CHICAGO - An American attorney for a Chicago man accused of killing his girlfriend's mother on the Indonesian resort island of Bali said Wednesday that his client denies that he confessed during an interrogation, as police claim.
Chicago attorney Thomas Durkin said Tommy Schaefer told him by phone that he didn't confess to killing Sheila von Wiese-Mack, whose badly beaten body was found stuffed in a suitcase inside the trunk of a taxi at the St. Regis Bali Resort in August. The victim's 19-year-old daughter, Heather Mack, is also a suspect. Neither has been formally charged.
Col. Djoko Hari Utomo, the police chief in Bali's capital, Denpasar, said Friday that Schaefer, 21, confessed to killing von Wiese-Mack during questioning.
"He was hurt and offended by the victim's words in an argument with him. That is the motive for the murder," Utomo told The Associated Press.
He also said Mack, who is three months' pregnant, admitted during a separate interrogation that she helped Schaefer stuff her mother's body into a suitcase. Utomo said Schaefer and Mack were accompanied by their Indonesian and U.S. lawyers during the interrogations, but Durkin said he has not gone to Indonesia.
Neither Utomo nor his spokesman responded to after-hours phone calls Wednesday seeking comment.
Attempts last week to reach the Indonesian lawyers were not successful. Mack's U.S. attorney, Michael Elkin, has maintained that Mack is innocent, but he didn't respond to emailed questions last week about the purported confessions. He released a statement Monday thanking the police chief and his staff for their "professionalism" while adding that he would not comment further while the investigation continues.
Police say they have interviewed dozens of witnesses, including the taxi driver and hotel employees, and some had reported an argument among the three over who should pay for the rooms. Security camera video showed the victim having an argument with Schaefer in the hotel lobby.
Family and friends of von Wiese-Mack will remember her at a funeral service Saturday at St. Chrysostom's Episcopal Church in Chicago's lakefront Gold Coast neighborhood, according to an announcement on the church's website.
Von Wiese-Mack was the widow of highly regarded jazz and classical composer James L. Mack, who died in 2006 at the age of 76.
Von Wiese-Mack was a member of a century-old Chicago literary club called the Caxton Club. She had varied interests including Asian literature and Wagnerian opera, according to a May 2013 profile of her in the club's publication, Caxtonian.