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

DATE: SATURDAY, June 16, 1990                   TAG: 9006160278
DATELINE: BEDFORD                                LENGTH: Long


In June 1986, love-struck Jens Soering falsely confessed to killing his girlfriend's parents to protect the real killer - Elizabeth Haysom, Soering's attorneys contend.

But six months later - after he knew his girlfriend intended to plead guilty to plotting the murders and even after he had grown doubtful of his love for Haysom - Soering confessed once again.

"He had no reason to protect her any further," prosecutor James Updike said Friday, calling into question the defense claim that Soering's confessions were lies.

Updike presented Soering's December 1986 confession to jurors as evidence Friday as he completed his case against Soering for the 1985 stabbing slayings of Derek and Nancy Haysom. The defense will begin calling witnesses Monday.

Soering, who had been charged with the Bedford County killings while in a London prison in June 1986, made the second confession before a West German prosecutor Dec. 30, 1986, during a two-hour interview.

Soering, a West German national, at the time was fighting extradition to the United States to stand trial. The West German government was considering applying to extradite Soering to that country to stand trial there for the Haysoms' deaths.

The taped interrogation was conducted in German, so Roanoke College German professor James Ogier translated a transcript of it into English for the jury.

In it, Soering's version of events on the night the Haysoms were killed was essentially the same as the story he had told investigators six months earlier.

But this time, Soering stressed factors - alcohol and provocation from the Haysoms - which might lessen his responsibility.

The events that night were "hazy," Soering said, and he could not be "100 percent sure" he killed the Haysoms. He said he never planned the killings and he certainly did not drive to the Haysoms' Boonsboro home with that purpose.

If he had planned to kill someone, he had access to "three shotguns, two revolvers and one automatic pistol," Soering insisted, implying he would not choose to kill with a knife.

Soering portrayed himself to the prosecutor as a non-violent person who had not been in a fight for years. He said he was opposed to war and violence on television or in the movies.

"I have to assume that I was drunk or was at least strongly intoxicated, most of all since this act was completely atypical . . . from my view," Soering said.

Normally a teetotaler, Soering said he had three beers and three gin-and-tonics on an empty stomach the night of the killings.

"I had no intent to kill these people, and it was an absolute unexpected horror experience," Soering told the German prosecutor. He said his intent was simply to talk to her parents and convince them that he was good enough for their daughter.

But when Derek and Nancy Haysom told Soering he had a bleak future and lacked talent, Soering's rage began to build, he said.

"I do not know any more what the triggering point was, but something was said and I flew off the handle and wanted to run out of the house," said Soering. "I had only one instinct: I wanted out. I cannot take such stress too well."

He said he stood up from the Haysoms' dining room table to run out the door of their home. To get outside, though, he had to pass Derek Haysom's chair.

As he did, Derek Haysom stood up and pushed Soering back against the wall, Soering said. " `Sit down, young man,' " Soering said Haysom yelled.

With that shove, Soering hit his head against the stone wall in the dining room.

"The next thing I can remember is that I stood behind Mr. Haysom and then blood ran from the neck into the lap and that I was incredibly shocked," he said.

Soering said he had trouble grasping the idea that he was standing behind Derek Haysom - holding a knife - watching blood fall into Haysom's lap.

From there, the scene turned into a bloody fight, Soering said. Nancy Haysom came at him with a knife and Soering tried to fend her off while Derek Haysom punched him the face.

In the end, he saw glimpses of the Haysoms' bodies on the floor.

"I myself was absolutely terrified and had no knowledge how I got into this situation and what I was doing," Soering told the prosecutor. "I had insane fear. It was, as I said, a very difficult affair."

By the December interrogation, Soering had a very different view of Elizabeth Haysom than he had showed two years earlier when the pair dated at the University of Virginia. In letters to Haysom in 1984, Soering filled page after page with professions of his love.

But in his December 1986 statement, Soering clearly was looking back with a different perspective. "I considered her to be perfect; I took her for my goddess," he said.

He described Haysom as a pathological liar who had manipulated him and led him along.

"I can hardly imagine any more who that girl is," Soering said. "It seems that everything that she has told me about herself are lies, too."

Haysom encouraged him with tales of abuse and neglect to hate her parents and pressed him to go to Bedford County to talk with them the night they died, Soering said.

In his June 1986 statement, Soering had gone out of his way to tell investigators that Haysom did not accompany him that night. "Absolutely not," Soering had said.

Six months later, Soering was far less adamant. In fact, he told the German prosecutor he was not really sure. "It is possible Elizabeth came along," Soering said. "I cannot commit myself."

 by CNB