For a while, Jennifer Pan’s parents regarded her as their “golden” child.
The young Canadian woman, who lived in the city of Markham just north of Toronto, was a straight A student at a Catholic school who won scholarships and early acceptance to college. True to her father’s wishes, she graduated from the University of Toronto’s prestigious pharmacology program and went on to work at a blood-testing lab at SickKids hospital.
Pan’s accomplishments used to make her mother and father, Bich Ha and Huei Hann Pan, brim with pride. After all, they had arrived in Toronto as refugees from Vietnam, working as laborers for an auto parts manufacturer so their two kids could have the bright future that they couldn’t attain for themselves.
But in Pan’s case, that perfect fate was all an elaborate lie. She failed to graduate from high school, let alone the University of Toronto, as she had told her parents. Her trial, for plotting with hit men to kill her parents, ended in January, and she’s serving a long sentence. But the full story of this troubled young woman is just now being told as a complete and powerful narrative by someone who knew her — and indeed, it’s searing.
In a story published in Toronto Life magazine last week, reporter Karen Ho detailed the intricate web of deception that her high school classmate at Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School in north Scarborough spun to prevent her parents from discovering the unimaginable: that their golden child was, in fact, failing. Using court documents and interviews, Ho pieced together Pan’s descent from a precocious elementary schooler to a chronic liar who forged report cards, scholarship letters and university transcripts — all to preserve an image of perfection. The headline: “Jennifer Pan’s Revenge: the inside story of a golden child, the killers she hired, and the parents she wanted dead.”