Cousin accused of texting advice on Bali murder out of jail

AP News
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Posted: Sep 25, 2015 4:25 PM
Cousin accused of texting advice on Bali murder out of jail

CHICAGO (AP) — A U.S. judge Friday agreed to release a 24-year-old until his trial on charges he helped his cousin and his cousin's girlfriend kill the woman's mother in Indonesia by texting tips from more than 9,000 miles away in Chicago.

Robert Justin Bibbs will be confined to his mother's Chicago home on an unsecured $50,000 bond and must wear a GPS-monitoring bracelet, U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez said at a detention hearing. Bibbs had been in jail since his Wednesday arrest on murder conspiracy charges.

Bibbs offered advice on how to kill Sheila von Wiese-Mack in hopes of getting a cut of the 62-year-old's inheritance, a federal criminal complaint says. While Bibbs allegedly suggested drowning her or suffocating her, von Wiese-Mack, a U.S. citizen from the Chicago area, was bludgeoned to death with a metal fruit bowl.

Her body was found stuffed in a suitcase last year at a Bali resort where she had been on vacation. Her daughter, Heather Mack, and Tommy Schaefer, Bibbs' cousin, were convicted by an Indonesian court in April. Schaefer was sentenced to 18 years in prison for the killing; Mack got 10 years for helping.

At Friday's hearing, lead prosecutor Bolling Haxall didn't press for Bibbs' continued detention. He said Bibbs "is a danger to the community" but agreed the release conditions would "mitigate" any risk.

The complaint includes chilling texts the cousins allegedly exchanged, sometimes using emoji symbols to compare killing methods. One the day of the killing, Bibbs texted Schaefer to go the mother's Bali hotel room and "sit on her face wit a pillow," the complaint says.

Bibbs' mother also spoke at Friday's hearing, telling Valdez she would turn her son in if he broke any rules set for his release. Her full name wasn't given in court.

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