Moral Low Ground


PA Couple Accused of ‘Fantasy’ Rape, Murder of Adopted Daughter Grace Packer, 14

Sara Packer (L) and Jacob Sullivan (R) of Bucks County, Pa. are charged in connection with the “fantasy” rape and murder of Packer’s adopted 14-year-old daughter Grace Packer in July 2016. (Photo: Bucks Co. District Attorney)

A Pennsylvania couple have been charged in connection with the rape, murder and dismemberment of the woman’s adopted teenage daughter, a crime investigators say was committed to fulfill the couple’s shared “rape-murder fantasy.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports 41-year-old Sara Packer and Jacob Sullivan, 44, of Abington Twp., 16 miles (26 km) northeast of Philadelphia, face charges including criminal homicide, rape, kidnapping and abuse of a corpse for the July 2016 killing of 14-year-old Grace Packer. Bucks County District Attorney Matthew D. Weintraub called the crimes “heinous,” “depraved,” and “unspeakable,” claiming the couple planned them for months in order to fulfill a shared sexual obsession.

“They wanted to see a certain result come about to satisfy some sick, perverted fantasy of theirs,” Weintraub told reporters. “And they made it a reality… To them, [Grace] was unfortunately a disposable child.”

Police investigators, who had been searching for Grace since her mother reported her missing from another home she rented on July 11, got an unexpected break in the case over the weekend after a suicide pact between the alleged perpetrators failed and a pill overdose landed them in the hospital. While recovering on Saturday at Abington Memorial Hospital in Abington, Sullivan confessed his crimes to medical staff and instructed them to call police.

Sullivan was subsequently arraigned by District Court Judge Michael W. Petrucci in Newtown on charges of homicide, rape, kidnapping, and related offenses. Packer, who police earlier identified as a person of interest in the case, was arraigned Sunday afternoon, but was not charged with rape because she allegedly only watched Sullivan assault her daughter.

According to court documents, Sullivan and Packer drove Grace, who police say the couple hated, to a house they had rented in Quakertown, 28 miles (45 km) northwest of Newtown. Sullivan told police he then punched the girl in the face before raping her while his partner watched. Sullivan also told police he’d taken Viagra before the attack. 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 before returning home, prosecutors said. When the couple returned the following morning, they found Grace still alive and conscious. Sullivan said he wrapped his arm around the girl’s neck and choked her to death, telling police “it was more physical and took much longer than he expected.”

Sullivan told police the couple hid Grace’s body in their attic packed in cat litter to mask the odor of decomposition. The body remained there until mid-October, when police began closing in on them. Sullivan said he then dismembered the corpse with a saw before transporting the remains in plastic bags to a secluded area in Luzerne County, where they disposed of the remains. Packer continued to collect $712 in monthly Social Security disability benefits for her dead daughter. “After they murdered her, they maintained the pretense of Grace being alive so that they could continue to profit off of her existence,” Weintraub told reporters, adding that the crime “shakes one’s belief in the goodness of humanity.”

“The question is: How could any mother do this to a child?” Weintraub asked reporters. “I’m bereft. I don’t have an answer.”

The Bucks County Courier Times reports Sullivan apologized at his arraignment, telling the court. “I’m sorry for what I did.” In a suicide note to his children found by detectives, he claimed to have nothing to do with the murder.

“I know you will always know that we had nothing to do with this no matter what lies they tell,” Sullivan wrote, according to the Inquirer. “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.”

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