The body of a Chicago woman killed while vacationing in Bali and found stuffed inside a large, blood-stained suitcase was on its way back to the United States Tuesday. Her own daughter and the daughter's boyfriend remain in Indonesia in police custody.
A coffin carrying Sheila von Wiese-Mack, 62, departed Bali on a Korean Air flight at about 3 p.m. Tuesday -- 2 a.m. Central Time -- bound for Chicago. With travel time estimates, the body is expected to be at O'Hare International Airport late Tuesday.
An autopsy Saturday found that von Wiese-Mack, 62, died of asphyxiation sometime last Tuesday morning from a broken nose bone resulting from a blunt blow, said Ida Bagus Putu Alit, head of forensics at Sanglah Hospital in Bali's provincial capital of Denpasar. She also suffered from a broken neck, Alit said.
"Sheila Von Wiese-Mack was murdered when she was standing, hit by a blunt object, it could be an ashtray or flower vase that was found at the crime scene. The body was found 12 - 14 hours after it happened," said Dr. Dudut Rustyad, head of the police forensic team at Sanglah hospital morgue in Denpasar.
The autopsy found that breaks in von Wiese-Mack's neck and nose extended to her upper right and left jaws, causing respiratory disorders. It also showed hand wounds suggesting she was trying to fend off an attack.
"We also found blood aspiration, which meant the victim was standing when assaulted," Alit said. "The conclusion is that the victim suffocated from lack of oxygen because of influx of blood from the broken nose bone."
Heather Lois Mack, 18, and her 21-year-old boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, were arrested a day after her mother's body was found inside the trunk of a taxi parked in front of the St. Regis Bali Resort.
Police last week announced the pair were "charged" with murder but later said that wasn't the case. Under Indonesia’s civil law tradition, suspects are only charged during their first appearance in court. Mack and Schaefer remain in custody as the investigation continues but haven't yet appeared in front of a judge. If found guilty of premeditated murder, both could be sentenced to death by firing squad under Article 340 of Indonesia's Criminal Code.
Previous reports put Lois Mack's age at 19. Her Chicago attorney, Michael Elkin, on Monday said she won't be 19 for a few more months.
Elkin also on Monday said his client is two months pregnant and alleges she's been sexually assaulted and given unknown pills while in custody.
"Heather seemed to be dazed and confounded," Elkin said in a statement after talking with his client overnight. "I asked why she sounded incoherent at times. She said that she was not getting enough water. She also mentioned that she was being given "vitamin pills," but could not identify what they were for and asked me if she should stop taking them."
Elkin said his telephone conversations with Mack were facilitated by staff from the U.S. Consulate in that country but said his client had not revealed the alleged incidents of sexual abuse to consulate staffers.
Authorities in the upscale Chicago suburb of Oak Park said records showed 86 incidents in which police were called to the family's house in Oak Park where von Wiese-Mack lived with her daughter. Friends and neighbors said the mother-daughter relationship was sometimes contentious.
Von Wiese-Mack was the widow of highly regarded jazz and classical composer James L. Mack of Oak Park, Illinois, who died in 2006 at age 76.
In 2012, von Wiese-Mack joined a century-old Chicago book club called the Caxton Club. She had varied interests including Asian literature and Wagnerian opera, according to a May 2013 profile of her in the club's publication Caxtonian.
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