Authorities say the killing and dismemberment of a disabled Pennsylvania teenager was part of a “rape-murder fantasy” carried out by the girl’s mother and the mother’s boyfriend.
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.
Warning: This story contains graphic details of alleged child sex abuse.
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 death 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.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.