5 Liars Who Brutally Gaslit Their Families

The worst part about your kid lying to you? Probably the murder part
5 Liars Who Brutally Gaslit Their Families

Back in the old days, they say jobs paid so well, a man could support a family and also a second secret family, without either ever hearing of the other. There are other reasons secret second families are impractical nowadays, mostly related to social media. But the age of deception is far from done. We’ve got some stories today for you about family deception, and while none are about someone living with two families, each of them is far weirder than that. 

A Daughter Faked Going to College, Then Turned to Murder

Jennifer Pan grew up in Toronto in the 1990s, the daughter of refugee parents. They wanted her to get good grades, and she convinced them that she did, by showing them forged versions of her report cards. She got accepted to Ryerson, but she failed a class in her senior year and Ryerson canceled that acceptance, which is a thing they can do. Still, she told her parents that the acceptance was locked in, and during the next four years, she told them she was attending college. 

Toronto Metropolitan University

Hoice/Wiki Commons

Ryerson has since been renamed, by the way, for reasons rooted in Canadian history.

That sounds difficult to pull off, but she managed it. For starters, she said she was on a scholarship, so her parents didn’t have to deal with tuition or paperwork. She claimed to be studying pharmacology, and as proof of this, she read pharmacology textbooks when at home with her parents during the weekend. She really spend the week working in restaurants or just hanging out, and living with a boyfriend at night. Four years passed, and she told her parents she graduated. They couldn’t attend the ceremony because there weren’t enough tickets, she said. 

Having claimed to have been studying pharmacology, she continued the charade and said she got a job at a hospital. Her mother, as mothers will, decided to come visit her at her workplace — by tailing her in secret, because both parents were suspicious by this point and perhaps had been for a long time. She discovered Jennifer didn’t work at a hospital and got her to admit everything, and the parents urged her to re-enroll in high school. Instead, Jennifer landed on a new way to earn money: She’d hire someone to kill her parents, so she’d score an early inheritance. 

Jennifer Pan

York Regional Police

“Generational wealth must be transferred,” argued lawyers, hoping millennial jurors would acquit.

She found her way to two alleged hit men, nicknamed Homeboy and Sniper. If you’ve heard many stories about people contacting assassins to kill their families, you know how it usually goes — the assassin was really an undercover cop because professional assassins don’t really exist. That is not what happened this time. Homeboy and Sniper entered her house and shot her parents as instructed. Jennifer’s mother died. Her father survived and later told police that when those gunmen entered the house, he saw them conspire with Jennifer before they fired their guns. 

Jennifer was sentenced to life and is awaiting appeal. Earlier this month, Netflix released a documentary about her case, and if you haven’t seen it, you might still have heard a story related to it: The network used A.I. to generate images of Jennifer, giving an inaccurate impression of her life before the murder. This angered viewers, but we have to imagine Jennifer herself might approve of the deception, simply out of professional courtesy.

A Father Played Doctor, Then Turned to Even More Murder

The following story offers some obvious similarities to the Jennifer Pan case. Here as well, we have someone who told their family they worked as a medical professional, then when the truth came out, they decided murder was the best route. But strap yourself in because this one is worse. 

Romand family

via Fandom.com

For starters, the perp was French. Not Canadian French — French French. 

Jean-Claude Romand was studying medicine in the 1970s, but he skipped one exam and failed the class. He could have just taken that class again, but he instead decided to drop out and claim to have finished his studies and become a doctor. He got married and had two kids and told them all that he worked for the World Health Organization. 

Sometimes, he’d leave on “business trips,” which were just vacations he’d take alone. For money, he had his wife’s earnings as well as property that his parents gifted him. He also had a rich mistress, as he was French. When all that ran short, he pulled a Ponzi scheme on his friends. He kept this going for a total of 18 years. He never actually worked for the WHO during this time. He’d simply go to the WHO building as a visitor, which anyone could do.

World Health Organisation headquarters

Yann Forget

“Actually, I just said, ‘I work for WHO?’ and everyone misinterpreted me.”

His family never discovered he’d lied about being a doctor. Instead, his friends realized he was scamming them, and Romand figured it was only a matter of time till everything else became revealed as well. So, he chose murder — not murdering his friends but killed the people who would feel most ashamed of him when they learned the truth. 

On January 9, 1993, he beat his wife to death with a rolling pin. He slept beside the corpse that night, and the next day, he shot both his children. He drove his mistress out for a date and tried to strangle her. He failed at this killing, so he apologized and moved on. He did succeed at killing his parents, shooting them both. His father had lent him the gun. Then, just in case any odd readers were still rooting for him, he killed the family dog. He now swallowed some pills (arguably not enough for a serious suicide attempt), dumped gasoline around the house and set it on fire. 

house on fire

Jen Theodore/Unsplash

We sometimes use the word “gaslit” incorrectly, but this guy literally lit gas. 

Firefighters extracted him from the blaze, and a court found him guilty of the five murders. Over the course of the next decades, however, he said he became reformed and found religion. So, in 2019, he was released. Upon leaving, he moved to the Fontgombault Abbey in the Duchy of Berry to live as a monk. Go visit him today, and ask forgiveness for your own sins. Whatever you’ve done, we trust he’ll consider it no big deal, comparatively speaking.

The Spy Who Was Actually a Toy Store Robber

Okay, let’s dial it back a little. This next guy murdered no one at all. For most of Jeffrey Manchester’s career, he was known simply for robbing McDonald’s. He’d drill into each restaurant from the roof (earning him the nickname “Roofman”), hide in the bathroom, then spring out with a gun. He’d lead employees to the freezer to lock them in, but he avoided violence. His victims said he was nice to them, he made sure they wore coats so they wouldn’t feel too cold and he always called the police to ensure someone would come by to let his captives out. 

McDonald’s meal

Brett Jordan

He also made sure they never went hungry.

Manchester was convicted in 2000 of two robberies, though he was suspected of scores more. For these two North Carolina crimes, he was sentenced to 32 to 45 years in prison. Murderers often get shorter sentences than that, so we have to assume more McDonald’s lobbyists than murder victims are writing sentencing guidelines. Just three years into this prison stay, he managed to escape. He got a job in the prison shop, he used his tools there to slap a platform beneath a truck and he hitched a ride on it out of there. 

Next started phase two of Roofman’s career. He called himself John, got a girlfriend and kept giving toys to her kids. He volunteered at the church and gave lots of toys there, too. As for what he did for a living, well, he told them he had a secret job working for the government. He was actually spending his time in Toys “R” Us. No, not working at Toys “R” Us. He was living there, having carved a lair in a cubby. This store was the source of the toys, all stolen. He’d also play with toys on his own, taking race cars to the roof to try them out.

Ravensburg, Germany: Toys "R" Us store.

Andreas Praefcke

To repeat, this guy was Roofman.  

Long-term, he wanted to plan an elaborate heist of the place. But as the months went by and the place got more crowded thanks to the holidays, he found it safer to move next door, to an abandoned Circuit City. Here, he had more room to expand his lair, and he appeared to have so much fun decorating the place with posters that his heist plan never really advanced. He finally just entered the Toys "R" Us with a gun one day and got caught on camera.

Police circulated his photos and made contact with the girlfriend. She was shocked to learn the truth and was willing to work with police to nab him. She invited him over to spend her birthday with her and her kids, and when he stopped by, the cops were waiting. He wasn’t even mad at the betrayal, and he wished her and the kids well as he returned to prison. 

Jeffrey Manchester

North Carolina Sheriff 

He also maintained a well-groomed face from his lair, showing he had discipline.

“You hate to compliment the guy, because he’s a dirtbag, but we can learn a lot from him,” said one police sergeant. She then added that he might well escape again, all but admitting that that’s what we all hope will happen. 

A Dad Invited the Whole Family to His Funeral

Belgian man David Baerten noticed that his relatives weren’t inviting him to parties very often. So, he decided it was time to teach them a lesson — by faking his death. His family announced his death, they invited a bunch of relatives to the funeral and then he showed up at the event himself, in a helicopter


Only half the relatives he invited to the funeral actually showed up, so we’d classify this as a limited success. But the others did drop him a line afterward (mostly to ask, “WTF?”), so Baerten himself called this an absolute win

His wife and kids were in on the gag, so they were only pretending to mourn at the funeral. Surely no one would try fooling their own children about their fake death like this, right? 

Well, if you want to believe that, you might want to skip our final story...

A Wife Pretended Some Dug-Up Corpse Was Her Husband

Molly Daniels had two possible reasons for faking her husband’s death. First was the $110,000 life insurance payout. The other was he’d been convicted of sexual assault. He’d recently pleaded guilty to having raped his seven-year-old cousin back when he was 16. This landed him with a 30-day jail sentence, because while he’d committed a crime, it wasn’t like he’d robbed a McDonald’s or anything like that. 

Grant Durr/Unsplash

To be fair, it was 30 days plus probation.

The family could recover from that 30-day sentence. But dad Clayton being on the sex offender registry presented a bigger hurdle, affecting every part of their life, starting with forcing them to change residence. So, the couple did the logical thing: They faked a car crash that killed Clayton, then let him assume a new identity and rejoin the family. 

Step one was finding a body that could stand in for him. The cemetery proved a good source of cadavers, so they zeroed in on a section where poor people were buried, on the assumption that this would be the least monitored. Clayton disinterred the remains of an 81-year-old woman and placed it in the driver’s seat of his car. Then he dumped some fuel on the seat and set it on fire before pushing it into a ravine and taking off on a motorcycle. 

car on fire

Matt Hearne/Unsplash

Yet another case of gaslighting. 

Molly announced the death, earning much sympathy. She held a funeral, and 100 mourners showed up. Coworkers took up a collection and gave her $1,000. She also told her two children that daddy had gone to heaven. Well, one-year-old Harley (named after Clayton’s bike) was too young to need to be told, but she told her older kid, four-year-old Caleb. When Caleb asked where the dad’s car had gone — kind of a weird question, but four-year-olds are known for those — she told him he’d needed the car to take him to heaven. 

Clayton Daniels died in June of 2004, as far as the world knew. In July, a new guy started hanging around the home. He went by “Jake Gregg,” and he and Molly appeared to be dating, which seemed absurdly soon to onlookers. Jake was in fact Clayton, who’d dyed his hair black and was now using a new I.D. that Molly had forged for him. Few outsiders got a close enough look at him to suspect anything. Caleb did, and when he insisted this was Clayton, Molly told him he was wrong. 

Police, meanwhile, had been investigating the car crash, which had looked suspicious from day one. Though the skeleton was female and 57 years older than Clayton, they could not immediately know it wasn’t his. So, they turned to DNA testing — DNA extracted from the bones with a hacksaw, tested against a sample the man’s mother donated. The testing took a long time, but it exposed the fraud by the end of the year. Police now followed Molly to a Taco Bell, where they arrested her and Clayton. 

Molly Clayton Daniels


Legally, the state only has jurisdiction over fast-food restaurants.

Clayton, having violated probation, was now on the hook for 20 years for that earlier sexual assault charge. The new fraud earned him 10 years on top of that. Molly got 20 years, the maximum possible sentence allowed, and jurors wished they could put her away for more. They got her on hindering apprehension, insurance fraud, desecration of a cemetery and arson, but the part they really wished they could punish her for was lying to her kid. 

The lies had a visible effect on him. A babysitter Molly hired insisted she send him for counseling, but Molly didn’t want him to talk to anyone about their situation, for obvious reasons. The kid started pushing other kids down stairs and trying to hurt animals, hallmarks of a dark wizard in training. As for the real subject of a dark ritual, the 81-year-old women, authorities laid her to rest in a new casket. It was the third time she was buried and hopefully will be the last. 

Follow Ryan Menezes on Twitter for more stuff no one should see.

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