‘What Jennifer Did’: Netflix doc explores surprising Ont. murder-for-hire case

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A murder-for-hire case that shocked residents in Markham, Ont., virtually 15 years in the past is getting the Netflix remedy, highlighting the decade-long ruse Jennifer Pan undertook to please her strict dad and mom — a plot that finally left considered one of them lifeless.

What Jennifer Did is the newest feature-length Netflix documentary to hit the streaming platform (on April 10 in Canada), analyzing the early years of Jennifer’s life, her forbidden star-crossed-lovers’ romance and her motivation to rent hitmen to kill her dad and mom.

Defined under is the twisted internet of lies and deceit that left a mom lifeless and a household torn aside.

Excessive expectations, great strain

Born to Vietnamese refugees Huei Hann and Bich Ha Pan, Jennifer felt great strain to excel in her research and extracurricular actions and, for years, did simply that.

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Her dad and mom, the basic instance of a Canadian immigrant success story, constructed a affluent life for his or her household and anticipated their daughter and son, Felix, to increase on their success.

Jennifer was a straight-A scholar at Mary Ward Catholic Secondary College in Markham and an completed piano participant, and had her sights set on turning into an Olympic determine skater. By all accounts, she was thriving academically and socially.

Her Olympic desires have been dashed within the eighth grade, when she suffered an damage that sidelined her determine skating profession. From there, it was a sluggish downward spiral.


Jennifer Pan is seen within the promotional poster for Neflix’s ‘What Jennifer Did.’.


Netflix

The self-abuse begins

In response to a bit written by considered one of Jennifer’s schoolmates for Toronto Life journal, a torn knee ligament was a critical blow to Jennifer’s self-confidence. Her desires of skating on a nationwide degree have been dashed and he or she started self-mutilating by reducing small slices into her forearms.

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As her commencement from center faculty approached, she absolutely anticipated to be named valedictorian and obtain a handful of medals for her scholastic efforts. When neither of these issues got here to fruition she was devastated, however appeared to brush it off and conceal behind her “completely happy masks.”

“An in depth observer may need seen that Jennifer appeared off, however I by no means did,” Karen Okay. Ho wrote for Toronto Life.

“I found later that Jennifer’s pleasant, assured persona was a façade, beneath which she was suffering from emotions of inadequacy, self-doubt and disgrace. When she didn’t win first place at skating competitions, she tried to cover her devastation from her dad and mom, not wanting so as to add fear to their disappointment.”

Over the course of the subsequent two years, her grades started to slide. She went from the highest of her class to posting marks within the 70s, at finest.

Not wanting to fret and disappoint her dad and mom, she started to lie. Armed with a glue stick and scissors, she altered her report playing cards, forging them with As to maintain up appearances.

In the meantime, her protecting dad and mom saved shut tabs on their daughter’s motion by the world. She was forbidden from normal teenage rites of passage like dances and events. Sleepovers have been uncommon, and once they did occur she can be dropped off late at evening and picked up early the subsequent morning.

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A forbidden romance

In Grade 11, and properly on her path to deceiving her dad and mom, Jennifer started courting Daniel Wong. He was within the grade above and the 2 performed within the faculty band collectively.

That yr, whereas on a band journey to Europe, Jennifer suffered an bronchial asthma assault. Wong was there to assist her by the panic, and Jennifer was grateful for the care and a spotlight he paid to her. They started courting that summer season.


Jennifer Pan poses with an award and flowers in an undated picture.


Netflix

Wong was, by most accounts, a respectful child however was dabbling in low-level drug dealing. At one level, as a teen, he was charged with trafficking after police discovered a substantial quantity of marijuana in his automotive.

As a result of she knew her dad and mom would by no means approve of a boyfriend, Jennifer saved the connection secret. In the meantime, she was accepted to Ryerson College, now Toronto Metropolitan College, however failed calculus in her senior yr and the varsity withdrew its supply.

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The lies deepen


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Jennifer by no means informed her dad and mom she wasn’t going to college. She doubled down on the lie and would take transit into downtown Toronto every weekday, holing up at public libraries to take notes from used biology and physics notebooks she thought can be related to the sciences program she was alleged to be attending.

She solid paperwork that mentioned she was receiving a mortgage for tuition and informed her dad she’d received a $3,000 scholarship.

After two years of maintaining her pretend-student charade, she informed her dad she’d been accepted into the College of Toronto pharmacology program. She satisfied her dad and mom that she ought to spend three nights per week with a good friend within the metropolis to chop down on a gruelling commute — in fact, she stayed at Wong’s household house as a substitute.


A nonetheless picture from Neflix’s ‘What Jennifer Did.’.


Netflix

For one more two years, Jennifer saved up the lies. After 4 years, when it got here time to “graduate,” Jennifer faked an ideal transcript and informed her dad and mom there weren’t sufficient tickets for them to attend her convocation.

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An unravelling façade

Jennifer’s dad and mom started to note one thing was amiss when their daughter started enthusiastically telling them a couple of new volunteer place on the blood testing lab at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Kids — a gig that might require late-night shifts on weekends.

Hann, ever-observant and occupied with his daughter’s profession trajectory, thought it was odd she wasn’t assigned a uniform or key fob to entry the hospital.

Involved, he insisted that he and Bich drive their daughter to the hospital someday. As soon as she was out of the automotive, he informed his spouse to observe Jennifer. Panicked, she ran from her mom and hid out within the ER ready room till she was sure she had left.

The subsequent day, Hann and Bich positioned a name to the good friend their daughter claimed to be staying with within the metropolis. The good friend admitted that Jennifer wasn’t there. Once they confronted their daughter, Jennifer confessed. She informed them she had lied about graduating, had lied about volunteering on the hospital and, devastatingly for everybody, she informed them she had a boyfriend and had been sleeping over at his home.

Livid and decided to get his daughter again heading in the right direction, Hann took away her telephone and laptop computer. He started checking her telephone messages. They forbade her from leaving the home for 2 weeks.

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Jennifer’s anger escalates

Jennifer’s dad and mom finally granted her some small freedoms. She enrolled in a calculus course to lastly end her highschool credit and he or she was allowed to depart the home for piano classes.

However Jennifer was nonetheless sneaking out to see her boyfriend. One evening, her dad and mom discovered her mattress empty and so they cracked down on their daughter once more, this time demanding that she apply to school and forbidding her from ever seeing Wong once more.

Wong, pissed off that Jennifer refused to maneuver out of her dad and mom’ home and uninterested in having to sneak round, broke up together with her and started courting another person. She was heartbroken and determined to achieve again her relationship, however felt like she needed to play by her dad and mom’ guidelines and labored slowly to regain their belief.

Someday within the two years after she was caught sleeping over at Wong’s home, Jennifer rekindled her romance together with her ex-boyfriend.

Hatching a homicide plan

Nonetheless being watched intently by her mother and pa, Wong produced a spare telephone for Jennifer to speak with him, away from her dad and mom’ prying eyes.

However the parental scrutiny and lack of privateness was nonetheless a serious sticking level of their relationship, to the purpose the place Jennifer and Wong additionally started toying with the concept of murdering her dad and mom and amassing a $500,000 inheritance.

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It was with the spare telephone that Jennifer requested for a success to be placed on Bich and Han.

Over textual content, in 2010, Wong launched his girlfriend to considered one of his felony affiliate mates, Lenford Crawford, whom Jennifer claimed to know solely by the title “Homeboy.”

Crawford, over textual content, informed Jennifer he may kill her dad and mom for $10,000. She agreed to the plan.

A harrowing name to police

On Nov. 8, Jennifer known as 911, frantically telling the dispatcher that armed gunmen had damaged into their house, tied her up, demanded cash and shot each her dad and mom.

Bich had been shot a number of instances within the head and died immediately. Jennifer’s father, nevertheless, was nonetheless alive regardless of bullets to the shoulder and face.

At first, police appeared to purchase Jennifer’s story. However, 4 days later, Hann got here out of his coma and informed police that his daughter gave the impression to be acquainted and pleasant with the gunmen who had entered their house. Remarkably, he remembered all the pieces from the evening of the assault, together with that his daughter’s arms weren’t tied behind her again like she had claimed on the 911 name.


Det. Alan Cooke, who labored on the Jennifer Pan case.


Netflix

A sequence of interviews with police finally unravelled the reality — no less than partially. Jennifer confessed to hiring three hitmen and leaving her house’s entrance door unlocked, however informed police she had employed the lads to kill her.

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Going by the digital proof within the case, police uncovered an analogous plan, 10 months earlier, that Jennifer deserted after realizing the individual she had paid to kill her people had ditched her and brought off with the $1,500.

Jennifer was arrested in late November and two months later, in January of 2011, police had sufficient digital proof to arrest Wong, Crawford and the 2 different hitmen, David Mylvaganam and Eric Carty.

All 5 have been charged with first-degree homicide, tried homicide and conspiracy to commit homicide.

The trial, sentencing and attraction

The trial for Jennifer and the co-accused started in 2014 and stretched for practically 10 months.

On the stand, she informed the jury that she had two plans, however neither concerned killing her mom.

The primary plan was to have her father shot. When that didn’t work out, she wished to have herself killed by intruders. She informed the jury she thought each plans had been known as off.

She additionally informed the court docket that her life was a fabrication and that she had betrayed her dad and mom at virtually each flip for years.

“I used to be conflicted, I used to be confused, I used to be undecided what to do,” she mentioned. “A part of me wished to return clear. On the opposite facet, I knew coming down, it could carry such disgrace and embarrassment…. They’d be ostracized from the remainder of the household.”

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A sketch of Jennifer Pan on the stand during her trial


A sketch of Jennifer Pan on the stand throughout her trial .


International Information

When her lawyer requested her why she didn’t simply transfer out of her dad and mom’ home, she mentioned she didn’t wish to be with no household.

“I didn’t need them to desert me. I’d be shamed if I moved out and I wasn’t married,” she mentioned.

On Dec. 13, 2014, Jennifer was discovered responsible of first-degree homicide. She was 28 years previous on the time.

Three of the co-accused, Crawford, Mylvaganam and Wong, have been all discovered responsible of the identical prices for the loss of life of Bich. At sentencing, the choose ordered that every one 4 spend life in jail with no probability of parole for 25 years on the homicide conviction, and life for tried homicide. The sentences are being served concurrently.

(Carty was not current on the time on account of his lawyer falling in poor health through the trial. Carty died inside a B.C. jail, the place he was serving time for an unrelated homicide, earlier than he may face trial for Bich’s loss of life.)

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Jennifer’s household didn’t flip up for her sentencing, however in a written assertion to the court docket, Hann mentioned his life had been shattered by his spouse’s loss of life and daughter’s crimes.

“I hope my daughter Jennifer thinks about what occurred to her household and might change into , sincere individual sometime,” he wrote.

Jennifer’s authorized saga, it appears, is just not but over.

In March of 2023, the Court docket of Attraction for Ontario ordered new trials for the first-degree homicide convictions.

The trial choose erred by suggesting to the jury solely two believable situations for the assault — one through which the plan was to homicide each dad and mom and one other through which the plan was to commit a house invasion and the dad and mom have been shot in the midst of the theft, the court docket mentioned.

However the trial choose ought to have given the jury second-degree homicide and manslaughter as different doable verdicts in Bich’s loss of life, the attraction court docket mentioned.

The jury may have additionally doubted there was a plan to kill Pan’s mom, however concluded there was a fairly foreseeable danger of harming her with the plan to kill Pan’s father, which might result in a manslaughter conviction, the court docket wrote.

The Supreme Court docket of Canada is now within the means of figuring out if it can assessment the case.

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With information from International Information’ Catherine McDonald and The Canadian Press

‘What Jennifer Did,’ a documentary by Jenny Popplewell, is offered on Netflix on April 10.

For those who or somebody you recognize is in disaster and wishes assist, sources can be found. In case of an emergency, please name 911 for fast assist.

For a listing of assist companies in your space, go to the Canadian Affiliation for Suicide Prevention.

Be taught extra about the right way to assist somebody in disaster.

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