Monsters In the System: The Tragic Death of Grace Packer

Once again the state of Pennsylvania has failed to protect a vulnerable child, this time with lethal consequences.

Sara Packer admitted to investigators that she had a fantasy about killing her adopted daughter Grace, and her boyfriend Jacob Sullivan told the police he’d been planning to kill the girl for years. Why was a monster like Packer allowed to foster 30 children across multiple counties? That’s what we, Robert and Kathleen Raskin of Las Vegas, would like to know. Today we’re taking a closer look at the case.

In April of 2010 Sara Packer, an adoptions supervisor in Northampton County, lost her $44,000-a-year job, and she was also barred from taking in any more foster children. The reason? Packer’s now-ex-husband, David Packer, was convicted of abusing the children who were already in her care. Did the state investigate Sara adequately? Obviously not, because the case would go on to become the second time Sara made foster children and adopted children available to predatory males.

At one point a former foster daughter from Sara Packer’s home became pregnant herself, and Packer offered to adopt the child. When you consider Packer’s fantasies and the men she shared them with, it’s terrifying to think that predators like these are using their positions within the system to make victims of some of society’s most vulnerable members, foster children.

In an interview the girls said of being assaulted by Packer’s ex-husband she gave up mentally and physically because she felt she had nowhere turn. Packer and other predators like her know that this will be the case in situations like these, and that is why there must be a system of checks and balances that weeds these predators out and protects children.

Sadly, Sara Packer was not the first foster parent to abuse a child in her care. In fact, her home was the third in which Grace Packer had been sexually abused, after being removed from her birth parents’ custody over sexual abuse allegations. Packer adopted the girl when she was three, making her available to Packer’s pedophile husband, who ended up going to prison for raping a 15-year-old foster child as well as for molesting Grace.

Today the state is looking into the case further to see if any other children have been abused while in Packer’s care and to determine whether or not any red flags were missed. Now that she’s most likely going to prison for life, this is far too little, too late. If children being abused out in the open is not a red flag to investigators, then what is?

Last month Jacob Sullivan pleaded guilty to raping, killing, and dismembering Grace. Now the jury is out regarding whether or not he’ll serve life without the possibility of parole or the death penalty. Sentencing may last as long as two weeks, but we’ll be watching and demanding justice is served.

Learn more about the tragic life and horrific death of Grace Packer.


Sara Packer is not the only monster hiding in plain sight within our foster care system.