Rose Hunsicker could barely speak Monday while addressing the crowd at her daughter Grace Packer's memorial service.
"This is the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life," Hunsicker said while in tears.
A public memorial for Grace took place Monday at 1:30 p.m. at New Life Church along Easton Road in Glenside, Pennsylvania. The #AbingtonLovesGrace events continued at a 3:30 p.m. community forum at the North Penn VFW on Jenkintown Road as social workers and educational professionals talked about the signs of child abuse.
"She was a lovable little girl," Hunsicker said at the memorial. "I only had three years with my daughter."
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Hunsicker and her husband lost parental rights of Grace when she was only three years old. That's when she was adopted by Sara Packer who now faces murder charges in Grace's death along with her boyfriend Jacob Sullivan.
Police say Packer helped Sullivan rape, murder and dismember the 14-year-old Abington Township teen last year. By the time Packer reported Grace missing in July -- telling police the teen may have run away -- she no longer wanted her, prosecutors said.
Both Packer and Sullivan are in jail without bail in Bucks County.
"She was better off with her mom," said Grace's biological aunt Myra McMurray. "If she was with her mom she would still be here today."
Grace's friends at Abington Junior High remembered her as a kind-hearted girl who always looked out for her classmates. They shared stories of Grace giving hugs or helping her friends with math homework. They also said Grace seemed hungry at times and they never thought her adoptive mother liked her.
While Grace's family and friends were there, other attendees at Monday's memorial included complete strangers who were nevertheless impacted by her tragic story.
"Because I have a daughter who's around her same age its like, 'What do you do?'" said George Parker of Abington.
Investigators say Grace endured years of abuse before her death. In 2011, Sara Packer's husband at the time, David Packer, was sentenced for sexually assaulting the girl. Sullivan is also accused of sexually assaulting Grace at least two times prior to her murder.
"The system failed this child," said Valerie Lieberman during Monday's memorial. "Whether it was Northampton County or Montgomery County it really doesn't matter. It should be addressed, statewide."
The organizers of Monday's memorial are raising money for a foundation to assist foster children in need. They are considering calling it, "On Gracie's Wings," in a nod to Grace's love of butterflies.