This is Deana Marie, the host of the TwistedPhilly Podcast.

If you follow me on social media, you know I’ve been following the story of a beautiful young lady from Abington, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia.  It’s the story of Grace Packer, or as I recently learned, Gracie, as she liked to be called.

Gracie loved butterflies, so much so that she even drew butterfly wings in her name. She loved the colors pink and purple.  She loved spending time with her cousin who lives out of state.

Like many children in America, Grace Packer and her younger brother were in foster care when they were very young, and adopted.  Unlike so many children who are taken from their families and placed in a new home with the expectation of love and protection, Gracie was let down.

Grace Packer was reported missing on July 11, 2016.  She was just 14 years old and for months she was considered a runaway.  From the very beginning, something didn’t sit right about her story.  For almost over five months we heard very little about Gracie’s disappearance.  School friends wondered and worried, parents in the Abington community, filled with close knit supportive neighborhoods, looked for answers where there were none.  Until December 22 when we learned Grace Packer’s remains had been found along a wooded area in upstate Pennsylvania, over 100 miles from where she lived.  What started as a missing persons case became a homicide investigation spanning three counties.

Early today, January 8th, parents in suburban Philadelphia awoke to the news the Bucks County District Attorney charged two suspects in Gracie’s murder – her adoptive mother Sara Packer and Sara’s boyfriend Jacob Sullivan.

How did this happen?  How did our systems in Pennsylvania established to protect children fail this beautiful little girl? What compels a parent to be so allegedly depraved and despicable? Was there no one Gracie could turn to for help? 

Over the next few months I’ll be brining you a special series called for the love of Gracie.  In this series, I’ll cover Gracie’s story – and I’ll try to bring you more than her tragic ending.  Because as sad as Grace’s story is, there’s beauty emerging from devastation, like a caterpillar when he transforms into a butterfly.  Gracie wasn’t unloved and unwanted, she just didn’t know it.  the community of Abington, and in particular five amazing, captivating mothers, is determined to show their love and commitment by honoring Grace Packer’s memory.

We’ll talk about Grace’s life, I’ll talk with people who knew her, or knew of her, we’ll understand why she often walked with her head down in the hallways of her junior high, and why she smiled even when it may have seemed like she had no reason to be happy.

We’ll follow the investigation – the tireless work of law enforcement in Montgomery, Bucks and Lucerne counties who worked together to solve Grace’s murder, and the trials of her murderers.  throughout this series we will remember and Honor Grace Packer, Gracie, and do everything we can to keep her memory alive.  I hope you’ll take this journey with me.  You’ll be able to find out more about For the Love of Gracie on Twisted Philly.