Witnesses in Bali suitcase murder say mother and daughter argued in lobby

DENPASAR Indonesia Fri Aug 22, 2014 3:30pm EDT

1 of 2. Heather Mack, the daughter of an American woman found dead inside a suitcase on the Indonesian holiday island of Bali, gestures while in custody in a police station in Denpasar August 14, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Putu Setia

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DENPASAR Indonesia (Reuters) - An American woman whose body was found in a suitcase on the resort island of Bali and her daughter were seen arguing in the lobby of their hotel, police said on Friday, as a U.S. attorney headed to Indonesia to advise the teen.

Heather Mack, 19, and Tommy Schaefer, 21, were arrested last week as suspects over the death of Mack's mother. They have not been charged.

Sheila von Wiese-Mack's battered body was found in the bloodied suitcase in a taxi outside the luxury St. Regis hotel.

Police spokesman Ida Bagus Sarjana said witnesses reported seeing the mother and daughter arguing in the hotel. He said it was not clear what the argument was about and when it occurred.

"So from witnesses in the St Regis front office there was an argument between the mother and the child. The information I have is only that there was an argument - only that information," Sarjana said.

The couple's police-appointed lawyer, Haposan Sihombing, said Mack had said a U.S. lawyer, Michael Elkin, was coming to Indonesia to assist with the case. Elkin has advised Mack not to give a statement until he arrives, Sihombing added.

Police last week provided CCTV footage showing the couple speaking to a taxi driver after dropping the suitcase along with other luggage outside the hotel.

Police said the two left, apparently to check out of the hotel, and never returned. The case was lifted into the back of a taxi.

The two were arrested at a nearby budget hotel.

An official at the hospital that conducted the autopsy said von Wiese-Mack had been repeatedly hit on the face and head with a blunt object.

The body was flown back to the United States on Tuesday accompanied by an officer with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is assisting in the investigation.

Mack and Schaefer have been placed on suicide watch and the two have not been allowed to see each other, despite repeated requests from Mack.

(Reporting by Trisha Sertori; Writing by Randy Fabi; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

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