Bill Sizemore: Standing up for Justice and Truth?

At some point in the future the case of Jens Soering is likely to be perfect material for a psychology graduate student’s PhD thesis on credulity and collective amnesia. From a starting position of the utmost implausibility, it has been quite remarkable to watch Soering’s dishonest campaign of innocence gather disciples over time, and it’s often been more than a little perplexing to anyone with a sufficiently detailed knowledge of the case. Are the followers knowingly attempting to exonerate a murderer or are they just gullible to a fault? In fact they’re quite certainly a mixture, but the closer you get to the inner circle the more confident you can be that they’re fairly and squarely in the former category.

What makes this especially unfortunate is the way that so many people have been only too willing to risk their good names for this cause, let alone their total disregard for intellectual rigour. Take, for instance, the discreditable letter to the Governor of Virginia written by Professor Mary Tate of Richmond Law School’s Institute for Actual Innocence, urging Soering’s release. This matters because we know that illegitimate convictions sometimes occur, and to be effective in the face of occasional public scepticism such a worthy organisation minimally requires two things: a reputation for absolute integrity, coupled with a reputation for being consistently right. In relation to the latter, at least, they’ve made a monumental error of judgement this time, and one which is likely to cause them serious reputational damage. Not that Soering gives a damn about that if it serves his purpose, of course.

How does such a mess occur when some – but only some – of these people are surely acting in good faith? It actually becomes quite easy to spot most of the lies, distortions and misrepresentations, but only when you’ve made the effort to do all the necessary work. So, for example, at the time of his report to the Governor in May 2017, Chip Harding boasted of having spent more than 200 hours reviewing the case, which was always hopelessly inadequate. At a conservative estimate, 2,000 hours is a much more appropriate starting point, but the small handful of real case experts have devoted far longer to it over the years. The truth is buried under a fortress of lies, but still ultimately accessible.

So much about this story can be traced back to Mortal Thoughts as the seminal text. As mentioned here repeatedly, this is the 1995 e-book form of Soering’s radical rewriting and reinvention of the Haysom murders so as to absolve himself of guilt. It was largely plotted and fabricated during his years of detention in England before finally being extradited back to Virginia in 1990. Certainly over time the mendacious claims can be seen to have been updated here and there, but this nevertheless remains the core text from which he and those around him recite their lines.

It is by now hardly a coincidence that everyone who speaks or writes on Soering’s behalf has the same script. That is what’s fed to them by the inner circle and they consume it cheerfully without ever bothering to check whether it might be rancid. To a man and woman they draw exclusively on what Nathan Heller in The New Yorker correctly referred to as “Soering’s approved library of information.” And since that information is invariably founded on the claims in Mortal Thoughts it contains the same drivel and is equally tainted. That being so, it’s little wonder that they all then disgorge similar rubbish, sententiously agreeing with one another like nodding donkeys.

In reality, everyone who repeats Soering’s lies in public with swaggering confidence is morally culpable because they arrogate knowledge to themselves without having done the work. But some, however, are much more culpable than others. In the case of Soering’s inner circle of advisers and collaborators, they must have unrestricted access to all the documents and cannot therefore claim ignorance with any credibility whatsoever.

This can be observed in the way public discussions of the case are always framed. The crucial period between 1986 and 1989 is mentioned by Soering and his supporters only in terms of a false confession followed by immediate claims of protecting Elizabeth and a belief that he had diplomatic immunity. Each is risible and wholly untenable for the reasons already demonstrated at some length in other posts on this site. Nevertheless, to highlight again what his supporters always wish to gloss over, and for the umpteenth time here, during those years Soering confessed in detail or acknowledged his guilt without reservation to –

English detectives Terry Wright and Ken Beever;

American detective Ricky Gardner;

his team of English lawyers;

fellow German prisoner Mathias Schroeder;

psychiatrists Dr John Hamilton and Dr Henrietta Bullard;

the German prosecutor from Bonn;

his German defence counsel;

the Chief Magistrate at Bow Street Magistrates’ Court, London;

the Divisional Court of the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court;

the European Commission of Human Rights;

the European Court of Human Rights.

*

All of which, by way of preamble, finally brings us to Bill Sizemore, co-author of Soering’s most recent book, A Far, Far Better Thing: Did a Fatal Attraction Lead to a Wrongful Conviction? The question posed there in the subtitle is simple to answer: no, it didn’t.

In fact it wasn’t easy summoning the motivation to examine Sizemore in any detail. On first impression he’s at the milder end of the spectrum when it comes to Soering supporters, certainly appearing to lack the unalloyed self-importance and bombast of Chip Harding, for instance. And he mainly repeats the same old pap, stuff we’ve heard so many times before. Why bother?

But then The Roanoke Times of 2 May and 7 May 2018 published contrasting opinion pieces about the Soering case, the first by local resident and retired teacher Glenn Ayers, and the second a response from Bill Sizemore.

What Sizemore called for, amusingly, was consideration of the facts, not name-calling – this after Ayers had referred to the Soering team, with highly apt alliteration, as “cold case Columbos.” Who would have thought he was quite such a delicate little flower? More to the point, his audacity was breathtaking in the light of the smears, distortions and lies he is personally attempting to perpetuate. Consequently we now need to look carefully at some of his statements, as well as name-calling of a far more pernicious nature.

It should also be pointed out in the interests of accuracy, incidentally, that although Glenn Ayers was undoubtedly correct when it comes to the bigger picture, he did get one or two details wrong. Most significantly he stated that Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Updike mainly did the questioning of Soering in London. He didn’t. Updike’s role there was purely to advise behind the scenes: the questioning was carried out entirely by detectives Wright, Beever and Gardner.

And just as a brief aside here, Sizemore’s unwarranted sensitivity immediately brings to mind Jason Flom, who, despite never having had the slightest contact with Elizabeth Haysom in his life, nonetheless saw fit to bare his ugly prejudice on the ABC 20/20 show of 15 February 2018:

You have a guy who has only been with one woman in his life and she turned out to be the devil.”

Well, nobody could say that his charm and insight precede him. In the view of most half-decent people, that’s more than somewhat intemperate as name-calling goes. Did we hear Sizemore objecting then? Seemingly not.

What’s not in doubt is that the relationship between Soering and Haysom was mutually obsessive, almost certainly to an unhealthy degree, with Soering being much the more obsessive of the two, hence his actions:

Soering says he felt completely emotionally dependent on her and that he could not live without her… He did however feel that he wanted to have Elizabeth for himself one way or the other and he approached the meeting with the Haysoms in a mood of recognising the need for confrontation rather than any clearly formed plan to kill them.”

Psychiatric report of Dr John Hamilton, page 6.

Jason Flom is another Institute for Actual Innocence board member, along with Professor Mary Tate, so presumably we can look forward to their resignations in due course, in order to spare that organisation further embarrassment.

*

As already noted, some people are more morally culpable than others when it comes to making false or misleading statements about Jens Soering and the Haysom murders. However, someone who is the co-author of a book about the case can have no excuse. By the very act of publishing a book on the subject Bill Sizemore implicitly claims real expertise and we are entitled to judge him by that standard.

So let’s now have a look at some of his public statements and assertions. On 19 June 2017 he was interviewed by Coy Barefoot on Inside Charlottesville, 94.7 WPVC (“Did he really do it?”). Early on he states that Jens recanted his confession (which one?) in the late 1980s. He simply didn’t. Then he says that he –

continued to profess innocence and fight extradition.”

Totally untrue. Soering acknowledged his guilt up to and beyond the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in July, 1989. Not a squeak or hint of an innocence claim came until his return to Virginia in 1990. Facts, not name-calling.

But in fact Sizemore knew that very well already. Back in 2007 he correctly wrote in The Virginian-Pilot that “Since 1990, Soering has told this account…”, and then went on to recount the fabricated claims. They appeared in 1990, not before.

Sizemore asserts in the interview that Derek Haysom was a large, muscular man. Again untrue. He was 5′ 8” tall, and around 150 pounds in weight. He’d led an active life and was no doubt robust for his age, as Soering found out, but that’s a different matter.

After Soering first slashed Derek Haysom’s neck with the knife –

He still had incredible strength and appeared as if he was not wounded. He bashed me and boxed the head actually several times. At the first time my glasses flew [off] my face and I could hardly see any more…”

Interview with the German prosecutor, page 20.

Facts, not name-calling.

*

Now we come to Soering’s revised and fantastical “theory” of the case, as propounded by Sizemore in the interview, which he gives every indication of sharing. He is an expert, after all, isn’t he?

Elizabeth must have parked the rental car and joined up with one or more accomplices in their car to go to the house.”

That’s truly remarkable since she was in Washington DC when he left for Lynchburg and was there waiting for him when he returned. Did she teleport there and back or what?

Soering insists that when he drove to Lynchburg he was not sure whether or not he would carry out the killings.”

Psychiatric report of Dr John Hamilton, page 6.

Prosecutor: “You then drove to Lynchburg?”

Soering: “On the way to Lynchburg I bought myself two or three cans of beer and probably drunk them.” [Page 13.]

Prosecutor: “How did it then go on when you were on the way to Washington? What about Elizabeth?”

Soering: “Elizabeth was in Washington when I arrived, she was in the street.” [23.]

Interview with the German prosecutor, 30 December 1986.

When another of his unmeritorious appeals finally reached the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in 2000, even Soering’s own attorney, Gail Starling Marshall, had to concede that this confession to the German prosecutor was properly admitted into evidence at his trial. That was inevitable because the confession was in every respect unimpeachable, given after receiving legal advice and made in the presence of his defence counsel. But since then Marshall seems to have forgotten all about it, most regrettably. Soering’s people do seem prone to memory lapses.

Nonetheless, Sizemore claims that there is corroboration of Soering’s theory. According to him, at Soering’s trial a neighbour of the Haysoms testified that on the night of the murders –

she went by the house that night and there were cars all up and down the driveway, possibly as many as five or six cars in the drive, so who knows how many people might have been in the house that night?”

Hmm, almost right, but with the usual twists of distortion, thus demonstrating once again the necessity of always checking, checking and checking again everything Soering and his supporters say. (Facts, not name-calling, eh?)

The neighbour was Jean Dance, an elderly woman who lived just beyond the Haysoms’ house. What she actually said was far more vague than Sizemore cares to admit:

We were driving past, it was either Saturday night or Sunday night or Monday night .. we saw cars parked on the driveway… at least 5 or 6 cars.”

Killing for Love.

Or could it perhaps have been Tuesday night or Wednesday night? Nobody believes that this lady was doing anything but telling the truth to the very best of her recollection, by then more than five years after the murders. Equally, however, it was clear that in the circumstances what she said carried little evidential weight and had to be disregarded. Indeed, prosecutor Jim Updike asked her no further questions, understandable bemusement written all over his face.

It’s difficult to know what Sizemore was hoping to establish by resurrecting this muddled testimony. Over time we’ve gone from one to two and then three murderers, the claims becoming more desperate with every new recitation. And note that Mrs Dance mentioned at least 5 or 6 cars – so possibly more. Just how many murderers are we now expected to contemplate? It sounds like a bizarre murder party dreamt up by a satirist – a black comedy in which a large group of people are running around the house with knives stabbing at one another.

However, there remains a very plausible alternative to Sizemore’s misleading claim, albeit one which doesn’t help Soering in the least. Given her confusion about the days of the week, it is quite possible that Jean Dance actually went past the Haysoms’ driveway after the murders had been discovered, and that what she saw were police vehicles in the drive, in addition to the Haysoms’ car and van. That, at least, would make sense.

Still, it’s hardly corroboration of Soering’s (and Sizemore’s) theory, is it?

*

Naturally we wait with bated breath for the identities of the multitude of murderers. Normally none are forthcoming, but this time Sizemore has an insidious proposal. He opts for someone he claims to have been Elizabeth’s “drug dealer”, whom it is unnecessary to name here. Needless to say, there is not the slightest evidence for this save for Soering’s own allegation, and as prosecutor Jim Updike forcefully pointed out, it was made for the very first time at the trial, giving it zero credibility. But, hey, that person is now in fact dead and can’t therefore answer back, which makes him an ideal choice to slander. (Facts, not name-calling?) Mild of manner Sizemore may be, but he’s also played follow-my-leader into the gutter this time.

He then returned to the approved script, the madding crowd having departed the stage. There were, he went on to say, more than likely two accomplices. What he was implicitly referring to there is the claim of new DNA evidence. Much is made of this in both his later interview and his response to Glenn Ayers, and it is more conveniently dealt with when discussing those, below.

*

Next, Sizemore turned to Chip Harding and Andrew Griffiths for support in relation to Soering’s London confessions. Griffiths, he said –

looked at the record of these interrogations of Jens while he was in custody in London and points out several problems with it, not the least of which was that Jens got several key facts wrong in his confession, most notably when they asked him what Nancy Haysom was wearing he said jeans, blue jeans. Well, no, she was wearing a flowery housecoat, sort of the farthest thing from jeans, which is an indication that he wasn’t there, he was making up facts.”

It’s entirely possible, of course, that he was inserting the occasional false detail so as to prepare the ground for repudiation at a later time. He was very bright after all, as he likes to keep telling us.

But there’s really no need to go that far. The murders were violent, frenzied and unquestionably traumatic for an 18-year-old young man, notwithstanding his undeniable criminal culpability. It’s little wonder that his mind was spinning in shock and turmoil at the time, thereby making his later memory of the events distinctly fragmented:

I think, there remains a few pictures of this evening here and there, let us say, which I can remember. In between there are quite enormous gaps, and partly there is something missing within the pictures itself.” [Page 13.]

I mean, I can remember the whole affair only very, very poorly.” [17.]

I can tell you only that I have two vague memories of the bodies.” [21-2.]

I had no intent to kill those people and it was an absolute horror experience and I can remember very little and what I can remember of this weekend is all very vague. [26.]

Interview with the German prosecutor.

For confirmation of this psychological turmoil, if any were needed (which it really isn’t), we can turn, with a degree of irony, to Chuck Reid, who himself experienced a very disturbing incident in the course of his duty:

[Reid] recalled a life-or-death struggle of his own, in 1981, with a prisoner who managed to grab hold of his gun. Reid prevailed, but afterward was too shaken and exhausted to think straight. “From experience, believe me, your mind is like scrambled eggs,” he said.”

Laura Vozzella, The Washington Post, 9 March 2017.

So a person’s memory may not always be in the most pristine shape under those circumstances, let alone when recalling that same incident more than a year later. It would be entirely reasonable to expect Andrew Griffiths to have some little appreciation of this, but seemingly he doesn’t.

In so far as the claims of Soering and his supporters have gained any currency at all, it is because they are so rarely subjected to close independent scrutiny. Whenever they have been they’ve always failed comprehensively. The flaccid and tendentious arguments made by Sizemore, Harding and Griffiths in this regard were carefully examined long ago by senior judges of the Virginia Supreme Court and, in particular, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and were found to have no merit. Nothing has changed.

*

Sizemore spoke about the psychiatric diagnosis that Elizabeth Haysom was suffering from borderline personality disorder at the time of the murders. In that respect he is perfectly correct and at least gains a modicum of credit for not trying to perpetuate the lie promulgated by Soering and attorney Gail Ball, in imitation of a squawking parrot on his shoulder, that she was borderline schizophrenic.

Then he goes and spoils it all by asserting that Haysom was found to be a compulsive liar. It’s not true, but is nevertheless an allegation Soering and his team make with tedious regularity, as if repeating it often enough would make it so.

Fortunately the Hamilton report is posted here on this site for anyone to see. It has to be remembered that Dr Hamilton was paid by Soering’s parents, and in that context he was far from neutral in the matter and did his best to be of service for the money. He interviewed Elizabeth Haysom twice at most, although at this distance her only firm recollection is of a single meeting. Her diagnosis was in fact made upon her voluntary return to the United States by a team led by Dr Robert Showalter at the UVA Hospital Forensic Psychiatry Clinic, and being a compulsive liar formed no part of it.

In exploring various options in his report Hamilton did at one point raise the possibility of pathological lies (page 9), but Haysom was emphatically not his patient. Professionally it would have been completely unethical to attempt to make any kind of diagnosis about her in those circumstances, and he did no such thing. He was merely speculating about possibilities, just as we can speculate about how much he was paid for doing so. Sizemore’s claim is nothing more than another attempted smear and demonstrably false.

While he was keen to smear Haysom, he was much less forthcoming about Soering’s actual diagnosis, which was that he was suffering from “an abnormality of mind (arising from disease of the mind)…” (Hamilton, page 10). The concept of “diminished responsibility” that Sizemore mentioned in the interview is a legal verdict under English law only, and not in itself a psychiatric diagnosis. It had no equivalent under the law of Virginia.

What’s very strange indeed here, and also highly revealing, is that while Sizemore is extremely eager to brand Haysom as a compulsive liar, at the same time he is equally eager to overlook Soering’s relentless history of lies. Anyone considering the case honestly and without profound emotional bias has to accept that overwhelmingly he is the compulsive liar in this story.

Such a conclusion is quite unavoidable because his supporters have only a binary choice: either he lied constantly between 1986 and 1990, or he has been lying on the grandest of scales from the time of his return to Virginia in 1990 until now. One of those propositions must be true, and we know very well which it is. He is a thoroughly dishonest man whose dishonesty permeates everything he says, and refusing to recognise that is intellectually bovine.

*

On 5 March 2018 Bill Sizemore appeared on HearSay with Cathy Lewis, a WHRO radio show. He told her –

I looked at all the evidence. In 2016 I reinvestigated the case…”

All the evidence?

He said that Soering –

confessed to the crime. Over four days of interrogation in London without an attorney present he finally confessed. When he went on trial in 1990 he recanted that confession…”

There he reverts to an accurate statement about Soering recanting his confession(s) at his trial in 1990, unlike in the interview with Coy Barefoot, so a little tick for that. It is also true enough that the London confessions were made without an attorney present. What is his point there?

This matter has already been covered in some detail here, in Mortal Thoughts, part III, and the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals. Soering elected, entirely of his own volition and with full knowledge of his rights, to speak to detectives without a lawyer being present and went on to sign waivers to that effect, as he admits. That was the choice he made.

*

About the footprint found at the scene of the murders, Sizemore says that –

in fact that footprint was really closer to Elizabeth’s foot size than to Jens’s.”

Elizabeth Haysom, of course, willingly gave her footprints and fingerprints to the police, while Soering refused, fearful of what his might reveal.

The Soering team do love to quote Chuck Reid, as one of the original investigators on the case. In The Parent Slashers (2008) (which appears to be the documentary Couples Who Kill under a different title), Reid couldn’t have been clearer:

The footprints of Elizabeth came back. It didn’t match what we had. It eliminated her; it didn’t put her in the house at the time of the homicides.”

*

On the subject of Soering’s purported belief in his diplomatic immunity, Sizemore states that –

if his father had been stationed in the German embassy in Washington DC that might have come into play, but that was not the case…”

This is nonsense. There was no prospect ever, under any circumstances, of Soering having hand-me-down diplomatic immunity because his father was nowhere near senior enough. Even Klaus Soering himself would only have possessed, at 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. Someone writing a book on the case should know that.

*

Sizemore says that Soering’s case has become –

quite a cause celebre [in Germany]”

Perfectly fair. There’s no doubt that an organised propaganda campaign has been going on in Germany for some years, culminating in the disreputable documentary film Killing for Love, which is the very antithesis of an impartial, objective presentation of the case. By means of selective and distorted use of evidence it is intended to cast doubt on Soering’s guilt where there is none. Yet in reality even the film’s director, Marcus Vetter, appeared to be much less than convinced of Soering’s innocence when speaking to journalist Nathan Heller:

The film is told from Soering’s point of view, though Vetter withholds judgment on the matter of guilt. ‘Whether he or she committed the crime, they were young,’ Vetter says. ‘When should the punishment end? How much punishment can society accept?’”

Blood Ties”, The New Yorker, 9 November 2015.

At least at a superficial level there is undoubtedly merit in what he says. It’s a pity, therefore, that his film is not similarity nuanced. Instead it is a kind of agitprop, designed to further the interests of a fellow German, and takes no account of Soering’s long-standing campaign of relentless lies and vilification of anyone with the temerity to point out his clear and obvious guilt. The way he has conducted himself since 1990 would surely militate against any prospect of imminent parole in a rational system of decision-making.

The provisional impression here, after the creation of this website, is that German people in general are not taking a narrow, nationalistic approach to Jens Soering. (Some do, of course, but every country has such people.) The site exceeded 7,000 views before the end of May, 45% of them from Germany. These people must want to know what really happened, and relatively few come with open hostility. As one insightful correspondent put it in an email recently, it’s about the person, not the passport. That’s absolutely right. Soering’s country of origin is irrelevant to the issue. And even in Germany, increasingly, the signs are that he is no longer getting a free ride among thoughtful people.

For German speakers here, there is also a very good German language blog which takes a calm-headed, measured and analytical approach to this subject, and is recommended:

http://jens-soering.blogspot.co.uk/

*

Sizemore was asked in the interview what Jens Soering’s motivation was:

The motive was always murky. The prosecution’s storyline was that Elizabeth’s parents disapproved of the relationship and wanted her to break it off. But the problem with that is there was no evidence of that presented at trial. No witness took the stand and testified to that. Jens as far as I can tell had absolutely no reason to kill these people. He had met them only once – he and Elizabeth had gone out to lunch with them once.”

There’s much there that needs to be picked apart. To say that the motive was always murky is quite untrue.

Sizemore: “… Elizabeth’s parents disapproved of the relationship and wanted her to break it off. But the problem with that is there was no evidence of that presented at trial. No witness took the stand and testified to that.”

The principal witnesses didn’t take to the stand to testify to it because Soering had murdered them!

Soering: “It was very important to me that these people should like me, that they would not interfere any further in the relationship.” [Page 14.]

Mr Haysom had his own tactic which mainly depended on that I had no great future in comparison with other people whom Elizabeth knows, he meant with this background and material things and Mrs Haysom made it at the same time in a more personal way…” [16.]

[The Haysoms] said that they would get me expelled from the university. As Elizabeth had explained the position of her parents, they could have done that and then my whole future would have been destroyed.” [33.]

Interview with the German prosecutor.

[The Haysoms] told him that he was “not their kind of people” and threatened that if the relationship carried on they would take Elizabeth out of university and take steps to ensure that he was dismissed too.”

The Hamilton report, page 7.

Sizemore: “Jens, as far as I can tell, had absolutely no reason to kill these people.”

Really? He was obsessed with Elizabeth, jealous, possessive, and hated her parents:

 Soering“I believe it was quite right that I hated the parents more and more… I would say that in the last month before this happened, there were talks, not very detailed, which arose from the feeling of hate. Man, we must really put them in a car and let them roll down the hill. The matter with these conversations was that I, in any event, did not take them seriously and it is for this, that I also said that I did not drive to Lynchburg with the intent to kill these people… Violence was strange to my character, but I have hated these people also very much and these feelings of hate I have expressed in conversations through fantasy games, as for example one should put them in a car and push them down a hill. Something with a remote controlled bomb, burn the house down…” [Page 30.]

Prosecutor“You are supposed to have said that you felt during the trip to Lynchburg hatred and anger for the later victims, the parents of your girlfriend, because they exercised pressure on your girlfriend to end the relationship. Is that so?”

 Soering: “That is right without doubt. But this concerns a general feeling which was building up in me anyway over months…” [32.]

 ProsecutorIn this context an anger built up in you – it was the woman you loved, with whom you wanted to spend your life, whom you wanted to marry.”

SoeringNaturally.” [33.]

Soering“I think I am now 7 or 8 months here in prison. I basically started to think about it only in the last few months, because until now I tried to forget the affair. I have discussed this with various people for example also with the psychiatrist, I think, if I had remembered more, I would have been able to tell this in the meantime. I only know that I came away from the wall with a tremendous rage.”

ProsecutorDid you feel humiliated by Mr Haysom or was it more your fury that you did not get any further? Was it a fury having been treated like a small child, or a fury for not being up to the situation anymore?”

Soering“In reality it is both… A collective rage arose which resulted from the situation which was already months if not years old. That all erupted now.” [35-36.]

Soering“As already said, I came from the wall with a horrific rage in me and the next thing I remember is that I stood behind him and the total shock and terror that this blood was there in his lap.” [37.]

Soering“The way I see it, to say it cruelly, for many years certain problems have built-up inside me… and that because of the alcohol all these things erupted and the entire anger and all these problems were discharged.” [41.]

Interview with the German prosecutor.

And Sizemore claims that the motivation was murky! He must have had his eyes very tightly closed.

He also says that Soering had met the Haysoms only once. That, too, is not true:

Soering had met the parents on two occasions at restaurants when they had visited Elizabeth in Charlottesville. He had formed the opinion that her father was a “cold monster” and that her mother would humiliate the father in public.”

The Hamilton report, page 5.

In fact, it may even been more than twice, depending on how one parses the second sentence below, as translated from the original German:

I met the mother the first week in September [1984], maximum for 2 hours that I saw her… I then saw the mother and the father still once again, that must have been in March [1985] when they visited Elizabeth in the university, and I then went with Elizabeth and the parents together to eat in a restaurant.”

Interview with the German prosecutor, page 4.

*

Still speaking on the HearSay show with Cathy Lewis, Sizemore reaches what he believes to be his strongest argument, just as he set out in the newspaper article for The Roanoke Times. They can both, therefore, be dealt with at the same time. He said on the radio show:

The most compelling post-trial evidence, I believe, is the DNA… it indicates that there were not one one but two unidentified male sources of that blood, which buttresses the defence theory of the case, which is that Elizabeth committed the murders with one or more male accomplices. Now, who might those accomplices have been? We don’t know.”

It’s worthy of note that by this juncture the groundless allegations against the person who died have now disappeared. A little credit mark for that.

Who might the accomplices have been? We don’t know, and in fact have not the slightest idea because these people are merely figments of hope and longing. Sizemore and others seem to believe that if you wish for something hard enough it might happen. It’s not necessarily so. Still, it provides them all with the barest fig-leaf of an excuse to pile in again on Elizabeth Haysom, which is always their underlying desire.

In the event the DNA turns out to be not compelling at all.

Let’s start with some basics here. Experts are appointed by the side wishing to benefit from their evidence. They are often handsomely paid for their trouble and know exactly what is expected of them. That doesn’t of itself make them at all dishonest; it simply means that they are paid to provide their own side with the most favourable interpretation possible, and are normally very far from being neutral parties in contested proceedings. The other side turn up with their experts to say one thing, and you turn up with yours to say another. That’s just how it is.

Soering’s side wished to dispute the blood evidence relied upon by the Virginia Department of Forensic Sciences (DFS) – indeed, they had little choice but to do so as a last, desperate throw of the dice. To that end they have reports on DNA evidence which they claim exonerate Jens Soering. In fact the reports, even on their own terms, quite clearly do no such thing.

In his findings, Dr Moses Schanfield talks in terms of percentages and potential or possible errors. Manifestly he does his very best to be helpful, but he does not and cannot exculpate Soering. That’s just the Soering team’s propaganda spin on it.

Similarly, Dr Thomas McClintock of Liberty University couldn’t be clearer that his report “reflects my interpretation of the serological and DNA test results.” Once again he’s trying his hardest to be helpful, but it’s perfectly obvious that these findings are very far from definitive or incontrovertible.

In the 20/20 broadcast, however, McClintock made this statement:

It looks like there is at least one to two unidentified males at that crime scene.”

It look like? Room for doubt there in his mind, apparently. And “at least one to two unidentified males…” What does that mean? “At least” connotes the possibility of even more unidentified males. So how many now, for heaven’s sake? But then he says “one to two”. Well, which is it? Surely DNA science is precise? In some cases it is no doubt unequivocal and conclusive, but in others there is clearly scope for “interpretation”, just as McClintock stated in his report. These “one to two men” are becoming more ethereal by the moment.

Liberty University is in fact an evangelical religious institution. Yet in his report (page 3), Dr McClintock states that “Basic genetics has demonstrated…” This is surprising because Liberty University positions itself in direct opposition to the most basic tenets of biological (and geological) science. As part of its doctrinal statement it says this:

The universe was created in six historical days and is continuously sustained by God… Human beings were directly created, not evolved, in the very image of God.”

How about flat Earth theory too?

It was observed here back in January 2018, in the post responding to the crass and incompetent Harding report, that since Dr Schanfield went to quite some trouble to rubbish the findings of everyone who went before him, it might be necessary for other experts to come along in due course and similarly rubbish his interpretation (as well as that of Dr McClintock). And so it proved.

Professor Dan Krane is listed as one of America’s top DNA experts (a list that appears not to include Dr Schanfield, as it happens). Far from being in the pay of Virginia, he was actually commissioned as a neutral party to review the DNA evidence by the ABC network for their 20/20 show about the case (linked above). And as a neutral party he turned out, wholly unsurprisingly, to have a very different opinion from that of both Dr Schanfield and Dr McClintock:

There’s no indication that Jens Soering was present at the crime scene, but I think we can also say that there’s no affirmative indication of anybody other than the victims being present at the crime scene as well.”

The imaginary accomplices had already begun the process of fading away, and at this point finally disappear from view completely. All roads lead back to Soering alone, as was always the case.

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One last point relating to Sizemore’s article in The Roanoke Times. He states:

“One juror said he would not have found Soering guilty, except for sock print LR3.”

This must be a reference to juror Jake Bibb, who certainly provided an affidavit to that effect in June 1995. But it’s very strange all the same because Bibb expressed no doubts whatever about the verdict when speaking to a journalist just a few months later:

“Reached by telephone at his Roseland home last week, Bibb said he still believes in Soering’s guilt…

“I’m afraid he was there – I sleep very comfortably,” said juror Bibb, a 44-year-old iron foundry maintenance mechanic…”

Ian Zack, “Trial and Error”, The Daily Progress, January 21, 1996.

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At the end of his article Bill Sizemore makes the bold assertion that Soering’s supporters are standing up for “justice and truth.” It is evident that they are doing no such thing. Were it so they wouldn’t have any need, variously, to lie, distort, misrepresent and/or omit highly relevant facts and evidence. That they do so is documented at considerable length on this site, there for everyone to see and to check. It seems fair to assume that they never anticipated coming under such detailed scrutiny, but they brought it entirely upon themselves by their own conduct in this unscrupulous campaign.

In the end, judgment on their efforts to gain a pardon for a guilty man will be delivered by the Governor, on the recommendation of the Parole Board, in the light of all the evidence, not just what Soering’s supporters wish to spoon-feed the Board. That being so, the prospects of completely fooling Board members don’t look good at all, but time will tell.

For many of the supporters this case will likely be their last turn in the public spotlight, making it the thing they’ll be most remembered for. Some, at least, probably now have an uncomfortable sense of this, which seems to account for their growing desperation. Their part in the Soering case will be their public legacy, and by any standards it’s a very shabby one.

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