What follows below is a review of Killing for Love, the German propaganda film made and released in a vain effort to relieve Jens Soering of any blame for the murder of Derek and Nancy Haysom. Its initial English title was The Promise, and Das Versprechen in German.
Originally the review was never intended for this website, not least because much of the information it contains is already to be found in other posts here, and in identical terms. It was intended only for Amazon.com. However, having been accepted by Amazon and placed on their website, it then mysteriously disappeared after about ten days. How strange! No other reviews were taken down, only this one. Just like several old YouTube videos, anything deemed harmful to the Soering cause is an immediate target for those who constitute his ever-vigilant Praetorian Guard. Still, we must remember that even Charles Manson had devoted fans, and many of Soering’s closest adherents function at exactly the same level of moral vacuity.
No doubt it would have been possible to make representations to Amazon and get the review restored. It was definitely tempting because dishonest people should never be permitted to be the arbiters of what others can and cannot read. But in the end there was an even better solution. This website provokes fear and loathing in the hearts of Soering’s most blinkered disciples, so it was appropriate for the review to be given a place here – where it will be seen by many hundreds, rather than the few dozen who would have seen it on Amazon. Alles gut!
Review of Killing for Love
Pure Propaganda in the Service of a Murderer
Killing for Love is a German-made film about the case of Jens Soering, a German citizen currently held in an American prison, which is artfully designed to manipulate its viewers and provoke righteous indignation among those who know too little of the case. In short, it is pure propaganda.
Before discussing the film itself, some background facts are required because for the most part they are conveniently omitted from the narrative. At the end of March 1985 Soering savagely murdered Derek and Nancy Haysom in their Virginia home. A few months later, fearing the police were closing in, he fled to Europe, where he was joined a day later by his then girlfriend Elizabeth, the Haysoms’ younger daughter (who would in due course plead guilty to being an accessory before the fact). The pair were subsequently arrested in London on fraud charges in 1986.
In the four years between his arrest and eventual extradition to Virginia in 1990, 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;
a German prosecutor from Bonn, Herr Koenig;
his German defence counsel, Dr Andreas Frieser;
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.
He did not claim to be innocent until 1990, five years after committing the murders and four years after his arrest. During that time he manufactured a totally false story in order to plead not guilty at his Virginia trial, and he has maintained those lies since then, as we hear at length in Killing for Love (albeit speaking in German, which was tactically questionable when his main aim must surely have been to influence Americans).
So, in a perfect example of the GIGO principle (garbage in: garbage out), we hear in the film from various people who have swallowed his story completely without ever troubling to check it with the necessary care. When your starting point is fatally flawed, everything resulting from it – the output – will then be garbage.
Quite early on we are treated to the spectacle of Richard Zorn, a former assistant deputy Attorney General for Virginia and friend of Soering’s father, close to breaking down in distress at Soering’s predicament. His emotional incontinence suggests that he may be among the true believers, perhaps as sincere as he is gullible. And yet, and yet… he’s not above misrepresenting the facts:
“The evidence which was suppressed or not provided to the defense would have without question have proved his innocence.”
Really? Then at the very least he needs to say exactly what that evidence was. But he doesn’t, of course. That’s because no evidence was ever suppressed. The only thing that might have been omitted was a putative offender profile created by FBI profiler Ed Sulzbach, which pointed to an innocent local woman with mental health problems. To this day nobody has ever been able to produce it, almost certainly because it never existed in documentary form. In any event, it represented nothing more than a wrong turn at a very early stage in the investigation and would have been of no assistance to Soering. Profiles are not admissible as evidence of innocence or guilt.
And talking of the late Ed Sulzbach, he pops up in the film to assert that after working on the suspect profile, “I settled on her daughter…”, meaning Elizabeth Haysom. Well, he didn’t, and evidence from a draft affidavit at that time is unequivocal. The possible suspect named at the time was the innocent woman mentioned above. Sulzbach was not telling not truth.
We also get to see Tony Buchanan, a crank who came forward for the very first time 26 years later, in 2011, to claim that in 1985, anywhere from two to four months after the murders, a car with dried bloodstains and a bloody hunting knife inside it was towed into his transmission garage after the hunting season; and a further month after that he recognised Elizabeth Haysom from a newspaper photograph as the person accompanying the vehicle’s owner. Given the circumstances you’d think that a vicious murderer might just have taken the elementary steps of bothering to clean the car in that time and dispose of an incriminating knife with blood on it. But apparently not.
Not only is Buchanan’s account inherently implausible, he also claims to have later approached Judge William Sweeney and Major Ricky Gardner with this information, both of whom denied having had any contact with him. Aside from the sheer vagueness of his purported recollection, his credibility was effectively demolished by Nathan Heller in a 2015 article for The New Yorker magazine. But as another useful idiot he’s saying what they want him to say, so he’s there in the film.
Then there’s Chuck Reid, initially one of the lead investigators, but who left the police for a period and had no further involvement in the case. He now says that he “calls it the way it is” and always doubted Soering’s guilt:
“I’ll never forget sitting in my office that day, that Sunday that Ricky and I was interviewing him; in my mind I’m thinking to myself, this boy, there’s no way this little boy could’ve done something like that.”
This is rewriting history on a grand scale, in the style of Soering himself. The problem for Reid is that he has taken part in a number of TV documentaries over the years and changed his story several times. As late as 2011 in On the Case he was still expressing no doubts about the identity of the Haysoms’ murderer, even though by then he had consciously begun the process of attempting to shift a greater share of blame onto Elizabeth Haysom:
“Elizabeth wanted them gone. She found an individual who she could manipulate and use to do her deeds for her…
And unfortunately, Jens, he was just madly in love with a girl he thought that really cared for him. She played him for a fool ’cause she knew that all she had to do was plant a little seed and back off and then pretend, OK, I was just joking about this, but in her own mind knowing he’s gonna do it.”
There was certainly no question in his mind during that interview about who committed the murders.
To bolster his own authority, in Killing for Love Reid also seeks to denigrate his former investigative partner, Ricky Gardner:
“Ricky had just came in so he was basically a rookie; he’d just come in there, and that was his first homicide…”
What he neglects to add is the fact that both he and Gardner became criminal investigators in the same year, so he was certainly in no position at all to cast aspersions about his partner’s level of experience. Since Gardner has gone on to have a distinguished career, becoming deputy sheriff in Bedford County, it’s hard not to suspect a strong element of personal jealousy from Reid, the more so after his two unsuccessful campaigns to be elected as sheriff.
During his own self-serving interview sequences Jens Soering can be seen to make claim after claim that is demonstrably untrue, and never once is he challenged. He speaks at some length and with purported knowledge about the advantageous deal Elizabeth Haysom made with prosecutor Jim Updike to testify against him. As usual, the problem is that he’s lying. No deal was ever made, which is precisely why she remains in prison (in case he hadn’t noticed).
Exactly the same lie is then regurgitated by Soering’s attorney, Steven Rosenfield, just one of three lawyers who all lie for him. Very wisely, Haysom herself declined to participate in the film, after initially agreeing, correctly anticipating the line it was intending to take.
Soering objects to her revelation that for the early months of their relationship he was impotent, and appears to dismiss it. But in fact he didn’t acquire sexual potency until after he had committed the murders, which is in itself a deeply chilling insight, as he admitted to psychiatrist Dr John Hamilton in England:
“He says at that time he became impotent on attempted intercourse which he attributes to extreme anxiety. The couple first had full sexual intercourse on April 15, 1985, the day Elizabeth Haysom’s parents were buried.”
He then says that he only confessed to committing the murders because he believed that he would have some form of diplomatic immunity derived from his father’s position in the German embassy, and would therefore be sent back to Germany. This is more nonsense aimed at the gullible and credulous. He had a year in which to establish his (lack of) diplomatic status but didn’t because he already knew that there was never any possibility of immunity. Equally to the point, it was a claim he never made once during nearly nearly four years of detention in England. Like much else, it surfaced at his trial in Virginia for the very first time, so go figure.
The review could go on and on, but this is not the place for a monograph on the subject. Amazon software appears not to permit hyperlinks in reviews, but much more detail is available on a website dedicated to showing that Jens Soering is, indeed, Guilty as Charged.
To anyone sufficiently well informed about the Haysom murders, the evidence of Jens Soering’s guilt is overwhelming and goes hand in hand with the irrefutable evidence of his lies. Killing for Love is merely a continuation of his dishonest innocence campaign, and amounts to a deeply cynical attempt to exonerate a murderer. It shames everyone who made it and many of those who took part. Needless to say, the film is not recommended.
William Holdsworth – for Amazon.com
10 January 2019