5 People Who Murdered Their Own Parents

Welcome to True Crime Tuesday where we review, recommend and generally obsess over everything crime-related.

The parent-child relationship can be a precarious one. Raising kids isn’t easy and sometimes it can seem like one misstep has the potential to send your child down a dark path. After all, how often do people look at a misbehaving child and say, “where are your parents?” or “didn’t your parents teach you any manners?” The general consensus is that people turn out a certain way due to a combination of nature and nurture. That means bad parenting certainly can, and does, have a negative impact, but not every kid with bad parents is going to turn into a murderer, and vice versa.

Murder is shocking no matter what but there’s something about hearing that someone killed their own parents that makes you wonder what drove them to do it. After all, we all get mad at our parents sometimes, but actually going so far as to kill them? That’s another story. Here are 5 cases of people who murdered the people who raised them in cold blood.

Jennifer Pan
Jennifer Pan grew up with strict Vietnamese parents (also know as “tiger” parents) who expected her to excel in school and music and go on to an accomplished career. Unfortunately for them, lying was Jennifer’s greatest skill. In high school, Jennifer got average grades, but she learned how to forge her report cards so her parents believed she was getting straight A’s. She continued to lie about attending University and eventually being accepted into the pharmacology program at the University of Toronto. Her parents eventually found out and they doubled down on the rules and restrictions which didn’t sit well with Jennifer.

Instead of getting her life together, Jennifer came up with a plan to have her parents killed. With the help of her high school boyfriend, Jennifer got into contact with two men who agreed to “break in” and kill her parents. On November 8, 2010, the two men entered the Pan home and shot both Jennifer’s parents, Bich and Hann, multiple times. Her mother, Bich was killed but her father survived. Police were suspicious of Jennifer’s story almost immediately and when her version of the “robbery” didn’t match her father’s account she was arrested, charged, and found guilty of first degree murder, attempted murder, and conspiracy to commit murder. She is currently serving a life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.

The Menendez brothers
Greed is one of the seven deadly sins for a reason. After the murders of their parents Jose and Kitty Menendez, 21-year-old Lyle and 18-year-old Erik got busy spending their inherited fortune on Rolex watches, luxury vehicles, trips, and even a restaurant. Erik confessed to his psychologist that he and his brother had murdered their parents in cold blood, shooting them both with shot guns and trying to make it look like an organized crime hit. They were arrested seven months after the murders and they became national sensations when Court TV broadcast their trials in 1993.

The brothers claimed they were driven to murder after suffering a lifetime of abuse at the hands of their parents. Both trials ended in deadlocked juries and the brothers were retried, this time together. They were convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Both bothers have gotten married while in prison and multiple documentaries and interviews are available on Erik’s wife Tammi. For more on the case including the aftermath and the trials, Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders is as detailed as it gets.

Gypsy Rose Blancharde
From the time she was born, Gypsy Rose was sick. Or at least that’s what everyone thought. It wasn’t until Dee Dee Blancharde, Gypsy’s mother, was found stabbed to death in her home that the truth came out. For her entire life, Dee Dee had been forcing Gypsy Rose to pass herself off as younger and pretend to be physically and mentally disabled and chronically ill. In order to escape her mother’s abuse, Gypsy and Nicholas Godejohn, a boyfriend she met online, decided to kill Dee Dee.

The HBO documentary Mommy Dead and Dearest goes into how Dee Dee managed to convince everyone—even Gypsy to some extent—that her daughter was sick. Multiple doctors found nothing obviously wrong with Gypsy and a couple even suspected Dee Dee was suffering from Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a condition where a caregiver fabricates, exaggerates or induces mental and physical health problems in those who are in their care in order to get attention and sympathy from others. Over the years, Dee Dee and Gypsy received money from various charities including the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Habitat for Humanity. After she was arrested, Gypsy plead guilty to second degree murder even though many people consider her the victim. She’s currently serving a 10 year sentence while her accomplice, Nicholas Godejohn, awaits trial for first-degree murder.

Marlene Olive
In 1975, following a fight with her adoptive parents Jim and Naomi, 16-year-old Marlene Olive told her 20-year-old boyfriend Chuck Riley that she wanted him to kill them. He showed up at the Olive house not long after, stabbed and suffocated Naomi and then shot Jim four times, killing them both. Together Marlene and Chuck took the bodies of Marlene’s parents to a nearby campsite and attempted to burn them in a barbecue pit. Then they returned to the Olive house where they lived for several days spending Marlene’s parents’ money until Jim’s business partner contacted the police about Jim’s absence.

Both Marlene and Chuck were arrested and they turned on each other during interrogation. Marlene claimed Chuck did it all on his own and then held her hostage afterwards, and Chuck claimed Marlene had been planning to kill her parents for awhile and she had forced him to do it. It’s still unclear whether Marlene or Chuck was the one that killed Naomi. Chuck was found guilty of two counts of first degree murder and sentenced to death which was later commuted to two life sentences. He was released on parole in 2015 at the age of 60. Marlene, a minor at the time of the murders, was sentenced to four to six years confinement at a school for young offenders. Since she was released in 1980, she has been back to prison numerous times for fraud and forgery with police going so far as to say that they had “rarely come across a street-level forger believed to be as prolific or as skilled as Olive.”

Christopher Porco
On November 15, 2004, Peter Porco was found dead of massive head injuries in his home. His wife Joan was found with severe head trauma but she survived despite the loss of one eye and part of her skull, and was left with facial disfigurement. A detective at the scene asked Joan if a family member had attacked she and her husband and she indicated it was not her older son Jonathan but nodded yes when asked if her son Christopher was responsible. Detectives began pursuing 21-year-old Christopher as their prime suspect until Joan emerged from a medically induced coma weeks after the attack only to claim her son was not guilty.

Detectives found that before his father’s murder Christopher had forged his signature as a co-signer on a loan and a line of credit. Police have claimed that Christopher’s behaviour before and after the murder was consistent with a diagnosis of either psychopathy or sociopathy because he was skilled at deception, had anti-social tendencies and lacked remorse or a typical emotional response to the attack on his parents. Christopher was found guilty of the second-degree murder of his father and attempted murder of his mother and sentenced to 50 years to life. His mother Joan still publicly maintains her son’s innocence.

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her work has appeared on AmongMen.com, 29secrets.com, therichest.com, and ELLECanada.com.  When she isn’t writing about relationships, and the best TV shows and books you should really already know about, she is working on her novel. She hopes to have it published by 2025. You can follow her on Twitter @Courtooo.

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