The mother of a Chicago man caught in a bizarre murder investigation halfway across the world is appealing for financial support for her son.
Tommy Schaefer, the 21-year-old arrested in Bali in connection with the murder of his girlfriend's mother, Sheila von Weise-Mack, desperately needs to raise money to pay for a lawyer in Indonesia, according to an online fundraiser purportedly organized by his mother, Kia Walker.
"I love and care deeply for my son," Walker wrote on the YouCaring.com website.
As of Wednesday afternoon, donors have contributed $4,781 since the fundraiser began last weekend. The goal is to raise $100,000.
The fundraiser details explain that donations will be used to help Schaefer and Walker pay for legal services in Indonesia. They also need money for Schaefer's welfare needs while in custody, including food and medicine. Prisoners are expected to pay for their basic needs, according to the site.
"Tommy and I will be grateful for anything you can donate," Walker wrote.
Walker's fundraising site has more than 400 shares on Facebook. Supporters are offering words of encouragement for Walker and her family.
"Sending peace and love during this difficult time," wrote an anonymous online user.
But reaction is mixed in the comments section, where some Facebook users openly question the fundraiser.
Schaefer and his girlfriend, Heather Mack, 18, were arrested earlier this month in Bali's Kuta area, a day after the body of von Wiese-Mack was found inside a suitcase in the trunk of a taxi parked in front of the St. Regis Bali Resort. Authorities said an autopsy showed von Wiese-Mack, 62, died of asphyxiation from a broken nose bone resulting from a blunt blow.
Schaefer and Mack could be sentenced to death by firing squad if found guilty.
Mack is two months pregnant. Her Chicago-based attorney, Michael Elkin, said his client is innocent of the allegations. Elkin earlier told NBC 5 he was in the process of organizing a team of attorneys, doctors and private investigators to help with Mack's defense.
Efforts to reach Kia Walker through the fundraising site and by phone have been unsuccessful.