Did 'Tiger Parenting' prompt daughter toward suicide - or murder?
02/15/2017 1:00 pm PST
A family of three, each with a gun to their head; a petrified daughter, tortured, forced to listen as her parents are shot in cold blood.
Crime Watch Daily has the real-life horror story that happened inside the Pan family's home, shattering the serenity of their normally quiet, upscale Toronto neighborhood.
Is it a home invasion -- or is it the ultimate betrayal?
The Pans were the epitome of immigrant success story. Hann Pan and his wife Bich were Vietnamese boat people who escaped to find a better life.
"He was a tool-and-die maker, his wife worked in the same factory as him putting together car parts, but he was very intent on his children doing better than he did," said Jeremy Grimaldi, a crime reporter who has written extensively about the case.
The Pan children were by all accounts nearly perfect. Felix was away studying mechanical engineering at a prestigious university. Hann wanted his son to design cars, not assemble them. Daughter Jennifer was an Olympic-caliber figure skater, an award-winning pianist and a straight-A student.
The Pans led a very disciplined and frugal life while living in a nice house with two luxury cars. Cops believe those pricey possessions may have been what lured three gun-toting thugs into their home on the night of Nov. 8, 2010.
A home security camera across the street captures the gunmen pull up in front of the house. It's the beginning of what York Regional Police Detective Bill Courtice describes as 18 minutes of sheer terror.
Hann wakes up to a muzzle pressed firmly to his forehead. Jennifer tells police she was in her room upstairs talking on the phone when she hears something strange outside her door. Jennifer peeks out the door to find a pistol pointed directly at her. Jennifer tells police then gunman ties her hands behind her back with a shoelace and drags her from room to room and ransacks the house.
Jennifer hands over $2,500 she had saved from teaching piano, and another $1,100 her mother had hidden in a nightstand. But it's not enough. One assailant pistol-whips Hann across the back of his head.
A robber then takes Jennifer back to the second floor and ties her to the stairway banister, she tells police. The gunman downstairs suddenly shoves Bich and Hann into the basement. He orders them to turn around and throws a blanket over their heads.
Bich's final words are pleas for the gunmen to spare Jennifer's life.
Then five gunshots pierce the night.
Moments later, grainy security video shows the killers leaving. For some reason they spare Jennifer's life, and she dials 911.
Hann Pan somehow survives what was meant to be his execution. Tragically, Hann finds his beloved wife dead.
When police get to the house, they find Jennifer tied up exactly the way she described. That raises more than a few eyebrows.
When Jennifer Pan told her terrifying story to police, investigators started to notice some of the things she was saying weren't adding up.
To the rest of the world, Jennifer Pan was a grieving daughter. But police were beginning to wonder if the young woman with the angelic voice was really the devil in disguise.
Grimaldi says his reporter instincts told him this was more than a home invasion
"Not much was stolen. There was a Mercedes and a Lexus in the garage. They weren't stolen," said author Jeremy Grimaldi. "There were TVs, there were devices, there was money that was found in the house which wasn't stolen. Thieves that get away into the night without cash that's left on the counter aren't very good thieves."
Cops have a lot of questions too. One of the biggest is how Jennifer called 911 with her hands tied behind her back. Investigators bring Jennifer in to police headquarters for a demonstration.
Police still weren't convinced Jennifer was telling the truth, so they had a secret police detail follow her and listened to her 911 call one more time.
Hann Pan survives, comes out of his coma and starts talking. He tells police he remembers every single detail about what happened inside their home the night his wife was murdered and he was nearly killed.
"When Hann Pan came out of his induced coma, he described something completely different than what Jennifer Pan had described," said Det. Courtice.
"Hann Pan said that he saw his daughter come downstairs and was unbound, speaking in a friendly manner to a white guy," said Courtice. "So now Jennifer Pan becomes a suspect."
It's not the first time Jennifer Pan has been caught in a lie. Crime reporter Jeremy Grimaldi claims Jennifer Pan wasn't anything close to the innocent, piano-playing, straight-A, daughter she pretended to be
"She was living with her boyfriend and working," said Grimaldi.
Grimaldi, who's dug deep into the Pan family, says Jennifer started lying as a young child.
"She blamed a lot of her behavior on what's known in popular culture as 'Tiger Parenting,'" said Grimaldi.
"Tiger Parenting" is common in Asian culture, described as "tough love" -- some say bordering on tyranny.
"She begins to lead a double life of deception. She starts manufacturing report cards with a photocopier," said Grimaldi. "She never did graduate from high school. [Her parents] were quite unaware of what was going on."
Jennifer even doctored up a college acceptance letter to an elite pharmacy school, the career her dad chose for her.
"She bought textbooks. She had highlighters, she had notebooks, she would tell her parents about professors and exams and people in her class and, you know, her entire family knew a complete false history about her education career," said Grimaldi.
And when it came time to graduate, Jennifer Pan actually bought a diploma.
Another thing often forbidden by "Tiger Parents" is dating. So when Jennifer, the seemingly good girl, met a bad boy named Daniel Wong, Grimaldi says, she concocted more lies to hide their relationship. Police say when Jennifer was supposedly away at university, She was secretly living with Wong.
But Jennifer Pan's perfectly constructed web of lies spun out of control and finally unraveled. Her mom and dad got suspicious so they followed their daughter straight to her forbidden lover.
"She was caught in multiple, multiple lies," said Grimaldi. "She was caught out living with him, she was caught out not attending university. She was eventually locked in her home. She's no longer allowed to drive, she's no longer allowed to use her cellphone, she could only leave the house for piano lessons. She said that her father was actually tracking the mileage on the car."
Police say Hann Pan gives his daughter an ultimatum: Go back to school and quit seeing Daniel Wong, or get out of the house, or wait until Hann is dead to see him. Cops say she didn't want to wait that long.
"I think at that point she had strategized a way to move forward to get them out of her life," said Det. Courtice.
Text messages show the boyfriend Daniel put Jennifer in contact with three known hit men he'd met through his drug dealing, telling Jennifer: "I did everything and lined it up for you."
Jennifer's killer plan may have never been discovered, but there was one thing she never expected: her dad survived.
With Hann's stunning accusations against his own daughter that she was speaking in a friendly manner to a white man in the house during the robbery, and that Jennifer lied about being tied to a banister during the attack, police bring Jennifer back in for questioning.
Cops are onto Jennifer Pan. The seemingly perfect daughter is more like the daughter from hell, living a devilish charade.
Police suspect she methodically hired three hit men to stage a home invasion as a cover-up in a plot to kill her parents.
After nine grueling hours of police interrogation, Jennifer finally cracks. Says she's ready to tell York Regional Police Det. Bill Goetz the whole truth.
But it's not what anyone was expecting. Jennifer says she arranged for a hit, but says she was supposed to be the target. She claims she was so upset at not being able to see Daniel Wong that she wanted to die.
Jennifer's attorney, Paul Cooper, says there's a simple explanation.
"What went wrong is she called it off and she had to pay a fee," said Cooper.
Cooper says Jennifer had a last-minute change of heart, but the gunmen still wanted the $10,000 cancellation fee, and when she couldn't pay it, they showed up and shot her parents.
Cops don't know what to believe, so they haul in Daniel Wong for questioning. Daniel and Jennifer apparently didn't get their story straight beforehand. Wong tells investigators that Jennifer indeed wanted her parents dead.
Cops also discover Wong had given Jennifer a "burner" phone to contact the hit men. But Jennifer claimed the SIM card containing a history of her texts had mysteriously vanished.
"She seemed to get rid of a SIM card in her phone, but she didn't get rid of the phone, and the police found text messages on the phone," said Grimaldi.
Jennifer Pan may have lied to police, but her phone records didn't. Cops uncover hundreds of texts between the hit men and Jennifer. Police are able to link the time of one of the texts to the exact moment captured on home security video from across the street.
"Had the father not survived and had the phone messages not been found, the question remains open about whether she would have been caught," said Grimaldi.