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Press Release

Chicago Man Charged With Aiding His Cousin and Heather Mack In The Murder Of Sheila Von Wiese In Bali, Indonesia

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Illinois

CHICAGO — The cousin of a man convicted with Heather Mack of murdering Mack’s mother at an Indonesian resort was charged with conspiring with the couple to commit the killing, according to a criminal complaint unsealed in federal court in Chicago today.

ROBERT RYAN JUSTIN BIBBS, 24, of Chicago, advised his cousin, Tommy Schaefer, and Schaefer’s girlfriend, Heather Mack, about how to kill Mack’s mother, Sheila Von Wiese, according to the federal complaint and FBI affidavit.  Bibbs was aware of the couple’s plot to kill Von Wiese at an Indonesian resort on Aug. 12, 2014, and he counseled Schaefer on how to get away with it, the affidavit states.  Bibbs believed Schaefer would gain access to Von Wiese’s estate through Mack, and that Schaefer would share the inheritance with family members, according to the charges.

Federal authorities arrested Bibbs earlier today.  The complaint charges him with conspiracy to commit the foreign murder of a U.S. national.  He is scheduled to make an initial court appearance at 3:00 p.m. today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez.

“Our commitment to fighting violent crime extends beyond the border,” said Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.  “We will use whatever tools are necessary to pursue justice both here and abroad.”

Mr. Fardon announced the arrest and complaint along with John A. Brown, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

“Our pursuit of individuals involved in violent crimes carried out overseas could not occur without the assistance of our worldwide network of Legal Attaches and their relationships with our international partners,” said Mr. Brown.

An Indonesian court convicted Schaefer and Mack of charges related to Von Wiese’s murder.  Schaefer was sentenced to 18 years in an Indonesian prison, while Mack was sentenced to ten years.

U.S. authorities executed multiple search warrants to acquire information stored in the cellular telephones of Schaefer and Bibbs, and in the Facebook accounts of Bibbs, Schaefer and Mack.  The affidavit cites several discussions via text message between Bibbs and Schaefer both before and during Schaefer’s and Mack’s trip to Bali.  During a text conversation on July 25, 2014, Schaefer told Bibbs that Von Wiese’s murder would occur in a month, and that it would result in financial gain for both of them, according to the complaint.

Soon after Schaefer checked into the St. Regis Bali resort on the morning of Aug. 12, 2014, he sent a text message to Bibbs, who was in the U.S.  The message stated that an attempt to kill Von Wiese by causing an overdose of medicine had failed, according to the complaint.  Schaefer’s text messages to Bibbs stated: “Wasn’t enough bro smh” [shaking my head]…“Definitely need that ” [emoji of a handgun].  Bibbs replied, “Damn I told you”; to which Schaefer responded, “I know I already thought about that”…“U was right.”

Later in the morning, Schaefer exchanged text messages with Mack, who was sharing a room with her mother on a different floor of the same hotel.  According to the complaint, Mack encouraged Schaefer to come to her room and carry out the murder.  This exchange prompted Schaefer to send a series of text messages to Bibbs, stating, “She wants me to right now”… “while she snoozing”… “Go in.”  Bibbs replied, “Go sit on her face wit a pillow then.”

Schaefer and Mack then exchanged several text messages in which they referred to each other as the film characters Bonnie and Clyde, according to the affidavit.  The affidavit states that Schaefer asked Mack, “Can u wack her in the head with a big ass pole”; to which Mack responded, “Can you”; and Schaefer replied, “Yes.”

Schaefer then traveled to the third floor where Mack and her mother were staying, according to the complaint.  He is seen on the hotel’s surveillance camera standing in an elevator with what appears to be an item stuffed under his shirt.  At that point, the affidavit states that Schaefer sent a series of text messages to Mack, saying, “Let me just creep up and wak her”… “Once I do it”…”She was drunk slipped and fell”; to which Mack responded, “Okay g”…“Okay just knock her out”…“Itll be so much easier.”

A short time later, Von Wiese was bludgeoned to death.  The affidavit states that later in the morning, Schaefer sent a series of text messages to Bibbs, saying, “Need yo help bro”…“I’m gucci but for some reason I don’t feel bad.”  Bibbs responded, “She wasn’t a good person”…“There wasn’t any positive energy released from her body.”  The pair then exchanged text messages for the next ten minutes, during which time they discussed the U.S. Men’s Basketball team, according to the complaint.

Schaefer and Mack were arrested the following day in another hotel in Bali.

The charge of conspiracy to commit the foreign murder of a U.S. national carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.  If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bolling Haxall and Julie B. Porter; and Hope Olds and Christine Duey, trial attorneys from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section.

The public is reminded that a complaint contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt.  The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.


Updated September 23, 2015

Violent Crime