False Confessions: Part 1

By: Lisa Ferrari
By: Lisa Ferrari

November 2, 2006

Why would someone who is innocent confess to a crime, especially a crime as horrific as murder?

A former UVa honor student locked away in a Virginia state prison for a gruesome double murder says his confession was all a lie, a story he made up to save the woman he loved.

“No, I did not kill Derek and Nancy Haysom,” said Jens Soering, who was convicted of the crime in 1990.

So, why did the former University of Virginia honor student confess to the brutal double murders in 1987? He says he did it to save his then girlfriend, Elizabeth Haysom from a punishment he could not fathom.

“On the night the [crimes were committed] I made the decision to take the blame for what my girlfriend had done under the mistaken belief it turns out, that I would have a limited form of diplomatic immunity,” said Soering during a recent in prison interview.

It turns out, Jens’ father, a German diplomat, did not have the right credentials for immunity.

“I thought that 10 years in a German prison was an acceptable price to pay to save the life of the woman I loved,” said Soering.

Instead, he is paying with two life sentences at a Virginia state prison. Yet Soering said his hands never touched the knife that slashed his girlfriend’s parents, Nancy and Derek Haysom to death in March 1985. It was one of the most horrific crimes Bedford County and the state of Virginia has ever seen.

“The police asked me if I did it and I confessed and they accepted it with very good reasons not to believe me,” said Soering.

There were inconsistencies in his statement.

“Mrs. Haysom did not wear the clothes that I described her as wearing. The position of Mr. Haysom's body and that scene could not have happened as I described it. The murder weapon, I claimed that I brought a knife with me and threw it away in a Dipsty dumpster down the road, but it turns out, the actual murder weapon is a steak knife with blood on it found at the crime scene,” Soering told us.

Plus, there was no hard evidence indicating Soering was even at the scene, said his former attorney and former Virginia Deputy Attorney General Gail Starling Marshall.

“His blood type is the same as 45% of the population, and there was a hair found there that was found not to be Jens’, [but] never tested to whether it was Elizabeth’s,” said Marshall.

Soering also claims there were many unidentified finger prints, that a bloody sock print was far too small to be his and that the nature of the wounds indicated there were two killers.

“It’s just too slim, too slim it seems to me, for what it is, two life sentences?” said Marshall.

We may never know for sure. Soering has exhausted all appeals and with no DNA testing in the 80’s all samples found at the scene have since been destroyed.

“Looking back now with more than half my life now spent in prison, it’s very clear to me now that the right thing to do would have been to tell the truth,” said Soering.

Soering's then girlfriend, Elizabeth Haysom, isn't backing up his story. She pleaded guilty in 1987 to helping plan the murders, but denied participating in the killings. She's serving the remainder of a 90-year sentence at the Fluvanna County Correctional Institute for Women and is now eligible for parole.

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