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Major Gardner reacts to Clinton picking Kaine as VP nominee

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By Tom Wilmoth

    When Hillary Clinton announced that US Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia was going to be her pick to run as vice president on the Democratic ticket, Major Ricky Gardner of the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office immediately thought of another name—Jens Soering.

    “I can’t think of Tim Kaine without thinking of Jens Soering,” stated Gardner, who was the lead investigator on the case against Soering. “Those two names are synonymous with me.”
    The investigation led to Soering being convicted of the brutal murders of Derek and Nancy Haysom at their Boonsboro home in 1985.

    For more than five years Gardner lived through the prosecution of Soering for his role in the murders of the Haysoms.
    “That he (Kaine) agreed to send Soering back to Germany without consulting anybody, any of the family members, that was totally unprofessional,” Gardner said this week when asked about Clinton’s selection of Kaine as a running mate.
    And there was also the way Kaine took the action to request the US Justice Department approve the transfer of Soering to a German prison, in his native country, where he would be eligible for parole in two years.
    “He signed it and walked out the door. Nobody could find him,” Gardner said of Kaine’s last minute action as governor.
    Gardner said that action, had it been approved, would have taken the decision on Soering being released out of the parole board’s hands. That board has repeatedly denied parole to Soering.
    “I can’t trust him,” Gardner said of Kaine. “For a governor to do something like that and just walk out the door—then to go underground. Nobody could ask him why he did it.”
    Kaine would eventually claim his reasoning was to save Virginia taxpayers money, by sending the foreign national home to Germany.
    “That’s an explanation which I still don’t believe,” Gardner said. “If that was the real reason, why didn’t he just come out and say it then. He just disappeared and nobody could find him.”
    Gardner said there were hundreds of other foreign nationals serving time in Virginia. “Why did he pick Soering?” Gardner asked.
    Gardner said he wishes this issue would get notice nationwide, but he doesn’t expect it too. He noted that Kaine won his US Senate seat without it playing a role in the election.
    “People in this area—I’m hoping it will influence those who knew about the trial, knew about the case. It should be a consideration if people decide they are going to vote for that ticket,” Gardner said.
    He reiterated his lack of trust in Kaine.
    “To not say anything—what did he do before then and what did he do since then and what is he going to do if he is elected vice president?” Gardner asked. “I think it’s a trust factor.”
    He said law enforcement officers should also take Kaine’s actions into account.
    “That’s got to weigh on your mind as far as his stand on the criminal justice system. I think it should be taken into account when people go to vote for that ticket,” Gardner said. “The people who lived through this know how this situation was handled; there has to be a distrust factor with Tim Kaine.”
    Soering and his girlfriend, Elizabeth Haysom,  fled to Europe after the murders of the Haysoms in 1985. Gardner followed them there, and, after an agreement was reached to not seek the death penalty, he arrested them in London and returned them to Virginia. Both were convicted for their roles in the killings. Initially Soering confessed to the killings, but later recanted, saying he said that to protect his girlfriend.
    The trial drew national and international media to the Bedford County Courthouse. The murders were brutal: Derek Haysom had been stabbed 36 times. The killer had nearly decapitated his victims in the process of cutting their throats. The intrigue surrounding the murders and the fact that foreign nationals were involved — Derek Haysom was a Canadian citizen and Soering was the son of a German diplomat — added to the interest.
    Gardner is convinced that they got the right people, that Soering committed the murders and had been manipulated into doing so by Elizabeth Haysom.
    Soering had a reason to commit the murders, an issue authorities pointed out during the trial. The Haysoms did not like Soering and wouldn’t put their blessing on a marriage between the young German and their daughter.
    Forensic evidence also pointed to Soering as the killer. In addition to a bloody sock print, that matched Soering, evidence showed that the killer was cut while there and left some of his own blood. The blood was type O; only Soering had that blood type among those involved.
    Soering confessed that he murdered the Haysoms when he was questioned in England, but changed his story once he was brought back to Virginia. “I lived this case from April 3, 1985, until June 22, 1990,” Gardner said in a previous interview.
    Kaine’s actions were eventually stopped by local members of the General Assembly and incoming-Gov. Bob McDonnell.