crying in court after presiding Judge Made Suweda announced the murder verdict and sentence in Denpasar District Court.

"Although I do take full responsibility for my actions, I am not a murderer," Scahefer told Reuters after hearing the verdict.

It was not immediately clear if the defense planned to appeal.

Bali Police, assisted by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, conducted a four-month investigation into the killing, including a re-enactment with the defendants at the luxury hotel where the victim's body was found with bruises on her arms and broken fingers.

Other evidence submitted to prosecutors included CCTV footage showing the couple speaking to a taxi driver after dropping the bloodied suitcase along with other luggage outside the hotel.