Schaefer's mother launches legal defense fundraiser

Online fundraiser by Schaefer's mother aims to raise $100,000

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

A legal defense fundraiser has been launched online for Tommy Schaefer, the 21-year-old Oak Park-River Forest High School graduate being held by police in Bali as a murder suspect.

The campaign on fundraising website had raised $4,681 from 48 supporters by Wednesday afternoon. The "Fundraiser Details" portion of the website notes that the campaign was launched by Schaefer's mother, Kia Walker. It aims to raise $100,000.

Titled "My Son, Tommy Schaefer Deserves a Fair Trial," the fundraising website notes that Schaefer, 21, "is potentially facing execution by firing squad in Indonesia."

"Tommy desperately needs to raise money to pay for a lawyer in Indonesia. I love and care deeply for my son," the website states.

Walker could not immediately be reached for comment.

Schaefer has been held by police in Bali since Aug. 13, and is suspected in the murder of former Oak Park resident Sheila von Wiese-Mack, the mother of Schaefer's girlfriend Heather Mack.

Heather Mack also is being held as a suspect. The three were vacationing in Bali when the murder took place. Von Wiese-Mack's body was discovered in a suitcase outside the hotel where the three were staying. Heather Mack's Chicago-based attorney, Michael Elkins, maintains his client's innocence.

The comments section of the fundraiser website had mixed reactions, some referring to Schaefer and Mack as "murderers" and "entitled brats" and others calling for justice and a fair trial.

The website is at:


Reader Comments

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Comment Policy

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: December 24th, 2014 8:43 AM

Wonder how close she is to her goal.

Mary from River Forest  

Posted: December 23rd, 2014 10:17 PM

I don't think it is so weird for a mother to do her level best to try and help her son receive a fair trial. The info made known in the media related to this crime sounds incriminating but that means nothing. I am very sorry for the violent death of Ms.von Wiese Mack but I am also sorry for Mr. Shaeffer's mother. .

Munchie from Plainfield  

Posted: September 9th, 2014 12:15 PM

They should have thought about how that countries treats their criminals and the laws of that country before committing a murder out there. His mother wants us as citizens to be concerned about how he is being treated....get the f... out of here. Her son should have thought about the consequences of his actions before committing the crime of murder in another damn country. When people commit crimes they are supposed to be able to bail themselves out of jail.

rico from chicago  

Posted: September 7th, 2014 9:28 PM

playing the race card or having Rev Al Sharpton there to be the spin doctor is not going save them. In that part of the world, the facts rule the day. Does not matter color, it is the content of your character, sorry. Guilt is pretty clear from day 1 with these perps. Not to worry, there is a special place in hell for both of them. Too bad the unborn child gets to suffer.


Posted: September 3rd, 2014 7:12 AM

All I know is what is read in the papers, which may or may not be true. I did also read about Heather's larynitis and trip to hospital this weekend. Not saying that is true, since I am not in Bali.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: September 1st, 2014 11:17 PM

Good for you, Albatross. I've spoken to people whom worked at County. And not a one of them who knows what's going on 8,000 miles away in Bali.


Posted: September 1st, 2014 9:43 PM

Bill.....RN trained at County. I could tell you stories,

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: September 1st, 2014 8:41 PM

You have no idea of the 'why' Heather is being treated whatever way she's being treated, 'Albatross.' You're 12 time zones away from Bali with no way of knowing. Get over yourself. And btw, prisoners in Cook County get taken to the hospital all the time for medical check ups and treatment.


Posted: September 1st, 2014 7:27 PM

Amen...... Heather is being treated cautiously and carefully for political reasons. How many Cook County inmates are taken to a hospital for treatment of laryngitis?????

Judi from chicago  

Posted: September 1st, 2014 7:25 PM

I hope everyone learns something from these murders. Never kill anyone, unless self defense. You hate your friends or relatives? LEAVE! This is only one of millions of murders. Heather lived a life much better, than the life she has now. Freedom is the most precious gift, and without that, you have nothing! Get closer to God, for firing squad is the penalty in Bali. She will take p orders now, andobey, and Sheila still loves her, but sadly she killed her mother. RIP Sheila and later H&T.

Fair Minded  

Posted: September 1st, 2014 6:05 PM

What's not fair is a woman's body in a suitcase.

Anonymous from Oak Park  

Posted: September 1st, 2014 5:33 PM

For those of us who are considering contributing to his legal defense fund for a fair trial, I recommend googling the Lindsey Sandiford case on Wikipedia, and "Australians still dying in Bali in robberies, poisonings, murder"/The Courier-Mail. Serious issues with the police and legal system in Bali make the need for contributions very urgent. As an American, I believe in the right to a fair trial and that $ should not be a factor. You may not want to contribute,but how can you argue with that?


Posted: September 1st, 2014 5:07 PM

My understanding is his mother is an out and proud lesbian, not transgender. She identifies as a womyn.


Posted: September 1st, 2014 5:01 PM

*IF* the mother has a criminal record (I have no idea if she does), she may not be able to visit him in Bali.

Just Wondering  

Posted: September 1st, 2014 2:00 PM

Is Tommys mom, Kia Walker, transgender? Does anybody in OPAGLA know her/him? Has Kia Walker talked to any local media ?


Posted: August 30th, 2014 2:49 PM

From the articles: the mother mentioned that since she paid for the airfare, Tommy should pay for his room. It is unknown if the mother know ahead of time that her credit card would be used to buy Tommy's airfare. Mother's friends and family have been quoted as saying this was a trip for just the mother and daughter. So I am inclined to think that Heather bought the ticket with her mother's credit card, and Tommy showed up at the hotel expecting Sheila Mack to pay for everything.


Posted: August 30th, 2014 12:52 PM

Who paid for this young man to stay in a 5 star hotel? Who paid for his airfare? I know that both of these people wish they could turn back time and do it a tad differently!! This is a wakeup call to all the kids who think they are untouchable or indestructible. Who RIGHT NOW is the next Heather Mack that is having issues this severe that we as a community can intervene and do something before this happens again?


Posted: August 30th, 2014 11:09 AM

From what I have read, video shows Tommy handing the suitcase with Sheila Mack's body. And police say his fingerprints are on the murder weapon. However, I do think that the mother of Tommy has a right to try to raise funds for his defense, etc (she may want to go to Bali to visit him). I think he is her only child. I wish people would not leave mean comments on the fundraising site, for the sake of the mother's feelings.


Posted: August 28th, 2014 10:39 PM

It would be hard for a parent whose child was a friend of T's to deal with this, but the CCTV speaks for itself. We probably never will know what really happened. Sheila's brother believes she was surprised by T's arrival. The ticket--like the "party hotel"--, could have been paid for by credit card without her knowledge. ( Hence the lobby argument,) Sheila was a seasoned traveler, so, of course, she knew to lock up the passports--and it gave her a measure of control--albeit too little.

Plan B  

Posted: August 28th, 2014 9:01 PM

Maybe their plan was to check out of hotel and fly with her body in the suitcase to an undisclosed location(country) and dispose of body there? Not sure if the room was cleaned since they didnt clean off the blood from the suitcase. They forgot one important thing. Heathers passport was in her moms lock box in the room with instructions NOT to open to anybody EXCEPT the Mother.


Posted: August 28th, 2014 8:32 PM

I posted the information about googling "The Bali Nine" because it does give some insight into the legal system in Indonesia.


Posted: August 28th, 2014 8:30 PM

Around 2004, nine Austrailians (ages 18-20) were arrested in Bali for drug smuggling. Two were sentenced to death, but still have not died. Also, read somewhere that the sentences may be reduced because of good behavior. The story is known as "The Bali Nine".

Mary from Not from OP  

Posted: August 28th, 2014 8:25 PM

We are fresh out of Christians right now, sorry.I think many people feel a strong need to see justice for Shelia.Matricide is taboo in every culture; we just don't murder the very person who birthed us into this world. It's really the worst kind of murder (if you really want to rank it). Heather is now infamous with her connection to not only murder, but murdering her mother. It's a taboo murder!You murder a person breaking into your house and people say "justified"; murdering your mother, no.

op-observer from schaumburg  

Posted: August 28th, 2014 6:18 PM

Again money talks, and apparently Heather has money, if not her lawyer must figure he can get her off the murder charges, then she will inherit money to pay him, and pay off the courts in Bali.

op-observer from schaumburg  

Posted: August 28th, 2014 6:14 PM

Who's paying for Heather's lawyer? Does she have money? I believe you cannot inherit money from someone your convicted of murdering. Who do you think will get the murder conviction, the girl with the money? or Tommy with no money for a lawyer. My prediction is she'll get off and Tommy will be the only one to blame for this horrific murder. Tommys' mother is only trying to help her son ,jeez in other threads lots of people were complaining that his mother wasn't doing anything.

When, Who,How?  

Posted: August 28th, 2014 5:41 PM

Has Tommy spoken to anybody to say HIS side of the story? Can the mother come forward if she has that? At least, he is guilty of NOT turning in or telling the local authorities about an illegal act that he knew took place. Money can buy you alot, but not freedom. How or who paid for his airfare to Bali? His room?

In Glen Ellyn formerly from OP  

Posted: August 28th, 2014 4:03 PM

However, I still totally agree that he needs competent legal representation, even if it's just to make sure no stone of defense was left unturned and the whole trial is wasted on a technicality or some bs. To the extent that he's, innocent, guilty, complicit, a fall guy, hopefully the judgement and punishment are accurate and truthful. Same goes for the mean, troublesome, self-centered spoiled lil' brat.

In Glen Ellyn formerly from OP  

Posted: August 28th, 2014 3:53 PM

If the boyfriend had a squeeky clean record and image, he'd have more support, but with a 2012 simple assault conviction, numerous dropped alcohol and drug stops, and July's disorderly conduct charges just weeks before the hotel argument and facebook posts that he may not come home and his next stop is China... besides the video of him with hands on the suitcase with the dismembered mother... history is proof more than hope is proof.

Judi from Chicago  

Posted: August 28th, 2014 3:37 PM

There is too much cctv evidence etc. on these two. No one could tell them anything, so now they are facing reality. Sheila loved Heather to Death. Please be alert on how those around you feel, and protect yourself from them. I think Sheila had her cut out of the will! Sheila has a brother, who is co- executor of her will. Sheila would still be there for her, in case, she had not died from the beatings. She was desd,one in the suitcase! karma is real! fly!

OP Transplant  

Posted: August 28th, 2014 2:58 PM

"Every child deserves some defense..." First, at 21, Schaefer is no child. Second, even though I concede that he needs a defense, that doesn't mean that people are obligated to contribute financially. I find myself more on the side of the victim than the side of her killers. To ask people to financially support someone who is involved with a crime this grisly takes a lot of nerve.


Posted: August 28th, 2014 1:55 PM

Every child deserves some defense and what happend to all the holy christians in OP with regard to forgiveness and absolution? You see this allows OPers to show our true colors /selves. What parents on this board who allow their child no defense - even if they thought were guilty. Of course she should raise the money as any of us would.

Christos from Oak Park  

Posted: August 28th, 2014 12:28 PM


Astonished from Oak Park  

Posted: August 28th, 2014 11:07 AM

It's amazing just looking at the comments on the donation page how many strangers are not only willing to support these people financially but offering their sympathy & anything that this woman needs from them. Not only do they not know this family or what this lady is really going to do with the money, but this great kid that they openly say will be home soon has a video of himself, after getting arrested at the Conrad Hotel paid for by the victim's stolen card, referencing it as a "Pig Stop".

In Glen Ellyn formerly from OP  

Posted: August 28th, 2014 9:51 AM

Betsy- you apparently do not read all the WJ articles, whose authors sometimes espouse darker, insidiously more disturbing attitudes, in plain site, under the guise of education and journalism.The more off-handed angry comments aren't expected to take a high ground standard all the time because they're off the cuff, impulsive, not always self-censored. The commenters and story writers alike are still your neighbors and they'd still both come to your aid to help you...even if they may seem evil.

Peter from Oak Park  

Posted: August 28th, 2014 9:17 AM

I only feel sorry for the murder victim. I hope no one gives money. There are so many worthier causes out there. If Indonesia has a bad justice system - then, well, don't go there. And certainly, don't murder someone there.

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 28th, 2014 8:05 AM

To Betsy - A lot of the nastier comments seem to come from residents who live outside Oak Park.

Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 28th, 2014 8:01 AM

To Betsy, do not base your opinions on the few comments here. There are many OP'ers that you will never hear from.

Betsy Ritzman from Oak park  

Posted: August 28th, 2014 7:58 AM

Nothing has so opened my eyes to the ugliness of Oak Park as the comments section of the Wednesday Journal. Thanks W J

Judi from Chicago  

Posted: August 28th, 2014 12:25 AM

Did your son and Heather give Sheila a fair trial? Use the money for yourself, because the killers will face the firing squad, and not beat to death, and placed in suitcases! I am sure they are sorry now, but cctv hasrecorded it all. Use the money to fly in to visit and say goodbye. I would visit them, if I wasstill there. My daughter lives in Bali, but I doubt she will visit, and we are from Oak Park and downtown Chicago. Sheila would still help her daughter, if she had survived! RIP.

In Glen Ellyn formerly from OP  

Posted: August 27th, 2014 10:19 PM

You guys are a rough crowd. God knows I couldn't ever draw blood by injury to a live or dead person, but I'd swing for sure if you were on my jury! Seriously though, since we're all appalled at the prospect of the young'ns' murder of ms. Sheila, would there be a consensus that the neighborhood would have preferred to prevent the prospect of the tragedy? If there isn't already some overlooked means to separate the antagonist (daughter) and reluctant victim (mother), should there be?

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: August 27th, 2014 10:05 PM

Hey H.L. Menken, a murder quite obviously did take place, Mr. Journalist. Unless you think Mrs. Mack fell into the suitcase on her own. And where in your thought processes have you perceived the WJ opining on who might be responsible for the poor woman's death?

HL Mencken  

Posted: August 27th, 2014 9:39 PM

Hey, WJ, you're just adding to the sensationalism, aggressive commentary, and rush to judgement when your reporters write things like "when the murder took place" before a trial has even established the facts in the case, much less guilt. What happened to using the adjective "alleged"?

Karen from Oak Park  

Posted: August 27th, 2014 8:41 PM

I feel sorry for the mother but, not sorry enough to contribute to a murderer's defense fund. This is on tape. The argument in the elevator with the mother, taking the suitcase out, sneaking out of the hotel. These are not two innocents and, both deserve equal punishment. I don't believe either did this alone. Heather broke her mother's arm once and he has the strength necessary for having broken the mother's neck. I vote for Islamic justice, a firing squad.


Posted: August 27th, 2014 7:51 PM

I feel sorry for the mother. Well, both mothers actually; Sheila Mack and Tommy Schaefer's mother.


Posted: August 27th, 2014 7:23 PM

Sorry, but I can't seem to care what happens to these two murderers.


Posted: August 27th, 2014 7:07 PM

How can anyone have sympathy for someone who was part of a murder? Regardless of who did the actually murder, could have been both, they both were well aware of her body being in a suitcase. Get real kids. You commit the crime......its time to do the time! Im surprised that its even legal to collect money for them if they are found guilty.

John Q  

Posted: August 27th, 2014 4:57 PM

Hopefully they don't raise very much money. That whole fair trial thing...that's how we operate in the US. The murder happened in Indonesia. They have a right to say stay in your lane US, if you want to deal with the murderers make sure they do their murdering in your country. I don't lose sleep for Tommy or Heather. You don't like firing squads? Don't get involved with murdering people. Easy solution. I feel bad for Tommy's mother but I feel worse for Sheila. That balances it out for me.

Rose from Torrance  

Posted: August 27th, 2014 3:12 PM

I hope he gets a fair trial and he doesn't end up with all the blame just because the girl has the $ to get out of trouble.

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