Packer Off Suicide Watch, But Without Visitors: Attorney

What did a former employer know about allegations against Sara Packer? Packer worked as an adoption supervisor in Northampton county and Thursday night taxpayers had tough questions for county council. NBC 10s Deanna Durante reports. (Published Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017)

Sara Packer is no longer on suicide watch as she sits in Bucks County Jail awaiting a preliminary hearing in the alleged rape and murder of her adopted daughter, Grace, her court-appointed attorney said Thursday.

Packer, who turned 42 on Sunday, remained in restrictive housing at the jail outside Doylestown, her attorney Keith J. Williams said.

"As far as I understand, in restrictive housing, she has virtually no access to visitors," Williams said. "I'm not aware of any."

Packer and her boyfriend, Jacob Sullivan, who is also being held without bail at the county jail, are next scheduled to appear in court Feb. 24. They were previously scheduled for a preliminary hearing Friday, Jan. 20, but that appearance was pushed back because of scheduling conflicts and security reasons, Williams said.

The hearing next month will be held at the Bucks County Courthouse in Doylestown. Williams said he expects that the Bucks County District Attorney's office will file capital murder charges, which would add the death penalty to the possible outcomes at trial if the couple were to be convicted.

The couple allegedly beat, raped and killed Grace Packer, 14, in their rented home in Quakertown and left her in the attic for months before eventually dumping the body in a wooded area of Luzerne County, according to authorities.

They were arrested two weeks ago and charged with criminal homicide, conspiracy-forcible rape, kidnapping and numerous other charges.

The case spreads across six counties in eastern Pennsylvania, as well as the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, which is now conducting an investigation involving several county Children, Youth and Family social service agencies. The case is complicated by Sara Packer's long history as both a social service case worker, the foster parent of 30 foster children and her adoption of Grace and the girl's younger brother in Berks County in 2014.

Two of the counties involved in the ongoing investigations of Sara Packer and her history with the foster and adoption systems released statements Thursday, promising thorough local reviews and cooperation with the state DHS investigation.

Northampton County Executive John A. Brown said in a statement that Sara Packer did serve as a foster parent for a child in the county from 2000 to 2001. He also confirmed details of Sara Packer's work history that NBC10 has previously reported after records were released through right-to-know requests.

Brown also alluded to the timing of Packer's firing from her job as a county caseworker in April 2010.

"At or near that time, a criminal investigation was taking place in Lehigh County," Brown said. That criminal investigation was into charges that Sara Packer's ex-husband, David Packer, sexually abused an underage foster child and Grace Packer, who was 9 at the time. He was later convicted.

Lehigh County Executive Tom Muller said in a statement that "two minors were placed with Sara Packer by Lehigh County - one in 2003 for 12 months and one in 2006 for four months."

"Both moved on successfully," Muller said.

Packer's attorney, Williams, said he has met twice with the suspect since her arrested. At his latest meeting Tuesday, he said Packer was very upset.

"She's obviously distraught, and it's a horrible situation for all concerned," Williams said.