Heather Mack and her ex-boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, were convicted in the 2014 murder of Mack's mother at an Indonesian luxury resort
Mack and ex-boyfriend Tommy Schaefer, were convicted in the 2014 murder of Mack’s mother, Sheila von Weise-Mack, at an Indonesian luxury resort. The pair stuffed her body in a suitcase to cover up the crime.
Citing questions over the Illinois family court’s jurisdiction over a child who was born in Indonesia — and has been living there ever since, in Bali’s Kerobokan penitentiary — the judge agreed to re-hear the matter on March 14.
“This is a definite setback,” Michael Goldberg, the attorney for Schaefer’s mother, Kia Walker, tells PEOPLE.
Walker insists that she’ll continue to fight for custody of Stella Schaefer, who has been living in prison with her mother since she was born during her parents’ high-profile murder trial in 2015.
“My granddaughter deserves to be in a loving environment where she can know her grandmother and have a relationship with other family members,” Kia Walker tells PEOPLE. “I’m willing to face whatever is necessary so that I can raise my granddaughter.”
During the one-time couple’s trial, Mack’s defense attorney said Schaefer killed von Wiese-Mack with a metal fruit bowl following an argument over Heather’s pregnancy while Mack hid in the bathroom of their hotel suite.
Both were later convicted in the killing of Mack’s mother, whose bloody body was found stuffed in a suitcase in the back of a taxi.
Under Indonesian law, Stella has been allowed to live in a cell with her mother at Bali’s Kerobokan Prison, but the child will have to leave the facility when she turns two on March 17.
In an effort to continue her relationship with Stella, Mack has expressed her desire to have a caretaker living near the prison become the child’s guardian while she serves out her 10-year sentence.
But Walker’s request for guardianship — which could take days or weeks for a judge to issue a ruling on — has the potential to complicate matters for Mack.
Although Stella — whose parents are both from Chicago — was born in Indonesia, she’s technically still a U.S. citizen, says Goldberg.
“Indonesia doesn’t have a law that says if you’re born on that soil that you are automatically an Indonesian citizen,” he says.
Exactly how an Indonesian judge might interpret the decision reached by a Chicago court is unknown.
“No one is exactly sure what the process will be in Indonesia,” adds Goldberg. “But Kia feels strongly that the child should be raised in the United States and that’s why she’s petitioning for guardianship.”
Although Walker tries to stay in touch with her granddaughter via video telephone calls, it’s been two years since she last saw the little girl.
“I witnessed her birth and cared for her for that first week in the hospital,” says Walker, whose son — now serving an 18-year sentence for the murder — supports her desire to become the Stella’s guardian.
The fate of Mack’s mother’s $1.56 million trust is also currently the subject of a legal dispute.
The trust – which Stella could be in line to inherit – is controlled by Heather’s maternal uncle, who has long maintained that his niece should not have access to the funds since she was responsible for her mother’s death.