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Heather Mack, covering her face, is led to a hospital for a medical check by Indonesian police officers in connection to the death of her mother, Sheila von Wiese-Mack, in Bali, Indonesia, on Aug. 15, 2014. / Firdia Lisnawati, AP

An American couple arrested after a gruesome murder in Bali could face the death penalty in Indonesia.

Heather Mack, 19, and her boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, 21, both from Chicago, are charged in the death of Mack's mother, Sheila von Wiese-Mack, whose body was found in a suitcase in a taxi trunk.

An autopsy Saturday found that von Wiese-Mack, 62, died of asphyxiation from a broken nose bone resulting from a blunt blow, said Ida Bagus Putu Alit, head of forensics at Sanglah Hospital in Bali's provincial capital of Denpasar. She also suffered a broken neck and hand wounds, suggesting she was trying to fend off an attack.

Police say Mack and Schaefer placed the suitcase inside the trunk of the taxi and asked the driver to wait while they checked out of the hotel. However, they didn't return, and hotel security guards - who had found blood spots on the suitcase - suggested that the driver take the taxi to a police station, where officers opened the suitcase and discovered the body.

The couple, charged with murder Friday, is refusing to talk to investigators without the presence of American lawyers. Col. Djoko Hari Utomo, chief of police for Denpasar, said Saturday that police had enough evidence to charge them with premeditated murder.

Security camera video showed that the victim had an argument with Schaefer on Monday in the hotel's lobby. "The victim was last spotted on CCTV at 3:45 a.m. Tuesday, and three hours later she called receptionists asking to wake her up at 10 a.m.," Alit said. "However, she did not respond when awakened."

Authorities in Chicago have examined records of 86 incidents in which police were called to the house where von Wiese-Mack lived with her daughter. Friends have alleged that the mother-daughter relationship was sometimes contentious.

Von Wiese-Mack was the widow of highly regarded jazz and classical composer James Mack, who died in 2006 at age 76.

The couple told investigators that von Wiese-Mack was killed by robbers while they managed to escape, Utomo said.

An FBI agent arrived Friday to help with the investigation.

Contributing: The Associated Press



Copyright 2014USA TODAY

Read the original story: American couple charged with Bali murder could face death

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