Sara Packer and Jacob Sullivan plotted for a year to kill 14-year-old Grace Packer, Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub said during a Sunday press conference.
On the morning of July 8, the couple allegedly acted on their plan.
The couple allegedly took Grace Packer, Sara’s adoptive daughter, from their Abington residence to a new home they rented in Richland Township.
“[Sullivan] struck Grace several times in her face, splitting her lip,” court documents say. “The two adults then took the teen to the third floor of the residence, where Sara Packer watched as Sullivan raped her daughter.”
After the teen was beaten and raped, she was bound, drugged and left for dead in the sweltering attic, according to the arrest affidavit.
When the couple allegedly returned the following morning, they discovered Grace had somehow lived through the night. Sullivan then “slowly squeezed the life out of her,” court documents say. He allegedly told investigators that strangling the teen “was more physical and took much longer than he expected.”
The hours “leading up to her murder were probably the most horrible and traumatic that any person should ever have had to experience,” Weintraub said.
Following the murder, the couple packed the teen’s body in mothballs and cat litter “so that she would not rot and stink,” Weintraub said.
Three days after the killing, Sara Packer filed a missing person report with local police. When investigators announced in October they were entering the teen into a national database for missing and unidentified persons, Packer and Sullivan allegedly moved Grace’s body to a bathtub, where authorities say they used a bow saw to remove her limbs.
Two hunters found the girl’s discarded torso in Luzerne County on Halloween. Investigators located the teen’s arms and legs when they scoured the area for clues.
After the discovery, authorities named Sara Packer a person of interest in her daughter’s death and arrested her on charges of obstructing the administration of law and endangering the welfare of a child.
“Sara Packer failed to give accurate information to the police and otherwise impeded the investigation” into Grace’s disappearance, Weintraub told Scranton’s WNEP-TV after her arrest.
Authorities also revealed that Packer had not reported her daughter’s disappearance to Social Security and had continued to collect $712 a month in disability benefits for the missing teen. It’s unclear what the girl’s disability was, according to The Associated Press.
Packer was freed from jail after posting $10,000 bond.
Authorities say Sullivan was involved in a polyamorous relationship with Packer and another woman, who has not been identified. That other woman called authorities on Dec. 30 and reported finding Sullivan unresponsive in their home, police said.
Sullivan was transported to a local hospital, where he was treated for a prescription drug overdose. Authorities found a handwritten suicide note, allegedly written by Sullivan. The note, according to the affidavit, reads:
“I love you all so much. You are the only people that I have always been able to count on. I’m sorry that I am taking the coward’s way out, but I don’t have any strength left in me.
“People want to judge and lie and break me down. They have.
“I can’t exist with Sara in jail and those fucking lying pigs and the whore media have made it impossible for us to live.
“They don’t care how many lives or laws they break. I know you will always know that we had nothing to do with this no matter what lies they tell. I’m sorry to leave you. Remember all I’ve taught you. Be brave, stand tall and do your best to be stronger than I was.
“I love you.
Later that same day, Packer was also found unresponsive. She too was taken to an area hospital, where she was treated for a drug overdose.
Police say Packer told hospital staff that she and Sullivan had attempted to take their own lives as part of a suicide pact.
Authorities got their first big break on Jan. 7, when hospital staff told them Sullivan had admitted he was responsible for the murder of Grace Packer. He also allegedly named Sara Packer as an accomplice.
Questioned by police, Sullivan allegedly said he and Packer had been plotting to kill Grace since the fall of 2015. According to Weintraub, the couple allegedly wanted to act out a “rape-murder fantasy” they shared.
“They wanted to see a certain result come about to satisfy some sick, perverted fantasy of theirs,” Weintraub said Sunday. “They turned that fantasy into a horrible nightmare reality for Grace Packer.”
Sullivan allegedly told police he took Viagra before raping the teen, and claimed that Sara Packer became “sexually aroused” when she watched him assault the girl.
Packer, reportedly a former caseworker with Northampton County’s children and youth agency, was arrested Saturday on charges of homicide, kidnapping, unlawful restraint, possessing instruments of crime, endangering the welfare of a child, abuse of corpse, simple assault, tampering with physical evidence and conspiracy.
Sullivan faces charges of homicide, rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, unlawful restraint, kidnapping, possessing instruments of crime, endangering the welfare of a child, abuse of corpse, simple assault, tampering with physical evidence and conspiracy.
Both suspects were ordered held without bond at the Bucks County Correctional Facility.
Weintraub, who described the crimes as “heinous,” “depraved” and “unspeakable,” said the couple could face the death penalty.
“To them, she was, unfortunately, a disposable child, and that’s nowhere near acceptable,” the prosecutor said.
|MISSING PERSON FLYER An undated photo of Grace Packer that was distributed after she was reported missing.|
Mom charged in teen's "rape-murder fantasy" death was child welfare worker
A woman charged with killing and dismembering her adoptive daughter as part of a rape-murder fantasy she and her boyfriend shared had previously worked as an adoption supervisor for a children’s welfare agency, authorities said Monday.
Sara Packer worked as a supervisor for the Northampton County Children, Youth and Families Division for adoptions from 2003 to 2010, the county said.
Packer was arraigned Sunday on charges including criminal homicide, rape and abuse of a corpse. Her boyfriend, Jacob Sullivan, was arraigned on similar charges.
Packer and Sullivan didn’t enter pleas and were denied bail, and no attorney information was available for them. But Sullivan apologized as he was led into court, the Intelligencer newspaper reported.
“I’m sorry for what I did,” he said. “It was wrong.”
Sullivan allegedly confessed to hospital staff Dec. 30 after a suicide attempt, reports CBS Philly.
Officials say in July 14-year-old Grace Packer was poisoned, beaten and raped as her mother watched, and hours later was strangled in a stifling attic. Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub described the killing as a sick rape-murder fantasy that became reality, the station reports.
“She was physically assaulted, she was punched and then she was tied up, hog-tied and sexually molested,” said Weintraub. “She was raped and then she was poisoned with medication and left for dead.”
Investigators say the couple packed Grace’s body with cat litter to mask decomposition smells and stored it in the attic. Officials allege the couple dismembered the body in October after being scared by a police visit.
The girl’s torso was found by hunters in a Luzerne County park on Oct. 31, and K-9 teams found her legs and arms nearby, a criminal complaint said.
Bucks County prosecutors said the days and hours leading up to Grace’s killing “were probably the most horrible and traumatic that any person should ever have had to experience.”
Northampton County Controller Stephen Barron Jr. told Allentown’s The Morning Call newspaper on Monday that Sara Packer’s employment status with the county was listed as “suspended” in 2010. But Barron said he had no details on why she had been suspended.
According to court records, Packer’s ex-husband, David Packer, was charged by Allentown police in two child sex abuse cases, in November 2010 and in January 2011. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six months to five years in prison. Records show the couple divorced last June.
A phone call seeking comment from David Packer’s lawyer wasn’t immediately returned Monday.
Timeline: Grace Packer's disappearance and killing
Prosecutors over the weekend announced murder charges in the death of Grace Packer, a 14-year-old who was reported missing in July and whose dismembered remains were found in October. Here's a timeline of the twists in the horror-inducing case, according to prosecutors and court documents:
Fall 2015: Grace's adoptive mother, Sara Packer, and her boyfriend, Jacob Sullivan, begin plotting to kill Grace, after the teen returns from living with a relative in North Carolina.
July 4, 2016: At a family picnic in Lehigh County, Grace is seen for the last time by someone other than Packer.
July 8, 2016: Packer and and Sullivan take Grace to their new Quakertown home, where Sullivan rapes her. They give Grace pills, bound and gag her, and leave her to die in an attic closet.
July 9, 2016: Sullivan suffocates Grace after he and Packer return to the attic and find the girl still alive.
July 11, 2016: Packer reports Grace missing from a home they rented in Abington.
September 2016: Grace's disappearance gains more publicity when police ask for information about the missing girl. Police at the time describe her as a runaway.
Mid-October 2016: Sullivan and Packer cut up Grace's remains and leave them in Luzerne County woods after police return to follow-up on the investigation.
Oct. 31, 2016: Hunters find Grace's remains in a wooded area of Luzerne County.
Nov. 8, 2016: The Luzerne County remains are positively identified as Grace.
Nov. 12, 2016: Packer is jailed in Montgomery County on charges of endangering the welfare of a child and obstructing the administration of law.
Dec. 21, 2016: Packer is held for trial on the child endangerment and obstruction charges.
Dec. 22, 2016: Prosecutors disclose the discovery of Grace's remains and say her death was ruled a homicide. Authorities say they are still looking for evidence and ask for help from the public, but note that Packer is considered a person of interest.
Dec. 23, 2016: Packer is released on bail.
Dec. 30, 2016: Packer and Sullivan, make a suicide pact and try to overdose on prescription pills after police ask for help solving Grace's case. Both are found by a woman who lived with them and are hospitalized.
Early January 2017: Sullivan admits to hospital staffers that he was responsible for Grace's death.
Jan. 8, 2017: Sullivan is charged with murder and other offenses. Later in the day, Packer is also charged with murder and related counts.