The Pennsylvania mom who helped her boyfriend molest and dismember her 14-year-old adopted daughter has been sentenced to life in prison.
Sara Packer, 44, avoided looking at Bucks County Judge Diane E. Gibbons as she pleaded guilty to the kidnapping, child rape and first-degree murder of her adopted daughter, Grace Packer, in addition to theft of government funds and abuse of the girl’s corpse.
‘There is no cure for people like you,’ the judge blasted as she was sentenced. ‘You didn’t become this. This is who you are.’
Packer, a former county adoption supervisor, cashed government checks meant for Grace’s care even after helping to kill the girl in 2016.
‘Yes, your honor,’ Packer said softly as the judge asked if she understood the charges to which she was pleading guilty.
When Packer refused to face Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub as he read a victim impact statement, Weintraub asked the judge to order the mom to look at him.
‘For the first 14 years of her [daughter’s] life, that woman ignored her and treated her as an inanimate object, as a paycheck,’ Weintraub told the Allentown Morning Call after the hearing. ‘I wanted her to listen and know Grace for the first time as people who truly loved her knew Grace.’
Packer’s boyfriend, Jacob Sullivan, 46, was sentenced to death a day prior even though prosecutors had asked for him to be sentenced to life in prison, the Allentown Morning Call reported.
‘The butchery in this case was beyond my ability to describe,’ Gibbons said during his sentencing.
Imposing the jury’s sentence on Sullivan, she declared: ‘You have no soul.’
He previously confessed to taking Grace prisoner in the attic of the couple’s rented home in Richland County, Pennsylvania as part of rape-murder fantasy he shared with Packer earlier.
Packer admitted to the jury during her trial that she wanted her daughter dead. So she willfully obliged as Sullivan bound Sara’s hands and feet with zip ties and stuffed a ball gag in her mouth before sexually assaulting the girl while her mother watched.
Sullivan laughed on tape as he told investigators how Sara reached to her mother for help during the assault. Afterwards, the couple gave Sara what was supposed to be a fatal dose of sleeping pills before leaving her in their hot attic to die. But she didn’t.
They returned a day later to find Sara was still alive. So Sullivan choked the girl to death for two minutes as her mother looked on once again.
Packer and Sullivan stored Grace’s body in cat litter for months, then hacked it up and dumped it in a remote area where hunters found it in October 2016, authorities said.
Packer’s attorneys, Keith J. Williams and John Fioravanti, did their best to argue for leniency for their client who they said had been a standout student, a high school yearbook editor, and a sociology major at Randolph Macon Women’s College before serving the public at several foster care and adoptions services agencies.
Fioravanti said Packer would agree to being interviewed by mental health experts and academics while in prison so they could better understand her acts.
Packer and her then-husband David Packer, had adopted Grace and Grace’s younger brother in 2007.
The couple cared for dozens of foster children before David Packer was sent to prison for sexually assaulting Grace and a 15-year-old foster daughter.
Sara Packer lost her job as a Northampton County adoptions supervisor in 2010 and was barred from taking in any more foster children.
But child welfare authorities did not remove Grace from the home, despite evidence of abuse.
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services launched an investigation after Grace’s murder, but its findings have not been made public.
Pennsylvania last carried out an execution in 1999, and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf declared a moratorium on capital punishment in 2015.
There are 142 inmates on the state’s death row.
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