Both ABC’s ’20/20: Would You Kill For Love?’ and Netflix’s ‘Till Murder Do Us Part: Soering vs Haysom’ follow the tragic murder of Derek and Nacy Haysom in their homes in Virginia on March 30, 1985. It tells the startling story of Jens Soering, who was convicted of murdering the mother and father of his girlfriend, Elizabeth Haysom, but still maintains he took the blame only to save her because she apparently killed the pair, as per him. If you are intrigued by this fascinating case, we have all the details. So, who is Jens Soering, and where is he today? Let’s find out!
Who Is Jens Soering?
Jens Söring was born in Bangkok, Thailand, on August 1, 1966, to a West German diplomat, Klaus Söring. His family moved to Atlanta, Georgia, in 1977 when his father got transferred to the consulate there. Jens attended the local renowned Lovett School and graduated in 1984. He had a busy social life in high school – he was the school newspaper editor, a part of the school theatre group, and dabbled in photography, for which he even won an award. He also took several AP classes and played guitar in garage bands at his leisure.
In the fall of 1984, Jens Soering joined the University of Virginia as a part of two programs. One was Echols Scholars, which aimed to gather the most promising freshman prospects of the school. The other was Jefferson Scholars, which made him eligible for a full scholarship worth $7,500 annually. It was during the orientation event on August 25 that he met Elizabeth Roxanne Haysom, a fellow Echols Scholar. They hit it off almost instantly, though both hailed from vastly different backgrounds and upbringings. However, they seemingly had common ground over their hatred for their parents.
While Elizabeth believed her parents controlled every aspect of her life, Jens’ mother was reportedly an alcoholic, while his father was prone to temper tantrums. The two thus fell in love, but her parents disapproved of their relationship. They even took the young couple out for dinner, but their impression of Jens did not improve. Hence came the murder plot. On March 29, 1985, Jens and Elizabeth drove to Washington, DC, in a rented gray Chevette. They claimed to spent their entire weekend there, staying at the Georgetown Marriott, going to movies, eating out at restaurants, and roaming around the city before returning to Charlottesville.
On April 3, 1985, they received the tragic news that Elizabeth’s parents had been viciously murdered in their Virginia home. The couple even attended the funeral together, which Elizabeth had organized. They were initially not considered a suspect, but a few discrepancies in their story soon made them one. While Elizabeth complied with the police’s request to give fingerprint, blood, and footprint samples from the get-go, Jens dodged the authorities for months before citing his requirement to get clearance from the German embassy first to give his samples.
A few days later, in October 1985, the couple fled the country. Elizabeth and Jens took to disguises and aliases, traveling from Virginia to Paris to Luxembourg. They then landed in Yugoslavia, from where they made their way to Italy, Austria, and Thailand. They actually planned to visit Jens’ place of birth to get his birth certificate, tie the knot, and earn permanent citizenship. Initially, they rented a car, intending to drive to Thailand. However, the couple got stopped due to visa issues at the Bulgarian border. And then their plan really didn’t work out either.
They also met with an unfortunate road accident, leading to Jens losing consciousness for a while and the couple having to appear in the local traffic court. Then, they flew to Thailand, procured fraudulent documents, and skimmed through Singapore and Moscow before settling in England under the names Tim and Julia Holte. In dire need of money, the couple used to con stores and financial institutions in London until they were arrested in April 1986.
Jens Soering Was Deported Back to Germany
After Elizabeth Haysom and Jens Soering were arrested in London in 1986, the American authorities visited them in May regarding the murder of the Haysoms owing to some evidence uncovered. That’s when Jens confessed to the double homicide under the disillusion that if he did so, he would be deported to Germany, tried as a minor, and sentenced to a short prison term. His other intention was, he later claimed, to save his girlfriend from any charges. But alas, they were both indicted by a grand jury on murder charges in June 1986.
While imprisoned in England, he learned that such immunity was only for employees at the Washington DC embassies, and Elizabeth was going to take a plea deal. Jens later understood that if he was extradited to Virginia, he would be tried for capital murder and could face the death penalty. But alas, he’d already confessed three different times by that point. On May 20, 1989, Germany considered his extradition to Virginia, subject to the removal of the possibility of the death penalty.
It was taken up by the European Court of Human Rights, which gave its first ruling on extradition to a country that still had the death penalty. Therefore, he recanted his confession while on the stand and blamed Elizabeth for her parents’ murder. He said he only confessed to save her, but it was not paid any heed owing to a few different pieces of evidence involved. His sock print was a match to the one at the scene, plus he’d revealed such explicit details in his confession that only a killer could know them.
In August 1989, England deported Jens only if America agreed to Germany’s terms, and the American prosecutors finally had an opportunity to work in front of international pressure. His trial began in June 1990, and he was ultimately convicted of double first-degree murder charges and sentenced to two consecutive life terms. As per his court records, he was incarcerated in a prison cell at the Buckingham Correctional Center in Dillwyn, Virginia. While imprisoned, he converted to Roman Catholicism and wrote several books. One of them, ‘The Convict Christ,’ even won the first prize in the Social Concerns category of the Catholic Press Association of North America.
Several documentaries and investigations led by individual former law enforcement officials on their own have since concluded that Jens might have been innocent. Moreover, his lawyer was later disbarred on charges of drug abuse, and it came to light that the judge, as well as one of the investigators on his case, had ties to the Haysom family. Even the DNA samples retrieved from the crime scene and tested independently years later yielded no match with his samples. As a result, Jens got some powerful supporters for his cause, including a former German president and some celebrities.
Though eligible for parole since 2003, Jens was denied the same 11 times till 2017, until the Governor of Virginia at the time agreed to the recommendation put up by the parole board. They subsequently consented to the discharge of Elizabeth and Jens, provided they were deported to their respective home countries and never set foot in the US again. It was also declared that the decision was not based on merit but due to a cost-cutting measure by the state. Nevertheless, Jens was discharged and transferred to the custody of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, from where he was placed on a flight to Germany in December 2019.
Coming to Jens’ current standing, it appears as if he continues to reside in his homeland to this day, from where he often reiterates his innocence – the 57-year-old asserts he’d briefly planned for Derek and Nacy Haysom’s double murder alongside his girlfriend Elizabeth and even knew about it later, but maintains he wasn’t there at the time they were actually slain. For this, he has since appeared in several documentaries, radio programs, as well as television shows, all the while continuing to write about his experiences in the hopes of helping others not lose hope. Yet, the convictions of murder remain against this ‘A Far, Far Better Thing’ and ‘Son of the Promise’ author’s name.