On the night of Monday, November 8, 2010, three assailants broke into a local Ontario residence shooting to death a man's wife and attempting to kill him as well. The 24-year-old daughter, Jennifer Pan, was also inside the house, tied upstairs to the banister, but suffered no injuries during the attack. Detectives later discovered that Jennifer plotted the entire home invasion to kill her own parents.
A Shocked Community
The invasion of 238 Helen Avenue happened in an upscale Ontario neighborhood and was at first believed to be a targeted robbery attempt on an upper middle class family. However, detectives quickly ruled out robbery as a motive after realising nothing of value was stolen from the home, including cash left on the counter and a Mercedes and Lexus parked in the garage.
Bich Ha Pan, a Vietnamese immigrant, lived in Vietnam before immigrating to Canada after the Fall of Saigon. Both she and her husband, Huei Hann Pan, who was also shot, were considered "boat people" (Asian asylum seekers). Both parents shared the same goal of building a successful life together and raising a daughter, Jennifer, and son Felix, providing them with a bright future and opportunities they never had.
Huei Hann Pan was a successful tool and die, and diesel mechanic and had saved up a large nest egg he would eventually pass to his daughter and son after death. Many media sources highlighted the one million dollar life insurance policy after Hann told his daughter that she would only get the money, "You have to wait untill I'm dead."
"Where's the fucking money!?"
The assailants now known as David Mylvaganam, Eric Carty, and Lenford Crawford entered the Pan residence at 10:13 pm. Jennifer Pan, who the robbers tied upstairs, told the detectives that someone kept yelling "Where's the fucking money?" The father pleaded, "I have $60 in my pants upstairs, but my possessions are worth plenty!" They strike Hann on the back of the head, after which they force him and his wife downstairs to the basement. Jennifer can hear her mother yell, "you can hurt us, but please don't hurt my daughter."
"There was a lot of blood."
First responders found Bich Ha Pan face down in front of the sectional leather couch. She was wearing green silky Winnie the Pooh pajamas and lying in a pool of her own blood. Investigating detective Mike Stesco recalls the scene,
"There was a lot of blood. It was a real dark sort of thick-coloured blood. It wasn't like the trail we followed down, light sort of splatter, it was thicker. It was by her head and then she had a blue towel over her head."
Although she was tied to the upstairs banister, Jennifer Pan called 911 on her flip phone. She told detectives, "I heard a couple of pops and I heard my mom scream. Then I heard a couple more pops."
Crime Scene Suspicions
The crime scene showed no sign of forced entry, they found no DNA of the killers, and they stole nothing from the home. Detectives began suspecting that robbery was not the motive and started focusing their attention on the 24-year-old daughter, Jennifer Pan, who was not even bruised from the attack. With the help and testimony from the father who was shot twice but survived and placed in a medically induced coma, they will eventually find Jennifer Pan guilty of staging the entire crime.
Tiger Parenting, True Motive?
Jennifer Pan's parents were known as 'Tiger Parents', a term coined in 2011 by Yale law professor Amy Chua in her best-selling memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Chua describes tiger parents as practising strict academic discipline of their children so they can be high-performers and achieve high levels of success. Jennifer Pan described in her own defense her role as the daughter of two tiger parents who would force isolate her, restricting her social life, all while demanding excellence from her.
They restricted Jennifer from dating, even at her age of 24, and according to her boyfriend and co-conspirator Daniel Wong, “Jennifer, coming from a strict Asian home, could not date boys. “She was a figure skater, and she also played piano. “That’s why in high school she really had no time for a relationship. It would be early morning skating and then school and then piano or skating again [after school]. Her parents pretty much drove her to the path where there was no time for a relationship.”
The Ultimatum That Led To Murder
Jennifer began planning her parents' murder after her father Hann Pan found out that she did not graduate from the University of Toronto like they believed she had. For years Pan lied to her parents, she Photoshopped her acceptance letter, lied about fake professors and classwork, and even created her own diploma from her computer. Betrayed by his daughter's deception, Hann Pan gives Jennifer the ultimate ultimatum, her life of lies with her secret boyfriend Daniel Wong, or her family.
Jennifer tells detectives, “[The choice was] living out on my own with Daniel [or] staying home with my parents,” she says. “[Living like that] was okay. It wasn’t the best feeling in the world because I always felt trapped. But it’s what I chose: to be with my family. Family always comes first.”
Jennifer Pan Serving Life in Prison
After a failed attempt to persuade a jury that the 'hit' was not supposed to be for her parents, but directed at her (suicide by hitmen), the Crown found Pan guilty of murdering her parents. Jennifer Pan is currently serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole at 25 years. They also imprisoned three of the four other conspirators for their role in the murder and attempted murder of Bich Ha Pan and Hann Pan.