DOYLESTOWN, Pa. – A woman who plotted the rape, torture and murder of her own teenage daughter pleaded guilty Friday and was sentenced to life in prison for a crime that is so barbaric, that the officers of justice and the court strained for superlatives to describe it.
A day after her co-conspirator boyfriend was sentenced to death, Sara Packer, 44, appeared in a suburban Philadelphia courthouse and pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, kidnapping, assault, and abuse of a corpse, and 16 other offenses in the 2016 killing of 14-year-old Grace Packer.
“Evil attracts evil. Evil recognizes evil. And in Jacob Sullivan, you have one of your own,” Bucks County Judge Diane Gibbons, her voice dripping with contempt, told Packer in sentencing her to the maximum term.
“You want to rape. You as a murder. That is a fact,” said Gibbons, decrying the “rot” and “perverted depravity” on the display in the case.
Packer, whose crimes were not eligible for the Pennsylvania the death penalty, not to make a statement.
Prosecutors said Packer and her friend, Jacob Sullivan, shared a rape, murder, fantasy, and spent months plotting of Grace to dead in a vacant house about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Philadelphia.
Sara Packer testified that the couple took her adopted daughter on a sweltering attic and gave to her what she intended to be a lethal overdose of the medicine. Sullivan sexually abused her as Sara Packer viewed. They tied her hands and feet with zip ties, filled with a ball gag in her mouth and left her to die.
Grace eventually managed to escape some of her bindings. But she was not able to make it out of the house before Sullivan and Sara Packer back overnight — about 12 hours later — and Sullivan strangled her, while Sara Packer took her hand and watched her die.
Sara Packer and Sullivan saved Grace’s body in the litter box for months, then dismembered and dumped the remains in a remote, wooded area of northeastern Pennsylvania, where hunters found it in October 2016.
Bucks County prosecutor Jennifer Schorn said in court Friday that Sara Packer — a former county adoptions supervisor, who had fostered dozens of children over the years saw Grace Packer as a source of government benefits and nothing more.
Schorn and the judge marveled at how someone who claimed to be, a mother could be so cruel.
“It defies nature, what they did,” Schorn said.
Sullivan, who pleaded guilty to the first degree of the murder, was sentenced to death by a jury Thursday. Packer admitted in court during Sullivan condemnation to hear that they hated the Grace and “wanted her to go away.”
Sara Packer lost her job with Northampton County’s children and youth department in 2010 after her husband at the time, David Packer, was sent to prison for sexual abuse of Grace, and another foster child. But the child welfare authorities will not remove Grace from the house, despite evidence of abuse.
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services started an investigation after the Grace of the murder. Her report was closed, while Packer and Sullivan were persecuted, but is expected to be made public on Monday.
After the conviction, District Attorney Matt Weintraub called on lawmakers to have a child with the personal data protection act called “the Grace of the Law.”
“Grace memory will no longer be bound to that of these two predators. She’s pretty,” Weintraub said.