Almost ten years ago, Heather Mack and her boyfriend ruthlessly murdered Heather’s mother and stuffed her body in a suitcase while on a vacation in Indonesia. Ten years later, Heather has been released from prison in Indonesia only to be deported to the United States and charged there. While many people are gawking at the sensationally violent and gruesome crime, it may be a warning that we need to pay more attention to the mental health of our teens—even if the truth may be frightening.
What Happened and Why?
In August of 2014, Heather Mack and her boyfriend Tommy Schaefer killed Heather’s mother and disposed of her body in a suitcase while on vacation in Indonesia. The murder was particularly brutal and captured national attention quickly. Heather’s mother Sheila had been bludgeoned to death with a blunt object. Two main motives had been suggested for Sheila’s murder. First, Sheila did not approve of Heather’s relationship with her boyfriend and, second, Heather was positioned to inherit a significant sum of money from a trust fund. It is also worth noting that prior to the murder, there have been claims of abuse made by Heather and the rest of the family.
“The Abuse Went Both Ways”
Who abused whom is actually a bit of a conentious topic in this case. While there are sources that claim that Heather was abused, other sources claim she was the abuser. Some sources acknowledge that the abuse went both ways. While we might not have definitive answers, we do know that the police were called to the Mack residence over 80 times between 2003 and 2014 relating to domestic incidents. While there isn’t a whole lot of definitive information for who did what, it’s pretty clear that something wasn’t quite right at home. And if we’re honest, there were probably a lot of things going on in that house that weren’t right.
What Happened Next?
Initially, Heather Mack served seven years in an Indonesian prison for her part in the murder of her mother. Once she was released in 2021, she was deported back to the United States where she was arrested on other charges. In 2023, she plead guilty to consipiring to kill a U.S. national. Recently, Heather was sentenced to 26 years in prison for conspiracy to kill a U.S. national. Heather did give birth to a daughter while behind bars. The little girl is now eight years old, and judges are conscious of concerns about ensuring that she has a stable environment to grow up in, and is well-adjusted. Due to this, Heather may have the opportunity to serve time in the same state in which her daughter resides.
Signs Your Teen Needs Additional Help
There is such a thing a normal teen behavior—and it’s definitely less than perfect. However, there can be concerning signs that something deeper is going on. During the teenage years, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of havin\ good influences. Violent outbursts, skipping school, vandalism, theft, and other crimes, all constitute abnormal behavior. If your child is drinking alcohol or doing recreational drugs, it may be a sign that immediate intervention is necessary. Getting your child the mental health care they need in order to get back on the right path can be a crucial part of ensuring that your child grows up to be a productive member of society. When it comes to children who are struggling, getting help sooner rather than later is often in your child’s best interests. Though many parents do prefer to ignore abnormal behavior, there may come a day where such behavior is not easily ignored—and it may be too late to do anything.
Our Hearts Are with the Families
Unfortunately, there are many victims in this story. As it happens so commonly with murder cases, the family of the deceased suffers as well. Hopefully, the sentence will bring as much closure as possible to the family of Sheila, Heather’s mother, and hopefully the family can begin to heal and move toward peace. These tragic cases are often sensationalized to the point where those reading about them forget that these things happened to real-life people, and these real-life people will be forever affected by such events. While it is important to be aware of what’s happening in the world, it’s also important to approach current events with understanding and compassion to those who have been harmed by such tragedy, and those who are currently grieving.