The 7-year-old daughter of Heather Mack, the 27-year-old American heiress convicted in 2014 in Indonesia and waiting trial in the U.S. for the murder of her mother Sheila von Wiese-Mack, has finally been given a guardian.
Estelle “Stella” Schaeffer will live with Mack’s maternal cousin Lisa Hellmann in Colorado, a court has decided. The child was born in Kerobokan Female Prison after her then 18-year-old mother and 21-year-old father Tommy Schaeffer were convicted of killing Heather’s 62-year-old mother, stuffing her in a suitcase, and leaving the luggage in the trunk of a taxi outside a fancy hotel in Bali.
Mack was released in 2021 after serving seven years of her 1o-year sentence, but was arrested on arrival at Chicago O’Hare airport on U.S. charges tied to the murder in what her lawyer’s said at the time was highly expected.
The child spent the first two years of her life in her mother’s prison cell and then with a foster family in Bali. She has been living with Mack’s lawyer since her mother was arrested upon her return to the U.S.
Schaeffer, who authorities say admitted to the killing, is still serving his 18 year sentence in a squalid prison in Indonesia. Schaeffer said he killed his then-girlfriend’s 62-year-old mother because she tried to abuse Mack, even strangling her.
Schaeffer’s mother, Kia Walker, tried unsuccessfully to petition the court for custody of her granddaughter and even showed up at O’Hare airport in anticipation of Mack’s arrest. “The lawyers don’t need custody,” Walker said at the time. “Stella has family here. She has me. I want my granddaughter. I want this craziness to stop.”
Cook County judge Stephanie Miller did indeed remove the child from the lawyer’s care, and instead awarded custody to Mack’s cousin under the condition the child would “not be used as a pawn or exploited in any fashion,” according to the Chicago Sun Times.
Mack—along with Schaeffer—face felony charges for conspiring to kill Wiese-Mack while they were in the U.S. Prosecutors said the couple referred to themselves as “Bonnie and Clyde” in messages as they planned to off the middle-aged woman, apparently to tap into Mack’s $1.5 million inheritance. Mack’s father was acclaimed jazz composer James Mack, who died in 2006.
The couple also allegedly employed Shaeffer’s cousin, Robert Ryan Bibbs, who acted as a “consultant” for the murder in exchange for $50,0000. Bibbs confessed to his role, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois. “Bibbs pleaded guilty in 2016 to a murder conspiracy charge, stating in a plea agreement that he was aware of the couple’s plot to carry out von Wiese-Mack’s murder and that he counseled Schaeffer on how to get away with it.”
Mack’s trial is set for July 31.