Murder-by-text: US man arrested for killing in Indonesia
CHICAGO, United States — A Chicago man was arrested Wednesday on charges that he advised his cousin and his cousin’s girlfriend about how to kill the woman’s wealthy mother at a beach resort in Indonesia, with the criminal complaint describing how he used text messages from the United States to suggest the most effective methods to kill.
Robert Justin Bibbs, 24, believed that in exchange for instructing the couple on how to carry out the slaying and how to evade police detection that he would get a cut of the mother’s inheritance, according to the complaint, which was unsealed several hours after Bibbs’ arrest.
He is charged in federal court in Chicago with conspiring with his cousin, Tommy Schaefer, and Heather Mack to kill Sheila von Wiese-Mack, whose body was found stuffed inside a suitcase in a taxi at the resort in Bali in August 2014. An Indonesian court convicted Mack, 19, and Schaefer, 21, in the killing in April.
When U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez asked Bibbs at an initial appearance Wednesday whether he understood he could face life in prison, Bibbs quietly replied, “Yes, ma’am.” Sitting nearby, his own mother shook her head in disbelief when a prosecutor said her son was accused in a murder conspiracy. Bibbs will remain jailed at least until a Friday detention hearing.
Shortly before von Wiese-Mack, 62, was bludgeoned to death, Schaefer allegedly texted Bibbs saying the couple had unsuccessfully tried causing the mother to overdose on medication. “I told you,” Bibbs answered in a text; “U was right,” Schaefer responded, according to the criminal complaint.
The complaint says Schaefer then texted Bibbs that Mack was in the Bali hotel room with her sleeping mother and that she wanted him to come over and kill her right away. “She wants me to right now … while she snoozing,” Schaefer texted; Bibbs; response, according to the complaint, was: “Go sit on her face wit a pillow.”
In communicating the overdose hadn’t worked, Schaefer included a gun emoji, or symbol, adding, “Definitely need that,” the complaint says. Schaefer even texted emojis of money bags to indicate how the killing would make them all rich, the complaint says.
After their conviction earlier this year, Schaefer was sentenced to 18 years in prison for battering the woman to death and Mack to 10 years for helping.
At his trial, Schaefer testified that von Wiese-Mack was angry when she learned her daughter was pregnant, prompting him to strike her with metal fruit bowl. The couple’s baby girl, Stella, was born in prison in March.
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.
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