Roanoke Times
                 Copyright (c) 1995, Landmark Communications, Inc.

DATE: THURSDAY, May 31, 1990                   TAG: 9005310275
SECTION: VIRGINIA                    PAGE: A-5   EDITION: METRO  
DATELINE:                                 LENGTH: Medium


Here are the main characters in the Soering murder trial.

\ JENS SOERING: The 23-year-old West German charged with slashing his former girlfriend's parents to death in March 1985.

He will begin trial Friday on two first-degree murder charges in the deaths of Nancy and Derek Haysom. If guilty, he could face two life sentences.

The son of a German diplomat, Soering graduated from a prep school in Atlanta and left the University of Virginia as a sophomore when he and Elizabeth Haysom fled to Europe as the investigation began centering on the pair.

\ ELIZABETH HAYSOM: Soering's former Haysom girlfriend, the youngest of the Haysoms' children and a key prosecution witness.

Haysom, now 26, pleaded guilty to being an accessory before the fact in her parents' death and was sentenced in 1987 to 90 years in state prison. She is serving time in a women's prison in Goochland.

She met Soering when the two were freshmen honors students at UVa in 1984, and they became inseparable.

\ DEREK HAYSOM: Elizabeth's father, who was found stabbed to death in "Loose Chippings," his isolated cottage-style home in Boonsboro. The body was found in the living room with 39 stab wounds and a slit throat. A South African native, Haysom, 72, had been a successful steel executive in Rhodesia, Luxembourg and Nova Scotia.

\ NANCY HAYSOM: Elizabeth's 53-year-old mother, whose body was found stabbed six times and with a slit throat in the kitchen of Loose Chippings. She was known as "Cita" to her friends.

\ WILLIAM SWEENEY: A Bedford County Circuit Court judge who will preside over Soering's trial.

Soering's defense attorneys asked Sweeney to step aside from handling Soering's trial, alleging that he had socialized with Derek and Nancy Haysom and was biased in the case by his involvement in Elizabeth's sentencing. Sweeney said his relationship with the Haysoms was nothing more than an acquaintance and that he could preside fairly.

\ CARL WELLS: Sheriff of Bedford County since 1974. Wells said in April 1985 that although he had never seen a crime like the Haysom killing in Bedford, it was a bigger case for the media than it was for him. "To me, a homicide is a homicide," he said.

In October 1985 - the month that Elizabeth Haysom and Jens Soering fled Virginia for Europe - Wells said he was certain an arrest would be made soon in the case, although he could not say when. Maybe his choice of words to a reporter foreshadowed what was to come: "That's like me jumping into the Atlantic Ocean and you asking me when I'm going to get to the other side," Wells said.

\ RICKY GARDNER: A Bedford County Sheriff's investigator who went to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean to question Jens Soering and Elizabeth Haysom when they were arrested in 1986. Six months after he was promoted to investigator, Gardner, 34, was put in charge of the Haysom case - his first murder investigation.

\ KENNETH BEEVER: The tough London police sergeant who investigated charges of check fraud and travelers check fraud against Soering and Haysom after they were captured there.

When police searched the pair's London flat, they found incriminating letters and a diary that prompted them to contact Bedford County authorities. Beever helped question Soering and Haysom about the killings. Soering has claimed it was Beever's eyebrows, in part, that led him to answer investigators' questions. Beever's habit of raising his eyebrows was an implicit way of threatening to harm Haysom if Soering didn't talk, Soering has said.

\ JAMES UPDIKE: Bedford County commonwealth's attorney, who will prosecute Soering. When Updike became commonwealth's attorney in 1979, he was the state's youngest elected prosecutor at 26.

Now 36, Updike has had a hands-on lesson in international law, and his frustration showed in his dealings with Soering's extradition fight.

\ RICK NEATON: Soering's Detroit defense attorney. A 40-year-old former prosecutor, Neaton knew Soering's father, Klaus, and was hired for the case in 1986. Since January, Neaton and his co-counsel from Roanoke have filed objection after objection to technical matters in the case.

At various points, Neaton has: asked the judge to disqualify himself and Updike from handling the case, challenged the prosecutor's footprint evidence, tried to get his client's incriminating statements thrown out of court; and has challenged Sweeney's decision to use a jury from Nelson County.

\ WILLIAM CLEAVELAND: Soering's Roanoke defense attorney. A partner at Rider, Thomas, Cleaveland, Ferris & Eakin, Cleaveland, 39, is a former assistant commonwealth's attorney in Roanoke.

 by CNB