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Missing Montgomery County Girl Found Dead in Luzerne County

December 22, 2016

Media contacts:
Jennifer Schorn (Bucks), 215.348.6337, jmschorn@buckscounty.org
Stefanie Salavantis (Luzerne), 570.825.1714, stefanie.salavantis@luzernecounty.org
Kate Delano (Montgomery), 610.278.3148, kdelano@montcopa.org

The District Attorneys of Bucks, Luzerne and Montgomery Counties announced today that the body of Grace Packer, a 14-year-old girl reported missing last summer in Montgomery County, had been found Oct. 31 in a wooded area of Luzerne County.

The teen’s body had been dismembered, and her death has been ruled a homicide.

District Attorneys Matthew D. Weintraub of Bucks County, Stefanie J. Salavantis of Luzerne County and Kevin R. Steele of Montgomery County, appearing together at a news conference in Doylestown, appealed to the public for any information that could assist with the investigation.

The girl was reported missing on July 11 by her mother, Sara Packer, who filed the report with police in Abington Township, where the family had been residing.

Grace Packer’s dismembered remains were found by two hunters on Oct. 31 near the Francis Walter Dam in Bear Creek Township, Luzerne County. The death was investigated by the Pennsylvania State Police, Troop P, Wyoming Barracks.

“It was determined after comparing the dental remains with known missing persons reports entered into national missing persons databases that the identity of the remains was that of Grace Packer,” Salavantis said.

An autopsy determined the death to be a homicide. The cause of death is not being released to the public at this time because of the ongoing investigation.

“I commend DA Kevin Steele and his office, as well as Abington Township, for all of the diligent work they did in the initial missing person case, without which we would never have been able to identify Grace Packer,” Salavantis added. “Although Bucks County has taken jurisdiction over this investigation, all three of our counties will continue to provide support and assistance as needed.”

Sara Packer, 41, has been identified as a person of interest in the investigation, Weintraub said.

“While no one has been charged at this time with causing Grace’s death, charges have been filed against her mother, Sara Packer, in connection with Grace’s disappearance,” he said.

Sara Packer was charged last month in Montgomery County with endangering the welfare of a child by a parent or guardian, a felony; and with obstructing the administration of law, a misdemeanor. She has not been charged with her daughter’s death.

Abington Township and Montgomery County detectives alleged that Sara Packer withheld critical information and gave misleading statements to police after reporting her daughter missing, inhibiting efforts to locate her.

Among other things, Ms. Packer failed to tell Abington police that her family was in the process of moving to Richland Township, Bucks County, at the time she reported her daughter’s disappearance, police said. She also failed to provide police with any photos of her daughter for almost two months after reporting Grace missing, further stymieing efforts to find the girl, court documents allege.

Sara Packer was ordered held for trial on those charges after a preliminary hearing on Nov. 21 before Magisterial District Judge Juanita A. Price in Glenside. She is being held in the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in lieu of $10,000 bail, 10 percent cash.

A copy of the criminal complaint and probable cause affidavit in that matter can be viewed here.

Weintraub, Salavantis and Steele, whose detectives continue to investigate the homicide, each called on the public to help provide information. State police are continuing to assist in the investigation, as is the FBI.

“There are some very experienced detectives, investigators and prosecutors on this case,” Steele said, “and we all won’t rest until we find Grace’s killer.”

“You may leave here with more questions than answers,” Weintraub told reporters, “but two things are certain: Grace Packer was murdered, and we will use all of our joint investigative resources to bring Grace’s killer to justice.”

Authorities are especially interested in speaking to anyone who has seen or encountered Sara and Grace Packer, individually or together, at any time from June forward, particularly in public places such as retail stores in the Abington and Quakertown areas.

“Even now, months later, someone might remember something that seems insignificant, but it could be a key piece of evidence in solving Grace’s murder and bringing justice for Grace Packer,” Steele said. “We urge the public to call Bucks County detectives with anything they might know.”

Anyone having such information is urged to contact Bucks County detectives at 215-945-3100 or at buckscrimetips@buckscounty.org .

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Office of the District Attorney
Bucks County Justice Center
100 N. Main Street
Doylestown, PA 18901 
Phone: 215-348-6344 
Fax: 215-348-6299

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