‘What Jennifer Did’: The disturbing true story of Jennifer Pan
(Credit: Netflix)

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‘What Jennifer Did’: The disturbing true story of Jennifer Pan

True crime documentaries have found a permanent place in the hearts of Netflix viewers. The allure lies in the exploration of the human psyche, the unravelling of complex narratives, and the chilling realisation that truth can be far stranger than fiction. A part of our curiosity also involves our inherent interest in ghoul stories.

The latest addition to the platform, What Jennifer Did, is a feature-length documentary that delves into the life of Jennifer Pan, a young woman whose story is as disturbing as it is unnerving. Released on April 10th, 2024, What Jennifer Did aims to dissect the early years of Jennifer’s life, her tumultuous romantic relationships, and the shocking plot she orchestrated to hire hitmen to murder her own parents. Directed and written by Jenny Popplewell, the documentary promises an in-depth examination of one of the most notorious true crime cases in recent memory.

However, despite best efforts, some viewers might come out of the experience with more questions than answers. In that regard, the documentary fails to explain Pan’s motivations fully.

The disturbing true story of Jennifer Pan

Jennifer Pan’s life seemed to embody the immigrant success story. But, born to Bich Ha and Huei Hann Pan, Jennifer felt emotionally suffocated as the “golden child” of the family. Her parents immigrated to Canada from Vietnam as refugees and worked hard to establish a successful life in a foreign land. They had significant aspirations for Jennifer and her brother Felix’s academic and personal achievements, setting rigorous standards that Jennifer struggled to meet.

She was pushed to pursue activities like piano and figure skating to achieve all-rounder excellence. Despite her outward success in most activities pushed upon her, she struggled with feelings of inadequacy and a desperate need to maintain the illusion of perfection. A career-ending injury in figure skating was one of the many blows.

As she navigated the challenges of adolescence, Jennifer’s relationship with her parents grew increasingly strained. Their strict control over her life left her feeling further isolated. In a bid to escape her reality, Jennifer concocted a series of elaborate lies, including forging report cards and fabricating her academic achievements. But when her web of deceit began to unravel, she took drastic measures to maintain her facade, culminating in a plot to orchestrate her parents’ murder.

How did Jennifer Pan plan her parent’s murder?

Jennifer and her then-boyfriend Daniel Wong discussed hiring a hitman to chart her ultimate escape. She intended to inherit her share of the family estate and live together without her parents’ interference.

Initially, Jennifer had hired a hitman named Lenford Crawford, whom she referred to as ‘Homeboy’, to kill her father, Hann Pan, who was so strict with her that she called him a “tiger dad”. Jennifer paid Crawford for the hit, using money she earned from her piano lessons. 

However, this plan took a turn when Crawford and his accomplices, David Mylvaganam and Eric Carty, decided to kill both of Jennifer’s parents. While Jennifer’s mother, Bich (pronounced: Bick), succumbed to the gunshot wounds, Hann ended up miraculously surviving and testifying against his daughter in court. While Felix and Hann are still living in Canada, they have moved away from the house where tragedy struck.