Police made 86 calls to home of murdered woman

Daughter and boyfriend arrested by Bali police after former Oak Park widow's body found in bloody suitcase

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By Jean Lotus

Forest Park Review Editor

Editor's note: This story will be updated throughout the day.

Oak Park police made 86 calls to the former Oak Park home of murder victim Sheila Von Wiese Mack and her daughter Heather between January 2004 and June 2013, police officials told the Journal Wednesday morning. The calls were for a combination of domestic violence, theft and a missing person, said the official. 

The domestic incidents involved the daughter and the mother, said police.

Heather Mack and her Oak Park boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, are now in custody in Indonesia for the murder of Sheila Mack. British press are reporting that the body of the 62-year-old widow, formerly of Oak Park, was found Tuesday, half-naked and stuffed in a bloody suitcase left in a taxicab outside a five-star luxury Bali hotel. 

Police arrested Heather Mack, 19, and Schaefer, 21, who initially claimed they had been beset by a gang of thieves who beat and killed Sheila Mack.

A taxi driver told police the two had loaded the bloody suitcase into the trunk of his cab and never returned. Surveillance video allegedly showed the pair sneaking out the back of the hotel. They were arrested in a more downscale hotel room six miles from the St. Regis Hotel in Nusa Dua.

Family had troubled relationship

The Mack family formerly lived in the "Charles Castle Home" at 647 Linden Ave. The house was sold to a developer in 2012 and Sheila Mack moved to an apartment on Lake Shore Drive.

Neighbors in Oak Park expressed sadness and surprise that the sociable Sheila, who was often seen walking the dog and participated in block parties, had come to a violent end.

"It's a very sad story, it's very tragic," said a neighbor who declined to give her name.

She added that Sheila and Heather had a difficult relationship and that her mother complained that Heather wasn't interested in school. The neighbor also said the widow and daughter were both affected by the 2006 death of Heather's father, James Mack, a renowned composer and band director for Ramsey Lewis' band.

Neighbor Alex Bailey, 18, said he had attended school with Heather since the first grade, but didn't know her well. He said she was "anti-social and always a little strange." He also said she got into fights. He had heard through friends that Sheila was concerned about the mental health of her daughter.

He said he had met Schaefer when the two collaborated on a music project at the Sonic Palace recording studio in Oak Park in 2011. 

"[Schaefer] always seemed like a nice guy, but he hung out with questionable people," he said, adding Schaefer hung out with people who would get into fights and "drug dealers." 

Schaefer had a record with Chicago Police. He was arrested on July 23 on the 500 block of North Rush Street along with an unnamed female for an incident at a hotel. The female was later released, according to CPD spokesman Thomas Sweeney, who did not elaborate on the details of the arrest. Schaefer was charged with disorderly conduct, Sweeney said.

According to the Jakarta Globe, surveillance video showed Tommy Schaefer and Sheila Von Weise Mack arguing in a hotel elevator on Aug. 11, the night before her body was found wrapped in a blood-stained sheet.

According to a 2013 interview in the Caxtonian Magazine, the 62-year-old widow worked for Ted Kennedy and Studs Terkel and studied at the University of Chicago with Saul Bellow. 

Daughter Heather Mack withdrew from Oak Park and River Forest High School in 2013. Schaefer's Facebook page said he was studying music at Columbia College. He graduated from OPRF in 2011 

On July 20, Schaefer posted on his Facebook page, "Leaving Aug. 4th for Indonesia might not come backkkk."

Also on his Facebook page, Aug. 4, Schaefer posted the words 'Miss you Rachie.' Schaefer, a graduate of Oak Park and River Forest High School, was a former boyfriend of OPRF High School graduate Rachel Smylie who died in a car accident in Cape Town South Africa in April.

Timothy Inklebarger, reporter, and Ashley Lisenby, digital editor, contributed to this story

Editors note: Tommy Shaefer's name was previously misspelled. The correct spelling of his name according to his website and the 2011 OPRF list of graduates is spelled with one "f" not two.

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