Former Oak Park woman dead in Bali; daughter, 1 other arrested

BALI, Indonesia — Three weeks before Sheila von Wiese-Mack’s body was found stuffed in a suitcase on this resort island, her daughter and the daughter’s boyfriend allegedly used the mother’s credit card without her permission to party at a Rush Street hotel, records show.

Heather Mack, 19, and her boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, 21, were arrested Wednesday on the resort island of Bali, in connection with von Wiese-Mack’s slaying.

On July 23, von Wiese-Mack got a call from her credit card company, asking about a charge for a room at the Conrad Chicago Hotel on Rush Street, a law enforcement source told the Chicago Sun-Times. Von Wiese-Mack told the credit card company that she hadn’t used the card at the hotel. Von Wiese-Mack then called police, who showed up the hotel to find Heather Mack, her boyfriend and seven others partying in an eighth-floor room, the source said.

Police arrested Schaefer on suspicion of disorderly conduct, after he “began getting loud and waving arms,” according to a police report of the incident.

Police spoke to Heather Mack, who told them she had permission to use her mom’s credit card, something the mother denied to police, the source said.

At the time of his arrest, Shaefer was wearing a T-shirt with the sentence, “I RUN THE WORLD” written on it.

Schaefer’s criminal history includes a 2012 misdemeanor conviction for simple assault.

On July 22, 2012, Schaefer, was at a North Side restaurant on Halsted Street, when he got in an argument with an employee there, according to a Chicago police arrest report.

“I am going to kick your f***ing a**,” Schaefer allegedly told the employee, according to the arrest report.

The suitcase containing von Wiese-Mack’s body was found Tuesday inside the trunk of a taxi parked in front of the St. Regis Bali Resort in the island’s upscale Nusa Dua area, said Col. Djoko Hari Utomo, the police chief in Bali’s capital, Denpasar.

Mack and Schaefer were arrested Wednesday morning at a hotel in Bali’s Kuta area, about six miles away, Utomo said.

Both were being questioned but were refusing to talk until being joined by attorneys, he said.

Closed-circuit TV footage shows that the victim had an argument with Schaefer on Monday in the hotel’s lobby, Utomo said.

Records show von Wiese-Mack recently lived in Oak Park. Officials at Oak Park-River Forest High School confirmed both Mack and Schaefer were graduates of the school. Heather Mack graduated this year; Tommy Schaefer graduated in 2011, according to the school.

A neighbor in the 600 block of Linden Avenue in Oak Park, where von Wiese used to live, was not surprised there may have been trouble between the two.

The neighbor said there were constant screaming matches at the home, and that the mother and daughter would regularly call the police on each other. The fighting at the home was serious enough to sometimes end with physical injuries, the neighbor said.

Von Wiese-Mack sold the house in May 2013, the neighbor said. Near the end, the neighbor said, police visited the home once or twice a month.

According to Oak Park Police Department records, officers had been called to the von Wiese-Mack address 86 times since January 2004, for issues including domestic trouble, theft and missing-person reports, said David Powers, a village spokesman. None of the calls resulted in any arrests, Powers said, and the last call to the Linden Avenue address was in June 2013, Powers said.

The situation seems similar at the home where Schaefer used to live, in the 200 block of South Kenilworth Avenue in Oak Park. Paul Kreiss once owned the home, and he said the woman he rented to had a son who caused Kreiss a lot of problems. Police had to be called to the home from time to time, Kreiss said, and beer cans sometimes littered the yard.

Sheila von Wiese-Mack was the widow of James L. Mack, an acclaimed composer, who had taught in the city colleges of Chicago for several decades before his death in 2006.

She was a woman of many interests who’d traveled extensively and whose passions included everything from Wagner’s Ring Cycle to Asian literature, according to a piece about her in the May 2013 edition of Caxtonian, a journal associated with The Caxton Club, a Chicago-based book club.

In the piece, von Wiese-Mack says she had her daughter at age 43 and, at the time of the article, was doing her best to be at home with her teenager during the evenings.

Von Wiese-Mack was born in Minneapolis, but grew up in Grosse Point, Mich., according to the article. She majored in political science at Simmons College in Boston.

She parlayed her degree into a job working for the late-Sen. Ted Kennedy.

Von Wiese-Mack later got an MBA, eventually using her skills to get a job in publishing.

She later moved to Chicago to work on a masters in social work. While in the city, she became an editor for Studs Terkel and she later studied with writer Saul Bellow, according to the article.

“It was an extraordinary time,” von Wiese-Mack was quoted as saying in the article. “We studied the books Bellow wanted to study, which included Joyce, Fitzgerald, Dickens and Balzac. Of course, I also read all of his books, but we never discussed them.”

Von Wiese-Mack later met and married James Mack, who was also the director of music at Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago, according to the article. Mack was 76 when he died in Greece in 2006 — also at a hotel, while on vacation.

Von Wiese-Mack had lived in Oak Park since the 1990s, but had recently moved to an apartment on Lake Shore Drive, according to the article.

The U.S. Embassy in Jakarta confirmed that von Wiese-Mack’s body had been found, but did not give details.

Utomo said that Mack and Schaefer had hired the taxi and then placed the suitcase inside the car’s trunk. The two then told the taxi driver that they were going to check out of the hotel and would return, he said, citing the driver, I Ketut Wirjana.

However, after two hours, Mack and Schaefer had not reappeared, Utomo said. Hotel security guards found blood spots on the suitcase, and suggested that Wirjana drive the taxi to the police station. Officers at the station opened the suitcase and discovered the body.

Von Wiese-Mack and her daughter arrived at the St. Regis on Saturday, while Schaefer checked in on Monday, Utomo said.

An autopsy was being conducted at a hospital in Denpasar.

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1 Comment

  • David Stowell

    Capital Punishment is practiced in Bali. Those found guilty of murder are executed the old fashioned way. By firing squad.

    2014-08-19 22:44:11 | Reply
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