A Daughter’s Deadly Deception

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After her father discovered her habitual lying, Jennifer Pan orchestrated the murders of her father and mother in a home invasion. What she didn’t expect was for her father to survive the attack and bear witness to the fact that she seemed to know their attackers. Jeremy Grimaldi writes about Jennifer Pan’s lies, murder plot, and undoing in A Daughter’s Deadly Deception.

A Daughter's Deadly Deception by Jeremy Grimaldi
A Daughter's Deadly Deception by Jeremy Grimaldi

The product of a Vietnamese immigrant family, Jennifer Pan was pushed to excel at everything she put her hand to. After school she was expected to participate in extracurricular activities that would allow her to expand her skill set. She was gifted at piano and enjoyed ice skating. After not winning any recognition for her achievements at her eighth grade graduation, Jennifer was crushed. Failing to see the point in trying as hard as she had before, she let her grades slip in ninth grade. Rather than facing her parents with the truth, she began forging her report cards.

What started as forged report cards eventually turned into a forged college career. Dedicated to keeping up the lie that she was attending school, she went to the library every school day to research and write down notes in case her father asked to look at them. During these college years, she convinced her parents to let her live with a friend closer to campus so that she did not have to commute. Instead of staying with her friend, though, she used these nights off to work at a pizza parlor and stay with her boyfriend, Daniel. She used this freedom to build up her relationship with him. Then she spent the weekends with her parents, pretending she had been at school all week. Eventually, her father discovered her falsehoods and forced her to break off her relationship with Daniel and move home until she finished her education.

Jennifer Pan took lying to an extreme.

At an age when some students might be thinking about forging a signature, she was forging entire report cards. The effort she put into keeping up the lie that she was getting her education may have been more work than it would have been for her to go back to school. However, she instead chose to continue to lie and cover up her earlier failures. Her behavior during interrogation suggests that she may have even believed some of her own lies.

Jennifer’s desire to be with Daniel likely contributed to the murder of her parents.

When Jennifer’s father had her break off the relationship with Daniel, Daniel moved on. Heartbroken by his betrayal, it is suspected that she began sending anonymous texts to his phone. These texts threatened Jennifer’s safety, effectively manipulating Daniel into spending more time talking to Jennifer. However, even these texts did not garner the attention she desired from him.

Jennifer and Daniel had an extended phone conversation before any of the planning of the murder began. After that, Jennifer began texting him constantly. Eventually he agreed to help her plan the murder of her parents, something that would inevitably tie them together. In the weeks between that phone call and the murder, all of the texts between Jennifer, Daniel, and the other conspirators show plenty of evidence of their planning. Some of Jennifer’s final texts in the days leading up to the murder of her parents hint at the fact that she is greatly concerned over whether Daniel will choose her or his new girlfriend when her parents are out of the picture.

I was most moved by the victim impact statements.

It is hard to find places to relate in books like these. I absolutely love true crime books because of how interesting they are. But I find it difficult to find areas where I feel emotionally connected to the people I am reading about. I often feel sad for the families of those who were murdered. But in reality, true crime books often focus on the murderer. They speculate about reasons why the murder occurred. That makes it difficult for me to connect emotionally with the majority of the book when the majority of the book is analyzing the mind of a killer. I mean, I’ve never murdered anyone. So what is there to relate to?

While I didn’t relate to them, I was deeply moved by the victim impact statements from Jennifer’s father and brother. Four years after the murder of Jennifer’s mother, her father is still in constant pain. He cannot work or enjoy hobbies he once did. His house cannot be sold because the Vietnamese community is superstitious about buying a house where someone has been killed. Her brother had difficulty finding work because whenever a potential employer Googled his name, details of the crime were the first results. He also struggled with how to relate to friends in the midst of his grief. Seeing the varied and severe ways that this crime impacted them was eye-opening and emotional for me. They did not only lose a mother to death and a sister to prison, but their lives were altered in ways I cannot even begin to imagine.

Quick Review:

Although I enjoyed this book, the writing was mediocre. It was an interesting story, and I feel the author did an adequate job of tackling the complexities of the case. Unfortunately, some of the writing was unclear. In some areas where brackets were used to change quotes to add clarity, they were unnecessary or used ineffectively. Overall, though, I would still recommend this book. It gives an interesting look at how extreme pressure without parental affection may have caused one woman to murder.


What did you find most fascinating about Jennifer Pan’s case?


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Conviction is the morbidly fascinating story of a woman who premeditated the brutal murder of her ex-boyfriend then told a number of unbelievable lies to cover it up. This book was written by Juan Martinez, the prosecuting attorney in the case. Perhaps no person knows the case and its intricacies better, except the murderer herself.

Conviction by Juan Martinez
Conviction by Juan Martinez

Juan Martinez was called to the house of Tyler Alexander, a young man who had been brutally stabbed and shot in the head. The district attorney in Arizona often would be invited to be a part of the investigative process as a witness, so he or she could better understand the crime scene when it was time for trial. Not long after Tyler’s body was discovered, his ex-girlfriend Jodi Arias called the police offering her assistance. They initially dismissed her, but her insistence on helping raised their suspicions, along with the allegations by friends that she was stalking Tyler.

After an investigation found her hair at the crime scene and her palm print in his blood, they executed a warrant for her arrest. When searching her belongings, they collected other evidence, eventually finding receipts that showed she purchased a gas can and enough gas to fill up a total of three gas cans (two of which she borrowed from a friend), allowing her to enter and leave Arizona undetected. While she had attempted to make sure that she did not leave any evidence of her being in Arizona, she inadvertently took pictures of herself during the commission of the crime, although they were blurry. For all her planning, she still left evidence of her being at the crime scene.

The way Jodi Arias lied and manipulated those around her repulsed me.

Perhaps I have an unusually low tolerance for habitual liars, but I found myself especially sickened by her lies. She used her words to manipulate everyone around her, hoping that in doing so she would keep her freedom. She manipulated her friends, the police, and the jurors.

Her first version of the story was that she was not in Arizona and that she was grieving the loss of her ex-boyfriend. She left three messages for him in the time between the murder and the discovery of his body in an attempt to throw suspicion off of her. She even spent time talking with her friend, supposedly grieving his loss. All this time, she knew how he died because she had been the one who had killed him.

When she was initially under the suspicion of the police because the camera that had blurry pictures of the murder also had pictures of her and Tyler posing nude only hours before the murder (and nude pictures of Tyler only minutes before the murder) she said that between the nude pictures and the blurry pictures of the murder, two people broke into the house and murdered Tyler. Those two people threatened her so she did not tell anyone. However, there was such a short amount of time between the pictures of Tyler posing in the shower and the beginning of the murder that this scenario was very unlikely. In addition, one of the pictures of the murder showed her pants and sock.

The third and final lie she told was that Tyler attacked her and that she acted in self-defense. Throughout the trial, she made unfounded accusations about his character. While there were emails that showed he lost his temper with her, there was also evidence that she manipulated him and pushed his buttons, and that the extent of his temper was only in verbal abuse (not to belittle verbal abuse in any way). She accused him of being a pedophile and sexually abusive, going as far as to fabricate letters in his handwriting about things he wanted to do. These letters were never presented to the jury, since they were determined to be fake. Despite her claims, though, the boyfriend she met the day after the murder said she acted completely normal. He said she even acted out sexually, which seemed out of character for someone who had just fought for her life after a sexually abusive relationship and won.

What bothers me the most about Jodi’s lies about the murder is that outside of the evidence, Tyler’s family will likely never have the truth. Whenever faced with questions about the inconsistencies in her stories or the lies that were proven to be false by evidence, Arias usually responded with phrases like, “I don’t know,” or “I don’t remember.” While the jury fortunately saw this as a sign of her guilt instead of a sign of her ignorance or forgetfulness, it is frustrating for those who want answers. Even during sentencing, Arias did not accept guilt for what she did.

I have only encountered a few habitual liars in my life (who I knew were lying to me, at least). They have not murdered anyone, but they lie to cover up everything. It doesn’t matter if it is something completely insignificant. I wish I could write more, but I am honestly at a loss because I have so little understanding of what makes people who habitually lie do what they do. While I cannot say I have never lied, I am so far removed from a life of constant dishonestly that I am actually bad at lying. My only hope is that honesty can bring healing to people like Jodi Arias.