Chicago man sentenced to prison in Bali suitcase murder plot

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 02, 2017 5:20 PM

By Dan Whitcomb

(Reuters) - A Chicago man was sentenced on Friday to nine years in prison for advising his cousin and that man's girlfriend in a plot to murder her mother in Indonesia, a gruesome 2014 crime in which the victim's body was stuffed into a suitcase.

Robert Ryan Justin Bibbs, 26, pleaded guilty last year to one count of conspiracy to commit the foreign murder of a U.S. national.

He was sentenced to the nine-year federal prison term during a hearing in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

Sheila von Wiese-Mack was bludgeoned to death in her Bali hotel room on Aug. 12, 2014. Her body was then crammed into a suitcase and driven away in a taxi, prosecutors say.

Bibbs' cousin, Tommy Schaefer, and his girlfriend, Heather Mack, were convicted in 2015 in Indonesia, where he is serving an 18-year sentence and she is serving 10 years. Mack had a baby girl in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bolling Haxall said in court papers filed ahead of the sentencing that Bibbs had "elected to push the plot forward, rather than stop it or extricate himself from it."

As part of a plea agreement with prosecutors, Bibbs acknowledged he was aware Schaefer and Mack planned to kill the woman's mother and advised Schaefer on how to get away with it, believing that he would share a portion of von Wiese-Mack's estate.

Mack and her mother, who had a troubled relationship, were staying at a luxury hotel, the St. Regis Bali resort, in August 2014, prosecutors say. Schaefer joined them, surprising von Wiese-Mack, who did not know he was coming to Indonesia.

Schaefer subsequently sent a text message to Bibbs in the United States and the two discussed killing the mother, with Bibbs suggesting drowning her or suffocating her by sitting on her face with a pillow, prosecutors said.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Bill Trott)