The main subject of this post (and related commentary) is a letter which contains some strong swearing and violent imagery in places. It seems unlikely that the sensibilities of most people coming here are quite so delicate as to require a warning about that, but everyone has the option to go no further and close the page if desired.
Attached below is the long, long letter that Jens Soering wrote to Elizabeth Haysom between 27 December 1984 and 13 January 1985 while they were geographically separated, he in Detroit, she in Lynchburg. In reality it is more like an extended series of letters that he wrote and did not send individually at the time. Given the intensity of feelings expressed, it is interesting to note that they had only been a couple for two or three weeks when he began the letter.
It isn’t by any means the easiest thing to read, although most of it is at least typed, which is a mercy (for a few pages he had to revert to handwriting after his younger brother had commandeered the typewriter). A great deal of the letter is ineffably tedious, revealing a chaotic and disorganised mind. It largely flits between ardent expressions of love and desire, great rancour towards his own parents, and the pseudo-intellectual pretensions of a teenage student. The latter is probably forgiveable because he was not the first, nor will he be the last, to commit such drivel to paper. However, there remain aspects of the letter which are highly significant and show his feelings, thoughts and mental state at the time. We see passion, intensity, insecurity, hostility, and quite sinister aspirations and desires.
The letter formed part of the prosecution evidence at Soering’s 1990 trial in Virginia, and a few, but not all, of the excerpts will already be familiar to close followers of the case. He knew how much of a problem it was for him and therefore seeks to explain what he wrote at some length in Mortal Thoughts between pages 19-30. What he does is to put a gloss on it in an attempt to dismiss it as relatively unimportant:
“When Elizabeth sent me a letter from her parents’ retirement cottage in Lynchburg, I responded with a thirty-four-page single-space typed collection of diary-letters full of loneliness, boredom and gloom.” (page 19.)
“But at the time I wrote the letter, I had merely been trying to life [lift?] my depression by having a little fun. The first few pages were an experiment with a stream-of-consciousness technique, where I scribbled down every thought fragment that entered my mind without organizing or editing anything – the crazier, the better.” (Page 20.)
Whatever he intended, he was no James Joyce. Nevertheless, after this brief literary adventure he says he returned to a more orthodox way of expressing himself:
“The remaining thirty or so pages of my diary-letters contained no further stylistic experiments of this type, but thematically they never strayed far from such insecure navel-gazing.” (Page 20.)
Quite predictably, this is untrue. In fact we see a great deal that he wishes to pass right over. Since he dedicated 11 pages to the letter in Mortal Thoughts he could also have taken the opportunity to quote from it in detail, but didn’t. The reason for that is obvious. By acknowledging the strange and really rather disturbing letter, and then trying to make it sound innocuous, he must have hoped that people would accept his explanation at face value and not look any deeper into the subject. As is so often the case, he was greatly mistaken.
One persistent myth can be dispelled immediately. The belief still exists in some quarters that Jens Soering was somehow manipulated by Elizabeth Haysom into killing her parents. That view is unsustainable. No doubt she initially “lit the fuse”, as Major Ricky Gardner put it in an interview some years ago, but Soering then added a heap of gunpowder. To put it another way, she lit a fire and he threw gasoline all over it. What we see in abundance is that from a very early stage he was actively engaged in homicidal thoughts of his own and nobody’s dupe in the matter. On the contrary, his eagerness is all too apparent.
It has never been disputed that Haysom’s letters contain incriminating thoughts and aspirations, and these have been recycled endlessly by the Soering team’s propaganda blizzard. In principle that is unobjectionable because she certainly did write incriminating passages, the difference being that she acknowledged hers a long time ago and accepted full responsibility for them. However, those same people have been conspicuously muted when it comes to very clear evidence of Soering’s own incriminating thoughts and aspirations, which is where the major problem arises. It amply demonstrates the dishonesty of Chip Harding’s simpering claim that “we’re just looking for justice.” Justice is the last thing that he or any of them seek.
Soering’s letter is now there for everyone to see, the only exception being page 11. Whether that page was lost long ago or simply missed out during the scanning process is unknown. Whatever happened, it is not in my possession and never has been, unfortunately. There is no secret plan to conceal it.
[Update, 22 June 2019
“Ask, and it shall be given you…”
Happily, a copy of page 11 has now materialised. I have therefore added it to the PDF file at the bottom of the page, making the letter complete. Very many thanks to the provider.
Page 11 is rather interesting in itself, so I have quoted from it in a couple of places and added further commentary below, also in this light blue font so that it can be more easily found.]
The easiest thing to do would be to stop at this point and allow people to get on and read the letter for themselves, and everyone has that choice, of course. However, given the long and tedious nature of his ramblings, it seemed better to set out and highlight a selection of the most relevant parts together with commentary, which is what I’ve done.
What follows is not in strict chronological order. Rather, for ease of reading, and in the hope of a more coherent structure, the commentary is arranged thematically, although the themes do tend to overlap somewhat – to bleed into one another, you could say. While the excerpts inevitably dart around between days and pages, nothing has been ripped out of context. That technique can safely be left to Jens Soering and his supporters.
Spelling and punctuation remain as originally written.
The themes are:
1. Personality, doubts, self-assessment;
2. Family problems and resentments;
3. Thoughts of violence and killing – “crushing”;
4. Sexual failure and bizarre sexual fantasies.
1. Personality, doubts, self-assessment
In Mortal Thoughts Soering is keen to impress readers with the status of his school, while extravagant in his self-praise:
“…my brother and I attended a prestigious private school.” (Page 18.)
“The Soering family’s boy-genius scholarship winner had returned from his first semester at university.” (Page 19.)
That’s for the consumption of his gullible fans, or perhaps he’s also convinced himself. Yet privately his appraisal was much more honest and realistic:
“Anyway, and I’m not. Perfect, that is. I was ranked 5th in a mediocre school with mediocre people – and that some of the people ahead of me had photographic memories or studied exclusively is no excuse. Jacob was a genius, I’m nothing like that. I produced no decent art, I can’t even finish a bad movie, I can’t do anything athletic. The only thing people ever see is “potential”…” (Letter, page 4.)
There he was telling the truth. Elizabeth Haysom, by contrast, attended Wycombe Abbey School, academically one of the best – and toughest – girls’ schools in the world, which routinely outperforms its better-known English counterparts for boys, such as Eton, Harrow and Winchester. Anyone failing to measure up is politely asked to leave at the end of term. Soering attended Lovett, a private school with pretensions, as described by author Ken Englade after researching both establishments:
“Physically, Lovett School is not a lot different from Wycombe Abbey, at least in the sense that both campuses are composed of attractive buildings surrounded by pleasant grounds…
Intellectually, there is little room for comparison. Wycombe Abbey girls, for the most part, go off to Cambridge and Oxford, while Lovett grads are more likely to go to the University of Georgia. This is a bit of a sore spot for Lovett enthusiasts, who like to think of the institution as a first-rank prep school…
Despite the efforts of successive headmasters, however, Lovett, at least up until the time Jens graduated in 1984, had never achieved the academic recognition of most of Atlanta’s other private schools. Even some of those whose children went there snigger quietly about the school’s affectations…”
Beyond Reason (pages 103-4). St. Martin’s Press, 1990. Kindle Edition.
Soering continued his frank self-assessment:
“… All I can do is bullshit, which is basically lying, and apparently I lie so naturally and so well by now that I’ve even got Elizabeth believing I’m worth while, but I’m not, because I can show nothing! I’m even fucked up inside, and really fucked up, too. Look at this I’m writing – I’m a fucking schizo! They used to lock people like me up or burn me at the stake… wait that’s bullshit again, ’cause they only killed or locked up the ones that were actually dangerous. I’m so hopeless, I qualify as the village idiot at best; or worse, Joe Blow Average, a stout and mediocre follower of a Hitler…” (Page 4.)
“My paranoid, schizophrenic, fearful, sick side…” (Page 7.)
“Not only do I have a talent for fucking up relationships but I am also limited. I suppose everyone is, but practically speaking I am, of course, referring to a comparative limitedness vis à vis you, my most cherished fellow traveller.” (Page 8.)
“And what is not to be forgotten – I am, at best, quite ordinary, after all.” (Page 11.)
“About this love bit. You realize that I am not quite well adjusted. Having problems with oneself always makes it difficult to love others, psychology texts tell me. At least this is the case with me.” (Page 19.)
“I’m trying to “get” something (your love) which, by all rights, I shouldn’t (because I’m a fucked-up schizo).” (Page 34.)
OK, so paranoid, fearful, sick, a fucked-up schizo. There’s the starting point, in his own words.
2. Family Problems and Resentments
Soering says in Mortal Thoughts that, although his parents had problems, he took a rather benign view and found it difficult to be angry with them:
“Many of my friends were in open conflict with their parents because of similar family problems. But I always remained aware of the sacrifices my mother and father had made to raise my brother and me properly. They had given us everything we had wanted, and more! Every angry argument was, in fact, a reminder that my parents stayed married primarily “for the sake of the children.” So, unlike my friends, I found it difficult to be angry at my parents. Instead I felt torn and unhappy – and guilty.” (MT, page 19.)
This is once again trying to rewrite the record for public consumption, and it’s just not true:
“My parents – God, I despise them, and I let them know it in subtle ways so they can’t confront me with it, too. My mother is in deep mental anguish, and do I help her? No! Because it’s “all too much” for poor, little Jens, you shithead you…” (Letter, page 5.)
“My last ties to my father are broken. He is worse than he used to be and he is losing his last redeeming quality, his precision in technical matters. He knows nothing about me, we have nothing to talk about, he trusts no one, is loved by no one, yet thinks he is loved… He actually thinks his wife and younger son love him, the poor fool (he’s finally realized that he has no relationship with me but still thinks we had one. We did not, not for ages.). I pity him immensely. He has nothing, and you know what? A part of him knows it. He will die soon. It’s on his face. He looks about ready to have a heart attack.” (Page 31.)
It is impossible to say whether what he wrote was entirely fair, but when speaking to Dr John Hamilton in 1986 he described his relationship with his father as “distant”, saying that he “frequently felt humiliated by his father’s outbursts of anger at him.” He refers to these outbursts in the letter:
“I am sorry, as usual. This, too, this constant “I’m sorry” comes from my background, in particular a father who always found outbursts to such an extent that “pre-emptive guilt reflexes” (my own word creation) occur constantly. No excuse, I know.” (Page 32.)
Soering also described a confrontation he had with his parents, and their concern that he was something of a “weirdo”:
“On top of all this inconclusive introspection my parents pulled me into the living room today (yesterday), pinned me in a corner, and attacked me about what I wanted to do with myself. Mostly about my having been a “weirdo” (their term) at Lovett, and in their opinion possibly understandably so because I was more intelligent, and now, finding myself surrounded by equally intelligent Echols Scholars, trying to become a “weirdo” even there, this time by unjustifiable means (i.e. the pink high-tops I’ve been joking around about – their only example, by the way). And how I was not doing the things expected of me as a Jefferson Scholar, i.e. meeting future business partners and being conservative all the time, having supposedly given up my private life because of the scholarship. Their attack was fierce, and I fought them back bravely, winning on every point (why so militaristic, Jens? The situation seemed to be). But I had to leave immediately after those gruelingly intense 45 minutes because I felt drained and as silly as it sounds, raped. I had to justify mostly instinctive behaviour and thought patterns of mine in terms they could understand (i.e., how my “weirdness” was an assett for future business-partners, how I was making connections, and I had to do so for what seemed an eternity in a hostile environment w/people I did not wish to discuss myself with and who could not possibly understand me if I did (as proved, for example, by their attitude towards the conversation and me – “I know how to handle you – I provoke you until you open yourself, I know you better than anyone” – I feed you easy lines – lies to satisfy you and get you off my back, mother. You know me in some ways, but of this, for example, you have not an inkling, and if you did, you would not approve. I see my future not exclusively in economic terms, and it is this very economic security, or its lack, that has kept you tied to a man you, at best, cannot stand for over 10 years and until your mother dies! And if you won’t understand, we all know my John-Birch-Society / Adolf-Hitler-Fan-Club father won’t…” (Pages 23-24, handwritten.)
We don’t know for sure whether Klaus Soering really was a fan of Adolf Hitler, but without question he did not create a good impression when giving evidence at his son’s trial in 1990, appearing authoritarian in manner and disdainful of everyone involved. Even so, that must have been an exceptionally difficult period for the family, and finding the money for Jens’s ridiculous defence can only have been a considerable financial strain. Whatever his failings as a father, Klaus Soering supported his son to the best of his ability at that time, even though he cannot have been in any doubt at all about the truth of the matter.
There is also another letter of some interest, as yet unpublished, which should be mentioned in fairness. It became Commonwealth’s exhibit #350, and was written on 18/19 May 1986 while Soering was still being held on fraud charges at H.M. Remand Centre, Ashford, Middlesex, although he was not aware at that point that the police were quietly making enquiries about the Haysom murders too. On this occasion the letter was not written to Elizabeth Haysom, but instead to a perceptive fellow prisoner with whom he had shared a cell for a week, and clearly they had formed an extremely strong bond in that short time. That other person’s identity is known, but naming him would serve no purpose. Soering writes about the letter in Mortal Thoughts:
“One of my cell mates listened more attentively and with more understanding than the others. As I recall he did not express his opinions on my relationship with Liz but simply asked some pointed questions…
The more questions this cell mate asked, the longer I took to answer. And his questions did not leave me when he was transferred a few days later for a court appearance. Without him to guide my examination of the relationship with Elizabeth I fell back on the same tools I always used when I wanted to work on a problem: pen and paper. As a gesture of spiritual gratitude I even addressed my diary-letter to my cell mate, although I did not want him or anyone else to read it and had no way of sending it to him even if I did.” (MT, pages 132-3.)
The assertion that he had no way of sending it is a little strange because the handwritten letter has all the necessary written details at the top for it to be sent and is signed at the end.
But what’s so unusual about this letter is that here, in places, Soering shows an ability to look deeper within himself and reflect seriously on his upbringing, his parents, family problems, his mother’s unhappy childhood after she lost her own father, and so on. That part of Jens Soering, if it could ever be reached now, is thoughtful, intelligent and has real insight, but the overwhelming likelihood is that it was just a fleeting glimpse of qualities which went missing many years ago, now well beyond hope of rediscovery. He has since chosen relentless lies and dishonesty as his modus vivendi. Nevertheless, the tone about his mother, specifically, is much more conciliatory after not having seen her for seven months, and that is probably justified. There is a well-informed view that Jens was his mother’s favourite, and his appalling actions must have broken her heart.
“Anyway, what Elizabeth and I provided for one another was someone who would make us feel un-alone, smothered by “complete love” and smothering the other in return. Perhaps Elizabeth needed this love because she was never loved; I needed it because I lived in fear of losing the smothering love I had always received from my mother, who had made me the center of her life, ahead of herself, as Elizabeth and I had later done for each other.” (Page 2.)
“One last story: my mother’s. Her father was killed in the war when she was 9 or 10. She grew up with an uncaring mother and grandmother in harsh times, and since she was not very pretty, she did not experience much love. By their own admission my parents married because my father felt lonely at his first diplomatic posting in Africa and needed a maid. When my brother and I were born, we instantly became the absolute centres of her life and were smothered by her “complete love” for which no sacrifice was too great. For the sake of the children she has now spent over 20 alcoholic years with a man who makes her miserable. She lied to herself and her family by denying the separateness-axiom and always putting the children’s happiness before her own. The result was extreme unhappiness for everyone. Besides making herself and her family unhappy, both children are emotionally disturbed due to the emotionally very violent atmosphere they were raised in and the guilt they feel for “causing” the misery. Also, at least one of those children has fucked up badly because he grew dependent on the illusion of “complete” non-separate love, afraid of losing it, afraid of being alone.” (Pages 4-5.)
“You said that I have never given, only taken. I think I know what you meant. With Giles, for example, I could have given, I could have been a friend, but I made my love conditional upon being the centre of his life, of erasing our separateness. With Elizabeth this was no problem because we had a silent agreement to make each other the centres of our lives; however, Giles obviously realised that this non-separateness was an impossible lie.” (Page 8.)
“Elizabeth and I are perfect examples of exactly how destructive two people can be to each other and still pretend that they are “in love” in a non-separate way. My relationship with Claudia ended because with her, too, I demanded to be smothered in love, to be non-separate. Anything “less” was not enough. I never gave – I was offered friendship and love but demanded “more” – the lie of non-separateness.” (Page 8.)
3. Thoughts of Violence and Killing – “Crushing”
There are numerous passages in his letter revealing Soering’s active thoughts of violence during this early period, and there is no doubt about the people to whom they were directed. Beginning on page 6, he writes a form of dialogue with himself, alternating between his conscious and sub-conscious self:
“(Tell Elizabeth; I don’t want her further involved with this.)
Yeah, neither do I. It’s going to hurt a hell of a lot, though.
(Especially if she doesn’t take a hint and continues to hang around a psycho like you…)
Yeah. For her and me.
(You know, that certain “instrument” for a certain “operation” on somebody’s relatives?)
(Use it on yourself.)
What was the certain “instrument” and what was the certain “operation”? Given the context in which he was writing, it doesn’t take a genius to work that out:
“By the way, were I to meet your parents, I have the ultimate “weapon.” Strange things are happening within me. I’m turning more and more into a Christ-figure (a small imitation, anyway), I think. I believe I would either make them completely lose their wits, get heart-attacks, or they would become lovers (in an agape kind of way) of the rest of the world.” (Page 8.)
“…love is a form of meditation. And the ultimate “weapon” “against” your parents. My God, how I’ve got the dinner scene planned out.” (Page 10.)
Soering was seen in the Killing for Love film being challenged by Commonwealth’s Attorney Updike about these passages. On that occasion he had an easy escape route and used it. When viewed in their proper context those statements undeniably refer to “love” as being the ultimate weapon. However, it would also be absurd to ignore the thoughts of death and killing that were already there in his mind.
And let us not forget that the Haysoms did indeed die at “the dinner scene.”
On page 11 Soering appears to contemplate the delusional possibility that he may have, or may acquire, special powers, the effects of which could result in the death of Derek Haysom. Alternatively, those powers might provoke Mr Haysom into giving Soering all his money (getting hold of other people’s property was a thought he would return to):
“For what I do see inside me is just that, Liz, that “that which there can be no greater than” as Anselm said. I see it in me and in others. And in those “color experiences” I keep having. But I don’t see it clearly, and I want to. This that carries with it some powers. Depending on his mental and emotional flexibility, your father, for example, could quite well die from a confrontation with it, if he is too entrenched in hate and/or SRAPON (same thing in many cases), or he could do something silly like trying to give me all his dough. I’m not overestimating, I think.”
“What scares me is that along the way I will learn things which, independently of some kind of supra-sensual/”supernatural” love-factor, will be quite dangerous (I am not afraid of the learning but what I’ll do with it). I am absolutely convinced that the combination of hypnosis and neurolinguistic programming, for example, now being experimented with is, along with modern subliminal suggestion techniques, one of the most powerful “things” invented by man…”
He later goes on to consider the fact that there had been burglaries in the area of the Haysoms’ home, which might conceivably foreshadow the possibility of another one – for the “unfortunate owners”:
“To your actual letter: the fact that there have been many burglaries in the area opens the possibility for another one with the same general circumstances, only this time the unfortunate owners… By the way, “yes”, “voodoo”, etc., is possible. In a real sense, we are the victims. I’ll explain in person.” (Page 19.)
Soering also had thoughts of depriving people of their property, including Derek Haysom:
“I can see myself depriving people of their property quite easily – your dad, for instance. Even more easily can I see myself depriving many souls (if they exist) of their physical bodies (which might not exist, either) in the course of fulfilling my many, many excessively bizarre sexual fantasies…” (Page 12.)
We’ll come on to the sexual fantasies shortly. Arguably the most sinister passages in the letter relate to his stated need to “crush” people, an image he took from George Orwell’s 1984:
“I’ve felt this, I’m feeling it now inside me, this need to plant one’s foot in somebody’s face, to always crush (thank you, Orwell, for that metaphor you borrowed)… I have not yet explored the side of me that wishes to crush to any real extent – I have yet to kill, possibly the ultimate act of crushing, with the possible exception of sex, which, all of Freud’s detractors to the contrary, I feel is somehow centrally connected with this death side…” (Page 29.)
“I need to find a way of crushing I like or, much better, find a way to celebrate and live the other side of me and support my physical being as a by-product and have that support be constant…” (Page 30.)
He needed to find a way of “crushing”, though he had “yet to kill.” At that point in time it was then less than three months before he would go on to do precisely that with horrendous brutality. And now this man demands a pardon from the Governor.
4. Sexual Failure and Bizarre Sexual Fantasies
The issues of Jens Soering’s sexual impotence and violent fantasies have already been looked at here in the post entitled Mortal Thoughts, part II: Mental Health and Sexual Failure. Now there is more to add.
Just to be absolutely clear, this is not about prurient curiosity relating to the couple’s private sexual activities. Much more pertinently, it is about Soering’s willingness to lie about anything and everything when it suits his convenience, and that should always be exposed for what it is.
To recap briefly, Elizabeth Haysom said when giving evidence that Soering had been sexually impotent for the first four months of their relationship, unable to have sexual intercourse until after he had murdered her parents (itself a deeply chilling insight into his psyche). In Mortal Thoughts he tells a different story:
“It took Liz four hard days of persuading until we finally ended up in the same bed. Naturally it was a complete disaster. The second time things worked, but only just. Two weeks later I was enjoying myself so much that I failed my psychobiology exam…” (Page 12.)
Further accounts of imaginary sexual prowess are to be found at pages 51-57.
Soering had admitted the truth to Dr John Hamilton in London, and it was also to be found in his letter, addressing himself once again:
“Yeah, I remember… don’t interrupt… Anyway that’s why I desire but can’t take steps to consumate because (a) before I do she’ll leave me and I’ll be in even more of a pile of shit than if I “just” desire her and (b) “consumating” has a special definition with me which implies lots of successful and continued action, something I have at best “potential” for, and both you (the parentheses) and I know what bullshit “potential” (sarcastic arf) is. You see? For fuck’s sake, I love her, but there’s this wall of my bullshit between us that she doesn’t see… I mean, does she realise how mean I can be or am?” (Page 5.)
Unsurprisingly, his inability to consummate the relationship bothered him a great deal, and that failure was a subject he returned to repeatedly:
“So I will probably fail elsewhere. Sexually, perhaps; I caught 5 minutes of Dr. Ruth Westheimer on TV alone at home earlier tonight (New Year’s Eve – everyone else was at parties – no I don’t want pity. They were back by 12:00, or 0:00 – oh boy!). The last caller of the program (and the only one I heard) could not orgasm during intercourse with his wife, though she could. Dr. Ruth asked him whether the equipment was functional during masturbation, and he answered in the affirmative; so far I felt deep empathy for this man. It was just in bed with his girl that things ended “inconclusively,” shall we say. Dr. Ruth told him to find himself a sexologist, this was a problem easily corrected. I hope so, because though I probably won’t be able to find a sexologist (whatever that is) in C-ville, …” (Page 15.)
Dr Ruth Westheimer (usually known as “Dr Ruth”) was a diminutive woman of mature years who often appeared on American TV in the 1980s to give advice about sexual problems. She spoke English with a very strong German accent, and her great selling point, presumably, was the juxtaposition of her age and the unexpected frankness with which she spoke about topics like orgasms and masturbation.
“Incidentally, I love you. I wish I had you here, and certainly not just because that would have provided an infinitely more attractive alternative to masturbation, Dr. Ruth’s confirmation of any probably SRAPONized (i.e. self-induced by what Joann referred to as my “painfully intricate, like a huge clockwork” mind) sexual dysfunction (why dys?) to the contrary (yes, reread this sentence; it’s not even clear to me.).
God, my writing is obscure tonight. Mental retardation was believed to be on of the results of masturbation in the Middle Ages, wasn’t it? I wonder…” (Page 16.)
Note: The acronym “SRAPON” (and its manufactured cognate, “SRAPONized”), seen above, was Soering’s own creation, as he explained in the letter, and stands for “Self-Reflexive Analysis and Perpetuation Of Neurosis.”
“About this love bit. You realize that I am not quite well adjusted. Having problems with oneself always makes it difficult to love others, psychology textbooks tell me. At least this is the case with me… All I know is that I find myself loving you more and more and more the longer I feel loved by you. I don’t even know where I’m taking this paragraph; I just love you. Especially after your letter. You give wonderful letter (ha, ha). Should I be redundant and expand on the “wonderful” as related to the rest of you? I’ll spare us the tautologies – I hope to express my love for you in some kind of appropriate fashion some day. Here again, Alan Watts later.” (Page 19.)
Soering was also greatly displeased at Elizabeth Haysom’s revelations – which we now know to have been entirely accurate – about his taste for violent fantasies, including thoughts and hopes of inflicting sexual torture.
As part of the psychiatric report of 2 October 1987, following his and his team’s assessment of Haysom, psychiatrist Dr Robert Showalter records her as saying –
“Mr. Soering began “getting into violence as a way of life”…. Mr. Soering tried to make this attitude a part of her as well, his fantasy being that she “would enjoy killing people too and that [they] could go out in the world together.” She recalled that it was “very frightening…. very upsetting, pathetic” to watch Mr. Soering moving in this direction.
During this time (traveling all over Europe), Mr. Soering “really got into this idea of torturing and killing people,” and “wanted to do something to his grandmother.” Furthermore, he was “becoming more adamant and more graphic in his fantasies and angry (at her) for not participating in them.” Ms. Haysom reported that Mr. Soering also wanted “to torture women… particularly very pretty, pouting sort of sex kitten type creatures” with his favorite fantasy being that he would take a soldering iron to them.”
Soering directly addresses those accusations in Mortal Thoughts and attempts to dismiss them, at first sight appearing to reject her claims that –
“… I also could not become sexually aroused without hard-core sadistic pornography, and I fantasized about stocking a basement with torture equipment so I could maltreat Elizabeth with a soldering iron…” (Page 24.)
In fact careful reading of that passage, as well as the long paragraph in which it is contained, shows that he never specifically denies the allegations.
But he also seeks to turn the tables and throw the accusations back at her:
“Sexual violence was the dominant theme of Elizabeth’s imagination.”
Here he has an enormous problem, that being a total lack of evidence. There are certainly sexually explicit passages in Elizabeth Haysom’s letters to him, and Soering quotes from them gleefully at pages 34-37, but in doing so he shoots himself in the foot. If sexual violence was the dominant theme of her imagination then we could at least expect to find hints of that in her writing, couldn’t we? There are none.
On the other hand, we can see all too clearly the thoughts that were actively lurking in his mind:
“I don’t know whether I can resist this. I can see myself depriving people of their property quite easily – your dad, for instance. Even more easily can I see myself depriving many souls (if they exist) of their physical bodies (which might not exist, either) in the course of fulfilling my many, many excessively bizarre sexual fantasies (caused by, I believe, one thirteen year old girl striking me once quite viciously with her riding crop from atop a horse in a German summer camp when I was about to turn ten – immediately before coming to America, that is. Fascinating SRAPON – it’s so tempting to SRAPONize! I’m doing it now, though I find it excusable here (at least this part)! The ultimate SRAPON would be, of course, to fulfill those fantasies.). Anyway, it’s not like this hasn’t been done before – it’s been going on for thousands of years.” (Letter, page 12.)
“The practical thing is, of course, to find peace for and within me, not at all an unreasonable goal – almost easy. But then what? Buy myself an island and get my kicks from indulging in my excessively bizarre sexual fantasies? Marrying some completely anaesthetized or inherently unconscious bimbo and spend the rest of my life in some form of suburban purgatory, be it Buckhead-Atlanta, Grosse Pointe-Detroit, the German Foreign Service (just as secure) or some such non-sense?” (Page 18.)
“I am beginning to see why [Ernest] Hemingway liked wars – they take you mind off shit like this – Indulging in the purely physical… leads to my excessively bizarre sexual fantasies. And on that utterly and maybe appropriately sordid note I am
Jens” (Page 25.)
So there we have it: Q.E.D. We know who has lied in virtually every respect, and who has mostly told the truth.
In his letter of 18/19 May 1986 to his former cell-mate, Jens Soering set out a list of things he intended to reflect on. Point 8 is this:
“Look for the truth, not for what you think you would like the truth to be.” (Page 11.)
He was absolutely right, and we continue to wait for him to act upon his own injunction.
Finally, if any of his devoted fans are hoping for a hot date one day in the future – well, just get ready to run when the soldering iron comes out.
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Jens Soering letter, Dec-Jan 1984-85 (complete)