Derek and Nancy Haysom Murders: How Did They Die? Who Killed Them?

Image Credit: Snapped/Oxygen

ABC’s ’20/20: Would You Kill For Love?’ as well as Netflix’s ‘Till Murder Do Us Part’ documents the brutal murder of Derek and Nacy Haysom in Virginia in April 1985. The couple was murdered viciously inside their home, and their killers escaped the international border before finally getting caught on separate charges and extradited to America to face punishment. The episode follows the complex investigation process and the long path to justice. If you’re intrigued by the case and want to know the identity of the perpetrators, then we’ve you covered. Let’s begin then, shall we?

How Did Derek and Nancy Haysom Die?

Derek William Reginald Haysom was born to British parents on March 23, 1913, in South Africa. Derek was tall and robust and gave off a very Ernest Hemingway-esque vibe. He was a British army recruit during World War II and was deployed in the Middle East. After the war, Derek became an affluent and highly regarded South African steel company executive. At the request of the Canadian government, he moved to Nova Scotia, living there for nearly 15 years and working as the Chief Executive Officer of the Sydney Steel Corporation, a nationalized national steel mill.

Image Credit: Snapped/Oxygen

Nancy Astor Langhorne “Cita” Benedict Haysom was born on July 12, 1932, in Jerome in Yavapai County, Arizona. Her intellect and beauty were enthralling, and she had a penchant for adventure. Born into a wealthy family, she traveled around the globe with her father, who was a geologist. She met Derek in Johannesburg when both of them were divorced, with five children between them from their prior marriages. They got married in 1960 and gave birth to Elizabeth Roxanne Haysom in 1964.

Derek retired in 1981, and they moved to a house in the upper-class neighborhood of Holcomb Rock Road, Virginia, unaware they’d end up losing their lives right there on the evening of March 30, 1985. On the morning of April 3, 1985, three women arrived at the Haysom residence to play their weekly bridge games with Derek, only to find the porch light turned on and the bell unanswered. One of the women had an emergency key, and she unlocked the front door to find the bloody corpses of the Haysom couple.

The police arrived at the scene to find Derek lying on his left side near a doorway with an outstretched arm. He had over 36 stab wounds on his torso, his face disfigured with lacerations, and his throat was slit ear to ear. On the other hand, Nancy lay face-down in the kitchen, exhibiting similar stab wounds and a slashed throat. They were nearly decapitated. There were blood stains all over the floor, and police retrieved four blood types from the scene – A and AB belonged to the victims, while B and O were unaccounted for.

While the police could not find the murder weapon(s), they retrieved two types of bloody footprints – one from a tennis shoe and two more made from a sock. There were no signs of forced entry, and the remnants of food on the table suggested that the Haysoms were murdered while having a meal. The police also found a vodka bottle and a shot glass. Both of them had fingerprints on them. And both the victims also had 0.22% blood-alcohol levels. In the end, it was clear, this was a crime filled with hatred as well as passion.

Haysom Murder: A Complex Puzzle

FBI made a suspect profile identifying the murderer as a female acquaintance of the family. Based on that, the police initially suspected an ex-fiance of one of their sons from a previous marriage. That’s because the engagement was allegedly called off after Derek and Nancy Haysom disagreed with the union. However, she was cleared of suspicion, and the police turned toward Elizabeth. She claimed that she and her German boyfriend, Jens Soering, had rented a car and driven to Washington, DC, on March 29, 1985, for the weekend.

The couple had stayed at the Georgetown Marriott, gone to the movies, wandered around the city, and eaten at restaurants before driving back to Charlottesville. She claimed that she did not know about the murder of her parents until the police discovered the bodies and notified her on April 3, 1985. However, the odometer of the rental car showed that it had been driven for about 669 miles – about 400 miles more than what it ought to be if the couple had driven to and fro from Washington. When asked about the discrepancy, Elizabeth claimed that the couple got lost on the drive.

In 1985 itself, the investigators asked for fingerprints, blood, and footprint samples from the couple to eliminate them from the suspect list. While Elizabeth complied without any issues, Jens avoided the investigators for months before refusing to do so by claiming he had to get clearance from the German embassy first. He’s the son of a German diplomat. However, a few days later, the couple fled the country. They traveled to various countries under aliases and disguises before coming to London. They lived off by stealing and conning different stores before finally getting caught in April 1986.

After learning about their arrest in May 1986, an officer and a prosecutor flew to London to question Elizabeth and Jens, who confessed to murdering his girlfriend’s parents. He reportedly admitted that he stabbed the Haysoms after Derek allegedly chastised him and threatened to get him expelled from the university if he continued to date their daughter. He was indicted by a grand jury on murder charges in June 1986 and kept in custody in England.

Jens had thought that he would be extradited to Germany, where he would serve a limited jail sentence after being tried as a minor. He was also under the illusion that he would be saving Elizabeth from getting convicted by doing so. However, Elizabeth ended the relationship, pleaded guilty to being an accessory to the murders before the fact, and identified Jens as the killer. She even testified against Jens, only for him to retract his confession and pin the blame on her.

Nevertheless, in the end, while Elizabeth got sentenced to 90 years in prison as an accessory, Jens went to trial in 1990 and was sentenced to two life terms for first-degree murder, to be served consecutively. Both got parole in 2019, and Jens was extradited to Germany in December 2019, while Elizabeth was deported to Canada in 2020. However, various documentaries, as well as law enforcement officials, have questioned what really happened during the fateful night and who really slew the couple.

Read More: Where is Elizabeth Haysom Today?