A man sentenced to death for raping, strangling and dismembering his girlfriend’s 14-year-old daughter died Thursday from a ruptured aortic aneurysm, officials said.
Jacob Sullivan, 47, died at Einstein Medical Center Montgomery, according to the Montgomery County coroner’s office. It is being treated as a natural death.
Sullivan pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and other offenses for killing Grace Packer in 2016 as part of a rape-murder fantasy he shared with the teen’s mother. He had been held at SCI Phoenix in Collegeville.
Jurors decided in March 2019 that Sullivan should get the death penalty.
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The jury deliberated over parts of three days before making its decision. Jurors told the judge during the deliberations they were unable to agree, and Sullivan’s lawyers had argued the judge “forced” jurors to keep deliberating, sending the message that a life sentence “was unacceptable.”
Grace Packer’s mother, Sara Packer, received a life sentence in a plea deal with prosecutors.
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services said in a 2019 report about Packer's life and death that the state's child welfare system is overwhelmed and in need of more accountability at the county level.
Until her death in 2016, Grace moved in and out of the county child welfare systems of eastern Pennsylvania. For a few months in 2015, Grace spent time in North Carolina, overseen by a county social services agency there.
Repeatedly, the report indicates, Grace was the subject of sexual abuse.
"The evaluation identified concerns that Grace may have been molested. However, it was unknown when this happened or who may have abused her," the report said of an incident reported to Berks County Children and Youth in 2005.
More reports of sexual abuse against Grace continued, the report said: in June 2010 and in April 2012.
"Repeatedly, it was noted that Grace was receiving (redacted) services, yet it seemed that much of it was not focused on the key issues in this child's life," the report noted, adding that at one point along the way an intern was charged with helping Grace — though some words are redacted — "rather than a seasoned (redacted) with experience in such severe sexual abuse."