Criminal Law, Evidence, Murder, Police and Prosecutors, Soering, True Crime

Markus Lanz Helps Söring Obfuscate about the Bloody Sockprint

And now for another brief fact check on the interview with Jens Söring (as always, all rights remain with the ZDF). Here, Söring and Lanz are discussing the bloody sockprint Söring left behind at the crime scene:


Notice how Markus Lanz abandons any pretense of journalistic neutrality and actively helps Söring make his case.

The first correction here is, of course, that Söring wasn’t convicted based on the bloody sockprint. He was convicted based on the full, detailed, convincing confessions he gave to personally murdering the Haysoms, alone.

Those confessions contained dozens of details only the killer could have known, and which Söring could not possibly have learned from any other source, including Elizabeth. A detailed confession given freely and voluntarily which is corroborated by additional testimony and physical evidence is perhaps the most powerful evidence imaginable, and that is precisely what the jury heard. The jury asked to examine the sockprint and Söring’s footprint to make sure they didn’t somehow exclude Söring from the crime scene. They did not. So he was convicted. Justly.

Söring also claims a preliminary report said the sockprint corresponded to a size 5 or 6 man’s shoe. Söring is referring to a preliminary report dated June 8, 1985 from Rick Johnson from the Virginia Bureau of Forensic Science. Here is the relevant passage:


Here, Johnson is simply guessing, as indicated by his language. He has nothing to compare the sockprint with. It’s impossible to precisely specify someone’s shoe size based on a sockprint. And as everyone knows, shoe sizes can vary considerably depending on brand, fit, style. This is a passing remark in a preliminary stage of the investigation, made without any other reference points.

Later, it became possible to directly compare Söring’s footprint with the sockprint. Remember that Söring fled the USA and gave up his full university scholarship to avoid giving fingerprints or footprints to the police. After he was arrested, he had no choice. And at that point, FBI impression expert Robert Hallett compared Söring’s footprint to the bloody sock impression left at the crime scene. This clip, from American television station Court TV (which broadcast many parts of Söring’s trial, and retains all rights to this clip) contains Hallett’s analysis and conclusions, and includes several clear images of the exact exhibit the jury trial was shown at Söring’s 1990 trial.


You can simply judge for yourself whether the sockprint could have been left by Söring, with your own two eyes. It should be kept in mind that Hallett did not testify as an expert on sockprints at Söring’s trial. There is no such thing; sockprints, of course, can’t be reliably compared. Hallett simply testified about the steps he took to compare the sockprint to the footprint.

He never testified that Söring left the sockprint. He testified only that Söring could have left the sockprint.

This is indisputably true, as you can see with your own two eyes. Once again Markus Lanz has helped Jens Söring falsify the historical record.

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