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Daughter of murdered American in Bali used mum's credit card after fleeing hotel

Published on Aug 15, 2014 3:09 PM
 

DENPASAR, Indonesia - Indonesian police say the teenage daughter of an American woman murdered and stuffed into a suitcase in Bali had used her mother's credit card to book a new hotel room after fleeing a luxury hotel where the body was found.

Heather Mack, 19, also reportedly told police that she was pregnant, as more details of the gruesome case emerged in the media.

The teenager and her boyfriend Tommy Schaefer, 21, are being investigated after police said there was strong evidence against the couple.

The half-naked body of Sheila Von Wiese Mack, 62, was found on Tuesday in a suitcase loaded into the boot of a taxi in front of the five-star St. Regis hotel in the upscale Nusa Dua resort area. AFP quoted a doctor as saying the victim had wounds to her head and appeared to have put up a struggle. The suitcase containing her body was smeared with blood and wrapped in a bed sheet.

The teenager and her boyfriend left the hotel on Tuesday but were caught early Wednesday. Police conducted mental health checks on the girl but the results were not yet known.

News website, http://www.news.com.au, reported that the couple had used the dead woman's credit card to pay for a room at the Risata Bali resort and spa, where they fled to after leaving the St. Regis Resort.

The news website, quoting police sources, also said Mack was taken to the police hospital on Friday for tests after she told police she was pregnant. As she was being escorted into the hospital room surrounded by media, Mack was heard saying: "Oh my God" and "hold my hand".

Bali Police chief Inspector General Albertus Julius Benny Mokalu said the couple had yet to provide police with a statement but he said there was strong evidence against them.

"We have much evidence including the CCTV footage, fingerprints, the luggage, it shows they are the perpetrators,'' the website quoted him as saying.

"This is premeditated murder. Why? Because we can see how they put the body in the suitcase."

Denpasar police chief Djoko Hariutomo told Fairfax Media that the victim and her daughter had arrived in Bali and checked into St. Regis on August 4. Schaeffer joined them on August 11.

On Tuesday morning - the day the body was found - the three had publicly argued over who would pay the hotel bill. The victim was heard saying as she had paid for Schaeffer's flight to Bali, the couple should pay for the hotel.

At 11.26am that day, hotel CCTV footage showed the couple in the reception area carrying a large suitcase wrapped in a bedsheet, according to the report. They wanted to check out of the hotel immediately, even though they were booked to leave only on Thursday.

Mr Djoko reportedly said the couple told reception staff that they would not pay the bill because the mother would pay when she checked out later. They also demanded that hotel staff open a safety deposit box and give them the contents, but the staff refused both requests.

After the argument, the couple loaded the suitcase into a taxi and went back into the hotel, saying they needed to get more bags. But they did not return and instead slipped out of the hotel through the back entrance, said the report.

Meantime, a lawyer acting for the teenager said she was innocent as reports surfaced of a disturbed and troubled girl. CBS quoted solicitor Michael Elkin as saying his client had no involvement in her mother's death.

Sydney Morning Herald reported that Mack was laughing and joking as she was led from one room to another at the police lockup on Thursday, smiling and saying "Britney Spears" at one point, and later "Oh my God" as she laughed, apparently at the media attention.

Under the Indonesian legal system, suspects are only formally charged at their first court appearance, which takes place once police have finished their investigations.

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