The other day, I finally had some downtime so I decided to watch something new and interesting on Hulu. I usually tend to binge shows I’ve watched dozen of times, but now that I’ve been studying criminal justice I’ve gained a certain insight and interest into true crime stories. I like to examine them based on what I’ve learned from a forensic psychology course (it’s basically the psychological aspect of criminal justice) and all of these criminological theory courses I’ve been taking.
This documentary recalls how teenage love can often blind you and steer you into dangerous places because when you’re blinded by affection and what you think is love as a teen you tend to lack discernment. This story is so bizarre which is why it drew me in as soon as I started watching.
Elizabeth Haysom met her beau, Jens Söering at the University of Virginia where they were both sophomores on merit scholarships. Elizabeth was a free spirited girl while Jens was a young, studious child of a German diplomat. In the documentary, it was pointed out that Elizabeth was capable of making people gravitate towards her and fall in love with her. She was considered bisexual which I only say because there was never any evidence of her identifying as bisexual. Elizabeth confided in Jens about all of the things she had dealt with throughout her childhood and adolescence. She told him how she had been sexually abused by her mother, raped in a Swiss boarding school, she had a drug addiction and other troubling situations that had plagued her life. Eventually, Jens became her boyfriend. He was smitten. She was what he admitted in the documentary to be his first love and the first, as well as, the only woman he had slept with.
On March 30, 1985 Elizabeth Haysom’s parents, Derek and Nancy Haysom, were brutally murdered in their home in Bedford County, Virginia. They had been slashed and stabbed to death. However, their bodies were not discovered for a couple of days. Investigators noted at the scene that the Haysom’s must’ve been eating dinner and drinking. They had alcohol levels of .22 and were known to be heavy drinkers. Elizabeth called a family friend claiming to be having trouble reaching her parents and expressed concern over their well-being. The family friend drove to her parent’s house called “Loose Chippings” and that is when their bodies were discovered. Local police and the sheriff’s department were initially dealing with the double murder, but then eventually the FBI had to get involved. They attempted to pin the murders on to others that had been committed in the surrounding areas as they believed that it could’ve been the work of a serial murderer. However, things began to shift towards the couple’s daughter.
In order to establish an alibi, Elizabeth rented a car and drove to Washington, D.C with Jens Söering or at least that’s what she told prosecutors. This part was debatable because there were discrepancies over times and bad checks that had been cashed during the time of the murder that Jens had accurate knowledge of while Elizabeth had no recollection of it. For months, they had not been deemed suspects in the Haysom’s murder. Jens stated that the weekend her parents were murdered she had come to his hotel in D.C. and told him that she killed her parents and blamed it on drugs, but also claimed that they were deserving of their deaths. At just 18 years old, Jens came up with the bright idea inspired by a Charles Dickens’ novel where it involved him ultimately destroying his life for love. As he reflected as an adult who has spent over 25 years in prison he now believes that was the stupidest thing he has ever done.
A little more than a year after Elizabeth’s parents had been murdered. She and Jens had fled to Europe where they ended up being apprehended. They had been living in London using bad checks and fake names. Elizabeth had initially confessed to murdering her parents, but then retracted her statement and pinned it on Jens. He stuck to the notion of giving up his life for what he thought was love and confessed to the murder of Elizabeth Haysom’s parents. He believed that he had diplomatic immunity and it would just be a minor sacrifice with him doing just a few years in juvenile prison back in Germany since he was 19 years old at the time. However, it didn’t pan out that way. It turned out that he was not covered by his father’s diplomatic immunity and instead faced the serious possibility of being executed in the electric chair. He tried to withdraw his confession and fight for his life in the Virginia court room time and time again. He fought for his extradition to Germany, but they pushed back against it. Jens survived the ugliness of the American prison system before he was even 21 years old.
Throughout the duration of this case, Elizabeth had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, which I believed to be a misdiagnosis. I believe that Elizabeth displayed a lot more sociopathic or anti-social personality disorder traits. She came off as very charming and intelligent to everyone. She was also pretty manipulative as well. Another key symptom was that she didn’t have any stability in her home or at least that’s what she said. There was some weird nude photos of her that she claimed were taken by her mother and she would show them to friends and family. She had been deceitful the whole case and even with Jens throughout their very short relationship. She even showed a lack of remorse over her parents’ death as she told Jens that they deserved it anyway. She coldly sat in front of Jens and many other people accusing him of a heinous crime.
There were and still are a lot inconsistencies. There was no murder weapons found and no eye witnesses. The was also biased judge, Sweeney, who had a relationship with the Haysom’s as a family friend. One of the main things was that for some odd reason and this is going to sound crazy, but they had been using a specialist for tire tracks to pinpoint bloody sock prints at the crime scene on Jens, which was odd because tires and sock/footprints are not the same. Also, Jens told them that he had not been at Loose Chippings. Jens was clearly lying and there was inconsistency in his account and confession, but the incompetency of the prosecutors was evident when they didn’t identify the obvious holes in his story as well how Elizabeth’s story did not match up with his ever. Another thing that wasn’t given as much attention was the fact that Elizabeth got her college roommate involved. She had her roommate, Christine come up with a series of diary entries and erotic love letters for Jens and Elizabeth that was somehow supposed to help with their alibi. The letters and diary entries were all written by Christine, but she was completely kept out of the case. A new piece of information that came up in the documentary was that Elizabeth was actually driving with someone else in the car she rented before going to D.C. to be with Jens. A tow truck driver recalled that he remembered seeing Elizabeth, but with different person and not the one that is being accused of the murder of her parents.
The case is still ongoing as Jens and his supporters are working hard to prove his innocence and get him back to his home country of Germany. This was a very thought provoking case and I felt it was worth writing about. I think that you all should watch this especially if you love anything related to true crime.