Jennifer Pan, the 28-year-old daughter of Vietnamese immigrants settled in Toronto, didn't graduate high school. She didn't enroll in college. During the day, she passed the time at the public library instead of in lecture halls. But if you asked her parents, their "golden" child was a straight-A student, the recipient of multiple scholarships, and a graduate from the University of Toronto's pharmacology program with a bright future ahead of her.
That all came to light in reporter Karen Ho's profile of Pan, who was recently on trial for plotting with hitmen to murder her parents. The story ran in Toronto Life magazine under the headline, "Jennifer Pan's Revenge: the inside story of a golden child, the killers she hired, and the parents she wanted dead."
Pan was found guilty of first-degree murder and attempted murder, along with her three co-conspirators, and is now serving life in prison without the chance of parole for 25 years. While the Toronto press extensively covered Pan's trial, Ho peered inside the life of a troubled young woman who made up lie after lie—fabricating report cards, loan approvals, and college acceptance letters—to keep up the facade of a high-achieving immigrant child.
Ho told the Washington Post that Pan went through those herculean efforts to lie to her parents because she "felt like the alternative"—her parents knowing that she has less than a high school education—"was unfathomable."
Still, they did find out—and they took away Pan's car, cell phone, and forbid her from seeing her until-then secret boyfriend. That's when Pan made her plan. From the Post:
While she eventually gained more freedom, Pan stayed angry. She thought about how much better her life would be without her parents. And so, with [her boyfriend] Daniel’s help, she plotted to kill the two people who had made her life like “house arrest.”
The scene described in Toronto Life and earlier in the trial is gruesome. In a planned murder disguised to look like a robbery gone awry, Pan played the part of helpless witness as three hired hit men, David Mylvaganam, Lenford Crawford and allegedly Eric Carty, fatally shot her mother and severely wounded her father. She called 911, distraught, to bolster the illusion.
Jennifer Lee, a sociology professor at the University of California Irvine, told the Post "it would be a mistake to attribute Pan's troubles to 'tiger parenting.'" She calls into question "the expectations that teachers, peers and institutions" also put on Pan to be exemplary.
Still, Ho writes in her report: "I believe that on some level, Jennifer loved her parents." Back in February, she formally requested to interview Pan and her boyfriend, Daniel Wong, who was also convicted. Her requests were declined.
[via the Washington Post]