Couple charged in 'rape-murder fantasy' killing of Pennsylvania girl, 14, prosecutors say
BUCKS COUNTY -- It was Halloween night when a pair of hunters found the remains of 14-year-old Grace Packer in a wooded area of Pennsylvania's Luzerne County.
On Saturday, police arrested the victim's adoptive mother and her boyfriend, who prosecutors say viciously beat, raped, killed and dismembered Packer in a “rape-murder fantasy.” Sara Packer, 41, and Jacob Sullivan, 44, now face a slew of charges including homicide, deviate sexual intercourse, rape, kidnapping, endangering the welfare of a child and abuse of corpse.
"The hours and days leading up to her murder were probably the most horrible and traumatic that any person should have to experience," said Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub.
According to court documents, Sullivan confessed to the crimes in the hospital on Saturday after he and Packer tried to kill themselves by overdosing on pills.
Sullivan told investigators the two began plotting the rape and murder in 2015, but didn't carry it out until the following year.
Then on the morning of July 8, 2016, investigators said Sullivan and Sara Packer drove Grace, "still sleepy and in pajamas," from their home in Abington Township, Montgomery County to a new home in Richland Township, Bucks County.
When they entered the house, Sullivan struck Grace several times in the face, then took her to the third floor where he allegedly raped Grace in front of Packer, who stood by and watched, according to prosecutors.
Packer left to buy Tylenol PM and other drugs in order to sedate the teen, telling her the pills would “minimize her pain from assaults.” After, the couple gave her an overdose amount of drugs, then bound and gagged her, Sullivan told investigators, according to the release.
"Then she was poisoned from medication and left for dead," Weintraub said.
The teen didn't die in the hot attic, however – she was still alive at 3 a.m. the following day, when the couple returned to the house, according to prosecutors. Sullivan then allegedly told detectives he killed the teen by strangling and suffocating her.
Three days after the teen was killed, Sara Packer reported to police that Grace was missing.
The pair hid the body in the attic, packed in cat litter to hide the odor until the middle of October when police came to the house investigating Grace's disappearance, the affidavit says.
The couple allegedly decided to dump the body after detectives showed up at their home investigating the girl's disappearance. Sullivan and Packer drove north, taking back roads and avoiding the turnpike until they arrived in Bear Creek Township.
Sara Packer was filmed buying a bow saw and two extra blades at a tractor supply store, according to the affidavit. A forensic anthropologist who later examined the body determined scarring and tool marks on her bones were made by a blade similar to the one Packer bought, the release stated.
When hunters later discovered the remains, state troopers searched the area and officials asked for the help of people who live near the Francis E. Walter Dam including Dan Werner.
"It's a terrible story, a young girl, a beautiful girl, adopted. It is very sad," Werner continued.
“Unfortunately, Grace Packer was a disposable child to these people,” Weintraub said of the girl, who was taken in as a foster child by Packer at the age of 3 and adopted by the woman now charged in her killing.
“Who will now speak for Grace Packer? We will,” Weintraub added.
The alleged crimes could warrant the death penalty, he said.
Sullivan was arraigned early Sunday morning on 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 corresponding conspiracy charges.
Sara Packer was arrested in Horsham Township Sunday morning 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 to commit rape and each of the above crimes.
Both have been denied bail and remain behind bars.