Heather Mack’s daughter should live with me, murdered mom’s friend says in revealing new court filing

SNEED EXCLUSIVE: Diana Ellis has made a move in Cook County court for Stella, 6, to come live with her in California. But the filing opens a window into the fraught relationship between Sheila von Wiese-Mack and her daughter before she was killed in Bali.

SHARE Heather Mack’s daughter should live with me, murdered mom’s friend says in revealing new court filing

Friend Diana Roque Ellis (left), Sheila von Wiese-Mack and her daughter Heather Mack pose for a photo in Los Angeles, before von Wiese-Mack was killed.


It’s the latest chapter of the infamous Bali “suitcase” crime.

A case of mother murder.

Only this story has a new mother/daughter twist that opens a window into the tragic relationship between slain Oak Parker Sheila von Wiese-Mack and her daughter Heather Mack.

• Background: Von Wiese-Mack’s body was found stuffed in a suitcase in 2014 outside a Bali resort. Mack, then 17 and pregnant, and her boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, were later convicted in an Indonesian court in the gruesome murder of Mack’s mother, who was bludgeoned to death with the handle of a metal fruit stand at the resort.

Mack later gave birth to a daughter, Stella, while she was in prison.

Mack served a seven-year sentence for her role in the crime. But when she and Stella arrived back in Chicago last November on a flight from Indonesia, Mack was taken into custody at O’Hare Airport and now faces federal charges in the U.S. of conspiring to murder her mom. Mack was quickly incarcerated at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, while Stella was sent to live with attorney Vanessa Favia in a short-term guardianship. 

Sneed’s exclusive peek comes through a new probate filing in Cook County Circuit Court by the murdered mother’s best friend, Diana Roque Ellis, who is now seeking guardianship of Stella. Powerhouse Chicago divorce court attorneys Enrico Mirabelli and Beth McCormack are representing Ellis in the proceedings. 

The illuminating document provides a private picture of an intensely fraught family dynamic long before the murder. 

Now living in California, Ellis describes herself in the filing as “a 62-year-old retired mother of two children” with a “compelling desire to be appointed as Guardian for Stella.” The godmother known as “Aunt Diana to Mack says she has a “deep history with Heather and her deceased mother.”

Ellis says she met von Wiese-Mack in 1987 at a party and described her then as “truly a unique individual — eccentric, brilliant, kind and at that point in time she was pursuing a third master’s degree. She and I loved to go to events and we fancied ourselves ‘Junior Socialites.’”

After she met and married James Mack, a jazz musician/composer and moved into his home in suburban Oak Park, “Sheila shared countless stories about her desire to have children, and at age 40, she became pregnant with a baby girl, Heather,” the documents state.

“Sheila had great expectations as to how she would raise her daughter,” Ellis says in the documents.

“Sheila wanted Heather to have the best of everything,” claims Ellis, and she exposed the girl to museums, theater, symphony halls, and opera houses in order to “acquire Sheila’s deep abiding appreciation of the arts.”

But the petition also contains some startling revelations, including the fact that von Wiese-Mack started having difficulties with Heather when she herself was 6 years old — the same age Stella is now.

“Sheila would tell me about her frustrations with Heather’s boundless energy and contrarian personality,” stated Ellis, who claims she “did not always agree with Sheila’s parenting style.”

“ ... Personally, observing the tumultuous relationship between Sheila and Heather throughout the years, has given me a keen insight as to what went wrong.”


Diana Ellis visits Stella in January 2022, in this photo from the probate filing.


Ellis now sees raising Stella as her duty.

“I believe it is my obligation as Sheila’s best friend and Heather’s godmother to ensure that Stella has the best possible home environment until Heather’s current legal situation is resolved.” 

She says she has plenty of free time to devote to Stella in her large home in Beverly Hills, which features an art studio and two housekeepers. She has researched possible schools and has lined up a therapist, pediatrician and dentist. She says because of her own financial resources, she “will not need to access any financial trust assigned to Stella.”

Ellis also feels that Stella should continue to have a relationship with her other family members, including paternal grandmother Kia Walker, Schaefer’s mom, who lives in Forest Park.

“I would facilitate this relationship by flying back to Chicago at least twice each year to allow Stella time with Mrs. Walker and extended family,” Ellis says. Walker’s attempt to get custody of Stella was rejected by a judge in 2017 and Stella instead went to live with an Australian family that had befriended Mack in prison.

What does mom think? Mack strongly supports giving temporary guardianship to Ellis, the filing states.

An email from Mack to Ellis states: “Stella is also excited to meet my Aunt Diana. She asked me if that means if Auntie Diana is her family too and I said of course it does. … I told her I want Stella with Diana.”

Ellis included a photo of a visit she had with Stella last month.

Said Mack’s attorney, Jeffrey Steinback, who represents Mack in the federal proceedings, “Heather has requested the court grant Diana Roque Ellis as her guardian until such time Heather is available to resume parenting,” an affidavit attached to the filing states.

Mirabelli tells Sneed: “Our client is an amazing woman who will provide a positive environment at a time when a child needs it most.”

Sneedlings ...

Curtain calls: “Sons of Hollywood” now being showcased at the Windy City Playhouse is not only snagging nice reviews, but the play based in film’s silent movie days also features actor Abby Lee, a New Trier High School Lagniappe alum … Saturdays birthdays: actor Jeff Daniels, 67; singer Seal, 59; Benicio del Toro, 55, Haylie Duff, 37. … Sunday birthdays: retired basketball player Charles Barkley, 59; baseball player Justin Verlander, 39, and Ivana Trump, 73.

The Latest
On Friday, the second day of Pride Month, he talked about how his life has changed — and how it hasn’t — since he joined the small number of openly gay pro athletes.
Notes: Outfielder Cody Bellinger started his running progression Friday.
The newly renovated location largely relies on digital kiosks that let shoppers order items while an employee pulls the merchandise from behind a counter.
It will take all of us — not just government — to help migrants who have been bused to Chicago.
Jennifer Kho, the Sun-Times’ executive editor, explains how people we’ve written about can seek a review and possibly have stories removed from internet searches.