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US man pleads guilty in notorious Bali suitcase murder

14 December 2016, 18:46

Chicago – A Chicago man pleaded guilty on Tuesday to helping to plot the murder of a woman vacationing at a Bali resort, in a case that has already sent the woman's daughter to prison.

Robert Ryan Justin Bibbs said in a plea agreement that he advised his cousin Tommy Schaefer and Schaefer's girlfriend Heather Mack on how to kill Mack's mother.

Sheila von Weise was beaten to death with a fruit bowl during a vacation in 2014 at a luxury resort hotel on Indonesia's Bali island. Prosecutors say Schaefer and Mack stuffed the 62-year-old's body in a suitcase, left it inside a taxi, and then fled.

Bibbs, 26, said he was aware of the couple's plans and believed he would receive a share of the inheritance that Mack expected to receive after her mother's death, prosecutors said in a court filing.

Authorities discovered evidence that Bibbs and Schaefer engaged in several text message conversations in which Bibbs offered methods in which to carry out the murder.

Premeditated murder

"Go sit on her face wit (sic) a pillow," he allegedly wrote in one text message, according to the FBI.

In 2015 an Indonesian court convicted Schaefer, who was 21 at the time, of premeditated murder and jailed him for 18 years.

Mack – who was 19 and pregnant when the crime occurred – was found guilty of assisting in the murder and given a 10-year prison term. Prosecutors said she hid in the bathroom while Schaefer attacked her mother.

The case sent shockwaves across the tropical island, which welcomes millions of foreign visitors each year.

Schaefer confessed to the murder during his trial but claimed he was defending himself during an argument with Von Wiese, who was unhappy that her daughter was pregnant.

Prosecutors alleged that Schaefer "blindly hit" Von Wiese with the fruit bowl in a fit of rage after she directed a racial slur at him. Schaefer is black.

Schaefer and Mack, who are also from Chicago, were arrested in Indonesia a day after the murder and are serving their prison sentences there.

Bibbs, who was arrested by federal authorities in Chicago in September of last year, faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

- AFP

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