CHICAGO — A Chicago man was sentenced today to nine years in federal prison for aiding 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 last year 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. U.S. District Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer imposed the nine-year sentence in federal court in Chicago.
The sentence was announced by Joel R. Levin, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; and Michael J. Anderson, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Indonesian law enforcement provided valuable assistance.
“Repeatedly, the prospect of Von Wiese’s killing was broached and defendant elected to push the plot forward, rather than stop it or extricate himself from it,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Bolling Haxall argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum. “When Schaefer stood at the precipice, defendant provided a push forward.”
Evidence revealed that Bibbs, Schaefer and Mack discussed the murder during a meeting in Bibbs’ Chicago home prior to Mack and Schaefer traveling to Indonesia. Mack and her mother shared a hotel room in Bali, 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, Bibbs’ 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 texted back 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, the plea agreement states.
A short time later, Schaefer entered the hotel room occupied by Mack and Von Wiese and bludgeoned Von Wiese to death, Bibbs’ 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. 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.
The government in Bibbs’ case is represented by Mr. Haxall, as well as Christine Duey, a trial attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section.