A long-time friend of the Chicago socialite slain by ‘suitcase killer’ Heather Mack asked that the killer’s daughter be placed in witness protection to shield her from being used as a ‘pawn’ for profit.
Elliot Jacobson, who delivered the eulogy for the late Sheila von Wiese-Mack in 2014, said Estelle ‘Stella’ Schaefer, 6, needed to be put in a proper home in the US and protected from the infamy of her mother’s crimes.
‘Stella really needs to be extricated completely from the environment she has been living in since she was born and we need to have a sort of ‘Stella Protection Program,’ Jacobson told Fox News, referencing the fact the the child was born in an Indonesian prison.
‘Analogous to the witness protection program where Stella gets a new identity and is placed with a family of two parents, not a single parent, who have the resources and the skill and occupation to allow her to be raised to have a productive life.’
Estelle ‘Stella’ Schaefer, the daughter of Suitcase Killer Heather Mack, was reunited with her mother in Bali before they flew back to the US
Mack, pictured leaving Indonesian prison on October 29 before being sent to US, was arrested upon landing on Wednesday
Mack and her boyfriend Tommy Schaefer were convicted of killing her mother Sheila von Wiese-Mack (pictured) at a Bali resort in 2014.
Schaefer (left) remains locked up in Indonesia for the brutal murder of Mack’s mother.
Mack killed her mom to access a $1.5 million trust fund set up in her name by Mack’s late father, famed jazz conductor James L. Mack
Jacobson’s plea came as Mack, 26, pleaded not guilty to US murder conspiracy charges in the death of her mother, whose body was found stuffed in a suitcase at the St. Regis Bali Resort in 2014.
Mack and boyfriend Tommy Schaefer, 28 – who remains behind bars – are charged with two counts of conspiring to kill her mother and one count of obstruction of justice.
The couple allegedly plotted to kill Wiese-Mack to access a $1.5 million trust fund set up in her name by Mack’s late father, famed jazz conductor James L. Mack.
Mack’s next court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 10.
Stella is currently being cared for by Oshar Putu Melody Suartama, an Australian woman married to a Balinese man.
Jacobson wants Stella transferred to a stable environment as Mack’s lawyers continue to fight to put the 6-year-old into the custody of Mack and Schaefer’s family or friends.
‘She’s been tossed around like a football from Heather to the Australian couple in Indonesia now to the attorney and authorities. Her critical path from birth to now is unprecedented,’ Jacobson said. ‘She needs to be removed from this environment and all the people who populate it, mainly Tommy, Heather, Tommy’s mom, who making a bid to be her guardian.’
Mack arrived at Chicago O’Hare Airport on Wednesday accompanied by Stella, whom she gave birth to inside an Indonesian prison after being arrested and convicted of the murder in the foreign country.
Mack – who was 18 and pregnant when she helped her boyfriend Tommy Schaefer murder her mother – was released early last week for good behavior: seven years and two months into a 10-year sentence.
US agents swooped in to arrest her in Chicago after she stepped foot off the 13-hour flight from Seoul, South Korea at 9:30am CT, on charges stemming from a three-count indictment in 2017 that was briefly unsealed in federal court Wednesday.
The grand jury indictment was filed in July 2017 but remained under seal until federal authorities caught wind of Mack’s imminent return.
A government motion filed Wednesday morning said: ‘The United States has learnt that defendant Heather Mack was released from prison in Indonesia on October 29, 2021, and plans to return to Chicago, Illinois on or about November 3, 2021.
‘An arrest warrant has been issued for Heather Mack based upon the Indictment and the FBI intends to execute the warrant when the defendant arrives at O’Hare Airport.’
Mack, who was pregnant at the time of her mother’s murder, gave birth to Stella while in the Bali prison. Stella, who is now six, is shown with her mother in 2015
Kia Walker, Schaefer’s mom, says she plans to fight for custody of her granddaughter during press conference after Mack’s arrest Wednesday.
The order asked the US District Court for Northern Illinois to unseal the historic indictment immediately upon Mack’s arrest.
Mack’s legal team has vowed to wage ‘war’ to allow the convicted killer to start afresh, citing double jeopardy laws and the impact another trial will have on Stella.
Mack made a brief appearance Wednesday afternoon at the federal courthouse in downtown Chicago, where she pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country and obstruction of justice.
US District Judge Charles Norgyle remanded her in custody to reappear before the court on November 10.
Mack has claimed that she was hiding in a bathroom when Schaefer, then aged 21, bludgeoned Wiese-Mack to death with a fruit bowl inside a room at a plush Regis resort in Bali in 2014.
But prosecutors say she helped him cram the body into a suitcase and wheel it downstairs where they hailed a cab and loaded it into the trunk. The pair ran away when the driver became suspicious but were arrested shortly afterwards at a nearby budget hotel and put on trial.
The indictment – which was resealed later Wednesday morning – includes a list of ‘overt acts’ by Mack and Schaefer allegedly conspiring to kill her mother, such as Mack arranging her boyfriend’s travel to Bali on August 10, 2014, and the couple discussing how and when to kill her in messages two days later.
They are accused of obstruction of justice by ‘destroy[ing], mutilat[ing] and conceal[ing] objects’ by stuffing von Wiese-Mack’s body into a suitcase and removing it – as well as the ‘linens and items of clothing worn during the killing’ – from the scene.
Mack had begged Indonesian officials to let Stella escape her infamy by staying behind in Bali to be raised by foster parent and close friend Oshar Suartama.
But her plea was refused and the pair were reunited this week before embarking on the grueling 24-hour trip home.
Mack and a young Stella are shown in an undated photo
Attorney Brian Claypool sought an emergency hearing Tuesday to ensure that, in the event Mack was taken away, her daughter would instead be left in the care of Oshar, who accompanied the mom and daughter on their flight to the US.
Claypool told DailyMail.com he applied to Cook County for the emergency order after hearing that FBI agents boarded the same flights and shadowed the trio as they traveled half way around the world, though his claim is yet to be confirmed.
‘We didn’t want Stella going into CPS,’ Claypool told DailyMail.com.
‘First, she has a foster mom, who she considers to be mommy number two. They have a loving, caring relationship. ‘Second, once a child gets into the foster care system it is a lot harder to extricate them.’
Claypool said that if the Feds decide to arrest Mack on new charges – perhaps some sort of conspiracy charge related to the plotting of her mother’s death, rather than the act itself – he would fight any such charges on the basis of double jeopardy.
‘It’s gonna be a dogfight because they are being punitive towards Heather,’ he told the Chicago-Sun Times.
Among those at international arrivals Wednesday awaiting a glimpse of Stella was Schaefer’s mom Kia Walker, who told reporters she planned to fight for custody of the little girl.
‘I’m Stella’s grandmother and I want custody of my granddaughter,’ she said, fighting tears.
WILL A FIFTH AMENDMENT CLAUSE SAVE HEATHER MACK?
Heather Mack’s attorney Brian Claypool says they plan to fight new charges related to the plotting of her mother’s death on the basis of double jeopardy in the US.
Double jeopardy is a clause in the Fifth Amendment designed to stop a person standing trial twice for roughly the same crime. It generally safeguards someone who has been acquitted – but it can also shield someone who has already served a sentence.
However it is not a principle of international law and would not come into play unless there was a contractual agreement between the countries involved in the case. In the United States, it only applies to criminal cases. An example of double jeopardy would be a person who has been found not guilty, but then faces a slightly different charge over essentially the same crime.
If the prosecution doesn’t have to prove at least one extra fact in the new charge, that could be construed at double jeopardy for the accused.
However, if someone convicted of murder was later accused of conspiracy to murder – where different facts would be introduced – that would not necessarily be double jeopardy.
The Fifth Amendment clause states: ‘Nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.’ This protection covers retrial after an acquittal or conviction and retrial after a certain mistrials.
It only comes into play once a trial jury has been sworn in or a court has unconditionally accepted a defendant’s plea.
OJ Simpson and the words double jeopardy were bandied about in 2016 after Los Angeles police confirmed they were investigating a knife they thought could be related to the slaying of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson.
The NFL legend was famously acquitted of killing Nicole and her friend Ron Goldman in a sensational 1995 trial. However the knife, which detectives were investigating to see if it came from his former property, put Simpson back in the spotlight.
It was then pointed out by Los Angeles Police Department and legal sources that Simpson could not be charged again for the murders because of double jeopardy.