The Jennifer Pan case features some unique characteristics within the dark world of parricide. In Ontario, Canada in 2010 a home invasion became national news. The home of Vietnamese immigrants, Bich-Ha and Hann Pan and their two children, Jennifer and Felix Pan, was invaded by masked men who shot Bich-Ha dead and seriously wounded Hann Pan.
The home invasion caused shock and terror in a normally quiet neighborhood leaving residents in fear brutal robbers were randomly targeting family homes in the area. The reality, however, was an almost unbelievable truth that Jennifer, the Pan’s 24-year-old daughter had arranged for her parents to be killed. As police investigators followed up on inconsistent statements, confusing evidence and a statement from Hann Pan once he awoke from a coma that he believed his daughter was somehow involved, a tangled web of lies, secret meetings, and deadly plans were unearthed.
Parricide: The Killing of One’s Own Parents
The Jennifer Pan case stands out within parricide for a number of reasons. Firstly, for a daughter to execute a plan to kill her parents is itself unusual with the majority of parricide cases being carried out by male children. Furthermore, Jennifer Pan did not carry out this horrific crime herself. She organized and arranged for so-called friends to do it for her, playing the damsel in distress that needed a release from the prison her parents were keeping her in.
After the crime had taken place, Jennifer Pan continued to conceal her guilt by pretending she was also a victim, trying to manipulate police and the rest of her family into believing her lies.
Parricide; the murder of a parent or both parents by their own child is a rare and most devastating act of homicide. It is in many senses the ultimate betrayal. The very people who brought you into this world nurtured and loved you throughout your life are repaid by being killed by the person they least expect. Of course, in many of these tragic cases, the loving home ideal has been replaced by a chamber of abuse and torture leading a child to feel the only escape is to stop their abusers once and for all.
However, this was not the case for Jennifer Pan. She did not grow up in a household where abuse and violence were present. Her parents were indeed strict and her father laid down some harsh ground rules when he discovered his daughter had been deceiving them about her education and whereabouts day after day.
Jennifer Pan was the eldest of the Pan’s two children and by all accounts a bright, friendly and happy child. She initially performed well at school, in music, and in sport and seemed to be a dedicated student eager to learn and build herself a solid future.
The Pan’s were Vietnamese and their culture was, as you would expect, a big part of their lives. Hann Pan followed the traditional parenting styles within Asian culture where children are pushed to achieve and had high expectations placed on them. While these methods may not mirror those in Western cultures and may be considered harsh and strict to many, it cannot be said that such parenting amounted to abuse.
Jennifer Pan began to fall short of the expectations she knew both her parents had of her. Her grades at school fell and she knew if her parents found out there would be consequences. Extra tutoring, more study hours and less free time would inevitably follow until she increased her grades back into the top percentile.
“Her lies multiplied from there, she confesses, morphing into a bogus university career after her applications to higher learning were rejected.” – Jeremy Grimaldi, author of A Daughters Deadly Deception
Instead of facing this reality, Jennifer Pan decided to lie to her parents and began a cycle of deceit which grew in scale as the months turned into years and she realized just what she could get away with. Forged report cards turned into forged acceptance letters from University.
Lies about her activities within school became lies about part-time jobs and work placements, all designed to please her parents and ensure they would not look too closely.
While her parents believed their daughter had achieved her high school diploma and had been accepted into University, Jennifer Pan was working in a pizza parlor and giving all her time and attention to a boy she had become infatuated with. Daniel Wong, a boy who would eventually stand beside her inside the High Court charged with murder.
What is most striking about this case is the length of time between the idea of murder being conceived and the attack being carried out. A period of months passed while decisions were made, details worked out and plans put in place but not once during this time did this 24-year-old daughter reflect on what she was planning to do and recognize the brutality of it.
This is not a child who snapped after years of abuse or a child who suffered from mental illness distorting her thoughts and twisting her into sinister plans. The murder of her mother and attempted murder of her father was not an explosive act of violence, it was a pre-planned orchestrated ‘hit’ designed for maximum effect.
Jennifer Pan, through her relationship with Daniel Wong who liked to push boundaries and had an involvement in drug dealing, came into contact with men who held few moral values and for whom gaining money was their ultimate aim.
Young Love, Lies and Betrayal
Jennifer Pan was in love with Daniel Wong, that young intense first love that feels overwhelming and her desire to be with him fueled her anger against her parents for forbidding their love. She had hidden her relationship with Daniel Wong from her parents for up to 7 years and when it did come to light, they did not approve.
“He was the person who filled an empty void…so [when we broke up] I felt that a part of me was missing. – Jennifer Pan
This story became more complex as Jennifer Pan’s account of her involvement and intentions continued to change. In court in 2014, Jennifer Pan admitted she had tried to hire a man to kill her father but the plan failed when her potential assassin disappeared with the money she paid him.
There is no doubt that Daniel Wong was involved in this planning process. Numerous text messages had been sent between the pair all allegedly about the ‘hit’.
Jennifer later testified in court that the plan was for her to be killed, that she had essentially arranged for her own death in an unusual suicide bid but once her situation at home improved, she had called it off. She was charged a ‘cancellation fee’ by her hired killer who she called ‘Homeboy’ (believed by police to be Lenford Crawford) who she said, she was trying to contact just before the attack on her home and had no involvement in what happened that night. A testimony the jury did not believe.
Jennifer Pan was convicted in December 2014 of first-degree murder, attempted murder and conspiracy to murder, alongside her co-accused, Lenford Crawford, David Mylvaganam and Daniel Wong. The invasion of the Pan family home is believed to have been carried out by Mylvaganam and an Eric Carty with Wong, Crawford, and Pan being the masterminds behind the crime.
Eric Carty was originally on trial with the others but ended up in a separate trial after his lawyer became ill. A third man is also thought to have been present in the house that night, a man yet to be identified. It is Carty who the defense team blamed for the killings calling him a ‘psychopathic killer’ who was desperate for cash. Eric Carty eventually admitted conspiring with Jennifer Pan to have her parents killed and was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
A parricide is a unique form of murder due to the intimate and personal relationship between the offender (the child) and the victims (the parents). They are not strangers to each other, victims that can be detached from and not seen as real people with names, families and their own lives. They are victims the offender knows personally and has most often lived with for the majority of their lives at the time of the offense.
In the Jennifer Pan case, Jennifer detached herself from carrying out the murder herself. It appears that at no point in her desire to get rid of her parents did she consider killing them personally. She wanted the deed done but she wanted to remain ‘innocent’ in her own eyes by not being the person who delivered the fatal shots.
In a study of eleven parricide cases where both parents were killed by their male child by Weisman, Ehrenchlou, and Sharma in 2002 published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences, it was found that the common characteristics seen in many homicide cases were not relevant in these cases of parricide.
Characteristics such as substance misuse, juvenile violence history and family criminal backgrounds which often feature in homicides were not key factors in these cases of children killing their parents. Furthermore, in 54% of these cases, the murders ‘occurred because of a long-standing relationship discord or quarrel’ and in 45% of the cases, the offender lied about their involvement in the crime trying to conceal their guilt.
This study has a limited data-set due to parricides, and especially double-parricides where both parents are killed, being so rare, however, the research highlights some significant factors which add to the picture of parricide and those who carry it out.
For Jennifer Pan she did not have a criminal background, there was no substance misuse issues or juvenile violence in her history. No signs or warning factors which could have suggested this young woman would not only become involved in but orchestrate, such a violent and vicious attack on her own parents.
Each case of parricide in a sense is unique as they are crimes which, thankfully, are rare. The Jennifer Pan case, however, is one which is particularly shocking and highlights just how the ‘girl next door’ can be anything but what she seems.
- Grimaldi, J. (2014) UPDATED: Pan’s Lawyer Points To ‘Psychopathic Killer With A Bad Shot.’ The York Region
- Grimaldi, J. (2015) Carty Gets 18 Years For His Part In Markham’s Pan Murder. The York Region
- Grimaldi, J. (2016) A Daughter’s Deadly Deception. The Jennifer Pan Story. Dundurn Press
- McLaughlin, T. (2014) Pan Played ‘Sickest Games’ With Boyfriend, Trial Told. The Toronto Sun
- Weisman, A., Ehrenclou, M., and Sharma, K.K. (2002). Double Parricide: Forensic Analysis and Psycholegal Implications. Journal of forensic sciences. 47. pp313-7. DOI: 10.1520/JFS15249J
Guy, F. (2017, Feb 16). Jennifer Pan: The Girl Next Door Who Arranged Her Parents Murder Crime Traveller. Retrieved from https://www.crimetraveller.org/2017/02/jennifer-pan-girl-next-door-arranged-murder-parents/