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When There Are No Words

What happened to a local Abington school girl over the years? There are no words. However, I am going to find something to say because of the murder of Grace Packer, whose memorial service was just held.

I am not going to write a lot about 14-year-old Grace. I will focus on only this message.  We must protect our children far better than we have been. You can find out about her, and her horrific life from the age of three, under her name Grace Packer, on many news sites.

I came home today and found a book on my table which I had recently loaned to a bereaved father. It is a book for fathers, called When There Are No Words, written by Charlie Walton, who lost to death two of his three sons. I met him at a conference years ago; a gentle man, nothing different about him. To look at Charlie Walton, one would possibly think he was a businessman selling this book. Read the book.

Parents Unfit to Parent

What I am going to write about are the perpetrators who murdered Grace. Evil filth is a mild description of them, and their involvement with another woman who calls herself “Master Mind”. People have written about these people, calling them animals. Stop right there. Animals have their own cultural boundaries and they protect their young. These people are monsters, who are vile, disgusting dregs of humanity. This child’s life couldn’t have been believed in a fictional film.

I have worked with the parents of murdered children for years. They are people who have suffered untold agony with the kidnapping and subsequent murders of their beloved children, some of whom were also raped. It is unconscionable to even consider such an act of rage on the innocent, as that is what it is. These families would do anything to have their children back again. So you get the picture of some remarkable people who have entered my life. Then this.

Baby hand in adult handGrace Packer was a child who was removed from her biological parents because they couldn’t care for her and her siblings by Northampton County’s Children, Youth and Families Division, where a caseworker adopted her. This child had been molested from the age of three by the then husband of the adoptive mother.

The story is sordid beyond belief. The adoptive mother, Sara Packer, now a supervisor, and divorced from her husband, David Packer, who had been arrested and jailed for child sexual abuse, together with her new boyfriend, Jacob Sullivan, a cousin of David’s who is also a piece of subhuman existence, planned the fantasy rape and murder of Grace.  Although left to die, Grace Packer was found alive and strangled by Sullivan. After the teenager was reported missing, Sara Packer dismembered the dead body.

It is almost impossible to read the entire news reports. I thought I had seen everything in my work. Now this.

Something must be done to help the children even more, and to be able to report such abuse. They are afraid. Heaven knows what they were threatened with if they thought to tell. Being sexually abused from the age of three one wonders if Grace ever knew this was not acceptable. I shudder each time I think of what happened to her, which gives me even more energy to find an answer to this.

A lot has been done but it is not enough. It is never enough when an innocent child has been hurt. Unacceptable indeed. I didn’t know Grace, but I do know what it is like to be a foster child if one doesn’t get a loving foster family. Of the three foster homes I was in, one was horrendous, one was comfortable just taking care of everyday situations, like feeding and clothing, and the other was loving. That only lasted six months, but I remember Mrs. Beusden as if it were yesterday.

Grace Packer GoFundMeThis time I believe there will be changes. The funeral was packed today with supporters and a group of women who organized the memorial service and the reception at the VFW on Jenkintown Road. I had a challenge finding a parking space and when I entered the hall, I was taken aback at the number of people attending. The women were wearing tee shirts commemorating Grace and there is a GoFundMe to get scholarships started in her name.

I haven’t asked these amazing women permission to print their names but suffice it to say by going on the website, you will find them. The Chief of Police was there together with some of his team. People from all walks of life attended her funeral. There were lots of photographs of Grace – a seemingly happy child. Flowers. Messages. All very beautiful. I couldn’t get to the Memorial Service in time, but I understand the original parents from whom she was taken were there, screaming and crying about their Angel. That’s when I realized I am not as kind hearted and generous as I am seen to be.

I looked at the birth mother of the three children who had to be removed from their custody and felt my heart harden. I watched the birth father stuffing his face with food. I feel no sympathy for these two people. They were poor – so was I. Their home wasn’t fitting. Neither was mine. Were they homeless? I don’t know about that, but I was. To my knowledge none of my family mutilated anybody. This is a perfect example of people needing to be evaluated before they can have children.

It was blatantly obvious that the mother wanted to be the center of attention, but these women weren’t buying it, thank goodness. Thought I was a bleeding heart didn’t you? Wrong. I have been in courtrooms where the accused’s defense lawyer started to refer to his/her childhood. I wanted to scream. Do you want to swap with my childhood? I never hurt anyone, or killed anyone, let alone a child.

Then I read that some people felt these THINGS might be mentally ill. HOW DARE YOU INSULT THE MENTALLY ILL? People I know with mental illness would never even think of doing such a ghastly act. There are no excuses for what these fiends did.  NONE WHATSOEVER. Recently I have become harsher in my opinion of these sub humans and what their punishment should be. Eye for an eye etc. When a human or an animal is abused, whatever was done to them should be reciprocated. I didn’t have a blog when Michael Vick was in his glory. I had plans for him and had similar plans for Hitler and to be honest, I haven’t felt such rage since that time until I read about Grace and her life of hell.

I saw the media there today. I hope they report her story correctly. One should be so careful these days about “allegedly”. Fortunately I don’t have that problem. I know exactly what I would want to see happen to her murderers. I am running out of words to describe them, as they are beyond revolting. Since finding out about Grace, my mind has been racing on what to do. There has to be a way to bring law enforcement to a stronger position to take action when these cases are reported. Ah. There’s the rub – “When they are reported.”

Years ago, we used to have groups in Elementary School. There was a large box in the middle of the room where the children were told they could put anything in the box and no one would tell. One little boy said he would throw his brother in the box because he had taken his lunch and thrown it into the trash. Another said she wished her mother would spend more time listening to her rather than telling her she wasn’t as pretty as her sister. It went on for some time and produced two positive results.

Hand on window paneFirst, it created a safe place for a child to say anything, which provided them with relief so that they could concentrate better, and secondly it brought the children together in an amazingly supportive way. Of course, they tried to outdo each other and exaggerate somewhat, but it gave the teacher insight into the possibilities and hints of possible trouble at home. They of course were trained in one of the aspects of Student Assistance Training. I was thrilled to be part of that training. It was wonderful and then…………………….the parents heard about it. That ended the program.

There is always the risk that a child can be pissed off at a parent for not doing something they wanted to do. The No Touch community went too far in my opinion because today in schools, if a child falls and hurts their knee they are not allowed to be hugged. CRAPOLA. (That is not a British phrase so I must be more upset than I thought). It is easily sought out. There simply isn’t enough time to deal with bullying that goes on in person and online, but there has to be. Those of us who know about abuse need to be let loose in the schools!

Cyberbullying is very effective. I had lunch today with a woman who happens to have been my son’s fourth grade teacher. Like a lot of children, they won’t say if they are being tormented, but apparently, my son was. He didn’t tell me, but his siblings got wind of it, so one day when the bus arrived they all got on the bus and laid it out to the children that they were his siblings, so watch out! He was mortified. Honey Clyman was the teacher’s name at that time and she intervened. Once the children knew she was involved, it stopped. This woman is still so loved because she has golden ovaries, as I call them. She is such a loving personality and is forthright. During our lunch, at least four people came up to speak with her, recognizing her incredible compassionate teaching skills. I owe her a lot and my son thinks the world of her.

Listening to Children

A word of caution. There are ways to encourage children to speak. Most of the parents I know are approachable and will listen. However, one of my sons had an inappropriate incident when he was young. He shared the details with me when he was twenty-two years old. One of my daughters had been raped by “friends”. She told me when she was in her thirties. I was stunned, thinking I was a most approachable parent and would believe them. So, I asked each of them individually why they didn’t tell me, and I got the same answer, which was, “We thought you would kill them”. In the case of my son’s encounter he said, “You like him!” That made it worse because I never discovered who he was. That’s how my children saw me – a lioness. A word to young parents – once a parent, always a parent. Next year all four of my children will be in their fifties. Nothing has changed. I will always be there for them until I depart this planet. They know it and I know it, even though they do not need it. I do.

So being open to listening to children can be done. Some of the restrictions have to go. It is true that if there has been some bullying or child abuse and it is reported to the school they must take action. If not, they in turn can be sued for negligence. Ignoring someone like Grace is a felony in my book. What on earth did they do to prevent her from telling a responsible adult? Was she brainwashed into thinking that’s what grownups do? Possibly. What a wretched existence.

Grace, in her death, has brought more determination to some people that this won’t happen again, but it will, since it would be too unrealistic to suppose we can stamp out abuse. Sometimes we would have to go back generations to who did what to whom. Even with that in place, I refer to Dr. Viktor Frankl’s masterpiece Man’s Search for Meaning where he wrote that people make conscious decisions on the way they feel and believe.  He wrote that while a prisoner in an Auschwitz Concentration camp where he had no rights whatsoever.

Choice. It’s all about choice and we need to be teaching this to our children in our schools. They have the choice between what is right and wrong and they are entitled to have loving parents. Perhaps the parents need to be told that thinking your child knows you love them isn’t enough. SAY IT. It isn’t hard to raise a loving human being. Be one. Any suggestions on how to help abused children would be welcome. We might be up against parents who are not in this position and therefore are not interested. We have to inform them too.

For those of you whom I love, who lost your children to death and in particular homicide, I send warm hugs as sometimes, that’s all there is. Thank you for teaching me so much about grief, what to do and say, and what not to do and say. I am so grateful and honored that you allow me in your lives.

(Recap of her life


4 thoughts on “When There Are No Words

  1. Hello,
    I enjoyed reading your article which articulates so well deep feelings of heart ache.
    I also wonder why Grace did not say anything. Her story broke my heart so I went searching for details. Two clicked for me: 1) Some articles/posts describe Grace as being very protective of her brother. 2) In a forum describing Grace’s tragedy, a young woman – who had also been raised in an abusive foster home – stated that she herself had been bribed not to talk to anyone with the threat of being sent away to different families if things were known – and thus separated from her siblings. Reading all the descriptions of Grace’s protective and kind nature, I believe it is quite possible that she valued staying with her brother above all else.

  2. Such a sad, horrifying story. I hate that something this awful can and does happen. I agree we need to better protect our children, and that doing so is complex and complicated by the things that are out of our control. As you know, I can relate to your fierceness. Messing with my children or my people brings out the mama beast in me as well. I’m grateful you and others like you are here, putting goodness into a world so in need of it, not just with your vocation, but by the personal example of how you live your life. I try to do the same, believing every bit of good, no matter how small, helps.

  3. Thank you so much for these words dr. K you open my eyes to some things and I thank you for that… I have always been very open and honest with my children that they can tell me anything but it made me question if I was in approachable parent I always considered myself today… Time for reflection even though my children are grown adult women I think it’s important for parents to think and I mean really think if they are approachable even to the R
    Own children I am so glad I took the time to read your entire message thank you and God bless you

  4. Greetings Yvonne, I did not know of this murder until I read your blog.I took the time to go to the many news sites and it has triggered rage in me.Yes,rage towards her original parents,rage toward her adoptive parents but the real focus of my rage is the system that got her there.How does a caseworker for children services claim she didn’t know her husband was sexually assaulting foster children in her home? Come on now. How is it foster children are placed BACK in her home? How is it that Grace and her siblings were removed from their family of origin due to their parents not being able to take care of them? It sounds to me that they loved their children but struggled with mental illness difficulties. Obviously Grace would still be alive if the CASEWORKER and the AGENCY that employed that caseworker AND placed Grace with said caseworker never happened.Child Protective Services is flawed at best.The focus of my education and intern hours have been with families involved with Child Protective Services and it is horrible to see so many children removed from their families of origin. Although I get a lot of flack for the position I hold, which is that children should remain with their families. Short of physical and or sexual abuse, we need to support families staying together.I believe support services should be built into the communities in which they live.Things like affordable housing,discounted child-care,individual and family counseling,families supporting families,strong addiction treatment all of which need to be on-going. I have met more than a few people who were placed in foster care and or adopted as children and their stories are real and equally horrific.One gal tells of sexual abuse and when she finally got enough courage to “tell someone” in the end was placed AGAIN with her abusers but this time her two sisters were placed somewhere else.I got to meet her original parents who yes had issues but were far from being the monsters she was placed with.Anyway, that’s all I got for now.

Go ahead and talk to me.

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