Man pleads guilty to murder, rape and dismemberment of 14-year-old being fostered by girlfriend

The couple is said to have planned the murder of the victim as early as 2015 and finally executed their vile plan in July 2016.

A man in Pennsylvania pleaded guilty on Tuesday to the rape, murder, and dismemberment of a 14-year-old girl, who was being fostered by his girlfriend.

Forty six-year-old Jacob Sullivan pleaded guilty to all the charges against him for the 2016 killing of Grace Packer -- first-degree murder and 18 other original charges including rape and kidnapping -- in a deal that will let a jury outside of Pennsylvania decide if he is sentenced to life behind bars or gets the death penalty. 

The victim's adoptive mother, 44-year-old Sara Packer, has made her own agreement with prosecutors where she will plead guilty to first-degree murder. She received an anticipated life sentence in prison for her role in Grace's death. The jury will hear about Sara's anticipated plea agreement when Sullivan is being sentenced and will appear at his hearing as a defense witness, according to the deal she has made.

According to her attorney, Keith Williams, Packer agreed that she would plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence, the New York Post reported.

The couple is said to have planned the murder of the victim as early as 2015 and finally executed their vile plan in July 2016. Sullivan had beaten and then raped Grace. He then bound and gagged her and, according to the authorities, left her to die in a blisteringly hot attic. The couple then stored the victim's body in cat litter for months, dismembered it, and dumped it in the woods where the pieces were found by hunters in October 2016.

The prosecutors in the case have said that Sara, who is a former foster parent and county adoptions supervisor, watched her psychotic boyfriend act out the vile rape-murder fantasy that they shared. Sullivan's plea hearing on February 19 was interrupted when he fell ill and was taken to the hospital. It is scheduled to resume on February 20.

The 14-year-old's murder has since raised many questions as to whether the child welfare agencies could have done more to protect her.

Sara and David Packer, her husband at the time, had cared for dozens of children before David was eventually arrested in 2010 and put behind bars for sexually assaulting Grace and a 15-year-old foster child in their home in Allentown, close to an hour north of Philadelphia.

The woman ended up losing her job as an adoptions supervisor in Northampton County in 2010 and was subsequently banned from fostering any more children.

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services began a murder investigation after Grace's death but the findings have still not been made public. 

Sullivan's attorney has said in the trial that Sara was the one who was the true mastermind behind the heinous crime. The man entered his plea just as the jury selection was about to start. Sara's trial has been scheduled to take place next month.