CHICAGO - There's a new twist in the custody battle for the daughter of convicted murderer Heather Mack.
There are now two parties battling for guardianship of 6-year-old Stella Schafer while Heather Mack sits in jail: Tommy Schafer's mom – that's Stella's paternal grandmother – and now, a longtime family-friend on Heather's side named Diana Roque Ellis, 62, of California.
"This child, Stella, is the one positive thing to come out of such a great tragedy," said Ellis' attorney Cory Oshita.
In Ellis' petition, she included images of her at dinner last month with Stella.
"It's our understanding that it's Heather's wishes that the child be placed with Diana in a guardianship until her legal situation is resolved," said Oshita.
Federal authorities took Mack into custody in November 2021 on charges of conspiracy to commit murder. That charge stems from the murder of Mack's mother, Sheila Von Wiese-Mack, in Bali back in 2014.
In her petition, Ellis describes herself as a decades-old friend of the Von Wiese-Mack family, included photos of herself with Sheila and Heather as a young girl, photos of her upscale Beverly Hills home, and wrote, "the wishes of Heather as the biological mother should not [be] overlooked and should be a dominant factor when selecting a guardian for Stella. It is important to Heather that Stella be with her 'Aunt Diana' as she calls me."
"[Ellis] as guardian is a good option because this is what Heather's wishes are," said Oshita. "This is what the mother of Stella's wishes are: for her to be placed with Aunty Diana; she's been close with the family. She's been close to Heather's mother as well. And again, she does have the means."
With Heather Mack's future hanging in the balance as she faces federal murder conspiracy charges, this is a major decision for the Circuit Court of Cook County. Oshita said it could be "months" before a ruling is made.