During a court hearing on the morning of June 5, 1986, Jens Söring was ordered remanded from Ashford Remand Centre to a local London police station to be questioned for “homicide”. During that hearing at the Richmond Magistrate’s Court, he was accompanied by his English solicitor Keith Barker. At 12:50 PM on June 5th, Söring signed a form indicating he did not wish to consult with a solicitor. Nevertheless, he was permitted to consult with Barker by phone at 4:30 PM. He was questioned during the afternoon and evening of June 5, 1986, by two Scotland Yard detectives, Kenneth Beever and Terry Wright, and Ricky Gardner, a detective from Bedford County, Virginia.
Much of the confusion regarding Jens Söring’s case derives from the fact that many reporters rely only on selected bits of information chosen by Söring himself. As Nathan Heller of the New Yorker noted, Söring becomes “distraught” when reporters venture outside the “approved library of information” he sends to them to try to obtain favorable coverage of his case. As we saw in the case of the Griffiths report, looking at all the evidence — not just the bits and pieces Söring considers helpful — changes the perspective dramatically.
That’s why I consider it important to post full, original, authentic documents here. So here is the full recording of Söring’s interview of June 5, 1986. I edited it solely to reduce noise and improve clarity.
In general, it’s clear what Söring’s strategy is: He believes the police have considerable evidence against him, so merely protesting his innocence will get him nowhere. The police won’t believe him. Further, if he simply claims he had nothing to do with the Haysoms’ murders, he cannot set up a defense to the crime. The defense he has in mind is reduced culpability on the grounds of severe emotional disturbance and alcohol intoxication. This defense would have been viable both in England and in Germany at the time.
In keeping with his chosen defense, Söring is careful to downplay any evidence that he planned to kill the Haysoms. He wants the police to believe he killed them semi-spontaneously during an angry, drunken confrontation. Therefore, Söring refuses to answer whether he brought a knife with him to Loose Chippings, because that, as he says himself, “implies an intent to use it”. He also denies that there was a concrete plan in advance to kill the Haysoms. Further, in this interview, he declines to talk about actually killing the Haysoms, although he confesses to everything before and after. Yet, as the tape makes clear, he had already confessed to the detectives earlier, and expressed “feelings of remorse” about the act. Söring, as we will see, is much more careful about what he says when the tape is rolling, because — as he also states explicitly — he understands that audiotapes may be played to the jury.
Here are a few notes on the tape:
1:28: Söring asks detectives whether they want him to discuss the „feelings of remorse“ he had earlier discussed with them.
2:40: “I drove to Lynchburg”.
3:35: I returned somewhere “past 1 AM”.
4:25: My destination was “the residence of Derek and Nancy Haysom”; nobody was with me.
6:54: “Q: Did Elizabeth know where you were going? – A: Oh yes, she knew where I was going, right.”
19:39: “She did in fact not” go with me to Loose Chippings. Söring claims he’s worried Elizabeth will “try to play the hero”.
20:28: Söring: “She stayed in DC.”
24:00: Söring: “The issue of murder had obviously come up.”
27:20: “Q: Were you carrying a weapon?” A. “….if you carry a weapon, that implies an intent to use it.” Söring refuses to answer question. About his plans for the meeting with the Haysoms, he says: “My mind was not set to do anything in a firm way.”
28:40: “Q: The knife that you had, which you carried with you. Was it your knife?” A: “I find it really hard to answer that particular question right now.”
33:45: “The reason I don’t learn from my mistakes is that I don’t fucking well remember them.” Söring then asks for the word “fucking” to be removed, so the jury won’t hear it. He knows these tapes may be played before a jury.
40:00: Söring dodges another question about the knife.
53:20: “Q: At some point, did you stab Derek Haysom with the knife?” A: (long pause) “I really…I really don’t want to answer that.”
56:00: Refuses to answer where his clothes are now, but agrees the question is “very” difficult and that he had to throw them away.
57:43: Here is the famous exchange about what clothes Derek and Nancy Haysom were wearing. As you can hear, Söring hesitates for a long time and repeatedly warns the detectives that his memory of this is very hazy.
59:30: Söring admits that he arrived back in D.C. without trousers, and that he will appear on the surveillance videotape from the elevators without pants.
1:01:44: “Q: Did you have occasion to throw a knife away? A weapon away?” A: “I’m really afraid to answer that question.”
Söring has repeatedly claimed that he told detectives “as little as possible” before June 8, 1986. Now you can judge for yourself.