What Really Happened To Jennifer Pan?

On the night of November 8, 2010, three men allegedly broke into the home of Huei Hann Pan and Bich Ha Pan in Markham, a Toronto suburb, tied up their 24-year-old daughter, Jennifer Pan, murdered Bich, and grievously wounded Hann. Jennifer was able to call 911, but it was too late for Bich. But what at first appeared to be a random home invasion quickly changed tenor when Hann emerged from his induced coma and revealed what he saw.

This helped the police begin peeling back the layers of Jennifer's story. They learned not only that she allegedly hatched the plan to kill her parents, but that she'd been lying to them for years, weaving an elaborate tale about her life, stretching back to high school. Today, Jennifer sits in the Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener, Ontario serving a life sentence for the attempted murder of her father. But she and her coconspirators' 2015 first-degree murder convictions for her mother's killing were overturned, and they may receive a new trial. The Canadian Supreme Court, the country's highest court, is considering whether to hear a subsequent appeal of the overturning. Like the 1988 murder-for-hire of Elizabeth Sennet, this story also has enough twists and turns to be straight out of a movie. In the case of Jennifer Pan, her story was turned into the Netflix true-crime documentary "What Jennifer Did." 

Long-term deceit

Jennifer Pan's parents thought of her as their "golden child." And based on the report cards they'd seen during her time in high school — straight As — they weren't wrong to consider her an academic overachiever. The truth was that Jennifer was struggling academically and had been faking her report cards all the way through high school. She failed to graduate and then lied about attending college. The deceit went on for years. While her parents thought she was in class and living with a friend part-time, she was actually waiting tables and staying with her secret boyfriend Daniel Wong and his family.

"I tried looking at myself in the third person, and I didn't like who I saw," she recalled (via Toronto Life), "but rationalizations in my head said I had to keep going — otherwise I would lose everything that ever meant anything to me." What began as merely an academic issue soon turned deadly when her overbearing parents learned the truth about their daughter's real life.

Jennifer Pan allegedly hatches a plan

Jennifer Pan's parents had always put a lot of pressure on their daughter. An unnamed friend of Jennifer recalled to Toronto Life that her parents had always been "absolutely controlling" of her. It only got worse after they learned she had been lying to them. Although Jennifer was in her 20s, Hann took away her phone and computer (later giving them back but monitoring her usage) and forbade her from seeing Daniel Wong. But she secretly continued with the on-again, off-again relationship.

"I was very upset because all our effort was to help her attend school and she was not," Huei Hann Pan later testified in court (via the CBC). "I told her to cease the relationship with Danny Wong or wait until I'm dead." Instead, police alleged that Jennifer and Daniel Wong came up with a plan to kill her parents so she could inherit around $500,000 and they could be together. They asked a friend of Wong's named Lenford Crawford to set up the contract killings, police said.


On the night of the alleged killing, David Mylvaganam, Eric Carty, and Lenford Crawford are accused of coming into the Pans' home after Jennifer unlocked the front door (she later recanted this). They purportedly dragged Huei Hann Pan and Bich Ha Pan into the basement and shot them in the head, killing Bich instantly. Police initially believed Jennifer was also a victim until her father recovered enough to tell them what he saw that night.

"Mr. Pan was interviewed almost a week after the murder and his version of what transpired inside the Pan residence varied dramatically from the versions told by his daughter," York Regional Police Detective William Courtice told the CBC in 2015. Jennifer then admitted her role in the murder plot but alleged she had actually hired them to kill her because she was depressed but unable to take her own life. The police didn't buy her story and neither did a jury.

2014 Trial

Jennifer Pan, Daniel Wong, David Mylvaganam, and Lenford Crawford went to trial in Newmarket, Ontario in 2014, a case that lasted 10 months and became one of the longest trials in Canadian history. Jennifer's father Huei Hann Pan took the stand for the prosecution and recalled that he'd seen his daughter talking with one of the killers that night and that they hadn't tied her up. "He talked to my daughter," Hann told the court (via the CBC). "I could not hear what was being said but they were speaking softly."

From the stand, Jennifer said that she was trying to die by suicide when she hatched the plan but then decided to call it off when things began to improve with her family. Her attorney, Paul Cooper, told the jury it was in fact a "sloppy robbery" by the hitmen Jennifer had initially hired. "The events of that night were never supposed to happen," he told the jury, per the CBC. The prosecution called this "suicide by hitmen" defense "ridiculous" (via The Sun Times). Unlike some other unhinged criminal defenses that worked, Jennifer's did not.

A new trial?

The jury deliberated for four days before convicting all of the defendants of first-degree murder in the killing of Bich Ha Pan and attempted murder in the shooting of Huei Hann Pan. A judge later sentenced Jennifer and the three others to life with the possibility of parole after 25 years for Bich's murder and life for Hann's attempted murder. Eric Carty took a plea deal for conspiracy to murder and received an 18-year sentence. He later died in prison.

Then in May 2023, Ontario's Court of Appeal overturned Jennifer Pan's first-degree murder conviction, along with those of Daniel Wong, David Mylvaganam, and Lenford Crawford. The appeal centered around an error by the presiding judge when he was instructing the jury on the relevant laws before they began deliberating. Then, the prosecution filed its own appeal to forestall a new trial in the case, which is allowed in Canadian law. As of now, the Supreme Court of Canada has not decided on whether to hear the appeal. Meanwhile, Jennifer and her co-defendants remain in prison for their attempted murder convictions. Once you've finished watching "What Jennifer Did," check out the best true-crime documentaries of 2023.

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