Tourist’s body found in suitcase

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iol pic wld indonesia-us-crime-tourism AFP This photo foreign tourists walking past the St Regis hotel in Nusa Dua on the Indonesian resort island of Bali. Picture: SONNY TUMBELAKA

Denpasar -

An American tourist's battered body has been found in a suitcase at an exclusive hotel on Indonesia's resort island of Bali and her daughter and daughter's boyfriend have been arrested over the killing, police said on Wednesday.

The body of Sheila von Wiese Mack was found on Tuesday stuffed into a suitcase in the boot of a taxi in front of the five-star St Regis hotel in the upscale Nusa Dua resort area of Bali.

The 62-year-old victim was half naked, had several wounds to her head, and appeared to have put up a struggle, a doctor who examined the body said. The suitcase had been wrapped in a bed sheet and sealed up with tape, and was smeared with blood.

Mack had been staying in the hotel with her daughter, Heather, 19, and her daughter's boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, 21, local police chief Djoko Hari Utomo told reporters.

She and her daughter stayed in the hotel together for several days before the boyfriend joined them on Monday, Utomo said. Mack was recorded on CCTV arguing with Schaefer in the hotel lobby the same night, he said.

The next day, the couple were checking out and sent several suitcases down to a taxi, allegedly including the one that contained the victim.

The body was discovered when the couple failed to show up at the waiting taxi, Utomo said. They were seen on CCTV leaving the hotel via a stretch of beach at the back of the property, instead of the main entrance.

Police launched a hunt and the pair were found sleeping at a hotel in the tourist area of Legian, north of Nusa Dua, early Wednesday, Utomo told AFP.

“This is murder, and we will decide from our investigation whether it is premeditated or spontaneous,” he said.

The victim's body was sent to the main hospital in the Balinese capital Denpasar. A doctor there said it had several wounds to the head, which appeared to have been inflicted with “blunt tools”.

“Looking at the wounds, the victim must have fought back,” said Ida Bagus Alit, adding that one of her fingers on her left hand was broken.

Stephanie Fleming, a 29-year-old British woman who has lived in Bali for four years, described the news as “pretty unbelievable”.

“You have a lot of burglaries, violence and robberies by locals directed at tourists,” she said.

“It's surprising to hear of something like this going on between tourists themselves.”

The hotel said that it was aware of the “terrible tragedy” and was assisting authorities in their investigation.

The US embassy in Jakarta said in a statement that it was “aware of the death of an American citizen that took place in Bali and we understand that two individuals have been arrested in connection with the case”.

The beachfront St. Regis is one of the most exclusive hotels in Bali with rooms starting at $470 a night and a 24-hour butler service, according to its website.

Police have 24 hours following the arrest to officially name the detained pair as suspects.

Once they are suspects, police can hold them for an initial 20 days while they investigate, but can seek an extension for several more weeks if needed.

They will only be formally charged once police have finished investigating and passed the details to prosecutors. They would be charged at an initial court appearance.

Bali, a pocket of Hinduism in Muslim-majority Indonesia, attracts millions of foreign tourists to its palm-fringed, pristine beaches each year.

Foreign visitors sometimes run into trouble on the tropical island, although it is normally when they fall foul of Indonesia's tough anti-drugs laws, which include the death penalty for smuggling narcotics. - Sapa-AFP


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