This week, a 44-year-old Pennsylvania woman opened up for the first time about the brutal 2016 murder of her adopted daughter. On Wednesday in open court, she said she’d gazed into the 14-year-old’s eyes as she was being choked to death while simultaneously telling the girl “it was OK to go.”
Sara Packer testified Wednesday as part of an ongoing sentencing hearing for 46-year-old ex-boyfriend Jacob Sullivan, who pleaded guilty last month to raping, abusing, and killing teenaged Grace Packer, whose dismembered body was found by hunters in October 2016.
According to prosecutors, Sullivan put Grace in a chokehold and suffocated her during the summer of 2016. He then preserved Grace’s remains in cat litter for three months before chopping up her body and dumping it in a remote area of Pennsylvania.
“I took her hand and told her it was OK to go,” the Philadelphia Inquirer quotes Packer as saying in court on Wednesday, describing the last moments of Grace’s life. “It seemed like it took forever, but it was only a couple minutes.”
The charging documents describe the torture and murder of Grace as part of an alleged “rape-murder fantasy” the suspects acted out together.
Packer agreed to testify against Sullivan as part of a deal orchestrated by prosecutors. The Inquirer reports she’ll receive a life sentence once she pleads guilty, which will happen after Sullivan is sentenced to either life behind prison bars or death.
According to WPVI-TV, Packer said she did not want her adopted daughter to die. Instead, the couple intended to confine the girl to the attic of their Abington home, where she’d be available for Sullivan to rape at will.
She described Grace as “a nonentity” and, without showing emotion, said she wanted the girl to go away, but that she “didn’t have to die,” the station reports. “The reality of what he had done set in and there was no going back. So, he decided it was time for her to die…I got wrapped up in Jake’s fantasy, and I didn’t think I could tell him no without losing him.”
The night before she was killed, the couple drove Grace to a home in Quakertown, according to WCAU.
Sullivan punched Grace in the face and raped her while Packer watched. According to Packer, the girl looked to her for help, but rather than come to her aid, she told Grace, “I can’t help you anymore. This is now your life.”
After the sexual assault, Grace was drugged and bound with zip ties. The couple placed a ball gag in her mouth before leaving her in an attic closet to suffocate in the summer heat.
Packer, the station reports, testified Wednesday the couple returned the next day to find Grace still alive — with the zip ties snapped.
Packer told the packed courtroom Sullivan grabbed Grace from behind, put her in a choke hold, and started strangling her, telling her, “Just go, honey, just go.”
Packer said she took the girls hand and also told her it was alright to die.
The Inquirer‘s report indicates Packer testified it was her idea to store Grace’s body in cat litter. She said Wednesday they kept the body in the attic, inside a cardboard box.
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She said she later purchased a bow saw, and planned to use it to cut up Grace’s body.
Packer testified that she and Sullivan then dismembered the body in their bathroom before dumping it 75 miles away in the woods in Luzerne County.