Chicago man arrested, charged in connection with Bali suitcase murder

Heather Mack (left) of the US speaks with her boyfriend Tommy Schaefer (right) inside a holding cell at the procecutor's office in Denpasar on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on Dec 8, 2014.
Heather Mack (left) of the US speaks with her boyfriend Tommy Schaefer (right) inside a holding cell at the procecutor's office in Denpasar on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on Dec 8, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

CHICAGO (REUTERS) - A Chicago man was arrested on Wednesday for his long-distance role in the August 2014 murder of Chicago-area woman Sheila von Wiese-Mack, who was killed in Bali by her daughter's boyfriend and stuffed into a suitcase, prosecutors said.

Robert Bibbs, 24, is charged with conspiracy in the murder because he advised the killer in hope of sharing in an inheritance, according to charges brought by federal prosecutors.

Bibbs is scheduled to appear on Wednesday afternoon in federal court in Chicago, before US Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez.

Bibbs' cousin, Tommy Schaefer, and Schaefer's girlfriend, Heather Mack, were convicted in April in Indonesia for their roles in the murder.

Schaefer was sentenced to 18 years in prison for premeditated murder. Mack, who has had a baby girl in prison, is serving 10 years for being an accessory to murder.

Mack and her mother, who had a troubled relationship, had travelled together to Bali last year and were staying at a luxury hotel. Schaefer joined them, surprising von Wiese-Mack, who did not know he was coming to Indonesia.

Within hours of Schaefer's arrival, von Wiese-Mack was bludgeoned to death, and Schaefer and Mack stuffed the body in a suitcase and placed it in a taxi cab.

They then fled the hotel, when staff refused to give them their passports, which von-Wiese-Mack had left in a hotel safe.

"Bibbs knew of the plot to kill (von Wiese-Mack) before Schaefer and Mack carried it out, advised them on how to kill the victim, and counselled Schaefer on how to evade detection by law enforcement," federal prosecutors said in a statement.

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 five-star St Regis Bali Resort where the body was found with bruises on her arms and broken fingers.

Mack has fought in Chicago courts to get funds from her US$1.56 million (S$2.2 million) trust fund, left to her by her mother, to pay for her defense and her appeal in Indonesia.