DOYLESTOWN, PA. – The mother of a girl who was raped, murdered and dismembered testified Wednesday that she had helped plan and carry out the bomb attack, saying to the teenager: " I can not help you anymore, it's your life now. "
Sara Packer testified at the sentencing hearing of her boyfriend, Jacob Sullivan, who pleaded guilty to the rape, murder and dismemberment of 14-year-old Grace Packer and faces a sentence of death. She agreed to plead guilty to first degree murder and other offenses in exchange for a life sentence.
"Grace had become, for lack of a better word, a non-entity.It did not exist anymore.I wanted her to go away," said Packer calmly, d & # 39; a monotonous tone. She seemed to smile sometimes.
Her daughter had become a discipline problem – a "very difficult child" – and she wanted her death, she said.
Sara Packer admitted that she hated Grace, had shared a fantasy of murder committed with Sullivan, watched her sexually assaulted and strangled her in an attic heated outside Philadelphia, and helped him get rid of his body and get rid of it months later.
Earlier during the hearing, other family members testified to the impact of the murder.
"It makes me sick to know that Grace was abused, tortured and literally thrown out as if she were a junk," said her cousin Karie Heisserer, with whom she lived for some time in 2015 in court. "Grace is in a better place now, free from harm and pain."
The jurors saw photos of the sparkling Grace in happier moments: she was sitting in the taxi of her uncle's big truck, she was frolicking in the sand on her first trip to the beach, enjoying a cake of cake. birthday at a party at the pool. But all this happened with parents, not with Sara Packer, a former county adoption supervisor who, according to prosecutors, spent years physically and mentally abusing the little girl she had nurtured then adopted.
Bucks County General Counsel Matthew Weintraub told the jury that he had accepted Sara Packer's life sentence in exchange for his confession and plea of guilty because the material evidence against him was weak, because Sullivan had raped and killed Grace and did not qualify for the death sentence.
But Weintraub clearly explained what he thought of Packer.
"Is it fair to say that you are a total and miserable failure to be a valid human being?" he thundered it.
Packer testified that she and Sullivan had been trying to kill Grace with an overdose of over-the-counter medications, thinking that the pills and heat from the attic would kill her. She also admitted to helping her daughter tie her ties with a zip and to slap a gag in her mouth.
The couple let him die.
Grace finally managed to escape some of her liaisons and spit the gag. But she was unable to get out of the vacant home until Sullivan and Packer came back in the night – about 12 hours later – and Sullivan strangled him under Sara Packer's gaze.
Packer and Sullivan have stored Grace's body in a cat litter for months, then hacked it and threw it into a remote area where hunters found it in October 2016.
In a statement read by detective Grace's younger brother, 14-year-old Josh Packer said the only way he could handle the loss was for adults to know his story and then act to prevent abuse.
He said that if we told her older sister that she could save the lives of other children by giving her hers, she would ask, "What should I do?"
"Pay attention to all the children so that a loss like Grace's does not happen again," Josh wrote. "Do your best to help children who can not help themselves."
This is not what happened in Grace's case.
Sara Packer and her husband at the time, David Packer, adopted Grace and Josh in 2007. The couple occupied dozens of adopted children before David Packer was sent to prison for assaulting Grace and a 15-year-old foster daughter in Allentown. at home, about an hour from Philadelphia.
Sara Packer lost her job as adoption supervisor in Northampton County in 2010 and no longer has the right to take other children in foster care. But child protection authorities have not removed Grace from her home, despite evidence of abuse.
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services opened an investigation after Grace's murder, but his findings are not made public.
This story was corrected to show that the testimony was Wednesday, not Thursday.