Friday, 14 August 2015

Monster child kills her parents

Bich Ha (a woman) and Huei Hann Pan (a man) were classic examples of the Canadian immigrant success story. Bich (pronounced Bick) Hann was raised and educated in Vietnam and she moved to Canada as a political refugee in 1979. Bich (pronounced “Bick”) came to Canada separately and he also as a refugee. They married in Toronto and lived in Scarborough. They had two kids, Jennifer, in 1986, and Felix, three years later. Both parents found jobs at the Aurora-based auto parts manufacturer Magna International. Hann was a tool and die maker and Bich was making car parts. They lived frugally. By 2004, Bich and Hann had saved enough in their savings to buy a large home with a two-car garage on a quiet residential street in Markham. He drove a Mercedes-Benz and she a Lexus ES 300. Further, they had accumulated $200,000 in the bank.

Their hopes were that Jennifer and Felix would work as hard as they had in establishing their lives in Canada. They’d laid the groundwork so that their kids could improve themselves. They enrolled Jennifer in piano classes at age four, and she showed early promise. By elementary school, she’d racked up a trophy case full of awards. They put her in figure skating, and she hoped to compete at the national level, with her sights set on the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver until unfortunately she tore a ligament in her knee. Some nights during elementary school, Jennifer would come home from skating practice at 10 p.m., do her homework until midnight, then go to bed. Partying and dating were forbidden in Jennifer’s home. Education was everything.

Jennifer had felt immense pressure to be what her parents wanted her to be. But she wasn’t coping, While her parents thought she was a straight-A student, Jennifer was actually receiving B grades. So she started to forge her report cards and also began cutting herself on her arms. She was hiding her deep feelings of inadequacy. In grade eight, she had hoped to become the leader of her class. She missed out. And so began her slow demise from being an over-achiever to being a forger and a pathological liar.  

Quite frankly, I think the two children were under too much pressure to excel. As high-achieving students push themselves further and further, parents, educators, counselors and physicians find themselves questioning themselves: How much is too much? Educators have said that some students can easily handle multiple advanced classes and activities and athletics. But others cannot and should not feel the pressure to do so at any cost. The root of the problem lies in the fact that teens are trying to meet expectations set by their parents, peers or society. Sometimes pressure comes more from parents than peers. She began cutting herself—little horizontal cuts on her forearms. Social pressure causes students to drink or try drugs to fit into a popular crowd. And sometimes, students mingle with the wrong crowd. That is what later happened to Jennifer.                      

At five foot seven, she was taller than most of the other Asian girls at the school, and pretty but plain. She rarely wore makeup; she had small, round wire-frame glasses that were neither stylish nor expensive; and she kept her hair straight and unstyled.

Jennifer met Daniel Wong in Grade 11. He was a year older than Jennifer and to her he was goofy and gregarious, with a big laugh, a wide smile and a little paunch around his waistline. He played trumpet in the school band and in a marching band outside of school. Their relationship was platonic until a band trip to Europe in 2003. After a performance in a concert hall filled with smokers, Jennifer suffered an asthma attack. She started panicking, was led outside to the tour bus and almost blacked out. Daniel calmed her down, coaching her breathing. “He pretty much saved my life,” she later said. “It meant everything.” That summer, they started dating.

Alas, what her parents and friends didn’t know was that a crime against Jennifer’s parents was festering in her mind. Perhaps a close observer might have noticed that Jennifer seemed off, but since everyone presumed that she was well adjusted, the monster in her mind remained hidden.                

Jennifer’s friendly, confident persona was a façade, because beneath that façade she was tormented by feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt and shame. When she failed to win first place at skating competitions, she tried to hide her devastation from her parents, not wanting to add worry to their disappointment. Her mother noticed something was amiss and would comfort her daughter at night, when Hann was asleep, saying, “You know all we want from you is just your best—just do what you can.” Those were wise words.         

Jennifer was accepted early to Ryerson University in Toronto. But she failed one of her maths classes in her last year of high school and the offer was withdrawn. Desperate not to disappoint her parents, she instead pretended to go to the University of Toronto. But that university also didn’t accept her as a student. She collected used textbooks. She faked a scholarship so her parents wouldn’t know why she didn’t have university fees to pay. And while her parents thought she was heading off to study, Jennifer would actually be going to the public library instead. When it came time to graduate, Jennifer lied and said there were not enough tickets for her parents to attend the graduation ceremony. Nevertheless, she made her parents, Bich Ha and Huei Hann Pan very proud by telling them that she graduated from the University with a degree in pharmacology.

Eventually, Jennifer’s fictional academic career began to collapse. While supposedly studying at U of T, she had told her parents about an exciting new development happening in her life.  She told them that she was volunteering at the blood-testing lab at SickKids hospital. The gig sometimes required late-night shifts on Fridays and weekends. Perhaps, she suggested, she should spend more of the week at her friend Topaz’s home. But Hann noticed something odd: Jennifer had no uniform or key card from SickKids. So the next day, he insisted that they drop her off at the hospital. As soon as the car stopped, she sprinted inside, and Hann instructed Bich to follow her. Realizing she was being tailed by her mom, Jennifer hid in the waiting area of the ER for a few hours until they left. Early the next morning, they called Topaz, who groggily told the truth: Jennifer wasn’t there. When Jennifer finally came home, Hann confronted her. She confessed that she didn’t volunteer at SickKids, had never been in U of T’s pharmacology program and had indeed been staying at Daniel’ Wong’s place though she neglected to tell them that she’d never graduated high school and that her time at Ryerson was also complete fiction.

Bich wept when she learned the truth about her daughter. Hann was apoplectic. He told Jennifer to get out and never come back, but Bich convinced him to let their daughter stay. Hann gave his daughter two options: stay home and attend school or go with Wong and never come back. She stayed, under stricter rules. She applied for college though it was too late for her to start in September 2010. She was admitted to Centennial College for January 2011.  Her cellphone and laptop was taken from her for two weeks, after which she was only permitted to use them in her parents’ presence and had to endure surprise checks of her messages. They forbade her from seeing Daniel Wong. They ordered her to quit all of her jobs except for teaching piano. Her parents became even stricter with their daughter, even though she was now an adult. She couldn’t have a mobile phone, nor could she have a computer and there would be no more dates with her boyfriend Daniel Wong. However, over the spring and summer, she snuck calls with Daniel Wong on her cellphone at night, whispering in the dark.

In my opinion, her parents were pulling the strings too tight around their daughter. There is evidence that being overprotective and too-strict with children can become harmful for children thereby bringing about detrimental effects on children. Overprotective parenting has been moderately associated with childhood delinquency. They were treating their adult daughter as a child and this made Jennifer resentful and angry at her parents. Her parents overprotectiveness was born of love and concern. To Jennifer and her friends, however, it was a form of tyranny.     

When dependent adults attempt new tasks, they tend to fail because they have been mini-managed as children and in Jennifer’s case, even as an adult she was being mini-managed by her parents.  Being treated as a child when she was a young adult had brought about a lack of competency which invariably leads to feelings of poor self-esteem, lack of self-confidence and increased dependency. In some cases, the children of overprotective, strict parents display an inability to manage even daily stressors, have poor time management skills, lack of creativity and fail to enjoy new experiences. This was what was happening to Jennifer while living with her strict parents even when she was an adult.

Children of Asian parents that are raised by their overprotective, strict parents have reported having trouble as adults in maintaining harmonious relationships with others.

Jennifer’s outward appearance of being a friendly, confident person was a facade, beneath which she was tormented by feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt and shame. She felt that she was a loser—which of course she was.  

While Jennifer was tending the bar at a Boston Pizza where Daniel Wong worked as a kitchen manager, Jennifer concocted a story that she was gang-raped and then received bullets in the mail with warnings—all in a desperate attempt to hang on to Wong. This young man fell for Jennifer’s fictitious story and I suppose that brought the two of them closer together that they were earlier.

Jennifer who was now 28, decided that she had enough. She could have simply left their home and fend for herself but she figured that would be too difficult for her. She decided that there was an easier way to escape from the disciplinary bonds that held her tight to her home.

To her, the only way she could escape her dominating parents was to kill them. Of course, she wasn’t going to do that by herself so she contacted her boyfriend, Daniel Wong who was a university-educated, man who also played the trumpet. Somehow he got mixed up with dealing marijuana and fell under the spell of Jennifer Pan—at least that is what his lawyer later said of him at his trial.

In the spring of 2010, Jennifer reconnected with Andrew Montemayor, a friend from elementary school. According to Jennifer’s later evidence in court, he had boasted about robbing people at knifepoint in the park near his home (a claim he later denied). When Jennifer told him about her torturous relationship with her dad, Montemayor confessed that he’d once considered killing his own father. The notion intrigued Jennifer, who began imagining how much better her life would be without her father around.

Montemayor introduced Jennifer to his roommate, Ricardo Duncan, a goth kid with black nail polish. Over bubble tea in between her piano lessons, according to Jennifer, they hatched a plan for Duncan to murder her father in a parking lot at his work, a tool and die company called Kobay Enstel, near Finch and McCowan. She says she gave Duncan $1,500, earnings from her piano classes, and they agreed to connect later by phone to arrange the date and time of the hit. But Duncan stopped answering her calls, and by early July, Jennifer realized she had been ripped off. Duncan later said that she called him in early July, hysterical, requesting that he come and kill her parents. He said he felt upset and said no, and that the only money she gave him was $200 for a night out, which he promptly returned to her.

It was at this point that Daniel and Jennifer, who were back in contact with one another and were exchanging daily flirty texts, devised an even more sinister plan: they’d hire a hit on her mother and father, collect the estate in which Jennifer’s portion would be about $500,000 (the rest going to her brother) and she and Daniel would live together, unencumbered by her meddling parents. Daniel gave Jennifer a spare iPhone and SIM card, and connected her with an acquaintance named Lenford Crawford, whom he called Homeboy. Jennifer asked Crawford what the going rate was for a contract killing. Crawford said it was $20,000, but for a friend of Daniel’s it could be done for $10,000. Jennifer was careful to use her iPhone for crime-related conversations and her Samsung phone for everything else. On Halloween night, Crawford visited Jennifer’s parent’s neighbourhood to scout the site. Kids in costume streaming up and down the street provided the perfect cover.

On the afternoon of November 2, the plan took an unexpected turn. Daniel texted Jennifer, saying that he felt as strongly about Christine as she did about him. Suddenly everything was thrown into question. She texted Daniel: “So you feel for her what I feel for you, then call it off with Homeboy.” Daniel responded, “I thought you wanted this for you?” Jennifer replied to Daniel, “I do, but I have nowhere to go.” Daniel wrote back: “Call it off with Homeboy? You said you wanted this with or without me.” Jennifer: “I want it for me.”

The next day, Daniel texted; “I did everything and lined it all up for you.” It seemed Daniel wanted out of the arrangement. But within hours, they’d reverted to their old ways, texting and flirting. Later that day, Crawford texted Jennifer, “I need the time of completion to think about it.” Jennifer wrote back, “Today is a no go. Dinner plans out so they won’t be home in time.” Over the following week, there was a flurry of text and phone conversations between Jennifer, Daniel and Crawford. On the morning of November 8, Crawford texted Jennifer: “After work ok will be game time.”

That evening, Jennifer who was still living with her parents watched Gossip Girl and Jon and Kate Plus Eight in her bedroom while her father read the Vietnamese news down the hall before heading to bed around 8:30 p.m. Meanwhile Jennifer’s mother was out line dancing with a friend and cousin. Her brother, Felix, who was studying engineering at McMaster University, wasn’t home.

At approximately 9:30 p.m., Bich came home from her line dancing class, changed into her pyjamas and soaked her feet in front of the TV on the main floor. At 9:35 p.m., a man named David Mylvaganam, a friend of Crawford’s, called Jennifer, and they spoke for nearly two minutes. Jennifer went downstairs to say good night to her mother and, as Jennifer later admitted, she unlocked the front door (a statement she eventually retracted). At 10:02 p.m., the light in the upstairs study switched on—allegedly a signal to the intruders—and a minute later, it switched off. At 10:05 p.m., Mylvaganam called again, and he and Jennifer spoke for three and a half minutes.

Moments later, Crawford, Mylvaganam and a third man named Eric Carty walked through the front door, all three carrying guns. One pointed his gun at Jennifer’s mother while another ran upstairs, shoved a gun at Jennifer’s father’s face and directed him out of bed, down the stairs and into the living room.

As previously arranged, Carty confronted Jennifer outside her bedroom door that was also upstairs.  According to Jennifer, Carty tied her arms behind her using a shoelace. He directed her back inside, where she directed him to where $2,500 in cash was and then she directed Carty to her parents’ bedroom, where he located $1,100 in U.S. funds in her mother’s nightstand. He finally went to the kitchen to search for her mother’s wallet.

“How could they enter the house?” Bich asked Hann in Cantonese. “I don’t know, I was sleeping,” Hann replied. “Shut up! You talk too much!” one of the intruders yelled at Hann. “Where’s the fucking money?” Hann had just $60 in his wallet and said as much. “Liar!” one man replied, and pistol-whipped him on the back of the head. Bich began weeping, pleading with the men not to hurt their daughter. One of the intruders replied, “Rest assured, she is nice and will not be hurt.”

When there is a home invasion, the intruders don’t speak kindly about a young woman who is one of their victims. I can’t help but wonder if Jennifer’s parents noticed this rather strange remark about a victim they supposedly didn’t know before.

Carty led Jennifer back upstairs and tied her arms to the banister, while Mylvaganam and Crawford took Bich and Hann to the basement and covered their heads with blankets. Then they shot Hann twice, once in the shoulder and then in his face. He crumpled to the floor. They then shot Bich three times in the head, killing her instantly.  Then they both ran up the basement stairs and fled through the front door.

The money taken in the home invasion was $3,660. Divided by the four men—Wong, Crawford, Carty and Mylvaganam would come to $915.00 each. The price they would later pay for the crimes they committed that evening would be far greater.

Jennifer somehow managed to reach her phone, tucked into the waistband of her pants, and dial 911 (despite, as she later claimed, having her hands tied behind her back). “Help me, please! I need help!” she cried. “I don’t know where my parents are! Please hurry!” At the 34-second mark of the call, the unexpected happens: Hann can be heard moaning in the background. He became conscious and was covered in blood, with his dead wife’s body next to him. He crawled up the stairs to the main floor. Jennifer yelled down that she was calling 911. Hann stumbled outside, screaming wildly, and encountered his startled neighbour, who was about to leave for work, in the driveway next door. The neighbour called 911. Police and an ambulance arrived at the scene minutes later, and Hann was rushed to a nearby hospital, then he was airlifted to Sunnybrook hospital which deals with serious trauma cases.

The York Regional Police interviewed Jennifer just before 3 a.m. She told them that the men had entered the house looking for money, tied her to the banister, and taken her parents to the basement and shot them. Two days later, the police brought her in again to give a second statement. At their request, she showed how she contorted her body to get her phone—a flip phone—out of her waistband to place a call while still tied to a banister.

How could she reach her cell phone from her waistband if her arms were tied behind her and tied to the bannister? Further, how could she dial 911 with her arms still tied behind her? If she hadn’t made that call, it is highly unlikely that the police would suspect that she participated in the crime. Since her father had already climbed up the stairs from the basement, she could have asked him to untie her.

Holes began to emerge in Jennifer’s story. For instance, the keys to Hann’s Lexus were in plain view by the front door. If it were indeed a home invasion, why did the intruders not take the car? And why didn’t they have a crowbar to get in, or a backpack to carry the loot, or zip ties to restrain the residents? And most important: why would they shoot two witnesses but leave one unharmed? The police assigned a surveillance team to monitor Jennifer’s movements.

On November 12th , Hann had woken up from his three-day induced coma. He had a broken bone near his eye, bullet fragments lodged in his face that doctors couldn’t remove and a shattered neck bone—the bullet had grazed the carotid artery. Remarkably, he remembered everything, including two troubling details: he recalled seeing his daughter chatting softly—“like a friend,” he said—with one of the intruders, and that her arms were not tied behind her back while she was being led around the house.

As a criminologist who has investigated murder cases, I can assure you that those who committed those crimes were for the most part, really stupid. It was the little mistakes that they committed that brought their downfall.

On November 22nd, the police brought Jennifer in for a third interview. This interview was conducted in a different tone of voice. The detective, William Goetz, said that he knew she was involved in the crime. He knew that she had lied to him, and said it was in her best interest to fess up. Jennifer, hunched over and sobbing, asked repeatedly, “But what happens to me?” That question on her part was proof that she was in on the caper.

Now what does a screwball like Jennifer Pan do when the police now know that she was in on the murder?  She tried to wiggle out of her dilemma. And here is how she wiggled.

Over nearly four hours, Jennifer spun out an absurd explanation. She said the attack had been an elaborate plan to commit suicide gone horribly wrong. She had given up on life but couldn’t manage to kill herself, so she hired Homeboy, (Leonard Crawford) whose real name she claimed not to know, (which is a lie) to do it for her. In September, however, her relationship with her father had suddenly improved, and she decided to call off the hit. But somehow wires got crossed, and the men ended up killing her parents instead of her. I don’t think even a retarded child would believe a fairy tale like that one. The police certainly didn’t believe her story.

Police arrested Jennifer on the spot. In the spring of 2011, relying on analysis of cellphone calls and texts, they nabbed Daniel Wong, Mylvaganam, Carty and Crawford, and charged all five with first-degree murder, attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

At their trial, their text messages came to haunt them. Just hours before Jennifer’s mother was shot dead and her father severely wounded, Jennifer got a text message saying that night that it would be “game time.” The Crown (prosecutor) alleged that this text confirmed that on the night of November 8th, 2010, that the four men hired by Jennifer for $10,000 would fake a home invasion and murder her parents. The dummies should have erased their text messages. By the way, the four dummies never got $10,000 for their troubles—not even a thousand each. Unfortunately for them and Jennifer, her father survived the shooting.

Now let’s face it. When you are dealing with a pathological liar like Jennifer Pan, you shouldn’t be surprised that she will go to great steps to wiggle out of the trap the she has found herself in. Here is her explanation about the text referring to the “game time”.

She said that the text came from a man she only knew as “Homeboy” and the message meant that he would be coming to collect the money she owed him for arranging her own death and then cancelling the plan.

It is conceivable that such a hit man might very well demand the money promised to him when a hit is called off but such a hit man would hardly shoot her parents without first demanding the $10,000 Jennifer promised him. Further, no such demand was made to Mr. Pan before he was shot.

In December 2014, Jennifer Pan, then 28, was convicted of first-degree murder and attempted murder in the Nov. 8, 2010 attack that killed her mother, Bieh Ha Pan, and left her father, Hann Pan, with a serious head wound. Her three co-accused — Lenford Crawford, David Mylvaganam and her on-again, off-again boyfriend Daniel Wong — were also found guilty of the same charges.

All four were sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years on the murder conviction, and life for attempted murder. The sentences are to be served concurrently. In his decision, Judge Cary Boswell said he gave the maximum sentence for attempted murder because it was simply luck that Hann Pan survived such a “crime of terrifying violence.”

Because the sentences are concurrent, these four losers will be eligible to apply for parole after they have served 25 years. That doesn’t mean that they will be paroled. It will depend on how they behave in prison.

Jennifer’s lawyer, Paul Cooper, said that his client is “devastated” and plans to appeal her conviction. I cannot in my wildest dreams fathom what grounds she has for appealing her conviction. If she does appeal, I will write another article for my blog on what the appeal court decided. 

No comments: