Chicago 'suitcase killer' Heather Mack back in federal court, defense expected to request release on bond

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Heather Mack, dubbed the “suitcase killer” in the 2014 murder of her Chicago socialite mother in Bali, Indonesia, is expected to appear back in federal court Wednesday. Her defense will formally request her release. 

The FBI re-arrested Mack, who served seven out of her 10-year sentence in an Indonesian prison, last week, after she landed on a flight from South Korea at Chicago’ O’Hare International Airport. 

In her first U.S. federal court appearance later that day, she pleaded not guilty on new charges of conspiracy to kill in a foreign country, conspiracy to commit foreign murder of a U.S. national, obstruction.

Mack had been already prosecuted and convicted in Indonesia over the 2014 killing of her mother Sheila von Wiese-Mack at the St. Regis Bali Resort. She gave birth to a daughter, Stella, while incarcerated. 

Wednesday’s hearing will take place at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse in Chicago, where U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle will decide whether or not to grant Mack bond, the Chicago Sun Times reported. 

Brian Claypool, one of Mack’s attorneys, said defense will fight for a low bail amount.  

“We’re going to fight for a very low bail amount. We’re hoping that this judge does not issue no bail,” he told WMAQ-TV. “Heather has been a model inmate for seven years. She’s been in jail, she was released early because she’s been such a great inmate. She’s not a flight risk or danger to society. Heather has no money and I’m sure she’d be willing to relinquish her passport. If she were going to flee the country she would have done it before coming back to Chicago, so Heather Mack is not a flight risk.”

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    In this Tuesday, April 21, 2015 file photo, Heather Mack of Chicago, Illinois, center, is escorted by police officers as he arrives in the courtroom for her sentencing hearing at a district court in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia.  (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati)

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    Heather Mack is mobbed by reporters as he arrives in the courtroom for her sentencing hearing at a district court in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, on April 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati, File)

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    Heather Mack is escorted by immigration officers to Immigration detention center in Jimbaran, Bali, Indonesia on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021. Indonesian authorities on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021, announced that Mack, an American woman convicted of helping to kill her mother on Indonesia’s tourist island of Bali in 2014, is preparing to leave island to be deported to the United States after serving seven years of a 10-year sentence.  (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati, File)

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    In this March 31, 2015, file photo, Heather Mack, left, and her boyfriend Tommy Schaefer, of Chicago, are handcuffed as they arrive at a courtroom during their trial in Bali, Indonesia. (AP)

Claypool did not immediately return Fox News Digital’s request for comment Wednesday. 

During the first Nov. 3 hearing, another of Mack’s attorneys, Keith Spielfogel, indicated to the judge that the defense plans to ask for his client to be released on bond but pleaded for more time.  As did assistant U.S. Attorney Terry Kinney, who wanted more time to gather subpoena medical and psychiatric records for Mack describing alleged previous violent attacks on her mother in order to argue that she’d be a danger to the community, the Chicago Tribune previously reported.

Oak Park police said in 2014 that officers were called to von Wiese-Mack’s mansion more than 86 times in 10 years, according to the Sun Times. On one occasion, the socialite told police her daughter, Heather, had bitten her repeatedly and punched her in an already broken ankle during an argument over chores. 

In the indictment unsealed last week, Tommy Schaefer, Mack’s ex-boyfriend and the father of their Indonesian-prison-born daughter, was charged with the same three counts, though he remains imprisoned at an Indonesian prison where he’s serving out the rest of an 18-year sentence. 

Mack and Schaefer allegedly plotted to kill von Wiese-Mack to access a $1.5 million trust fund set up after the 2006 death of Heather Mack’s father, the famed jazz arranger conductor James L. Mack. They allegedly enlisted advice from Schaefer’s cousin, Robert Bibbs, who pleaded guilty in 2016.

Now age 6, Mack and Schaefer’s daughter, Stella Schaefer, traveled with her mother to the U.S. last week. Court records indicate a Cook County probate judge issued an emergency order naming Vanessa Favia, another of Heather Mack’s attorneys, as Stella’s temporary guardian. Favia has not returned multiple requests from Fox News Digital seeking comment. 

A former federal prosecutor told the Sun Times the custody battle for Stella likely won’t influence the judge’s decision on whether or not to grant bond for Heather Mack, noting the girl was already living separately from her mother for years until Mack’s release from an Indonesia prison in October. Stella was allowed to live with Heather at prison until she was 2 years old, when Heather then handed over custody to an Australian woman who served as a temporary foster mom. 

A close friend of von Wiese-Mack, Elliott Jacobson, told Fox News Digital last week he wants Stella, who is the sole beneficiary of her maternal grandmother’s estate, to be given a new name and identity and be adopted by a new family until she is old enough to grasp the circumstances of her birth. Meanwhile, Stella’s paternal grandmother, Kia Walker, who is the mother of Tommy Schaefer, is making a bid for permanent custody of the girl. 

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