suntimes
LUMINOUS 
Weather Updates

Report: Teen charged in Bali murder told police she’s pregnant

Article Extras
Story Image

Updated: September 17, 2014 6:08AM



The Oak Park teen charged with murder in the death of her mother has told police she is pregnant, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Indonesian police charged Heather Mack, 19, and her boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, 21, with murder Friday after the body of Mack’s 62-year-old mother was found stuffed in a suitcase on the resort island of Bali.

Mack and Schaefer had been arrested Wednesday in Bali’s Kuta area, a day after the body of Sheila von Wiese-Mack was found inside the trunk of a taxi parked in front of the St. Regis Bali Resort.

Denpasar police chief Djoko Hari Utomo confirmed Mack had made the pregnancy claim on Thursday and was taken for a medical exam, according to the Morning Herald. There was no confirmation of the claim by Friday afternoon.

The charges are based on witnesses and crime scene evidence, said Bali deputy police chief Brig. Gen. Gusti Ngurah Raharja Subyakta. He added that the couple refused to speak to investigators without a lawyer following initial questioning, and were being tested for illegal drugs.

Bali police chief inspector general Albertus Julius Benny Mokalu told Australia’s AU News that the couple may be charged under Article 340 of Indonesia’s Criminal Code. If found guilty of murder, the couple could be sentenced to death by firing squad.

“This is premeditated murder. Why? Because we can see how they put the body in the suitcase,” Mokalu told AU News.

Police said that on Tuesday, the couple hired the taxi outside the hotel and then placed the suitcase inside the trunk. They told the taxi driver that they were going to check out of the hotel and would return.

However, after two hours, Mack and Schaefer had not reappeared. Hotel security guards who found blood spots on the suitcase suggested the driver take the taxi to the police station, where officers opened the suitcase and discovered the body.

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

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

An autopsy on Von Wiese-Mack’s body was conducted at a hospital in Denpasar, Bali. Head of Forensics Ida Bagus Putu Alit said there were signs of violence on the body indicating the victim fought before she died.

“We found scars on both forearms and the broken left-hand fingernail,” Alit said following an external examination. “That indicated a resistance in a fight.”

During initial questioning Wednesday, Mack acknowledged her mother died, but refused to disclose how, according to Haposan Sihombing, an Indonesian lawyer assigned by police to accompany the couple.

Sihombing said that Mack and her mother arrived in Bali on Aug. 4, and stayed first at Simanyak Hotel before moving to St. Regis on Aug. 9.

Mack signed investigating documents after Wednesday’s questioning while Schaefer refused, saying he wants to wait for his lawyer to arrive from America, Sihombing said.

“In principle, they did not respond to many questions,” Sihombing said. “They were not cooperative.”

Mack’s lawyer, Michael Elkin, told the Chicago Sun-Times on Thursday that Mack is “a very pleasant young girl,” who was hysterical when she called him as police were detaining her on Wednesday.

“The reports are false. She claims to be innocent and I have some corroborating evidence,” Elkin said, though declining to elaborate. He added: “This is becoming a fiasco. My client was portrayed as a psycho or some crazy cold-blooded killer . . . There’s more than meets the eye.”

Reached Friday, Elkin declined to comment further. But Aldina Kahari, an attorney in his office, said Elkin, whose practice is divided between divorce and criminal cases, planned to fly to Indonesia soon to be with Mack, whom he’d met socially through friends “at an outing.” Kahari declined to comment on the reports of the 19-year-old’s potential pregnancy.

Police in Oak Park say police were called often to the house where von Wiese-Mack lived with her daughter, in the 600 block of North Linden Avenue in the western suburb. From January 2004 through June 2013, police went to the home 86 times, said Oak Park village spokesman David Powers, who also said the family moved away about a year ago.

The bulk of the calls were missing-person reports, and others included domestic problems and theft, Powers said. He didn’t have further details about the calls, but said none resulted in arrests. He added there were a number of emergency 911 calls made from the residence in which the caller hung up — and, following standard procedure — the police department sent a squad car to investigate.

Their neighbors on Linden Avenue have described the mother-daughter relationship as sometimes contentious, which included screaming matches between the two, with some incidents ending in physical injuries.

The daughter’s boyfriend, Schaefer, also had lived in Oak Park. The landlord who once owned the Oak Park house where he lived with his mother, in the 200 block of South Kenilworth Avenue, said the 21-year-old could cause problems, and beer cans sometimes littered their yard.

But others who know Schaefer describe a friendly kid who was an aspiring rapper, and expressed surprise at the turn of events.

Zachary Jablow taught Schaefer at Columbia College Chicago, and produced a song for him.

“He claimed to be homeless a few times, and was just kind of transient — bouncing around from friends’ couches to friends’ couches when he was a student,” Jablow said. “I would never have expected him to do anything violent. He was always a pretty charming and pleasant-to-be-around guy.”

Schaefer and Mack both attended Oak Park-River Forest High School. He graduated in 2011. She withdrew at the end of her junior year, in June 2013.

Quinn Peterson, who coached Schaefer in basketball at Oak Park-River Forest, said the young man seemed to have troubles at home, but said there was nothing to indicate that he could be violent.

“He had some things going on at home. I don’t know exactly what it was, but sports were an outlet,” Peterson said. “He was a good kid when I had him. He was 14, so he had the same kind of immaturity struggles that other people had. But he was always smiling, always in a good mood.”

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

In 2012, von Wiese-Mack joined a century-old Chicago book club called the Caxton Club. She had varied interests, including Asian literature and Wagnerian opera, according to a May 2013 profile of her in the club’s publication, “Caxtonian.”

Contributing: Jon Seidel, Stefano Esposito, Becky Schlikerman, Maudlyne Ihejirika



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.