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Soering Should Do His Time Where He Did His Crime

(by Editorial Board, The News & Advance, December 6, 2015, Link)
 

Jens Soering, Central Virginia’s most notorious convicted murderer, is back in the headlines, a spot he’s reveled in for most of the last three decades.

For the second time, attorneys for the killer are trying to enlist the support of another Virginia governor in a quest to repatriate Soering to Germany. They came close in the waning days of the administration of Gov. Tim Kaine in late 2009, only to be thwarted by incoming Gov. Bob McDonnell in January 2010. Now, they’re trying to persuade Gov. Terry McAuliffe to request Soering’s repatriation to his native Germany.

We strongly opposed Soering’s repatriation in 2009. The New Yorker magazine initially reported the year-long contacts between lawyers and McAuliffe’s office, which understandably, is reticent to discuss the matter.

Our message to the governor is simple: Don’t.

In March 1985, a friend came upon a bloody scene at the Bedford County home of Nancy and Derek Haysom, the parents of Soering’s girlfriend Elizabeth, a fellow University of Virginia student. They had been stabbed to death in one of the most gruesome murders in Central Virginia history; Nancy Haysom was attacked in such a violent fashion, she was nearly decapitated.

Police were stymied early on in their investigation, but several months in, they began to suspect the couple of involvement in the killings. At that point, Soering and Haysom fled the country, eventually being arrested in London on shoplifting charges. Authorities in that case came upon Soering’s diary in which he mentioned killings in a place called “Bedford County” in the United States; they immediately began calling law enforcement agencies in every municipality named Bedford until they came upon Bedford, Va.

Extradited to the United States after a long struggle in British courts over whether the couple would face the death penalty or not (they did not), the pair’s trials riveted Central Virginians for months.

Eventually, juries convicted both — Haysom of being an accessory to the crime and Soering of the actual murders. She’s serving a 99-year term in the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women; Soering is serving two life terms in the Buckingham Correctional Center.

Kaine’s request to then-Attorney General Eric Holder in 2009 to arrange for Soering’s repatriation to Germany shocked Central Virginians. The murders rank as the worst of the bloody decade of the 1980s, sending shockwaves of fear through the community of Boonsboro that violent killers were on the loose. For many, it’s a “JFK moment,” one when they vividly recall where they were upon learning of the killings.

The deal Kaine signed off on would have resulted in Soering serving two additional years in a German prison before likely parole. The Haysom family only learned of the repatriation when contacted by the news media, and they were vehemently opposed to it.

Moments after being inaugurated Jan. 16, 2010, McDonnell’s first act as governor was to officially withdraw the state’s repatriation request, then pending at the U.S. Justice Department.

Soering’s supporters, over the years, have made various claims of innocence for the German diplomat’s son. The trial was biased, they say; the conviction was based solely on circumstantial evidence, they say. He was a pawn being manipulated by the evil Elizabeth Haysom, they say; he’s blossomed into quite the theologian in prison, they say.

This fact remains, though: After being represented by a dream defense team at his 1990 trial and after years of appeals by the best lawyers money could buy, his double-murder conviction stands.

Bottom line, Soering stands convicted of murder in the Commonwealth of Virginia. He did the crime here; he should serve every day of his sentence here.

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