Odds and ends with some a bit odder than others:

There’s also Tommy Schaefer: You have to start with the brutality of the murder of Sheila von Weise-Mack. The 62-year-old Oak Parker was on vacation in Bali, Indonesia in 2014 with her daughter Heather Mack and Mack’s boyfriend Tommy Schaefer. 

She died from blunt trauma, her body was somehow stuffed in a suitcase, which Mack and Schaefer wheeled to a waiting cab. They left the suitcase in the cab as they sought to disappear in another Bali neighborhood. They were, of course, soon arrested.

The murder was as chaotic, intense and out of control as the lives Mack and her mother played out for years in their East Avenue home. Dozens of police reports documented the battles — emotional and physical — that the two went through as Mack moved into her teenage years. 

Into this toxicity walked Tommy Schaefer, also an Oak Parker. Needy and unconnected, Schaefer was absorbed into the maelstrom. Ultimately, he was charged with the murder of Sheila von Weise-Mack. He was convicted, sentenced to 18 years in an Indonesian prison. 

Now we are drawn to the tabloid-like coverage of news that Heather Mack will soon gain early release from prison based on good behavior. Will she come back to Chicago? Conflicting reports on whether her 5-year-old daughter Stella, born in prison, will come with her or stay with a foster family which has raised her over recent years.

We can’t take our eyes off this disturbing story. I get it. But for a moment we should think of Schaeffer. Still in jail, no early release imminent. Yes, he committed a vicious crime. No question. Yet he is most certainly a victim in this incomprehensibly dysfunctional family tale.

Two weddings and a …: Head out into the neighborhoods on a Saturday afternoon and you never know what you will discover. It is the magic of being a reporter in a small town. 

Last Saturday, Melissa Elsmo, our Oak Park Eats editor, took in the revived Micro Brew Review event in downtown Oak Park. She was there for the beer and also to see how a COVID-mitigated public event looks. Vaccination cards were required, or an on-the-spot COVID test administered, for those who wanted in on the Seven Generations Ahead fun. Didn’t expect a wedding to break out. But it fabulously did.

Same afternoon, Jill Wagner, our reader engagement manager, continued to resurrect an early Wednesday Journal tradition we called Block Party Pix. For years back in the ’90s, we’d wangle an invite to a block party, gather everyone up, snap a photo and make friends when we published it in the paper.

Everything old and all that, Jill has revived this happy connection and on Saturday was invited to the 700 block of South Lombard where the bounce house and balloon toss gave way to nuptials for a longtime resident and his bride. The pair had been officially hitched at Unity Temple a few months ago, but their neighbors wanted in on the celebration.

That happy picture runs today on page 11. 

You want the Journal at your block party? Even if no one is getting married, connect with Jill at Jill@oakpark.com

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Dan Haley

Dan was one of the three founders of Wednesday Journal in 1980. He’s still here as its four flags – Wednesday Journal, Austin Weekly News, Forest Park Review and Riverside-Brookfield Landmark – make...