The couple accused of the brutal rape, murder and torture of the woman’s developmentally disabled daughter will be facing the death penalty if convicted of the horrific crime.
According to the Morning Call, Jacob Sullivan did not appear at a Friday morning hearing in which prosecutors laid out the aggravating factors of the brutal July 2016 murder of 14-year-old Grace Packer, exercising his right to waive the formal arraignment. Outside the courtroom following the brief hearing, Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub told reporters that the prosecution would be seeking the death penalty for Sullivan and Packer, and intended to try both suspects together.
Sara Packer pleaded not guilty to charges of homicide, rape, kidnapping and abuse of a corpse earlier this month. Sullivan is facing similar charges, though he reportedly confessed the he alone strangled Grace, ending her life, when he and Packer were both hospitalized following a failed suicide pact this winter.
Sullivan, 44, and Packer, 42, are accused of plotting to kill Sara’s daughter in the fulfillment of what Weintraub had previously described as a “murder-rape fantasy.” According to court filings that are in part based on Sullivan’s reported confession, the couple brought 14-year-old Grace to a home they had recently rented in Quakertown, Pennsylvania. Sullivan allegedly hit her in the face, and brought her upstairs where he raped the teen as her adoptive mother looked on. The couple then reportedly drugged her and placed her in a hot cedar closet, before leaving her there to die.
But when they arrived back to the home the next morning, Grace was still alive — so Sullivan allegedly strangled her to death by squeezing her neck with his arm. The couple then packed her body with kitty litter in a closet inside the home, and Sara reported her missing three days later.
In October, presumably out of fear that police would discover something in the home, the couple allegedly dismembered Grace’s body in a bathtub and tossed the remains in a remote wooded area. Hunters found the body parts on October 31.
The murder trial is scheduled to begin in March 2018, with pre-trial hearings beginning in November.
“We’re pretty confident that we will be vindicated and justified, and we’ll get justice for Grace,” Weintraub told reporters.