Cops: Daughter, boyfriend arrested in Bali murder hosted hotel party on mom’s card
BY STEFANO ESPOSITO, JON SEIDEL, FRANK MAIN AND TINA SFONDELES Staff Reporters August 13, 2014 7:08AM
Updated: September 15, 2014 5:20PM
Three weeks before Sheila von Wiese-Mack’s body was found stuffed in a suitcase in Bali, her daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend allegedly were caught using the woman’s credit card without permission to party at a Rush Street hotel, records show.
And despite what neighbors called “constant screaming matches,” von Wiese-Mack, 62, still found herself on the beautiful island of Bali on Saturday, vacationing with her 19-year-old daughter. Her daughter’s boyfriend arrived two days into the lavish trip.
Von Wiese-Mack was killed just three days into the vacation, her body stuffed in a suitcase and left in the trunk of a taxicab.
Heather Mack and her boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, 21, were arrested Wednesday in connection with the slaying.
On July 23, Mack and her boyfriend were found partying with seven others in an eighth-floor room at the Conrad Chicago Hotel on Rush Street, a law enforcement source told the Chicago Sun-Times. Von Wiese-Mack was told by her credit card company that her card was being used for the room. And when she told police she hadn’t used the card, they showed up to find the party rolling, the source said.
Police arrested Schaefer on suspicion of disorderly conduct, after he “began getting loud and waving arms,” according to a police report. Mack told police she had permission to use her mom’s credit card, something the mother denied, the source said.
Former neighbors described the relationship between von Wiese-Mack and her daughter as tense. And records show that Oak Park police were called to von Wiese-Mack’s former home on Linden Avenue 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, and the last call to the Linden Avenue address was in June 2013, Powers said.
A 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, said the neighbor, who requested anonymity.
Von Wiese-Mack sold the house in May 2013 and moved to a Chicago high-rise. Near the end of their stint in the west suburbs, the neighbor said, police visited the home once or twice a month.
Von Wiese-Mack’s longtime friend Mark Bacharach told NBC News that Mack was a handful and would disappear for days, but her mother would always take her back. He said Mack “could be as charming and self-effacingly sweet one minute, and then a vicious little monster the next.”
When reached by the Chicago Sun-Times at his Chicago jewelry store, Bacharach declined to comment. A store employee read a statement that said he was no longer speaking to media out of respect for von Wiese-Mack’s family.
In Schaefer’s former neighborhood in the 200 block of South Kenilworth in Oak Park, neighbors described him as a troublemaker who hung out with a bad crowd. Paul Kreiss once owned the home that Schaefer’s mother rented, and he said the teen caused 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.
Schaefer’s criminal history also includes a 2012 misdemeanor conviction for simple assault. According to his website, Schaefer is an aspiring hip-hop artist who dropped out of both Northern Illinois University and Columbia College Chicago to pursue music. Schaefer’s Facebook profile photo features his former girlfriend Rachel Smylie, an Oak Park native who died in a car accident on April 7 while on a mission trip in South Africa. Officials at Oak Park-River Forest High School confirmed both Mack and Schaefer attended the school. Mack withdrew in June 2013, at the end of her junior year; Schaefer graduated in 2011.
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 6 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.
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.
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.
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 had 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 Sen. Ted Kennedy. Von Wiese-Mack later got an MBA, eventually using her skills to get a job in publishing.
She 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.”
Her husband also was 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.
Contributing: Associated Press