Jens Soering and the Atrocities

This post will cover what is one of the least-known aspects of the Soering case, and probably the strangest. The late Ken Englade mentioned it in his 1990 book, Beyond Reason, but only in passing, rather superficially, because he lacked full knowledge of the London confessions. It is the subject Jens Soering was to some extent seeking to negotiate about in his police interviews, and was implicitly referred to by Andrew Griffiths in his interview with Amanda Knox while simultaneously avoiding any details. No surprise there, of course. This is significant in various ways – in itself, but also because it ties together a number of other strands, as will be seen.

First, some basics. In his interviews with the detectives and with the German public prosecutor, Soering refused to discuss the knife he took with him to the Haysoms’ home because he rightly felt that it could have implied premeditation on his part. Nevertheless, we know that it was almost certainly a type of quick-opening butterfly knife, potentially lethal but not bulky, easily concealed in his pocket. But two knives were involved in the murders, the second being one that he admitted to the German prosecutor wrestling away from Nancy Haysom during the fight.

Note: A few minor alterations have been made to the original translation from German in the light of corrections by Dr James Ogier at the 1990 trial:

Soering: “… Next I looked up and saw Mrs Haysom approaching me with a knife and screaming, which was probably understandable.” (Page 19.)

“… I held her arm firmly and tried to take the knife away from her, since Mr Haysom had no knife… I wanted to take it away from her under any circumstances and this was my greatest fear. Somehow I must have been injured by the knife…” (Page 20.)

“… What I want to say is, that I do not know with which knife I injured Mr Haysom.” (Page 35.)

I believe that this would be logical, that I injured her with the knife she had in her hand because that was the knife against which I wished to defend myself.” (Page 35.)

“… I can not remember with which knife I injured them. With which knife I have injured them, I believe anyway that this was their knife.” (Page 42.)

In fact there’s no real doubt that the initial slashing injury to Derek Haysom was caused by the knife Soering took from his pocket, and the injuries to Nancy Haysom’s neck were then caused by the larger kitchen knife he wrestled from her.

That’s not the end of it. They were initially standing during the fight, but began to slip over in the blood. Derek Haysom fell back into a chair at one point. There’s no question whatever that a person can be killed even by a single stab wound if it is delivered to a vulnerable part of the body. But what the nature of the fight does not adequately explain, however, is the severity of the injuries to both Haysoms’ necks, very nearly resulting in their decapitation. This aspect of the case has often been referred to as “overkill.” Soering himself later called it “the atrocities” (or “voodoo”).

It is suspected that as the Haysoms lay on the floor, probably already dead but perhaps not quite, Soering knelt over each of the bodies in turn and continued to slice through the neck tissue to make absolutely sure they could not survive. The likelihood is that it was done with the kitchen knife he had taken from Nancy Haysom and later threw away.

It was this strong degree of “overkill” that would have made a death sentence even more likely under the Virginia Code. The European Court of Human Rights explained that for a death sentence to be imposed it was necessary to prove aggravating circumstances, one of which was “vileness”:

43. Unless the prosecution proves beyond a reasonable doubt the existence of at least one of two statutory aggravating circumstances… the sentencer may not return a death sentence… (Virginia Code, section 19.2-264.2).

“Vileness” exists when the crime was “outrageously or wantonly vile, horrible or inhuman in that it involved torture, depravity of mind or an aggravated battery to the victim“...”

The revolting nature of the Haysoms’ injuries, thus amounting to aggravated battery, would have been more than sufficient to satisfy the vileness condition, which was recognised by the Court and by Soering’s leading counsel in Strasbourg, Colin Nicholls QC.


When questioned by detectives in England, Soering confessed to committing the murders, just as he did to the German prosecutor – and to various others, already detailed here in earlier posts. He admitted cutting the Haysoms’ throats and killing them. The part he always denied, however, was the overkill, or “the atrocities” on the bodies. This was also apparent in the well known letter he left for Officers Reid and Gardner just before going on the run, although the underlying meaning would not have been obvious to anyone lacking detailed knowledge of the facts:

Soering: “… As for me, I am afraid you must remain, as Officer Reid put it, only “99% sure” of my innocence. From what Liz has told me of what you discovered at Loose Chippings, I can only say that I am incapable of such a thing.”

A similar but slightly more forthright protestation is found in the letter he left for his parents:

Then again, [the police] may not bother you. If they do, you must know what to make of it, you knew me much better than they did. I can only tell you that if they do speak to you, I can almost certainly guarantee you that I did not do what they may think I did.

Having chosen to leave his ill-advised letters, Soering could have included a clear and unequivocal denial of committing the murders, but he didn’t. Most people can be entirely certain they haven’t committed murder: there is no “almost” about it. When the context is properly understood it can be seen that it is the atrocities he was denying, not the murders themselves. He also made further oblique references to this aspect in the interview with the German prosecutor, discussed below.

So now we reach the part of the story that is outlandish and preposterous, but it comes with a caveat. It is beyond dispute that from the time of his return to Virginia in 1990 Soering lied about virtually everything; there is scarcely a single part of his story that wasn’t total fabrication. In the beginning, however, in 1986, much of what he said was the truth as he saw it. To lie implies agency and intention. On this occasion Soering was probably not lying, at least not in his own mind. In trying to account for the atrocities he appeared to believe what he was saying, even though it was plainly nonsense.

He told the detectives that while at the house he had an overwhelming feeling of being surreptitiously observed. Upon getting back to Washington DC from Lynchburg he had told Elizabeth Haysom exactly the same thing, as she confirmed to Investigator Ricky Gardner during an interview after her own return to Virginia in 1987:

Gardner: “Okay, did he tell you he was at Loose Chippings twice that evening?

Haysom: “Yes, at some point and I really don’t, I don’t remember when, but it can’t be too much later, he told me that he had gone and done it. And for some reason which he never explained to me fully or possibly at all, whatever, he just … he kept saying he thought somebody was watching him or he hadn’t done something [?] He went back.

Soering had a theory. He believed that the person watching him had been Annie Massie, a neighbour and close friend of Nancy and Derek Haysom. She had a key to the house and had been the person who discovered their bodies and alerted the police. He thought that Mrs Massie must have watched him leave and then entered the house herself, quite possibly with others, and then mutilated the bodies in some type of ritual or “voodoo.”

Based on the limited information available to him, Ken Englade gave this summary in Beyond Reason:

In a postscript [to a letter of 30 August 1986] [Jens] asked whether Ricky Gardner had asked her about Annie. Elizabeth interpreted this as a way of reminding her that she could do both of them a favor by suggesting to investigators that Annie Massie may have played a role in the murders as well. He had told Elizabeth before that he believed Annie had been in the house after Nancy and Derek were killed. That is, actually in the house and not just to open the door, glimpse Derek’s body sprawled on the floor, and summon the police. Jens had sworn to Elizabeth that he had not mutilated Nancy’s and Derek’s bodies. If he didn’t do it, he argued, someone must have come in after him and done it...” (Page 216.)

That’s brief but perfectly correct. The notion that someone – and Annie Massie was always Soering’s preferred nominee – entered the house after him and carried out atrocities was a running theme over the four days of interviews. In the cold light of day he was most likely unable to contemplate or accept that he had committed such terrible acts of savagery, and he appeared troubled by the idea. Hence the statements in his quoted letters.

What he told fellow German Mathias Schroeder while they were together in youth detention is also worth noting. For a limited time Schroeder took part in discussions on the German language forum under the username Ashford1986, where he was often treated dismissively by devoted Soering fans who wished to hear nothing against their hero. But he told the truth as he remembered it, although by 2017 his memory was a little imprecise and he can hardly be faulted for that.

1 May 2017 at 18.36, Allmystery Forum, page 332, translated by DeepL:

Schroeder: “JS was accused of “voodoo killing” in the English language press reports. JS himself did not have any good answers to this question. A “voodoo killing” excluded JS for his person. If the crime scene really looked like “voodoo”, JS thought it possible that another person had opened the bodies and distributed the entrails in the house. JS himself was probably not presented with any crime scene photos during his interrogations in England, I conclude. If I remember correctly, he suspected that a woman in charge of cleaning the house might have changed the crime scene, if that was true with the “voodoo.” It was an elderly lady who also had a key to the house…”

JS wurde ein “vodoo killing” ausweislich der englichen yellow-press-Berichterstattung vorgeworfen. JS hatte darauf selbst keine guten Antworten. Ein “vodoo killing” schloß JS für seine Person aus. Falls der Tatort wirklich nach “vodoo” ausgesehen haben sollte, hätte JS eine andere Person dafür für möglich gehalten gehabt, die möglicherweise die Leichen geöffnet hätte und die Innereien in der Wohnung verteilt gehabt hätte. JS selbst wurden wohl bei seinen Verhören in England keine Tatortfotos vorgelegt, schließe ich daraus. JS, so meine icvh es richtig zu erinnern, verdächtigte eine Frau, die mit Putzarbeiten im Haus beauftragt war, dass diese den Tatort wohl verändert haben könnte, falls das mit dem “vodoo” zutreffen sollte. Es sei eine ältere Dame gewesen, die auch einen Schlüssel zum Haus hatte…”

1 May 2017 at 19.05, page 333:

The reaction when I first saw him again after the press had reported the case in England was a cheerful, smiling JS. Since I never thought he could do that, it frightened me when JS, engraved in my memory, suddenly admitted the accusations. Only with the claim of “voodoo killing” JS could not do anything. He clearly distanced himself from this. His concern seemed to me in the afternoons how much self-pity he had, but also a sadness about his fate, when he now probably had to face the death penalty or life imprisonment. He now feared even more that his mother would perish from alcohol.”

Die Reaktion, als ich ihn zum ersten Mal wieder sah nachdem die Presse bereits über den Fall in England berichtet hatte, das war ein gut gelaunter, lächelnder JS. Da ich ihm die Tat niemals so zugetraut hätte, erschrak es mich, als mir JS, so hat sich das in meiner Erinnerung eingraviert, plötzlich uneingeschränkt zu den Vorwürfen bekannte. Nur mit der Behauptung des “vodoo killings” konnte JS nichts anfangen, davon distanzierte sich JS in aller Deutlichkeit. Seine Betroffenheit erschien mir im Nachgnag wie viel Selbstmitleid, aber auch ein Traurigsein über sein Schicksal, das er nunmehr wohl die Todesstrafe oder lebenslange Haft vor sich habe.Er befürchtete schon damals, dass seine Mutter wohl jetzt erst recht am Alkohol zugrunde ginge.”


There is no definitive explanation for Soering’s belief. That he, and he alone, was responsible for the injuries and murders in their totality is not open to the slightest doubt. Equally, his suspicions about Annie Massie can be dismissed as a grotesque absurdity. What was it, therefore, that created this illusion in his mind, assuming it to be genuine? Nobody knows. Factors like psychological resistance and cognitive dissonance may well have been present, but memory failure and the effects of much more strong alcohol than he was used to must have played a part. Perhaps it was a combination of some or all of those factors. His statement to the German prosecutor was probably fairly accurate:

Soering: “…there remain 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 themselves.” (Page 13.)

However, what he told Dr John Hamilton might be thought to raise legitimate questions about the exact state of his recollection. He admitted concealing full details of the horror from Elizabeth:

Hamilton: “He does not recall her asking what had happened but he assumed that she knew her parents were now dead. He then told her something of what had happened but not the whole “messiness” of it.” (Report, page 8.)

Nevertheless, in London Soering seemed genuinely nervous when talking about Annie Massie, even being reluctant to mention her by name while the tape was running. He spoke about her to Ricky Gardner, but only privately at first. In an effort to assuage his concern Ken Beever then offered him the option of referring to Massie by a code name if it made him less uncomfortable:

Beever: “How about if we give that person a code name, because it’s all known to us and we use that code name for the benefit of the tape. Because we all know what you are talking about.”

What Soering wanted, he said, was for Gardner to conduct an investigation into that aspect of the case back in Virginia.

When seen against that background, parts of the interviews begin to make a lot more sense:

6 June 1986

Beever: “Ah, going on from that, that’s only answering the first half of that statement. If I was to say to you now, did you commit voodoo acts on Mr and Mrs Haysom’s dead bodies, how would you answer that question?

Soering: “You’re a very smart man. Amm. Congratulations. Ah, I think the best thing for me to do at this point on the record … I have answered that question off the record, I’m not going to answer it on the record … for the same reasons I described above.

Soering: “I made statements off the record to Officer Wright [note: he meant Gardner] which, I mean, yes, one would have to say that they concern a part of the case which I’m not going to discuss on the record at this point but which will probably will work out to be in my advantage. They can be substantiated in court, therefore it is important to me to be truthful and so that Officer Gardner and Officer Reid investigate that part of the investigation to the best and fullest of their ability in the confidence that I am telling the truth, which in fact I am doing. If I feel that there are certain questions which I can’t answer truthfully at this point without incriminating myself I will not answer them. I will not lie.

Soering: “Yes, I had an off the record conversation with Officer Gardner which I’ll say that too, it ties in with another … it is part of another off the record conversation which I had with all three officers about part of the investigation which I believe I have some knowledge of, which they did not have.”

7 June 1986:

Soering: “Can you tell me a little bit please about what sort of things can happen to me legally in the United States if I’m charged with umm … that’s another thing I want to ask you. Going back to what we discussed yesterday in a possible split of what happened, all right. Umm is there … I mean will they be treated as separate offences or will they continue to be treated as one offence until it can be proved that they’re separate offences. OR … I mean can you … are you allowed to talk to me about that?

Gardner: “I think I can talk to you, but I don’t understand what you are saying. Now I’ll be happy to sit here and talk all day to you.”

Soering: “Right.”

Gardner: “And I’m going to clarify and I want you to verify to you right now that what I say to you …”

Soering: “It’s not binding.”

Gardner: “Right.”

Soering: “Absolutely.”

Beever: “Would you like to say that someone just opened the door and there was a bit of noise there.”

Gardner: “And this is your lunch.”

Soering: “Thank you.”

Gardner: “Would you like to go ahead and eat?

Soering: “I think I’ll wait until after we finish.”

Gardner: “Okay, if you want to eat now don’t let us stop you.“

Soering: “I don’t want to waste any more time.”

Gardner: “You’re not wasting time, but the point I was making …”

Soering: “This kind of question which I want to continue asking you and if you want to turn the tape off by itself because it’s not of interest to the proceedings. And you can go ahead and do that you know. It’s up to you.”

Gardner: “It doesn’t make any difference to me, because I’m not going to make any promises to you okay. There’s no way that I can make any promises or offer any kind of deals to you. I want you to understand that. I don’t have that authority. Now let’s just go back to what you just said a minute ago and I just want to make sure I heard you correctly. You said, “Would these offences be separate offences” yea, I think that’s what you said. Or would it be a combination … no that’s not a good word. Would it be separate offences or would they be individual offences. Is that what you’re saying? Now I don’t know. .. You know I don’t know exactly. I can only in my mind …. I think I know what you’re talking about. But I need you to be a little bit more specific and I’m not trying to be tricky.”

Soering: “Right. I’m talking about the actual murders and the atrocities that were apparently committed afterward. All right.”

Gardner: “And we know that you have an involvement there?

Soering: “You was also beginning to say that you also either … in some case perhaps because you believe me. In your particular case perhaps because you have evidence of some sort, I don’t know, that I did not kill Mr and Mrs Haysom and commit acts of voodoo or whatever on…“

Gardner: “Clarify that? I have evidence that you did not do that? I’m sorry, I...”

Soering: “Or that you, or that you may … that you … well I doubt that you have evidence. I mean, I couldn’t … I don’t know what sort of evidence you could have, but I did not do that. But, ah…”

Gardner: “Do what?

Soering: “That I did not kill Mr and Mrs Haysom, commit some sort of act of voodoo on them. All right?

Gardner: “But you still can’t break that down?

Soering: “I’d rather not do it at this time, all right.”

Gardner: “OK.”

Soering: “But I .. I’m sorry, I lost my train of thought. What … I completely did lose my train of thought. I was going to say that, ah, I would like to speak with you in America at a later date, because I then I could have a solicitor over there or a lawyer there about what my involvement is, all right. And what kind of involvement it was. Where it stops and where, as I believe, perhaps the three of you believe, OK, ah, somebody else was involved, all right.

What Soering hoped was that the charges against him could somehow be split. In other words, he wanted an arrangement whereby he could plead guilty to the murders but at the same time plead not guilty to the atrocities on the Haysoms’ bodies. He therefore had in mind some kind of plea bargain, having seen such things on American TV shows like Kojak and Cagney & Lacey.

Soering: “Well, as I understand it, it would also be important to me if I’m going to be charged with crimes, all right. It seems to me that that’s going to make a big difference as to my sentencing, all right. ‘Cause I’ll get sentenced, if I get found guilty.

Gardner: “Uh huh.”

Soering: “Whether these would be considered part of the same thing. Now apparently you, you can’t answer that right now, perhaps.”

Soering: “If that’s the case, okay, I’m being hypothetical, all right. Umm, if there are emotions such as anger and revenge perhaps, all right, or in fact one of the parties, okay, and the murder were committed, I think there’s a huge difference between that and, say, the same thing happening and then afterwards, I don’t know, phone calls being made and the group being assembled for some sort of ritual, all right.”

Gardner: “Okay. So what you are saying you want to differentiate between the actual killing.”

Soering: “Uh huh, yes.”

Gardner: “Of the two people.”

Soering: “Uh huh.”

Gardner: “And the voodooism as you say after the murders.”

Soering: “Well, I’ve been told and … okay, it’s hearsay for my part. I’ve been told first of all by the newspapers and then I’ve heard it from various family members of the Haysom family, all right, who have been in closer contact with you during the investigation, all right. I’ve heard that there were atrocities committed in the house and on the bodies, all right.”

Gardner: “Okay.”

Soering: “And I was wondering whether, taking into consideration what I told you, I guess off the record at an earlier point, all right. Even though there at this point there’s no way to substantiate that, all right.”

Gardner: “Okay.

Soering: “Will they be treated as separate offences or as the same offence and…

Gardner: “Okay, I understand what you are saying. In other words what you’re talking about basically is three different, possible three different charges. I think this is what you are saying. The murder of Mr. Haysom, the murder of Mrs. Haysom, and then what you refer or what you call voodooism, the spreading of voodoo at the death scene?

Soering: “Yes, that’s what the newspapers call it.”

Gardner: “Okay, now let me just ask you this, ’cause I want to verify this. Have I ever, when we were talking in Bedford, since we’ve talked here, or has Mr. Beever or Mr. Wright ever discussed with you the voodooism issue?

Soering: “Uh huh, right. The voodoo … the word voodoo I actually got from the Daily Mail. Right?

Gardner: “Okay. Okay.”

Soering: “Umm, but now along with that I’m going to in my mind at least, all right.”

Gardner: “Okay.”

Soering: “Black magic, whatever that is. All right, well, I have some general idea what it is. Would be in the same category, all right.

Gardner: “Okay.”

Soering: “And I was told by Howard Haysom, I believe, right, it was with him, you … I think he was the main liaison person between the Haysom family and the Sheriff’s office after the murder.”

Gardner: “Okay.”

Soering: “That, that occurred, all right.”


Soering: “So you haven’t personally said it to me, neither have the British officers said it personally to me, but I’m going from what the newspapers here say and from what Howard Haysom said that you said, or Mr. Reid said, or the Sheriff’s office said. All right.

Gardner: “Okay, okay. I understand what you’re saying, okay, and I’m not confirming or denying that statement. But I will say, and what I am concerned about, what my boss Sheriff Wells is concerned about, and what the population of Bedford County and also Lynchburg is concerned about, are the murders. Now I don’t really care exactly, I, I don’t really give a damn what happened after the murders. I, I could care less, okay? Now I will say that what I’m concerned, is that, that two people lost their lives. And in my opinion they didn’t deserve to die. And that’s just in my opinion now, if somebody else has any objection to that, that’s fine. But I …”

Soering: “Right.”

Gardner: “I don’t think the people did anything to deserve to die. What took place after is, I would say is, is, is not as important to the actual deaths, okay. But there is definitely … I’d be foolish to say that there’s not an important issue there of why if, if that in fact did happen, why this was done.

Soering: “Uh huh.”

Gardner: “Okay. Now answering your question, I don’t know. I really don’t know if there is possible, you know, three, three charges out of this thing. I say charges, three offences, you understand what I’m saying.”

Soering: “Umm huh.”

Gardner: “I don’t know. I can’t answer that. But I do know that two people were murdered. And I think that right in itself is the main issue.”

Soering: “Hmmm.”

Gardner: “Okay. Now bear in mind what we’ve talked about before. Okay, yesterday, especially the conversation that you and I had and these …”

Soering: “Right.”

Gardner: “Gentlemen don’t know what was said.”

Soering: “Uh huh.”

Gardner: “And that’s important to me. It’s definitely important to me.

Soering: “Well, as I understand it, it would also be important to me if I’m going to be charged with crimes, all right. It seems to me that that’s going to make a big difference, as to my sentencing, all right. If I get sentenced, if I get found guilty.

Gardner: “Uh huh.”

Soering: “Whether these would be considered part of the same thing. Now apparently you, you can’t answer that right now, perhaps.”

Gardner: “Okay.”


In his later interview with the German prosecutor from Bonn on 30 December 1986, Soering gave a number of answers in which his doubts were lurking just below the surface. He declined to mention his theory explicitly, but it, or something like it, was obviously still there in his mind. Perhaps by that time he had a greater sense of how outlandish it was, or perhaps he had been sternly advised not to voice such ludicrous allegations against a respected local woman. Whatever the underlying reason may have been, he was very cautious:

Soering: “I am not quite sure, one hundred percent sure, that I have murdered them and furthermore, it is also not important that I had the idea to kill them.” (Page 9.)

I can only say that I personally have not much confidence in my own memory. I think we can discuss the matter about the knife at a later stage. I had no intent to kill these 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.” (Page 26.)

I can remember that I have caused both of them neck wounds. I did cause them neck wounds, I believe to remember having seen them on the floor in the house after I was away for perhaps ¼ of an hours. Well, I must say that I personally assume that at least the wounds I caused them had something to do with their death...” (Page 26.)

“… The matter is simply this, I don’t know with which knife I injured Mr Haysom. I am positive that I have injured Mrs Haysom with the knife she had. I don’t know with which knife I injured Mr Haysom. I personally have my theory but I forgot to discuss it with you.” [In this context the accused refers to his defence counsel.] (Page 34.)

Prosecutor: “You can not remember all the stab wounds which are listed there, abdomen, stomach, the heart area?” (Page 42.)

Soering: “I can not remember these. I believe I can not say any more to it at this point in time. I still have further theories of my own, but I can not remember it. I have explained today exactly what I can remember.” (Page 42.)

We see there that he was willing to accept having stabbed the Haysoms, thereby causing their deaths, but he was still grappling with the reality of what he’d done and still wishing to evade full responsibility. By that stage he knew that he would be facing capital murder charges if his extradition to Virginia went ahead as intended.


In Mortal Thoughts Soering saw an opportunity to take advantage of his belief expressed during the London interviews that the atrocities had been committed by someone else after he left the house. As part of his bogus false confession narrative he sought to manipulate the meaning of an exchange he had had with Scotland Yard detective Ken Beever:

Soering: “On June 7, while I was still trying to persuade the policemen to allow me to see my attorney, I nearly panicked and told the truth. An English Detective Sergeant named Kenneth Beever asked me, “Would you consider, under those circumstances, taking into account your answer, pleading guilty to something you didn’t do?”

“Would I consider doing that?”


“I can’t say for sure right now, but I can see, I can see it happening, yes. I think it is a possibility. I think it happens in real life.”

“I disagree with you, but don’t let’s get into any legal arguments now. I’m sorry. I think you answered my question.”

“I mean, you know. I couldn’t answer that question right now. I certainly hope that, I hope very much that it’s not going to come to something like that.”

But it did come to something like that. I knew that the English magistrate had ordered the police to stop interrogating me about the homicides by midnight on June 8, 1986. If I was to keep my promise to save Elizabeth’s life I could not wait forever for my lawyer, and the investigators never did allow me to speak to him. So on the evening of June 8 I decided to admit to Liz’s crime without having checked my legal status with an attorney.” (Page 136.)

Every word he says there is a lie, inevitably. It has already been shown at considerable length on this site that Soering elected not to have the services of his lawyer in London. Also, the magistrates had not ordered the police to stop interrogating him by midnight on 8 June – see the time of Elizabeth Haysom’s interview, which carried on well past midnight. He had spoken three times to the West German embassy by telephone and already knew very well he didn’t have immunity. The subject was never even raised, not until 1990.

But much more importantly here, he has used the above exchanges on numerous occasions to support his claim that he was warning the police of his intention to make a false confession. In order to do this he had to rip the exchanges from their context, which is why the quoted extracts are so short.

The truth is that that particular section of the interview revolved around the atrocities once again, which is what he wants to hide. In fact he had been seeking to ascertain what would happen to him if he were extradited to the USA – and, crucially, whether the charges could be split in a way that removed the atrocities from consideration. He had already confessed quite extensively by that stage on 7 June, and was then probing any possible opportunities for a lesser sentence to be imposed on him in due course.

When Soering said in the interview that he would consider pleading guilty to something he didn’t do, he was talking at that point specifically about the atrocities and not the murders, because he could not reconcile himself to having inflicted those unspeakable injuries. That is what he is seeking to keep hidden by not revealing the context of his exchanges with Ken Beever (“under those circumstances”). He clearly came to realise that he could turn that short interview section to his potential advantage as long as people reading it didn’t know precisely what was being discussed.

Overall, therefore, things fall into place once the background and context of those remarks and beliefs are properly understood. He had profound psychological resistance to accepting the full extent of his depraved actions, and he consistently denied the atrocities, but not the murders themselves. However, the notion that someone – anyone – entered the house after his departure solely to mutilate dead bodies in a kind of voodoo ceremony is to ignore the reality of what happened and what he did, no matter how successfully he managed to block it from his mind, either then or later. His denials, even if honestly made, count for nothing because responsibility for every aspect of the violence and atrocities that occurred at the Haysoms’ home was his and his alone. The Parole Board, at the behest of the Governor and his Democrat friends, then chose to return to society one of Virginia’s most barbaric murderers. That’s political influence at its most cynical, totally unrelated to justice. The only saving grace is that everyone of sound mind knows it.

* * *