S9E4: UPDATED + ADDITIONAL CONTENT: Jens Soering: Fatal Attraction to Free Man
This is an updated episode from season 8 with 22 minutes of new content.
In 1985, Derek and Nancy Haysom were found brutally stabbed to death in their Bedford County, VA home - both nearly decapitated. When their daughter Elizabeth Haysom became a prime suspect, she and her boyfriend, Jens Soering, the son of a German diplomat, fled the country. The authorities finally caught up with them in London, and if extradited and found guilty, Elizabeth would face the electric chair. Under the illusion that his father’s diplomatic status would protect him from facing the death penalty in Virginia, Jens sacrificed himself for Elizabeth and gave a false confession that was riddled with inconsistencies. Upon learning of his misunderstanding and before being extradited to the US for trial, Jens fought and won a landmark judgment (Soering v UK) in the European Court of Human Rights, protecting himself from facing the death penalty upon his deliverance to Virginia. At Jens’ trial, prosecutor Jim Updike told the jury that Soering's confession was corroborated by several drops of type O blood at the crime scene - Jens’ blood type. None of the Haysoms had type O, so the blood had to be his. Updike repeated this claim 26 times. Jens was sentenced to 2 consecutive life terms. Elizabeth was convicted as an accessory. After almost 30 years in prison, DNA testing eliminated Jens Soering as a possible source of the type O blood at the scene. In 2017, two independent DNA scientists confirmed these findings, and they also found DNA evidence showing the presence of a second unknown man with type AB blood. The crime remains unsolved; however, Jens Soering’s wrongful conviction remains on his record. After over 33 years in prison, he was paroled on November 25th, 2019, along with Elizabeth Haysom, and is finally back in his home country of Germany.
In this episode, you will hear excerpts of the original interview with Jens Soering, novelist John Grisham, and Sheriff J.E. "Chip” Harding of Albemarle County, VA. Then, Jens and Jason go over parole board strategy with Dr Phil, and finally, we hear reactions from Amanda Knox and Sheriff Harding - both of whom worked so hard on Jens’ behalf.
Thanks to the amazing Small Town Big Crime podcast for providing additional audio.
Thanks to the very generous Freedom Wynn for additional engineering.
Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom is a production of Lava For Good™ Podcasts in association with Signal Co. No1 and PRX.