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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Illinois

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Chicago Man Pleads Guilty to Aiding His Cousin and Heather Mack in the Murder of Mack’s Mother in Bali, Indonesia

CHICAGO — A Chicago man pleaded guilty in federal court today to charges he aided his cousin and Heather Mack in the 2014 killing of Mack’s mother at an Indonesian resort.

ROBERT RYAN JUSTIN BIBBS, also known as “Ryan Bibbs,” admitted in a plea agreement that he advised his cousin, Tommy Schaefer, and Mack about how to kill Mack’s mother, Sheila A. Von Wiese.  Von Wiese, 62, was bludgeoned to death in her hotel room at the St. Regis Bali resort on Aug. 12, 2014.

Bibbs acknowledged in his plea agreement that he was aware of the couple’s plot to carry out the murder, and he counseled Schaefer on how to get away with it.  Bibbs believed Schaefer would gain access to Von Wiese’s estate through Mack, and that Schaefer would share a portion of the inheritance with him, according to the plea agreement.

Bibbs, 26, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit the foreign murder of a U.S. national.  Per the plea agreement, the government and defendant’s counsel have agreed that the maximum sentence will be no more than 20 years in prison.  Other than the agreed maximum prison term, the Court remains free to impose the sentence it deems appropriate.  U.S. District Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer set sentencing for March 23, 2017, at 12:00 p.m.

The guilty plea was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Michael J. Anderson, 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.

An Indonesian court in 2015 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.

Evidence discovered by the FBI revealed that Bibbs and Schaefer engaged in several discussions via text message leading up to the killing.  Mack and her mother shared a hotel room, and Schaefer arrived at the resort on the morning of the murder.  Soon after his arrival, Schaefer sent a text message to Bibbs, who was in the United States.  The message stated that Mack had unsuccessfully attempted to kill Von Wiese, the plea agreement states.  Bibbs replied with advice about alternative ways to carry out the murder, including by drowning, the plea agreement states.

Later that morning Schaefer sent a text message to Bibbs, stating, in part, “She wants me to right now… While she snoozing,” which Bibbs understood to mean that Mack had asked Schaefer to help her kill Von Wiese, the plea agreement states.  Bibbs replied to Schaefer, “Go sit on her face wit a pillow then,” according to the plea agreement.  Bibbs intended this message to mean that Schaefer should go and suffocate Von Wiese, the plea agreement states.  Subsequent messages from Bibbs encouraged Schaefer to kill Von Wiese but to be careful while doing so, according to the plea agreement. 

A short time later, Schaefer entered the hotel room occupied by Mack and Von Wiese and bludgeoned Von Wiese to death, the plea agreement states.  Schaefer and Mack subsequently stuffed Von Wiese’s body into a suitcase, placed the suitcase in a taxicab and fled the resort, the plea agreement states.

Schaefer and Mack were arrested the following day by police in Indonesia.  Federal authorities in the U.S. arrested Bibbs on Sept. 23, 2015.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bolling Haxall, as well as Hope Olds and Christine Duey, trial attorneys from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section.

Topic: 
Violent Crime
Updated December 13, 2016