It’s been more than two years since Jens Soering asked the governor’s office for a pardon.
In 1985, he was a German exchange student at UVA, dating a woman whose parents lived in Bedford County. During Soering’s courtship with Elizabeth Haysom her parents were murdered, and Soering was eventually convicted of killing them.
A retired police detective with 27 years of experience is now saying Soering is likely innocent and should be freed.
More than two years ago, Jens Soering, who’s locked up at the Buckingham Correctional Center, compared some old laboratory records and figured out that type-O blood, which prosecutors claimed was his, actually came from someone else -- a man who has not been identified. Richard Hudson, a retired Detective with Charlottesville Police, was intrigued and decided to volunteer his services.
“It was just an amazing story. I couldn’t believe it. There are just too many things with this case that don’t work. Things need to make sense, and this doesn’t make sense. I’ve spent hundreds of hours now working on it.”
He notes, for example, that Soering’s girlfriend made incredible claims about what actually happened in ’85, when the two were staying at a Marriott in Washington, D.C. Elizabeth Haysom claimed Soering took their rental car and headed for Bedford.
“She said that when Jens returned to Washington, D.C. he was covered from head to toe in blood, wrapped in a bloody sheet. Well when the car was examined using Luminol, which is a chemical that makes blood fluoresce, there wasn’t a drop of blood in the car. Was that introduced in the trial? No it wasn’t.”
Nor did Soring’s attorney challenge the testimony of a tire track expert who claimed a bloody sock print matched the defendant’s foot like a glove. Hudson says it did not.
“And as I examined crime scene photographs which we have about 50 of, and there are purportedly a thousand or more, I discovered another shoe print that was a completely different treadwear design that is never mentioned anywhere in the evidence, or the testimony, or the transcript – nowhere, so I wonder, ‘What does this mean?’
The governor’s office says the Soering case is still under investigation, but Hudson thinks it’s taking way too much time.
“There are a whole lot of unanswered questions that really need to be answered, and it doesn’t seem like it’s moving at the pace it should move based on what I know about conducting an investigation. I mean we didn’t go home in the afternoon until we finished.”
And he’s distressed by the fact that the sheriff’s office in Bedford County won’t play ball.
“It’s not that they won’t cooperate with us. They won’t even talk to us. They’ve declined on numerous occasions to meet with us, answer questions, let us give them the information that we have and they can take it and do with it as they please. They won’t even talk about it. From the sheriff to the chief deputy, no one will talk about it.”
Hudson doesn’t see how one young man – weighing just 140 pounds – could have killed two people with a knife, and he worries that there are real killers who were never arrested and brought to trial.
“The fact that nobody is being held accountable for the discrepancies in the trial information and the trial transcript and the testimony was – the differences that have come to light as a result of what has happened in the past 18 months, I mean that’s very disappointing to me.”
The parole board, which is overseeing Soering’s pardon request, is staffed by retired officers from the state police who work part-time. Our calls and e-mails to board chairman Adrianne Bennett were not returned. Ironically, Soering is up for parole. He has a perfect record in prison, has written nine books and is unlikely to pose any threat to Virginians if released. As a German citizen, he would be deported, and top leaders in that country have said they want him back.