Schaefer's lawyer: Tommy didn't confess

Durkin says he's considering travel to Bali to meet with client

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

Press reports last week that OPRF graduate Tommy Schaefer confessed to the murder of his girlfriend's mother, Sheila von Wiese Mack, are false, according to Schaefer's lawyer.

The Associated Press and other news outlets reported last week that Bali Police Chief Col. Djoko Heru Utomo stated that Schaefer, 21, confessed during police interrogation to the murder of von Wiese Mack, the mother of Heather Mack, 19, who also is being held by Bali Police as a suspect. The three were vacationing in Bali last month when von Wiese Mack's body was found stuffed in a suitcase outside of the luxury hotel where they were staying.

Thomas Anthony Durkin, a high-profile Chicago attorney who most recently represented state Rep. LaShawn Ford in his bank fraud case, told Wednesday Journal in a telephone interview that he has spoken with Schaefer, 21, over the last few weeks, but he has not traveled to Bali.

"He has not confessed, pure and simple," Durkin said Monday in a telephone interview.

Durkin said he was contacted by Schaefer's family about three weeks ago. He said he is Schaefer attorney, but he cannot represent him in court, presumably because he is not licensed to practice law in Indonesia.

Durkin said he is unsure how the information about the confession surfaced, but noted, "I've never been to Indonesia, so I don't know how their relationship with the press works."

Durkin said he is considering traveling to Bali to meet with his client, "But it's too soon to say."

He said the case is still at the police investigation stage.

Lawyers for Heather Mack could not be immediately reached for comment.

Utomo told the Associated Press last week, "[Schaefer] was hurt and offended by the victim's words in an argument with him. That is the motive for the murder."

Heather Mack separately confessed to helping Schaefer put von Wiese Mack's body in the suitcase, which was left with a taxi driver outside the hotel, according to the AP. Mack reportedly is three months pregnant.

The body was later discovered by Bali police when the suitcase was bought to a police station by the taxi driver. Police also have reported that Schaeffer's fingerprints were found on an unidentified murder weapon.

Both Mack and Schaeffer could face the death penalty if convicted of the murder.


Reader Comments

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Friend from Chicago  

Posted: September 26th, 2014 1:32 AM

Megan M - I agree with you. I knew Tommy well and It's difficult to imagine that he could be capable of this. I am not defending him in this situation - we don't know what happened - but he should also be remembered for the good person that we all knew. I don't think he could have done it, I think he was scared. I hope and believe that he is innocent.

Susan from RF  

Posted: September 24th, 2014 1:04 PM

Details of Sheila's funeral service are in the Trib article.

Susan from RF  

Posted: September 24th, 2014 11:26 AM

Speaking of WJ's slowness, here is a poignant Chicago Trib article that thankfully restores the humanity to the victim of this crime and those who were a part of her life.

Neighbor from Oak Park  

Posted: September 23rd, 2014 10:10 PM

Joe from Oak Park, I am probably the "citizen" poster you are referring to who cited the Chicago Tribune as reporting Durkin saying Schaefer's did not confess, i.e. Balinese police were "inaccurate." I saw the article in the print version of the Trib on Sept. 20 and have since recycled the paper or would tell you page #. Haven't found it on online version for Sept. 20. Was surprised WJ was so slow to pick up this news.

Jack Hughes from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: September 23rd, 2014 4:12 PM

Durkin represented terrorists at Guantanamo.....paid for by Mideast terrorists. I smell cash somewhere!!!


Posted: September 23rd, 2014 1:11 PM

What exactly is this guy supposed to do? He cant practice over there. He doesn't seem to know about the process. He won't be kept in the loop. They don't need a lawyer in the US, just a spokesperson


Posted: September 23rd, 2014 1:09 PM

Would you trust a lawyer in a suit like that?

Joe from OP  

Posted: September 23rd, 2014 12:09 PM

Durkin is not exactly the first person I think of when I picture an attorney with the highest scruples. Still wondering how the WJ is the only one who picked up on this, whereas a "citizen" poster on a different thread said that the Chicago Trib reported this as well-- and no such Trib article exists! Is the WJ planting comments in this reader forum again?

Coo Coo  

Posted: September 23rd, 2014 11:57 AM

I dont believe his attorney. Of course he would say that Tommy didn't confess. Then there wouldn't be any need for the attorney. Then no money in his pocket. Anybody know if the Mother has gone to see her son???? If not, then something is terribly wrong here.


Posted: September 23rd, 2014 11:45 AM

Megan - your kids are friends with this thug? Be afraid. Be very afraid.

JudiZ from Barrington Hills  

Posted: September 22nd, 2014 10:41 PM

Thank you MeganM, I was curious about how long they had been dating.

Elizabeth from Oakpark  

Posted: September 22nd, 2014 10:33 PM

Megan M from Oak Park  

Posted: September 22nd, 2014 5:43 PM

Thank god he has legal counsel. My kids know this young man from school. They say he is a decent person. How could anyone believe that he did it? The girlfriend has a lengthy, documented and disturbing history of violence against her mother. I have heard that she even bragged at high school about breaking her mom's arm. She had only been dating Tommy for three months. How could he get mad enough at his girlfriend's mother in 3 months to kill her? What he needs is money for legal defense.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: September 22nd, 2014 3:15 PM

I believe the thanks should be directed to Wednesday Journal reporter Tim Inlkebarger, not 'Oak Park.'

Not from OP   

Posted: September 22nd, 2014 2:12 PM

Thanks to Oak Park for getting a statement from the atty.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: September 22nd, 2014 1:32 PM

Durkin said he is considering traveling to Bali to meet with his client, "But it's too soon to say." I suspect too soon means that he has not figured out who will pay for the ticket!

Friend from Chicago  

Posted: September 22nd, 2014 1:14 PM

I hope that more people share this article. We don't know what happened, but many are so quick to condemn him as a murderer and that may not be the truth. I knew him as a really great and caring person. He could have changed in the past few months, but I hope that he isn't just remembered as the person in the news. He may have done it, but he also may have only helped after the fact. I really hope that he is not wrongfully convicted of murder.

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