The mother of a 14-year-old girl who was brutally raped, tortured, and killed at the hands of her mother’s boyfriend testified against the confessed murderer at his sentencing hearing on Wednesday.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Jacob Sullivan’s sentencing hearing is ongoing this week in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. In early 2017, Sullivan confessed to raping and murdering Grace Packer in the summer of 2016 before he and Grace’s mother, Sara Packer, dismembered the girl and dumped her remains in a field where hunters discovered them on Halloween of the same year. A jury will decide if Sullivan will get a life sentence or be sentenced to death.
Sara Packer has also pleaded guilty to her role in what a prosecutors described as a “rape-murder fantasy,” which she reportedly plotted with Sullivan for a year before the horrific killing. According to Sullivan’s confession, which was played for the courtroom on Tuesday, Sara Packer watched him hit and sexually assault her daughter and “got off” on refusing Grace’s pleas for help. The couple left the teen in a sweltering cedar closet in the rented home and returned 12 hours later, expecting her to be dead, Sullivan reportedly said. When she wasn’t, Sullivan told detectives, he strangled her as she put up a fierce struggle.
Sara Packer’s plea agreement means she will be spared the death penalty, and she agreed to testify as a witness at Sullivan’s sentencing hearing. In what Philly.com described as a “calm, emotionless voice” Sara Packer said on the stand that her daughter was a “non-entity,” and presented a different explanation for why Grace had been left in the closet and later found there alive. According to the report, Sara Packer said that she and Sullivan had left Grace in the closet so that Sullivan could come back and rape her again.
“She didn’t have to die,” Packer reportedly said. “I got wrapped up in Jake’s fantasy, and I didn’t think I could tell him no without losing him.”
But Packer, the victim’s adoptive mother, also said she “wanted [Grace] to go away.”
Testimony is expected to continue on Thursday before a jury decides if Sullivan will be condemned to death.