Warning: The details of this story are extremely graphic and could be disturbing to some readers.
A woman whose teenage daughter's dismembered remains were found in the woods last fall remained behind bars Monday charged along with her boyfriend with killing the girl in a "rape-murder fantasy" the couple shared, a prosecutor said.
Jacob Sullivan, 44, of Horsham, Montgomery County, was arrested Saturday and accused of raping and killing Grace Packer, 14, of Abington Township. Police also said Sara Packer, Grace’s mother and Sullivan's girlfriend, aided Sullivan in the crime; helped him dispose of the teen’s body; and then formed a suicide pact with him.
"The hours and the days leading up to her murder were probably the most horrible and traumatic that any person should ever have had to experience," Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub said Sunday.
On the morning of July 8, Grace, who Sara Packer adopted, was taken to the attic of a Quakertown, Bucks County house the couple rented, where she was beaten and then raped by Sullivan as her mother watched, an affidavit said. She was then poisoned, bound and gagged and left for dead, Weintraub said.
When the couple returned hours later, they discovered Grace was still alive, so Sullivan choked her to death, Weintraub said. The couple packed Grace's body with cat litter to mask decomposition smells and stored it in the attic, said investigators. Officials allege they dismembered the body in October after being scared by a police visit.
The girl's torso was found by two hunters in a Luzerne County park on Oct. 31, and K-9 teams found the legs and arms nearby, the criminal complaint said.
A Bucks County judge arraigned both Sullivan and Sara Packer early Sunday. They didn't enter pleas and were denied bail -- taken to Bucks County Prison ahead of Jan. 20 preliminary hearings on criminal homicide, rape, kidnapping, assault, abuse of a corpse and various other charges.
"I'm sorry for what I did to the girl," Sullivan said as he was led to the courthouse in handcuffs early Sunday morning.
Packer said nothing as she was led into court.
"The question is how could any mother do this to a child. To their child," said Weintraub. "I don't have an answer. I'm bereft."
Investigators say Sullivan was involved in a polyamorous relationship with Sara Packer and another woman. On Dec. 30, 2016, Sullivan’s other girlfriend called 911 and told the dispatcher she had found him barely conscious and unresponsive inside their home in Horsham. She also believed he had overdosed on pills. The dispatcher then asked her if she knew why Sullivan would do that.
Medics arrived and Sullivan was taken to Abington Hospital where he was placed in critical condition and treated for a drug overdose. Police interviewed Sullivan’s girlfriend and also found a handwritten suicide note at the home.
Later that night, Sullivan’s girlfriend called 911 a second time. She told the dispatcher that after police and medics had left, she found Sara Packer unresponsive inside the bathroom of the home. The woman told officials she then drove her to Abington Hospital.
Police determined that both Sullivan and Packer had entered a suicide pact and tried to kill themselves by overdosing on drugs.
Staff members at Abington Memorial Hospital contacted investigators and told them that during the overnight hours Friday into Saturday, Sullivan admitted he was responsible for the murder of Sara Packer’s 14-year-old adopted daughter, Grace Packer. He also claimed that Sara Packer was his accomplice, according to the affidavit. The hospital staff also told investigators they believed Sullivan admitted he had killed Grace to his family members when they visited him in the hospital.
During an interview with investigators, Sullivan then admitted he and Packer had plotted Grace’s murder, said investigators. Sullivan allegedly claimed they began planning the murder in the fall of 2015 after Grace returned from living with a family member in North Carolina.
On July 11, Sara Packer went to the Abington Township Police Department and reported Grace was missing. She allegedly lied to police and told them prior to her daughter's disappearance, she sent Grace to her room following an argument over the teen asking to visit one of her friends. Police noted that Sara Packer couldn’t provide an address or name of the friend however, according to the affidavit.
Packer also allegedly told police Grace took $300 in cash from the home and that she had left the house in the past.
Police then made several attempts to reach Packer as they searched for Grace over the next two months. But she allegedly ignored them and was uncooperative with the investigation. Police then visited Packer’s Abington Township home on Sept. 7 but discovered she had moved without notifying them, according to the affidavit.
Police then learned Packer had enrolled her 12-year-old adopted son, who is also Grace’s biological brother, into the Quakertown School District without notifying them, according to the affidavit. Police then received a phone message from Packer apologizing to them for not notifying them of the move, investigators said. She also allegedly told them she had notified all of Grace’s relatives that she went missing. But investigators later determined she had not told her relatives about Grace's disappearance at that time.
While the search for Grace carried on, police said Sara continued to collect a $712 a month Social Security check in the girl's name -- failing to notify the agency that she was missing. Since the girl's disappearance, the mother spent $3,616.03 of the funds, court documents state.