Heather Mack, the teen found guilty of murdering her mother and stuffing her into a suitcase in 2014, says their family relationship was “complicated.”

In an interview with People, Mack and a family friend detail a co-dependent situation:

“She never wanted to be separated from me and yet she also hated everything about me,” Heather, 19, tells PEOPLE from the cell she shares with seven other women and her six-month-old daughter, Stella, in Bali’s Kerobokon prison. “It was complicated.”

In August 2014, Mack’s mom Sheila von Wiese-Mack was on vacation in Bali with Mack and her boyfriend Tommy Schaefer, who eventually confessed to bludgeoning von Wiese-Mack to death in their hotel room.

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According to the couple, von Wiese-Mack flew into a rage upon learning that Mack was pregnant and tried to choke Schaefer, who then hit her with the steel handle of a fruit bowl. Her body was discovered in a suitcase in the back of a taxi in August 2014.

In April 2015, Schaefer was sentenced to 18 years, and Heather was sentenced to ten years behind bars.

Mack maintains that she didn’t end her mother’s life but did say their lives grew more tense after her father James Mack died in 2006, leaving Mack a $1.5 million trust. “There was a lot of good in our relationship,” she says. “I don’t know if I would describe us as friends, but we were close.”

So close that Mack says she was forced to bunk with her mother each night.

“I had a nice room, but if I ever tried to sleep in it, she couldn’t take it and she wouldn’t sleep,” says Heather. “So I slept with her.”

Adds the family friend: “When I’d ask Sheila, ‘Don’t you think she’s a little old for that?’ She’d say, ‘Why? She needs me. She has nightmares at night. She needs me.’”

Von Wiese-Mack also encouraged Mack to steal “thousands and thousands of dollars worth of makeup,” though the pair were flush. Eventually the two got into physical fights and Heather ended up in juvenile detention.

“If I went to a psych ward, she would get frustrated within a couple days and couldn’t take being away from me, so she’d do everything she could to get me out,” says Heather, who claims her mother’s behavior grew increasingly erratic due to drinking. “She didn’t want me to get help and she didn’t want to get help for herself.”

Mack told People that, when she eventually tried to create distance between them, von Wiese-Mack would threaten to take her own life.

“I tried to move out of the house multiple times because I couldn’t take it anymore,” she says. “And every time I would try to leave, she would call me and send me pictures of herself trying to kill herself, saying, ‘If you don’t come back right now you’re not ever going to see me ever again.’ So I’d always go back.”

Mack also said her mother’s death was an accident of sorts.

“In the media they say we had it [Sheila’s killing] all planned out, but that’s not what happened. She attacked Tommy, he hit her. That’s all he did. I saw it. But things are more confusing now than when she was alive,” Heather says, pausing for a moment to check on the infant asleep in her bed. “I wish I’d found some way to get her help. And to get me help.”

This is such a sad story, whether you believe her or not.


Contact the author at hillary@jezebel.com.

Image via Getty.

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