A Pennsylvania man is accused of brutally beating and raping his girlfriend’s daughter, while his girlfriend watched, and then smothering the girl to death after leaving her for dead in a hot attic, prosecutors say.
Prosecutors say Sullivan confessed to the July murder while hospitalized following a failed suicide pact with his girlfriend, Sara Packer, who adopted the 14-year-old girl when she was 1.
Sara Packer reported Grace missing in July had previously been arrested in November on charges accusing her of hindering the investigation into her daughter’s disappearance and child endangerment.
Grace’s dismembered body was found on Halloween by hunters in woods in Luzerne County, and her adoptive mother was named as a person of interest in her daughter’s murder in December.
Sara Packer, 41, is now facing charges of criminal homicide, rape conspiracy, kidnapping and abuse of a corpse. Sullivan, 44, was charged with criminal homicide, rape, kidnapping and abuse of a corpse.
“(Grace) never had a chance with these people,” Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub said. “The question is, ‘Who will speak for Grace Packer, this forgotten child?’ and the answer is, ‘We will. … We are not done.”
He did not rule out the possibility of other accomplices.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Sullivan Told Police He & His Girlfriend Planned the ‘Rape-Murder Fantasy’ for a Year Out of Hatred for Grace
Prosecutors say Sara Packer and Jacob Sullivan planned the sexual assault and killing of Grace Packer for a year, and were motivated by their hatred for her, Philly.com reports.
The girl had been living with family members in North Carolina, but returned to stay with Sara Packer and Sullivan.
“This was a sexual fantasy that was shared between Jacob Sullivan and Sara Packer, and Grace Packer was the object of that rape-murder fantasy,” Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub told Philly.com.
According to court documents, Sullivan and Packer drove Grace to a house they had rented in Quakertown, Pennsylvania. Sullivan told police he beat and raped the 14-year-old girl while Sara Packer watched.
They then gave Grace pills, bound and gagged her, and left her to die in the cedar closet of an “extremely hot” attic in the home, prosecutors said. They then went back to their other home in Abington Township.
When the couple returned in the morning, Sullivan said Grace was alive and conscious, so he suffocated her. They then left her body hidden in cat litter, prosecutors said.
You can read the criminal complaint below or by clicking here:
“It was a cold blooded crime that was calculated and planned with deadly detail,” Weintraub told the Morning Call. “This is one of the most shocking stunning motives I’ve ever heard of in my career as a prosecutor.”
“The hours and the days leading up to her murder were probably the most horrible and traumatic that any person should ever have had to experience,” he said.
2. The Couple Cut Up Grace in a Bathtub & Left Her Dismembered Body in a Plastic Bins in a Wooded Area, Prosecutors Say
Sara Packer, Grace’s mother, was arrested in November after police said she obstructed the investigation, and after evidence was found that she had endangered the welfare of her daughter, authorities say.
Police said Sara Packer gave police a fake note that she said was left behind by Grace when she ran away. The typed-letter was addressed to the family and discussed Grace being sorry for being a “burden” and said she left because of that. Police said the letter had no written signature and determined the “language and content to be inconsistent with being written by a 14 year old girl with the academic and social level of Grace Packer.”
The criminal complaint from the original charges against Sara Packer can be read above or by clicking here.
Grace Packer was found by two hunters on October 31 in a wooded area of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, The Morning Call reports.
Prosecutors said Grace Packer’s body remained in the Quakertown home until mid-October, when police went there to investigate. They did not find the body, but Sara Packer and Sullivan decided to move the remains as a precaution.
Sullivan told police they cut up Grace in a bathtub, put her remains in plastic containers and disposed of the body parts in Luzerne County.
Hunters found the remains a few weeks later, on October 31.
Prosecutors said it took some time for her remains to be identified because of the girl was dismembered. She was identified using dental records.
Authorities first announced that Grace Packer had been found dead during a December 22 press conference, but they did not specify when the identification had been completed, The Times-Herald reports.
“It was determined after comparing the dental remains with known missing persons reports entered into national missing persons databases that the identity of the remains was that of Grace Packer,” Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis said at the press conference..
The hunters found a head and a torso, and called police, according to police. An autopsy confirmed Grace had been killed in a homicide, but her cause of death is being withheld by investigators.
Police and prosecutors called the press conference on December 22 in hopes that the public can help them solve the murder.
Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele told reporters, “we need to solve what happened to (Grace) because this cannot happen to a young teenage girl,” The Times-Herald reports.
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3. In a Suicide Note, Sullivan Told His Children ‘People’s Lies’ Made It ‘Impossible for Them to Live’
Sara Packer, who had been released on bail on the obstruction and abuse charges, and Jacob Sullivan decided on a suicide pact after prosecutors asked the public for help in solving the case at a news conference in December and named Packer as a person of interest in her daughter’s murder, Philly.com reports.
The attempted to kill themselves by overdosing on prescription pills on December 30, but were found alive by a woman who lived with them, prosecutors said.
According to Philly.com, the woman who found the couple told the 911 operator, “Um. . .there’s. . .there’s are a lot of reasons he would do this. . .we’re. . .uh God. . .we’re. . .I don’t know if you have watched the news lately. . .our. . .someone we were involved with was recently. . .It’s a big mess, It’s a big mess and I don’t really know how to explain it. . . but. . .oh my God.”
Sullivan left behind a suicide note for his children, the newspaper reports.
The note said people’s lies “made it impossible for us to live.”
“I know you will always know that we had nothing to do with this no matter what lies they tell,” Sullivan wrote. “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.”
4. Sara Packer Continued to Cash Her Daughter’s Social Security Checks After the Couple Murdered the Girl, Police Say
Sara Packer, who is also the mother of a 12-year-old adopted son, according to court documents.
Police said she continued to collect her daughter’s Social Security benefits after the girl had been killed, and the decision to report her missing was an effort to keep that money coming.
“After they murdered her, they maintained the pretense of Grace being alive so that they could continue to profit off of her existence,” District Attorney Matthew Weintraub told Philly.com.
She cashed several checks totaling more than $3,000 in the weeks after her daughter disappeared, police said.
“When somebody goes missing, we expect people are going to work with us to try to identify that person, try to identify where she is. That didn’t happen,” Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said last month.
5. Sullivan Told Reporters He Is ‘Sorry for What He Did’
Sullivan confessed to the killing from his hospital bed after the failed suicide attempt, according to prosecutors. He told hospital workers “he was responsible for the murder of Grace Packer,” and that Sara Packer was an accomplice, court documents show.
He was taken into custody after being released from the hospital and arraigned early Sunday in Bucks County court. He is expected to be held at Bucks County Prison.
As he was led into court, Sullivan told reporters “I’m sorry for what I did. It was wrong,” The Intelligencer newspaper reports.