Killing for Love and the Doctored Audiotapes, Part 2

This post is a return to Killing for Love for further examination of the way in which audio recordings from the 1986 police interviews in London were dishonestly manipulated.

Part 1 showed how sections of Jens Soering’s interviews were, variously, cut, distorted and reconstituted – that is, doctored – so as to misrepresent what was said by Soering and the investigating officers. This part 2 will look at a section played a little earlier in the film but which actually took place a couple of days later, notwithstanding the screen caption showing a date of 5 June.

In brief, what happened during the interviews is that Soering began confessing on the first day, 5 June, and then continued each day until his most detailed confession on 8 June, that final interview concluding at 9.42pm. By contrast, Elizabeth Haysom, with solicitor Keith Barker previously at her side, had been largely unwilling to co-operate with investigators in any meaningful way up to that point. But by the Sunday evening of 8 June she knew the game was over where Jens was concerned, as she acknowledged back in Virginia during her 1987 sentencing hearing:

Haysom: “Sergeant Beever confronted me in the cell with Jens’s statement. He was very careful to tell me a couple of details about Jens’s statement. My response was one of anger that Jens had let me down – while I was continuing to cover up for him.”

So, going back to the claim Amanda Knox was keen to advance, and contrary to the fact of the matter, in so far as there was any kind of “betrayal” it was unquestionably perpetrated by Jens Soering. He implicated Elizabeth Haysom from the beginning, thus making the assertion that he ever tried to protect her wholly preposterous – just one more self-serving lie. By misrepresenting the section of her interview to indicate that it took place on 5 June, the film-makers can only have been trying to send the message that her eventual confession preceded his, and it absolutely did not.

The point was also made by Judge William Sweeney on 4 June 1990 when giving his reserved decision on a pre-trial issue:

Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law on Motion to Suppress Statements of the Accused:

“… Additionally, [Soering’s] concerns for Elizabeth Haysom at the time seem strange since he freely implicated her in his early statements to police.”


The interview with Elizabeth began at 11.15pm on 8 June. On that occasion only Scotland Yard detectives Terry Wright and Ken Beever were in the room with her; Investigator Ricky Gardner was not present. This is the short interview sequence exactly as it plays in the film at around 35 minutes:

Screen caption: 5 June 1986

Beever: “Tell me the truth, Elizabeth. You knew that morning that he was going for a confrontation with your parents.”

Haysom: “I did not know that.”

Beever: “And your parents were probably going to die as a result of that confrontation. You knew he was going to do it, didn’t you? Did you?

Haysom: “I did it myself.”

Beever: “Don’t be silly.”

Haysom: “I got off on it.”

Beever: “Tell me the truth and look me in the face. You knew it was going to happen, and you were creating the alibi whilst he was committing the crime.”

The intention there was to highlight what Soering and his team love to claim was Elizabeth Haysom’s “confession.” She did indeed confess, but that was no part of it, as the detectives recognised. At that stage they had spent more than 13 hours talking to Soering and had a detailed knowledge of how the murders occurred, his long account being very substantially consistent with evidence from the crime scene.

Elements of the short sequence above have once again been doctored, just like those from Soering’s interviews. But in addition, the questions and answers have been ripped from their context in order to give the desired false impression.

That interview was to be Elizabeth’s final session (although she then called the detectives back for a quick 13-minute supplement at 2.00am), and lasted for an hour and 25 minutes, ending at 12.40am.

What happened in reality was that she continued for some while to deny knowing in advance what might happen, and her role in the plan. The earlier parts of the interview cover topics such as the cinema tickets, the hotel stay and Visa card, and conversations Elizabeth had had with her friend Christine Kim, none of which have any relevance to the doctored audio.

Wright and Beever took her through the events, slowly breaking down her story as the interview progressed, and chipped away at aspects which were inconsistent or implausible. Many parts of her account they accepted as essentially true, but some they did not. Ken Beever’s focus, in particular, was to be on persuading her to admit her own involvement.

It’s necessary to read the sequence of questions and answers as they happened to understand the context and to see how the film-makers have taken only carefully selected parts of the questions and then doctored them, while completely omitting others:

Wright: “And certainly it’s around fourteen months or thereabouts since that actual terrible weekend, as it were, obviously you and Jens had talked about this since.”

Haysom: “Yes … I said that when he starts to talk about it, and I mean on a couple of occasions I told you, that’s what you want to know.”

Wright: “That’s what I’m asking. I want to know what, whether or not, what he has said, if he did kill them.”

Haysom: “Well, I can tell you some of the things he said that…”

Wright: “But you don’t feel happy about talking about it.”

Haysom: “Well, no, I tell you … ah … but I don’t know very much myself because I couldn’t stomach it. I mean, it was hard enough to walk around, and sit in classes, and sleep in the same bed, and say to myself, that person over there that you’re spending your life with, he killed your parents. Sitting in the kitchen and thinking, “Christine, I said do you realise you just baked a cake for a murderer?” It …“

Beever: “You said that in words to Christine?

Haysom: “No, I didn’t. I was thinking those words.”

Wright: “Did he tell you some of the things that he had done?

Haysom: “OK. He … one of the first things he said was, “My God, your father put up, you know, a horrible struggle,” and then he said that Dad had said, “My God, what do you think you are doing?” He said that he killed my mother first. That they had been talking to … like forty minutes and then he stood up and slit her throat.”

Wright: “Did he tell you what room they were in?

Haysom: “He said they were in the dining room. He [pause] said that … I think he said that my mother got up with her throat slit and started walking out of the dining room and he was struggling with my father. I believe he lost control of the knife and I think he lost his glasses in the fight. And he said to me that my father was very strong and that … that he just … he said over and over again, “He just wouldn’t lie down and die” basically … I know he said that … I don’t know what happened about my father but then he went back to my mother, and I don’t know if she was standing up or what was going on, but he went and stabbed her again because he thought that … I don’t know what he thought … and then I suppose he came back to my father. He said that my father was struggling right to the very end and calling out and had enormous strength. And I don’t know any other details.”

One of the notable things about that passage there is how closely, in outline, it matches Soering’s own later confession to the German public prosecutor. The interview continued:

Beever: “He told you how many times he struck your father?

Haysom: “No, he didn’t. He just told me it’d not been very nice and when he told me how bad it was, I … I mean … I … I didn’t know what to say to him, you know. And he kept saying to me, well, they just wouldn’t lie down and die.”

Beever: “And you stayed with him after hearing all that?

Haysom: [Long pause] “I was very scared.”

Beever: “Were you scared or did you know it was going to happen anyway?

Haysom: “Beg your pardon?

Beever: “Did you know it was going to happen anyway?

Haysom: “What, the murder of my parents?

Beever: “Yes.”

Haysom: “No.”

Beever: “Not when … he goes and buys a butterfly knife that morning?

Haysom: “No, I mean … it never crossed my mind he was going off to murder my parents.”

That answer was untrue and Beever clearly suspected as much. It was well after midnight by then, and he began to push a little harder:

Beever: “Let’s .. let’s look at it this way. Let’s make a start with ah … number one point. When is his brother’s birthday?

Haysom: “I have no idea.”

Beever: “Ah … didn’t it cross your mind … Let’s take the buying of the two cinema tickets, the first cinema you went to … What crossed your mind when he asked you to buy two tickets for that cinema … knowing that he was away, as you say, seeing his friends? You didn’t expect to see him that afternoon did you? Most certainly not at two-thirty in the afternoon.”

Haysom: “I didn’t question him at all. I was getting out of the car. I was going into the cinema. He said, “Buy a couple of tickets”.”

Beever: “But it just doesn’t make sense to me.”

Haysom: “Well…”

Beever: “You bought two tickets for a cinema. You come out of that cinema. You go to another cinema that he didn’t know you were going to. He was still away with his friends for the day, as you say, and you buy two tickets for another cinema. You go back to your hotel. He’s still not returned. And to me, you waste money buying two meals on his Visa card. Did you sign for those, that card?

Haysom: “Yes, I’ve already said that.”

Beever: “You forged his signature. I’m not worried about forging signatures. You know what I’m getting at, don’t you, eh? You knew what was going to happen. I suggest to you, Elizabeth, you knew what you were doing all day, didn’t you? [Pause] You did, didn’t you?

Haysom: “No, I did not.”

Beever: “You were creating an alibi.”

Haysom: “That is not true.”

Beever: “Why isn’t it true?

Haysom: “Because that’s not an alibi that sticks. That’s not an alibi at all. You know that, I know that. It’s nothing. So you said you went to the movie. Yeah. You bought two tickets. Wow. Yeah. Nobody believes that.

Beever: “So why did you buy two tickets then?

Haysom: “I don’t know; he asked me to.”

Beever: “Why did you buy two meals when he wasn’t there?

Haysom: “I was expecting him to walk in the door.

Now as played in the film:

Beever: “Tell me the truth, Elizabeth. You knew that morning that he was going for a confrontation with your parents.”

The actual question asked:

Beever: “You wasn’t expecting him to walk in and see “Witness” with you. You weren’t expecting that. I caught you out on that one, earlier on. Now, what’s going on? You knew when he bought the knife that morning, you knew in buying those tickets, that he was going for a confrontation with your parents.

Haysom: “I did not know that.”

That answer is the one she gave, played accurately there.


Beever: “And your parents were probably going to die as a result of that confrontation. You knew he was going to do it, didn’t you? Did you?

The actual question asked:

Beever: “And your parents were probably going to die as a result of that confrontation. You knew that, Elizabeth.”

The film then leaves out Haysom’s real response, shown immediately below, and substitutes another one, which came a little later. The following dialogue was cut out completely:

Haysom: “I did not.”

Beever: “After writing all those letters to him.”

Haysom: “Look, I have enough guilt about egging him on, so to speak, with those wretched letters.”

Beever: “You egged him on, all right. Not only with the letters. You egged him on in private, didn’t you, Elizabeth? You knew it was going to happen, and you were creating the alibi while he was committing the crime. That’s true, isn’t it? Tell me the truth, Elizabeth. [Pause] Are you going to answer me? [Pause] Well, are you going to answer me? You’ve written letters to him, willing your parents to death, you’ve led the poor lad to it most probably, or are you both as guilty as each other?

Beever was continuing to push her there, applying verbal pressure. His use of the phrase “poor lad” was intended as a provocation and it worked very well. Haysom became angry and her following answers reflected that anger:

Haysom: “All right, I led him into it. I did everything.”

Beever: “You knew he was going to do it, didn’t you? Did you?

The genuine question asked there at that point was played in the film as the second part of a different question, asked earlier, and shown above.

The following exchange then occurred while Haysom was still angry, as Beever knew, and he treated it in that light:

Haysom: “I did it myself.”

Beever: “Don’t be silly.”

Haysom: “I got off on it.

Beever: “You did what? What does that mean?

Haysom: “I was being facetious.”

The film-makers omit her statement that she was being facetious because, as ever, it spoils the dishonest narrative they wish to present.

Beever: “OK then. Now tell me the truth, please, without being facetious. You did hate your parents.

Haysom: “I did not hate my parents.”

As then played in the film:

Beever: “Tell me the truth and look me in the face. You knew it was going to happen, and you were creating the alibi whilst he was committing the crime.”

That is not what Beever said. In fact the first part has been lifted directly from the interview with Jens Soering two days earlier on 6 June:

Soering: “Yes. That I was afraid of the death penalty in America, yes.”

Beever: “In doing so and almost in the same context you said to me, “I murdered them two.” Now, I’m putting that to you in front of my two colleagues here, you said that to me, didn’t you? Tell me the truth and look me in the face, please.”

The actual question asked:

Beever: “So why did you allow him to do that to your parents, then? And why did you create the alibi knowing that it was going to happen? Come on, answer me, just give me an answer. [Long pause] If you think I’m going to be stupid enough to believe that “Oh, just buy two tickets, so I bought two tickets”, then you bought two tickets at a cinema that he didn’t know you was at, the “Witness” one … the “Witness” film, two meals inside a hotel room when nobody could see you but eventual proof on a Visa card that two meals were purchased and you forged his signature, what do you want me to believe? And an alleged birthday present of a butterfly knife that morning? Come on, now are you going to tell me the truth or not? Well, are you? I can’t sit here all night, not getting an answer.”

Haysom: “Yes.”

Beever: “What?

Haysom: “I’ll tell the truth.”

Beever: “Tel me now, then. In your own words. [Silence.] Come on, Elizabeth. Come on, you told me you were going to tell the truth. Tell me why you created the alibi in the first place.

Haysom: “Because he was going to confront my parents.”

Beever: “Yes, for what? [Long pause.] What was he going to confront your parents about?

Haysom: “Their attitude towards me.”

Beever: “Yes.”

Haysom: “And Jens.”

Beever: “Yes, it’s got a ring of truth to it now. I’ve already spoken to Jens. Carry on.”

Haysom: “He went down there with the knife with the possibility of killing them.”

Beever: “And you knew that, didn’t you? Didn’t you?

Haysom: “Yes, I did.”

There Beever had the foundation of the confession he and Wright had been seeking.

The interview continued with Haysom admitting her part as an accessory in the crimes, but once again none of it has any particular relevance to the issue of the doctored audio in the film, which is the focus here.


In the fullness of time Killing for Love is destined for notoriety as a shameful piece of propaganda, its whole objective being to subvert the legitimate judicial process. Co-directors Vetter and Steinberger will now have to face serious damage to their reputations, as any remaining traces of personal integrity go floating off down the river. Had the film come out of the old East Germany (GDR/DDR) that would have been no surprise to anyone, but for it to be the product of modern, democratic Germany is truly shocking. At the same time we should never forget how much willing assistance and encouragement it received from Soering’s entourage in the United States too.

The purpose was obvious from the beginning, and to a large extent Jens Soering himself revealed as much. In his newsletter to fans of 1 September 2015* (when the film’s English language title was still The Promise) he hoped that the film could provide the impetus for his return to Germany and rapid release. But his hopes were then dashed.

As translated from German by DeepL:

Soering: “The same applies to the film “The Promise”, by the way. Originally the premiere was supposed to take place in November 2014, then in spring 2015. At those two times the film could still have been part of a push to persuade the governor to send me to Germany. But the premiere was postponed again, to spring 2016 – too late to help me.” (Page 2.)

Das Gleiche trifft übrigens auf den Film „Das Versprechen“ zu. Ursprünglich sollte die Premiere im November 2014 stattfinden, dann im Frühjahr 2015. Zu jenen beiden Zeitpunkten hätte der Film noch als Schützenhilfe dienen können, um den Gouverneur dazu zu bewegen, mich nach Deutschland zu senden. Aber die Premiere wurde wieder verschoben, auf das Frühjahr 2016 – zu spät, um mir zu helfen.”

Soering: “What else can I tell you? Oh yes: On 4 August I received a business visit from a member of the film production team, so to speak. Karin Steinberger is the director of the film and had just filmed a new interview with a woman who was able to give a deeper insight into Elizabeth’s life in the 1980s – really fascinating, a great stroke of luck! Karin Steinberger told me about it, as well as about the plans for the film… it will be a great thing, really.

Some of these facts I will probably only learn myself completely and in context when (respectively: if) I see the film myself. But I can already say with absolute certainty: If my lawyers had investigated the case as carefully as these filmmakers, I would never have been convicted. That’s kind of a strange feeling…” (Pages 5-6.)

Was kann ich Euch sonst noch erzählen? Ach ja: Am 4 August erhielt ich sozusagen geschäftlichen Besuch von einem Mitglied des Filmproduktionsteams. Karin Steinberger ist Regisseurin des Films und hatte gerade ein neues Interview gefilmt, mit einer Frau, die nähere Einblicke in Elizabeths Leben in den 1980er Jahren vermitteln konnte – wirklich faszinierend, ein großer Glücksfall! Karin Steinberger erzählte mir davon, sowie von den weiteren Plänen für den Film… ein ganz tolles Ding wird das, wirklich.

Einige dieser Fakten werde ich wohl selbst erst vollständig und im Zusammenhang lernen, wenn (beziehungsweise: falls) ich den Film selber sehe. Ich kann aber jetzt schon mit absoluter Sicherheit sagen: Hätten meine Anwälte den Fall damals so sorgfältig untersucht wie diese Filmmacher, wäre ich nie und nimmer verurteilt worden. Das ist schon irgendwie ein komisches Gefühl…”

So the intent was clear. The film was never for a second a documentary as that term is normally understood. It was a carefully planned promotional vehicle by the makers, with and on behalf of Jens Soering, the sole aim being to get him released and sent to Germany as an innocent man. Where the truth was an obstacle to that aim – and it always was – then it just had to be overlooked, distorted or manufactured afresh. In the end that mission completely failed, but the Virginia Parole Board, prompted by the Governor, then stepped in and did the job for them anyway, even after rightly concluding that there was no possible doubt about his guilt.

* Grateful thanks to the German correspondent who collected a large number of these Soering newsletters and kindly sent them on.


Finally, for good measure, it’s always worth another look at Chip Harding’s report to see what he had to say on the matter. And as usual, he doesn’t disappoint. Here is the relevant extract from his May 2017 report, page 13:

“E. Haysom’s Confession and Likely Role at the Murder Scene

Trial Transcript

E. Haysom confessed during one interview with law enforcement that she killed her parents. “Q – You knew he was going to do it, didn’t you? Did you? A – I did it myself. Q – Don’t be silly. A – I got off on it. Q – You did what? What does that mean? A – I was being facetious. Q – OK then. Now tell me the truth, please, without being facetious. You did hate your parents? A – I did not hate my parents.”

Here, the investigator possibly stopped a full confession.”

The investigator in question, Ken Beever, was perfectly placed to make that judgement, and had more front-line experience dealing with the most serious levels of crime than Harding could muster even in his dreams.

What Harding also left out, rather curiously, was Elizabeth Haysom’s irritated answer given immediately before the short section he quotes:

Haysom: “All right, I led him into it. I did everything.”

Even on its own terms that answer still implicated Jens Soering, so it was obviously expedient to dispense with it. Such is the quality of a report this man had the effrontery to send to the Governor purporting to be an honest analysis.

Note, also, the heading to that section regarding Elizabeth Haysom’s “likely role at the murder scene.” Leaving aside the total lack of evidence for such an allegation, Elizabeth Haysom herself said she wasn’t there; the investigators all accepted that she wasn’t there; the prosecutor (who was not kindly disposed towards her) accepted that she wasn’t there; and the judge (ditto) accepted that she wasn’t there. For four years Jens Soering, too, said she wasn’t there.

And then more than thirty years later the mastermind Harding steps forward to assert that he knows better. That persistent misrepresentation of evidence is idiocy and moral corruption on a grand scale, accompanied by a swaggering determination to show that he’s got the biggest balls in town. His failure and relentless bad faith have been laid bare for everyone to see.

* * *