Soering seeks parole

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Last week's appearance before parole board was his sixth

By John Barnhart

Jens Soering made another appearance before a parole board last week.

    Soering was convicted more than 20 years ago of murdering Derek and Nancy Haysom in their Bedford County home in 1985. Although he initially confessed to the double murder, Soering claims that he is innocent. Last week’s appearance was his sixth. He’s been denied parole five times.
    “The only thing he deserves is to stay in prison for the rest of his life,” commented Major Ricky Gardner, of the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office.
    Gardner was the lead investigator in the double murder case.
    Gardner said that Soering killed the couple on a Saturday evening. The bodies weren’t discovered until 4:30 p.m. That’s when a couple of ladies, who were scheduled to play bridge with them, showed up at the house. They rang the door bell and, although the Haysoms’ vehicles were there, nobody answered the door. They became concerned and  called a friend of the Haysoms who had a key to the house. The friend went in and found them. Derek Haysom was lying on his back on the living room floor. Nancy Haysom was lying on her back in the kitchen. Both victims had been nearly decapitated.
    The friend called the Sheriff’s Office.
    “That’s when we got involved,” said Gardner. “I’ll never forget.”
    Gardner was in Montvale at the time.
    “I was coming back down 460 when the call went out,” he said. “We had just about everybody who was available over there.”
    A regional homicide squad was activated to provide help.
    Gardner’s job was to canvass neighbors to find out if they had seen or heard anything. Meanwhile, crime scene investigators gathered evidence. One piece of evidence consisted of two bloody sock impressions. Forensic scientists later determined that they were consistent with Soering’s foot.
    They also found the killer’s blood — drops on the front screen door and drops on the master bedroom floor. The blood type was Type O. Neither of the Haysoms had this blood type, but Soering does.
    Shortly after the murders, Gardner interviewed Elizabeth Haysom, the Haysoms daughter. She is currently serving a 90-year prison sentence for conspiring to have her parents murdered. She pleaded guilty to that charge in 1987. Gardner said that she agreed to give a blood sample, be fingerprinted and give a footprint impression. She turned out to have a different blood type from the murderer and Gardner said the foot print wasn’t even close to what the murderer left behind.
    Soering, on the other hand, kept avoiding them. Gardner said he had his first meeting with him on Oct. 6, 1985 and confronted him about blood, fingerprints and foot impressions.
    Gardner said that Soering finally called, on a Wednesday, and set up a meeting for the following Tuesday in order to provide what Gardner had requested. Instead, Soering and Elizabeth Haysom left the country. Gardner said that he found that they had already planned to take off when Soering called him. He said that Soering believed that Gardner had given him a mug of coffee during their Oct. 6 meeting in order to get his finger prints from it. Gardner said they learned this from a copy of a diary that he obtained after Soering and Haysom were arrested.
    “After he thought we had his fingerprints, he thought it was time to hit the road,” Gardner said.
    Soering and Haysom were arrested in England the next year and Gardner, along with Commonwealth’s Attorney James Updike traveled to England in June of 1986 to bring them back. Updike now sits on the bench of the Bedford County Circuit Court.
    “Subsequently, they [Soering and Haysom] both confessed their roles in her parent’s death,” Gardner said.
    Gardner said that Soering showed him where he had cut himself on the finger. He also described leaving the house, then returning when he realized that he had left a light on, but was unable to find the switch. Gardner said that the switch for this particular outside light was in an unusual place, above the headboard of the bed in the master bedroom.
    “He looked all over the place and couldn’t find the light switch,” Gardner said, noting that Elizabeth Haysom knew where it was and could have gone right to it.
    Soering and Haysom had been kept separate since their arrest and Haysom made her confession 30 minutes after Soering’s, without knowing that he had confessed. The two stories were identical, but they had had no opportunity to rehearse with each other after their arrest.
    According to Gardner, Soering changed his story once he realized that his confession could be used in court.
    The trial lasted three weeks.
    “The facts keep getting in the way,” Gardner said, commenting on Soering’s claim to innocence.
    Gardner said that it would be a travesty if Soering were to get parole, while Haysom remains in prison.
    “If anybody would get any favoritism, it would be her,” Gardner said.
    Gardner said that Haysom has at least shown remorse. He added that the choice to murder Derek and Nancy Haysom was Soering's.
    “He came back with that express purpose,” Gardner said.
    Gardner said that both have been in custody in Virginia since Jan. 1, 1987.