As promised some weeks ago, it’s now time to return to Mortal Thoughts and examine further examples of Jens Soering’s relentless catalogue of lies. Truly, it is the gift that keeps on giving. Unlike parts I and II there is no specific theme here. This is more in the nature of a mopping up operation – simply highlighting what is effectively a collection of miscellaneous and sometimes random lies. It still isn’t by any means comprehensive, but to cover everything would require an entire book.
All page references below are to Mortal Thoughts except where otherwise stated.
Everyone who has read the earlier posts on this site will already have seen how Soering’s claims about the Haysom murders have evolved over time, changing and mutating to suit the particular version of events he wishes people to believe. First, Elizabeth Haysom murdered her parents alone; then she murdered them with an accomplice; now the claim is that she murdered them with two accomplices. The identities of these shadowy accomplices are never revealed, obviously.
But when we turn to Mortal Thoughts, published in 1995, a full decade after the murders, there was still no doubt in that version about who killed the Haysoms:
“If only I had not agreed to arrange that ludicrous attempt at an alibi, then she would not have thought she could get away with the murders.” (p. 77.)
“Not only did the miles noted on the rental car correspond perfectly to Elizabeth’s murderous round trip to Lynchburg…” (p. 88.)
“My conscience, which had been the original motivator in my decision to save Elizabeth from the electric chair…” (p. 126.)
“Either I could be the executioner’s accomplice, by telling the police the truth and sending the woman I loved to the electric chair. Or I could be the hero, by “confessing” to the homicides and spending a few years in a German youth prison under the partial immunity my father’s diplomatic status would grant me.” (p. 135.)
This last passage is interesting and goes a long way towards demonstrating how these claims were fabricated long after the event.
Given his situation and location at that time, what possible basis would Soering have had for believing that he would be sent to a youth prison in Germany rather than being tried in Virginia? In reality none at all.
Had that claim been even remotely close to the truth then the sensible thing would have been for him to fly to Germany straight away and remain there. Under no circumstances would Germany have agreed to return him to Virginia to face the possibility of execution. But instead he stayed in Virginia for more than six months, he and Haysom not fleeing (actually to Paris, not Germany) until 12 and 13 October 1985 respectively. In a desperate panic, he went first. As they say, go figure.
Following Soering’s arrest his parents flew over to England. His father was a German consular official in Detroit of somewhat uncertain status. According to lawyer Steven Rosenfield, in his 2016 interview with Coy Barefoot, Klaus Soering was “a low-level diplomat”; yet on the “Information” section of Soering’s website he is described as “a mid-level German consular official.” Which is it? Either way he would have been entirely familiar with the niceties of diplomatic immunity and well able to instantly disabuse his son of any prospect of such immunity. Indeed, even Klaus Soering himself would only have enjoyed, at the very best, a much more limited form of protection known as “functional immunity”, which is confined to acts or crimes committed strictly within the scope of formal work duties. Full immunity is granted only to those diplomatic officers of high rank.
Just as an aside here, has nobody ever wondered why Soering’s father and his brother Kai have never played any part in promoting his claims of innocence? The family saw the evidence; most notably, they commissioned and saw the reports of Doctors Hamilton and Bullard, and they know he’s guilty.
“My foolish decision to protect Elizabeth’s life by taking the blame for the homicides she committed.” (p. 144.)
“…the true identity of the Haysoms’ killer…” (p. 155.)
“The Haysoms and their murderer…” (p. 191.)
“…Derek and Nancy Haysom died at the hands of their own daughter.” (p. 201.)
Note the use of the singular in each case: just the one murderer.
The problem is that not even his closest supporters believe that story, making it necessary to invent a better(?) one.
So, uh, what exactly did happen to the mysterious accomplice or accomplices?
In Mortal Thoughts he does allude briefly to the prompt manufactured for him by attorney Richard Neaton at his trial:
“At trial my attorneys argued that the blood, the hair in the sink and those fingerprints indicated the presence of a second murderer, apart from Liz, but to this day I do not know the identity of her accomplice.” (p. 176.)
Just for a moment there he was shifting his ground to the newly-revised script. But then, in a lapse of concentration, he seriously lets himself down and allows the truth to creep out from its place of subterfuge:
“Neither she nor prosecutor Updike knew that I had saved the actual movie ticket stubs from the weekend of my killings…” (p. 178.)
How many times did Soering meet the Haysoms?
“Since I met Mr. and Mrs. Haysom only on this one occasion…” (p. 49.)
The same claim is made on his website:
“February 1985 – Jens has lunch with Derek and Nancy Haysom, his only meeting with Elizabeth’s parents.”
It’s not true:
“Soering had met the parents on two occasions at restaurants when they had visited Elizabeth in Charlottesville.”
Hamilton report, page 5.
It’s not really a major point in the scheme of things – in the overall context of relentless lies it hardly matters, but this is undeniably another one. He can’t help himself.
Similarly, he even lies about his height. It states on his website that –
“Jens is average-sized at 5′ 10″.”
Well, probably he’d like to be, but in fact he’s rather shorter, as anyone who has seen him will realise immediately.
We know that Derek Haysom was 5′ 8”, and in his interview with the German prosecutor (at page 18) Soering says –
“[Mr Haysom] is taller than I and sturdier than I and he was a rather strong man.”
Which would make Jens Soering 5′ 7” tall, at most. It must be a sensitive matter for him, so he feels the need to lie about that, too – to elevate himself, so to speak.
“When asked to describe him physically, many of his classmates used one word: soft. At 5′ 7” or 5′ 8”, he was not tall, and neither was he trim.”
Ken Englade, Beyond Reason, p. 107. St Martin’s Press, 1990 (Kindle edition).
When it comes to the sexual abuse Elizabeth Haysom suffered at the hands of her mother, Soering says whatever he thinks will be to his greatest advantage. Did he believe her account? This is what he said:
“… every time Liz returned home from school or holidays, Mrs. Haysom would eventually find an occasion for sexually fondling and touching her daughter. Soon these episodes progressed to outright molestation in which Elizabeth was forced to perform sexual acts.” (p. 25.)
But then –
“Having become a victim of Liz’s wild allegations myself, I can only say that I now disbelieve these stories of sexual abuse. But I have to repeat them here because I did believe Elizabeth’s accusations in the years 1984 to 1986…” (p. 26.)
So he didn’t believe her, he says. Or did he? In 2016, responding to her interview in the Richmond Times-Dispatch with journalist Frank Green, he had an entirely different viewpoint:
“Told about her admission, Soering said, ‘For the first time in 30 years… Elizabeth Haysom has managed to make a true statement.’
‘She is right. The motive for this crime is sexual abuse. And I’m amazed that she would admit that,’ he said…”
He does believe her, he doesn’t believe her, he does believe her… Yes, but no, but yes, but no, but yes. With the utmost cynicism, he’ll say absolutely anything that suits his purpose.
Soering claims that while in prison in England he was not –
“…physically sick, mentally ill, suicidal or on medication.” (p. 158.)
This is totally untrue. On 5 August 1988 he had been transferred to a prison hospital where he remained until early November 1988 under the special regime applied to suicide-risk prisoners. According to psychiatric evidence adduced on his behalf:
“The psychiatrist’s report records… objective fears that he may seek to take his own life.”
Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, paragraph 25.
His own consultant forensic psychiatrist, Dr John Hamilton, also found him to be suffering from –
“an abnormality of mind (arising from disease of the mind) as to substantially impair his mental responsibility for his acts.”
Psychiatric report on Jens Soering by Dr John Hamilton, page 10.
Disease of the mind? By any standards a very nasty-sounding diagnosis.
And staying with the European Court of Human Rights’ judgment for a moment, Soering asserts that the Court expected him to be sent to Germany:
“As noted in the court’s written opinion, the European Court judges expected me to be deported to Germany after their ruling, so I could be tried in my own country on the American murder charges.” (p. 167.)
Nope, not true. Admittedly the Court’s judgment is long, detailed and legally slightly technical in places, perhaps liable to test the patience of readers, but it’s still worth reading carefully all the same.
Nowhere in the judgment does it say that the Court expected or anticipated that he would be deported to Germany. He’s just making it up. The link’s right there for anyone to check.
In the course of murdering the Haysoms, Soering cut his left hand, which then bled quite heavily and later required cleaning and dressing. In England he showed the resulting small scars to investigator Ricky Gardner. At his trial he tried to back out of his admission that the cuts occurred during the murders, claiming instead that they actually happened when he was a child.
He said that the cuts he suffered were not of a type usually made by a knife:
“If the policemen had examined the shape of the scarred tissue on my fingers they would have become suspicious: the marks were thick triangular ridges like those commonly left by broken glass, not the thin white lines usually made by knife cuts.” (p. 177.)
But in fact it was not suggested that the cuts were in the nature of thin lines that would typically be produced by a quick and simple slicing action. This is his own much later invention, made up to appear more consistent with his story. His hand was not merely sliced, as such. What actually happened was that a small lump of flesh was cut out, as he himself had already explained several years earlier:
“Somehow I got 2 holes, not directly cuts, in the finger on the left hand. I had the impression that a small lump of flesh was cut out. That must have happened at the time that I tried to take the knife away [from Mrs Haysom].”
Now we must start on the homeward journey and begin to examine what is, Soering implies, an audacious and most shocking grand conspiracy against him. We’ll get to the entire cast of these evil-doers in due course, but first up we have the terrible spectre of the Haysoms’ bullying attorney:
“I remember [Elizabeth’s] half-brothers calling a meeting at [Annie Massie’s] house to announce that police considered her the prime suspect in her parents’ murders. Tomorrow they would hire one of the top local attorneys to persuade the Bedford County Sheriff’s Department to drop this line of inquiry.” (p. 79.)
“The suspect’s half-brothers and a prominent local attorney had staked their reputations that she was not involved…” (p. 79.)
“Perhaps [investigators] were still in shock from the April visit by the Haysom brothers’ attorney, who had bullied them into focusing the investigation away from their half-sister.” (p. 82.)
“Had Sheriff Wells’ and prosecutor Updike’s investigators done their jobs professionally, had they not let themselves be bullied by the Haysom brothers’ lawyer into dropping Elizabeth as their prime suspect in April, 1985…” (p. 176.)
“Next to betray me had been… Sheriff Carl Wells, who had let himself be bullied by the Haysom brothers’ attorney into diverting the homicide investigation to save the family name…” (p. 198.)
In reality, lawyer John Lowe’s intervention in the case amounted to this:
“As soon as Elizabeth had left the interview with Gardner and Kirkland, she went to her brothers and reported that the police were giving her a bad time. Howard, the surgeon from Houston, called a well-known defense lawyer in Charlottesville, John Lowe. He, in turn, called Sheriff Wells and told him his investigators were not to question any members of the Haysom family without him being there. “Come on, John,” Wells told him. “You know better than that. If your clients don’t want to talk to our people, they have to tell us that, not you.”
Wells heard no more from the lawyer. Or from the Haysoms.”
Beyond Reason, pp. 87-88.
So the precise bullying quotient there amounted to none at all.
It’s like taking a grain seed and trying to convince the world that it’s really a sumptuous feast. That’s a recurring aspect of his technique.
Soering was then, he maintains, “betrayed” by –
“Detectives Ricky Gardner, Kenneth Beever and Terence Wright, who had denied me access to legal advice which would have saved me from making my false “confession”…” (p. 198.)
Absolutely not true. It has already been noted here (in the post covering the 2000 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals) that Soering had every right to legal advice and the right to remain silent. Of his own volition he chose to waive those rights.
In addition to being untrue, it is also completely at variance with his stated intention, is it not?
While still in Virginia, as they felt the police might be closing in, he had already decided on his course of action (as he claims):
“Confessing” now was the only alternative [to going on the run], and I saw no need to take that ultimate step to protect Elizabeth until we were actually arrested.” (p. 89.)
So then what’s the problem if confessing was always his intention? The reason is that the story about agreeing to confess and take the blame for Elizabeth was an after-the-event attempt to explain and justify his actions. There never was any such agreement; the claim was a complete fabrication.
In reality he was very fearful of what the police already knew and in those circumstances elected to give them, piece by piece, a version which acknowledged the killings themselves while also denying any element of premeditation. It probably seemed to him the most prudent course to take at that time, even though much later he came to regret it bitterly and furiously, of course.
The allegations continue:
“On June 7, while I was still trying to persuade the policeman to allow me to see my attorney…” (p. 136.)
If that were true, why not just sit and wait it out? In such circumstances he would have had a distinct advantage.
“If I was to keep my promise to save Elizabeth’s life I could not wait forever for my lawyer, and the investigators never did allow me to speak to him. So on the evening of June 8 I decided to admit to Liz’s crime without having checked my legal status with an attorney.” (p. 136.)
He must have been in a rush at that point. Perhaps he had an urgent appointment to keep elsewhere.
Here’s the truth, and it was carefully documented at the time. Soering asked to speak to Detective Ricky Gardner. He asked Gardner not to tape-record the interview, and he agreed. Immediately afterwards Gardner then dictated notes into a hand-held recorder. Soering even goes on to quote a passage from those notes:
“Told by Beever that Soering wanted to talk with me. Brought [him] to detective’s office at 4.45 p.m. Read Miranda warnings to Soering at that time. Said he understood and signed form.” (p. 137.)
He was fully informed of his rights, and he waived them. That was his choice.
At his trial –
“The prosecution argued that I had knowingly and willingly consented to questioning without counsel. Except for the first two sessions at 3:35 and 6:00 p.m. on June 5, 1986, I had signed Miranda waiver forms before each interrogation. Someone as intelligent and educated as I could hardly claim that I had not understood my rights, and there was no evidence of physical coercion…” (p. 169.)
Correct. He signed the forms on several occasions and waived his rights. There was no coercion, physical or otherwise. So what’s the explanation this time?
“But I testified that I had only signed the waiver forms and talked to police because I had feared for Elizabeth’s safety. The English Detective Sergeant Kenneth Beever had come to my holding cell alone and told me that Liz might fall down and hurt herself if I did not drop my demand for a lawyer.” (p. 170.)
Well, he has lurid claims about everyone involved, that for sure. Once again, what’s the problem if he always intended to confess?
But the allegation about DS Beever is from every angle as ludicrous as it is pernicious, and there is not a scrap or hint of any evidence to justify it. This is desperate stuff.
When in police custody suspects are documented, monitored and supervised by an entire custody team. That’s not to say that things can’t still go badly wrong sometimes, but in this case the records show, the notes show and the tapes show that both Soering and Haysom were always treated correctly by Wright, Beever and Gardner, the police officers involved. Haysom, for her part, has never claimed otherwise. Most likely Soering found the whole process very uncomfortable indeed, and that’s to be expected. Probably most people do when the charges are quite so serious.
Soering’s great misfortune was simply that he had been arrested in London by two experienced and highly professional detectives who knew the rules and followed them, but who were also intent on getting to the bottom of the case. That, after all, was their job, and that’s exactly what they did.
And when Gardner turned up later, in response to the transatlantic summons, he once again demonstrated an exemplary level of fairness that would stand comparison with that of any police officer. He was there to investigate a double murder, a task he obviously undertook with all befitting seriousness, but also with absolute propriety. That is what makes the present campaign of vilification directed very personally at him by Sheriff Harding and others quite so utterly grotesque. There have been, and are, police officers who richly deserve public opprobrium for their conduct, but Gardner has certainly never been one of them.
In reality, from his perspective, Soering made extremely foolish errors that would alarm even a half-wit lawyer; but they were entirely his own and he has spent the years since then trying to blame everyone else for them, lashing out in every direction, smearing, maligning and traducing everyone within his purview. In so doing he alternates between the gutter and the sewer, which has become his elective modus operandi.
Despite the assertion at the beginning of this post that there was no overall theme here, something of a theme has nevertheless emerged.
Soering’s next allegation is made against Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Updike:
“On the eve of Liz’s grand appearance on the witness stand John Lowe decided to turn over the faxed copies of the movie tickets to prosecutor Updike. So flustered did he become that he asked for a short recess in court, to allow him to digest the startling news. He realised immediately that a busy night lay ahead of Elizabeth and him, since they would have to correct large portions of her upcoming testimony.” (p. 178.)
There are certainly criticisms that might reasonably be made of Updike, whose failure at times to perceive the necessary subtleties and shades of grey in the case always limited him:
“Updike lived, for all intents and purposes, in a black and white world. The law does not equivocate. There is right and wrong. Legal and illegal. Guilty and innocent.”
Ken Englade, Beyond Reason (p. 302).
However, let’s be clear about the exact nature of Soering’s claim here. He is alleging that Updike, as prosecutor, entered into nothing less than a criminal conspiracy with Elizabeth Haysom to pervert the course of justice. Even leaving aside the important underlying principle involved, it was, paradoxically, his own rigidity of thought that most thoroughly militates against such an absurd conclusion. As usual, Soering has not a speck of evidence, such that this bizarre allegation can be safely consigned to the trash with all the others.
Now we reach the grand finale: Soering’s frankly hilarious hit list of those who betrayed him – yes, betrayed by all, I tell you, betrayed, poor man!
Here we go:
“Next to betray me had been Elizabeth…;
then Sheriff Carl Wells, who had let himself be bullied by the Haysom brothers’ attorney into diverting the homicide investigation to save the family name;
Detectives Ricky Gardner, Kenneth Beever and Terence Wright, who had denied me access to legal advice which would have saved me from making my false “confession”;
Commonwealth’s Attorney James Updike, who had accepted my very convenient “confession” as his theory of the case despite the stronger evidence implicating Liz;
The English government, which had sent me to the U.S. though the European Court wanted me extradited to Germany;
Judge William Sweeney…;
the appellate courts, which had failed to correct this miscarriage of justice;
my own lawyer [Richard Neaton]…;
and… even some members of my family were giving up on me! (p. 198.)
Yes, and even some members of his family were also sufficiently well informed to accept the unpalatable truth; they were never duped by such a calculating litany of largely unfounded allegations and self-serving lies.
For Soering the truth is like a miser’s cash, to be used only grudgingly when all other options have been exhausted. Since he’s so fond of allusions to Dickens, it would be entirely apposite to think of him as the Scrooge of truth.
Betrayed, I tell you, betrayed!
Sometimes there’s just nothing to do but laugh in the face of such rot – grimly and sardonically, for sure, but laugh all the same.
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