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

The New “Killing for Love” Documentary: Analysis of a Scene

Episodes 3 and 4 of the new 4-part documentary on the Jens Söring case have just been released for press preview, and I’ve had a quick look at them.1 There’s not much new here — this is basically little more than an expanded version of Killing for Love, with extended interviews with figures such as Ricky Gardner, Dave Watson, Gail Marshall, and others. The new 3-hour documentary is actually slightly more balanced, since the longer format allows for longer interviews which present more context. Nevertheless, it still doesn’t come close to presenting the full, accurate picture of the case. Plus, as usual, it’s full of innuendo and misleading editing. I’ll have many more comments when I live-blog the 4-part series on 4 August, 2020.

Let’s Go to the Tape

For now, I thought I’d pick out one short example to show how the filmmakers operate. Here we see a brief excerpt of the testimony of Annie Massie, the family friend of the Haysoms, who found their bodies. Rick Neaton, Söring’s defense lawyer, is shown trying to ask a few questions, but then getting shot down:


From this excerpt, it’s impossible to tell exactly what questions Neaton was trying to ask, or why he wasn’t allowed to ask them. We’re evidently supposed to assume these scenes suggest (1) Neaton’s incompetence as a lawyer and/or his unfamiliarity with Virginia rules; and (2) the judge’s pro-prosecution bias (in her 2016 interview on the Markus Lanz TV show, co-director Karin Steinberger said her impression was that the judge “kept interrupting” the defense lawyer). After this confusing courtroom exchange, we cut to an interview with Söring’s former lawyer Gail Marshall. She notes that Rick Neaton was a friend of Söring’s father, that he was licensed in Michigan, not in Virginia, and that he may not have been familiar with the procedural rules in Virginia. Thus, the unstated implication of this part of the documentary are that Neaton was unfamiliar with Virginia rules, which caused him to make mistakes, and, on top of it all, the judge unfairly singled out Neaton for criticism.

What Exactly was Going On Here?

All of these assumptions fall apart on closer examination, as is so often the case in pro-Söring films or articles. First, let’s untangle all the confusion and go straight to the trial record. This is the exchange from which the filmmakers created their montage. Söring’s lawyer Rick Neaton is questioning Annie Massie, the family friend of the Haysoms:

Q And Loose Chippings, the Haysom home sits on top of a knoll or a hill, right?

A That’s right.

Q And it looks out over a — out over the mountains off the back, right?

A Uh-huh.

Q Now Mrs. Massie, you’re of the opinion that Elizabeth Haysom

MR. UPDIKE: Objection to any opinion, regardless of what it is.

THE COURT: The question is [sic] certainly started off wrong. I don’t know how it would have ended up, but based on the way it started off, I sustain it.

MR. NEATON (continuing)

You know of some facts, don’t you, Mrs. Massie, that suggested Elizabeth Haysom was —

MR. UPDIKE: Objection, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Wait a minute, Mr. Neaton, that’s an improper question. I sustain the objection. You’re on experienced trial lawyer, it’s going at it in a different way, sustained.

MR. NEATON: (continuing)

Q Mrs Massie, I’d like to ask you some questions that may be of a rather sensitive nature, and I ask you to bear with me while I ask you these questions. Did Nancy Haysom ever shown you any nude photographs of Elizabeth Haysom?

A No, Nancy had not.

Q Was there ever a incident at Loose Chippings when you commented Elizabeth Haysom on her physical appearance and tweaked one of her breasts?

A No.

MR. UPDIKE: Objection, Your Honor, but the question’s been asked and answered.

MR. NEATON: Judge, I’m just gjving the witness a chance to clear up some things that become more apparent when Elizabeth Haysom testifies.

THE COURT: The question sounded proper, but to me it’s not a proper question.

MR. NEATON: (continuing)

Q Have you ever talked to Elizabeth Haysom about whether she was there on the night of March the 30th?

A No.

Q No?

A No. I asked her once about how she would explain.

MR. UPDIKE: Objection, Your Honor, isn’t this hearsay?

THE COURT: Of course it is hearsay if it’s offered for the proof of the truth of the statement. The objection is sustained.

MR. NEATON: Judge, I would say that it’s not hearsay. because Elizabeth Haysom was charged with these crimes and pled guilty to being an accomplice to these crimes, and therefore it is offered as an exception to the hearsay rule under the co- conspirator section, that is a statement made by people in a joint enterprise, as the prosecution contends.

MR. UPDIKE: Your Honor, the fact that she pled guilty does not change the hearsay rules. The conspiracy, exception of statements in furtherance of the conspiracy requires some type of foundation to that effect, there’s been no foundation from this person.

THE COURT: Objection is sustained.

MR, NEATON: Thank you, I have no further questions.

(Witness excused.)

What is going on here? Well, it’s pretty simple. Annie Massie’s testimony at Jens Söring’s trial was very brief. She basically just said how she knew the Haysoms, described their home, and described finding their bodies. She didn’t have any particularly important or incriminating things to say at that point.

However, as Neaton knew, Annie Massie was personally convinced that Elizabeth Haysom had been at the crime scene: Massie had said so at Haysom’s 1987 sentencing trial. As she testified back in October 1987:

Q Right. Do you also share the belief with Howard Haysom that Elizabeth was in Lynchburg or in Bedford County when– [the Haysoms were killed]

A That is correct, I do.

It’s more than obvious what Neaton is trying to do here: He’s trying to get Annie Massie to say that she personally thinks Elizabeth Haysom was at the crime scene. It’s equally clear that Jim Updike knows this is what Neaton is trying to do, and so does the judge. Updike wants to prevent Massie from stating this.

What Does the Law Say?

Both Updike and the judge are correct on the law. Annie Massie is not an expert witness, she’s a fact (or “lay”) witness. She is only allowed to describe things which she personally experienced or knows. She is not allowed to give her opinions, unless those opinions are about ordinary, everyday matters: how hot was it, what’s the most important part of your job, what’s your favorite food, etc. As a non-expert witness, she is not allowed to state her opinion on important questions of law or evidence. As a fact witness, you can say how fast the car was entering the intersection, but not what you assume the driver was thinking. You can say the bank robber seemed to be slurring his words, but not what kind of drugs you personally believe he was on. You can say you saw the plane crash, but not that you believe it was brought down by a bomb. You’re not a psychologist, a medical doctor, or an airplane crash expert.

Annie Massie was personally convinced Elizabeth Haysom was at the crime scene, but this was only speculation on her part. She had no “personal knowledge” that Haysom was there. Her opinion was, therefore, not admissible evidence.

But wait, you might ask, why was she allowed to testify about it in Elizabeth Haysom’s 1987 trial? The answer is simple: Because the 1987 trial of Elizabeth Haysom was a trial only on punishment, not on whether Haysom was guilty or innocent. No jury was involved. The rules which apply to punishment hearings are much more lax than the ones which apply to trials about guilt or innocence. This makes sense: Deciding whether to send someone to jail at all is considered a much more important question than whether they go to jail for 7 as opposed to 9 years. Thus, most evidence rules don’t apply to punishment trials, since the really big decision has already been made.

In 1990, though, Jens Söring’s jury trial did revolve around the question of guilt or innocence. Thus, the full set of evidence rules applied. And one of those rules is that fact witnesses can’t give their opinions. So Neaton had no right to ask this question, or to get an answer to it. Neaton then tries to get around the judge’s initial ruling by “going at it in a different way”, as the judge notes: asking Massie whether she ever became aware of facts, or heard Elizabeth say something which led Massie to assume Elizabeth was there. But this doesn’t work either, since this is hearsay, and hearsay isn’t allowed unless a specific exception applies. What Massie wanted to say was definitely hearsay, and no exception applies which would allow it in. As Updike correctly points out, what co-conspirators in a crime say can be admissible, but Massie was not a co-conspirator in the murder of the Haysoms, despite Jens Söring’s valiant attempts to make her one.

The judge’s rulings, therefore, were correct on the law. Neaton had no right to ask these questions. The judge shows a bit of exasperation, reminding Neaton that, as an experienced trial lawyer, he should have known he couldn’t ask these questions. Neaton doesn’t pursue the matter, since, deep down, he knows this, too.

Was Neaton Blundering or Acting Improperly?

So does this mean Neaton screwed up? The answer is a resounding no. What Neaton was doing is giving it the old college try. He had a witness up there who could have said something favorable to his client, and he did everything he could to get that statement before the jury. The Michigan attorney conduct rules state that “As advocate, a lawyer zealously asserts the client’s position under the rules of the adversary system.” When you’re fighting literally for your client’s life, you’re not going to timidly self-censor based on a strict reading of the rules. Instead, you try to drag in every piece of evidence favorable to your client, come hell or high water. It’s the job of the prosecution to try to stop you, if there’s a rule against what you’re doing. It’s the role of the judge to decide the issue if there’s an objection. But it’s your job to try to get it in, if at all possible. And that’s what Neaton was trying to do.

And it could have worked! If Jim Updike had been distracted for a minute, Annie Massie might have been allowed to blurt out her suspicion that Haysom was at the crime scene. If the judge hadn’t known the law as well as he did, he might have let that testimony in. In either case, that would have been a small victory for the defense. Neaton was obliged to at least try to get the testimony in, even if he was unlikely to succeed (and not entitled to succeed). The fact that Updike challenged the testimony and the judge excluded it isn’t a sign of incompetence, it’s a sign that Neaton tried to bend the rules to help his client, but was unsuccessful. That’s actually good lawyering. And Neaton continued the good lawyering by accepting defeat. You don’t want to exasperate or annoy the judge unnecessarily. So after giving it the old college try, Neaton moved on.

Did Neaton Not Know the Law?

Marshall suggests that Neaton was unfamiliar with Virginia’s peculiar evidence rules. And thanks to clever editing, the viewer assumes that Neaton’s floundering in the courtroom showed this.2 But this argument about Neaton’s unfamiliarity with Virginia law fails for two reasons. First of all, there’s nothing specific to Virginia about these evidence rules. The ban on fact witnesses giving their opinions and the ban on hearsay are two of the most ancient and universal rules of common-law trial procedure. You learn them in the first year of law school. They exist in every American jurisdiction, including Michigan, where Neaton was licensed. In Michigan, these are Rule of Evidence 602, which forbids a fact witness from testifying about anything they don’t have “personal knowledge” of. Here, Massie did not have “personal knowledge” Haysom was at the crime scene. And Rules 801-806 of the Michigan rules of evidence forbid hearsay. So even if this trial had been held in Michigan, where Neaton was licensed, the exact same rules would apply.

Which brings us to the second reason Marshall’s argument fails, a certain gentlemen named William Cleaveland. This is a name Team Söring never mentions. The reason is simple: Rick Neaton, Söring’s lead defense lawyer, was later disbarred, although not for anything he did in Söring’s trial, a very difficult trial which he handled well.3 Some of the reasons for Neaton’s 2001 disbarment may have related to Sörings appeals, but not to his trial.4 So Team Söring’s wants the spotlight on Neaton, all the time, since he’s the one with the bad reputation.

But Söring had two lawyers. The other lawyer, William Cleaveland, was a Virginia lawyer and, at the time of Söring’s trial, an experienced former prosecutor. He’s right there in the picture:


Cleaveland went on to a successful career, becoming a judge and a delegate in the Virginia state legislature. He even has a Wikipedia entry. If Neaton had any questions about Virginia law, all he had to do was turn to his right, where a certified expert on Virginia criminal law was sitting right next to him.

So, to sum up: Neaton’s strategy was appropriate, but Jim Updike’s objections were well-founded, and the judge’s rulings were correct. Neaton didn’t fail here because he was unfamiliar with Virginia evidence rules — Virginia’s evidence rules were exactly the same as the rules anywhere else. And if Neaton had any doubts, he had expert help literally by his side.

This is what’s so irritating about this film, and most other arguments from Team Söring. They ignore all context not favorable to Söring, they haphazardly mix and match different issues, and they routinely get the law wrong, since most Team Söring members have never even tried to understand the law which applies to the case. The resulting arguments seem superficially compelling, but they crumble when subjected to fact-checking or analysis.

Yet doing that fact-checking and analysis is tedious. Team Söring has long relied on the fact that nobody was going to challenge their claims based on a careful examination of all the evidence. Team Söring members, of course, won’t do this because they’re in the tank for Söring. Outsiders either don’t care enough to do the work, don’t have access to the necessary records, or become too invested in the miscarriage-of-justice narrative to let a few facts get in the way.

But now, there’s the Söring Truth Squad, a gruff but lovable band of misfits who have the goods, and who have taken on themselves the burden of cleaning out the Augean stables of bogus arguments put into the world by Team Söring. There are only a handful of us, but together we are moving mountains.

  1. Nobody seems to know where Episode 2 is. Also, nobody seems to know whether this is the documentary which Team Söring was planning earlier in 2020. I suspect it isn’t, since this documentary contains almost no new footage.
  2. Marshall was actually probably referring to a jury-charge issue. I can explain it if there’s demand, but it’s pretty technical.
  3. Originally I referred to “case”, but in response to the first comment, I’m changing it to “trial” to be more accurate.
  4. Neaton was disbarred for mishandling client funds in other cases. While fighting to keep his law license, he claimed he had been mentally impaired at the time he broke bar rules — which included the time of Söring’s trial. Claiming mental impairment is usually a veiled reference to drug or alcohol use, which is the 100% standard defense tactic when a lawyer is accused of misconduct — plead substance-abuse issues, and hope to get into a special program where you get your license back after going to rehab).

23 thoughts on “The New “Killing for Love” Documentary: Analysis of a Scene”

  1. “The discipline board concluded that Neaton failed to competently handle Soering’s habeas corpus appeal following his trial, misappropriated $5,000 of Soering’s funds, lied to Soering about obtaining witnesses, created phony affidavits with fictitious notary signatures and refused to turn over files to Soering once Soering decided to drop Neaton as his attorney.”

  2. Neaton’s law license was suspended for this misconduct, not revoked. Neaton’s law license was finally revoked only in 2001. And none of Söring’s allegations had anything to do with Neaton’s conduct *at trial*. Courts reviewing Neaton’s defense of Söring *at trial* have never found a single serious error. And besides, Söring had *two* lawyers at trial.

    Söring’s attorney-misconduct claims had to do with Neaton’s misconduct years after the trial, when he was filing a “habeas corpus” appeal for Söring in the Virginia courts. Söring eventually fired Neaton. The whole history of Neaton’s failed legal career is laid out here:

  3. Tausend Dank an Andrew Hammel für seine überaus gründlichen, erhellenden Ausführungen! Ich lese alles mit Interesse. Die Ungereimtheiten in Sörings Ausführungen sind mir von Anfang an suspekt gewesen. Nun fügen sich immer mehr Puzzle-Stückchen zusammen. Ich bleibe dran!

  4. The story I heard from someone I knew who I believe to have been a good source was that Neaton had not asked for enough in the way of fees right at the start. (That’s how you say this sensitive matter, right? Fees?) The remark made by the Virginia lawyer in the Vetter propaganda film–the emotional one who was the friend of Klaus Soering–that one law firm had wanted $250,000 up front; that was a stunning insight into the whole situation for the families. Neaton had gotten far less than anything like this amount. I think this is how Neaton got into financial trouble.

    That handsome guy in the background you drew the red line through–that’s me. I usually travel incognito. However, in this case, I shall make an exception…

    1. Gail Marshall spricht eine mögliche Inkompetenz von Neaton an, indem sie ihm unterstellt, die Verfahrensregeln in Virginia nicht zu kennen. Wenn es aber offensichtlich so ist, dass zwischen Michigan und Virginia keine unterschiedlichen Verfahrensregeln gelten, so hat sie sich damit selbst ein schlechtes Zeugnis ausgestellt. Oder machte sie diese Bemerkung aus Gründen reiner Propaganda?

      1. Die Antwort is denkbar einfach: Gail Marshall redete in ihrem Interview über etwas völlig anderes, nicht über diese Szenen im Gerichtssaal. Die Regisseure haben einen Zusammenhang durch irreführende Nebeneinanderstellung geschafft.

    2. Thanks again for this informative comment. I noted that statement from Zorn as well. And yes, in 1990, a *private* criminal defense lawyer might well have demanded $250,000 for a complete defense for Söring. Defending a client in a potential life-sentence case is an extremely difficult job, involving potentially hundreds of hours of work, and this amount would not have been unusual.

      As it happens, the Söring family hired Neaton, perhaps because Neaton offered a somewhat lower fee as a friend (always a risky proposition for a lawyer). But Neaton, at this point in his career, was a highly qualified lawyer, and made pretty good decisions.

  5. During the luncheon at Macado’s, on ‘the corner’ in Charlottesville, across from UVA, in early February, 1985, Soering directly challenged Derek Haysom about how they were raising and treating Elizabeth. He told them they were treating her badly and wrongly. He must surely have cautioned them. He believed that social services in Nova Scotia years before had been after the parents for mistreating her, though he may not have mentioned this then. But he was very certain that they were doing things wrong. He became angry. The parents were simply astonished.

    If Derek Haysom had been a lawyer, he might have heard Soering out. If he and Nancy had listened to Soering, it is likely that EH would have immediately found herself placed under the care of a psychiatrist. At that moment Elizabeth sat there tensely, I am certain, listening and watching. Of these four persons, she was the only one who understand what was going down.

    She had told Soering she was afraid that he might bring up the purported sexual abuse. (Which I am convinced never happened.) He himself has written about how nervous she was, going into the luncheon. We know that she had also told Soering that over the Christmas holidays at home at Loose Chippings, in Boonsboro, that she had been committed to an apparently discreet private hospital for what Soering described to Reid and Gardner (October interview) as alcohol poisoning. (This had actually happened to Soering’s mother for alcoholism, and she knew this.) Actually, she had been on a trip with other students to Yugoslavia. It is simply incredible to me that Soering did not know this.

    So: A forcible commitment in late December. It is now still early in the New Year of 1985.

    Soering cut loose.

    Derek Haysom was a great gentleman. During WWII he had reached the rank of Lt. Colonel in the UK equivalent of combat engineers. Among his closest friends were OBE’s and members of the British aristocracy. This was simply incredible. But these people were very polite. He immediately ended the luncheon. He asked for the bill. He must have suggested coldly and emphatically to Soering that he should leave.

    Soering at that point was holding his knife and fork. His hand began to tremble violently to such an extent that his knife began clattering on the china plate. Nancy Haysom was sitting near him. She reached out and gently took Soering’s hand, cupping her hand around his, and simply held it for a long few moments until Soering became calm.

    Soering left immediately. I think that this was the occasion when he saw Elizabeth later, after she had returned to the dorm, that he said angrily: “I could kill them.”

    It is obvious to me that this is when Elizabeth set the hook.

    By mid- March, family members such as Dr. Haysom ( who had had psychiatric courses as part of his medical education ) had discreetly scrutinized Elizabeth on a ski-trip to his condo in Colorado. He became extremely concerned. There were some odd, secretive phone calls. She said some strange things that stayed in his mind. He noticed some of her remarks when they were skiiing. What I think he noticed could be called “splitting”. People, even children– all good or all bad. ( It was about Germans.) He telephoned his parents on a weekly basis. It was understood among the family members closest to Derek and Nancy that there was something inexplicable and strange about Jens Soering. Noone could understand what was happening. But it was thought that Derek Haysom, in particular, should never again be around Jens Soering.

    Therefore, the family and close friends could never understand how Soering could have gotten into the house alone. He should never have been there. Dr. Haysom would never have allowed this. He was the family member who was closing in on the truth. He thought that they were all in full agreement. The only way that Soering could have gotten into the house, the family thought, was if Elizabeth had arrived with him. She would have insisted that they all sit and talk things over. And then the trap would have been sprung.

    I have more to say on this. My sources on this were good.

    1. As far as i remember, there where only 3 sets of dishes on the table at the crime scene, right ?
      And what about the movie tickets and the room service ?
      One of the two must have stayed in D.C. and it’s pretty clear, that was Elizabeth.

      1. I am trying here simply to give an account of why it was that such intelligent and impressive people as Dr. Haysom and Mrs. Massie and others would testify during the sentencing phase of Elizabeth Haysom’s guilty plea in October, 1987, that they believed that she had been at the house during the murders.

        This suspicion has haunted the case.

        As late as a few years ago, I became aware that the hypothesis was yet again being seriously considered that there had been a larger conspiracy–that there was another person, possibly from UVA, who was involved in the crimes. Elizabeth had thrown some shit in the game by telling her lawyers that she had had dinner at the hotel with another person. I do not believe this. Actually, I don’t believe that Elizabeth Haysom has ever been addicted to drugs. I don’t believe that Elizabeth Haysom has ever used a syringe and needle to inject drugs. Not even once. I don’t believe that she was on drugs at UVA. She has smoked weed and hash and done a certain amount of acid in Europe. She may have, on one occasion, in Italy, ‘chased the dragon’–that is breathed the fumes of an opium pill that has been heated on tinfoil. Just once. Drug addicts don’t keep diaries.

        Elizabeth Haysom was a Baroness Munchausen.

        I assume that this hypothesis of a third person considered recently by certain writers has since been dropped. It is wrong.

        Obviously, if a third person was involved you could see all kinds of possibilities.

        It is not my theory of the case.

    2. “But these people were very polite”
      I think that answers the question “How did he get in alone?”

      1. Thank you Stopper Crime for your comment! I makes me want to get into the subject a little bit more.

        I was allowed into the evidence. I saw there what I remember as a largish manilla envelope, a little larger than 8 by 11, which I had previously heard about. I do not remember what was said about this in court. I will have to check on this. However, I know that it was admitted into evidence. The envelope had been heavily dusted for fingerprints, which leaves a very fine charcoal like discoloration on surfaces. This envelope had been put into the mail in Washington, DC, within the District, at some point late in that weekend, and there was a delayed postmark on it very early April, perhaps that Tuesday. I can check that. This envelope contained Derek and Nancy Haysom’s tax returns. The only way this envelope could have gone this route is if someone had picked it up at the Haysom home in Boonsboro from Derek Haysom, and had driven it to DC and put it in a mail-box there.

        Police were told by some friends of the Haysoms that that Saturday they were expecting someone for lunch. What I was told by a good source was that the hypothesis was that EH had informed her parents in a telephone call that she was going to Washington with JS that weekend. The parents would not have approved of this to begin with. Though they knew that their daughter had been in a homosexual relationship with a younger girl for at least five months in 1983. They were principally concerned that, regardless of the past, she needed, as chick-lit writers might say, to get her groove back. Remember–and this is huge–what they had been celebrating the weekend before was not only her father’s birthday but the recovery of EH from what her parents feared was a feckless summer of wandering which could have resulted in an abandoned education which had gone very well up to this point. (They thought that there had been more drugs than there had been.) Actually, I think that they had thought that they had lost her. This haunted them. They had desperately, tactfully, and with dignity set about getting her back on track. They were great believers in education. They wanted her to have a career, and she had been a brilliant student for years previously. Now, to put this simply, I think that they were absolutely shocked that this was happening. I can understand their surprise and consternation. They thought that they knew her. They did not. She seems to me to have been a person who didn’t, at that time, for sure, have a stable identity. I am aware that I should go on here, but won’t. (Years have gone by.) In 1987, Judge Sweeney said of her that she was to him an “enigma.”

        So they decided to ask E&J to take the tax returns to DC after dropping by and having lunch with them. They would have been told that E&J had rented a car. My interpretation of this presumed invitation is that it would have given the parents a chance to assess the relationship of their daughter and this odd young student who was after all a Jefferson Scholar, and thus one of the best and brightest. But way too young and actually not in her league. It is well within the realm of possibility that the parents would have simply requested of them something like ”will you please wait until you get your degrees before you think about getting married?” All of anyone’s speculations about this part of the case need to take into account that their considerations were rational and responsible as loving parents. And you are not going to give your tax returns to a very angry young man after a disastrous lunch. That’s how I see it.

        But it was not a rational situation at all. It was terrifying.

        They must have been tense preparing the lunch. And the appointed time came and went. E&J did not show up. The parents were devastated. They had a few more drinks. The day went by and they felt anger and despair…

        And then just after dark, Jens arrived. He must have apologized politely, offered to take the tax returns up to Washington as had been promised, given a reason for EH’s absence as her concern that they should finally talk things over with Jens and clear the air…

        Soering, of course, had no complaints to make to them as to how they raised their daughter, this time. What he and Elizabeth had been doing, at about the time they were supposed to be there for lunch, was buying a knife in Maryland. He was no longer interested in what these monsters had done to ‘Liz. He had the keys to the house in his pocket, and he had the balisong. He was set.

  6. I’ve read elsewhere on here about the likelihood that EH orchestrated the visit and that does seem very plausible.
    Fascinating to hear about the envelope which I’ve not seen mentioned before.
    Am scratching my head trying to work out why JS would take their tax returns to DC and then post them back?
    He was covered in blood and would have known that he risked leaving trace evidence on the envelope and for what purpose?

    1. i think you need to take another look at Holdsworth’s “Jens Soering–Guilty as Charged.” I.R.S. got the tax returns. Police requested the tax returns for forensic examination and the manilla envelope was recovered. Soering was not covered in blood. He had taken a shower. Luminol tests reveal this. It was in the downstairs master bathroom. Beever and Wright told Holdsworth that Soering had told them he simply sat on the side of the tub–the shower stall was a mid-century style, grouted tile wall enclosure on three sides, with a tub and shower– and washed off. What I noticed, looking at the photo of the luminol light-off, was that in the back and side wall of the enclosure there was an intensity of fluorescence that seemed to me to suggest someone very bloody standing with the blood being washed off behind and to the inner wall side. A full shower then of a standing person. Who knows? But Soering took a shower, was clean when he got into the car. There are some questions about his feet. I would have thought he would have taken some of Derek Haysom’s socks. Don’t know. He had on one of Derek Haysom’s sweaters, and had the heavy counterpane wrapped around him. His hand was bleeding. He had a cloth around it and could dab the blood on to the counterpane. That’s how I see it. He was concerned with areas such as the rear-view mirror, which he had adjusted, and the brake pedals etc. He told EH to work on these areas, as well as the front of the car. It would be interesting to know if she found anything on the front of the car. I mean, signs that a dog had been hit. Of course, they got no fingerprints off the manilla envelope. This was pre-DNA. I don’t think anyone ever tried for DNA.

      That IRS had the tax returns would make it simpler to settle the estate. By late summer Soering was very concerned about getting more money out of the estate. Good source. By September he could see that things were going wrong.

      1. Thanks, misinterpreted your post.
        Makes sense now.
        I wonder who tipped off the police to contact the IRS?
        Did the Haysoms mention to somebody that after lunch EH and JS would take their tax returns to DC?

      2. Very odd he didn’t help himself to a pair of trousers as well, even if they would have been too big.

      3. Another odd thing is that it’s at least a two hour detour to Lynchburg from Charlottesville if you are going to DC and involves doubling back on yourself.
        All so that they can have lunch and transport the tax returns to DC?
        I don’t doubt that EH made arrangements for them all to meet, but If I was already on my guard against JS and my family had advised me to keep well away from him, I can’t say this luncheon “on our way to DC”would necessarily put me at ease.

  7. How did police learn that IRS had the Haysom tax returns? That is a very good question. I don’t know.
    I had a chance to ask, too! The way I see it, the family in re EH was in a low-intensity ongoing “situation”–actually worse than they could know– which meant they were being very careful with her. The parents’ fear was that she just suddenly might leave again. This meant that Dr. Haysom, who was routinely in touch with his parents on a weekly basis, would know that the tax returns were being prepared. They talked about everything. Perhaps he even knew about the idea of getting E&J to come have lunch, talk it all over, then go on to DC, taking the IRS forms –the excuse for the occasion–with them. So at some point the police might have been asked to look for the tax returns and been informed of the parents’ plan.

    It is possible that police looked for the tax returns and couldn’t find them. You need to remember that there were a lot of people who needed to be informed in Canada, the UK, South Africa; also USA–New York, Virginia, South Carolina etc. There was the question of the address book. Police helpfully looked for certain items and found the book.

    If police looked for and did not find the tax returns and were not told of the luncheon plan as it was connected to the IRS documents, because only the annual preparations being done to get the taxes in on time had been mentioned in phone calls, then the lawyer in the family in Nova Scotia, who was now faced with the burden of informing IRS and the CRA that both parents were deceased as of March 30, 1985, in order to begin the long process of settling the estates, and having gotten in touch with the agencies, might have been surprised to learn that the tax documents had been submitted. He would want to know how. He would have informed Virginia police or the RCMP, or both. They would have located the manila envelope and been intrigued to see the postmark. Then, two and two could have been put together, and the hypothesis made as to how and why the luncheon they already knew about from other friends had been planned.

    To me, it means that there is a strong connection between Washington, D.C , and the crimes. And not, say, Roanoke. That is my bias. There is a deep silence from E&J about this.

    It should be noted that EH must have seized on the idea of the luncheon as falling beautifully into place with the long- planned journey to DC to make that distant location the jumping off point for the crimes. She has written about this recently. Could she have intuited that her parents would be deeply distressed, and drinking through the afternoon then, and be in a very vulnerable state when Jens arrived? It was all incredibly cruel. Psychopathy always trumps common decency.

  8. Very interesting insights and compelling arguments.
    Thank you.
    I hope EH will cover this in her book and tie up the loose ends.
    No doubt she is keen to provide a rebuttal to the many myths and has nothing to lose by coming (fairly) clean.

    1. I am afraid that this has been, and will continue to be, a very complicated psychiatric case that is going to require ongoing treatment for a long time. She should keep her day job, perhaps as an art center administrator, if the work she has been doing at Fluvanna is not available in her location. She should write under an assumed name. About other things. Poetry as well. Me, I’d rather live alone in a big city or on Cape Breton. (The Highlanders, being RC’s, are more understanding up there, anyway.)

      Who knows?

      Recently, I watched Philippe Claudel’s ‘I’ve Loved You So Long.’ The performances of Kristin Scott Thomas as ‘Juliette’ and Elsa Zylberstein, as her sister, simply rocked my little sheltering- in- place solitary- wine-drinking -Felix-my-beloved cat-on- lap world. Elsa seemed familiar to me. I checked and she was playing a super nice, rich person in ‘Gemma Bovery.’ She does super-nice well. She is a real sweetie-pie. But Kristin Scott Thomas is a great tragic actor. (I used to say ‘actress’ and still like the term.) I had never even heard of her. (The Amazon prime video algorithm has gotten a’ holt of me and tells me to watch these new French films. They are wonderful. I like to study how the French prepare and eat their meals, early middle-aged men and fertile women close together, drinking red wine and talking, talking, saying really intellectual things, sometimes making interesting gestures casually with their silver. The guys seem to all shave their heads now or have crew cuts. I even caught a film joke when, at table, they discuss Racine and Rohmer as being in the same category. ( There is a lot of scoffing , but I think the joke is that this hybridization, if you will, is what Claudel was doing in his own film.) To me, ‘I’ve Loved You So Long’ seems to be a great and very moving cinematic work of art. Perhaps it has to do with some past experience with the DOC and death row. I have done weekend night police as backup for the regular guy for a city newspaper, and later on I taught in prison at the old CCI in Columbia, S.C. And more involvement later on back in Virginia. I know something about the ‘penitentiary.’ I had been thinking recently about another woman whose case has parallels to E&J who has gotten parole. There are quite a few cases in Virginia in the 80’s that are about ‘killing for love.” People do have the right to be left alone and forgotten. But then I thought about it. ‘Juliette’ did not have a BPD. Psychopathy changes everything. In a capital murder case it is the kiss of death. This makes the E&J case not only worse but also a good deal more problematic at this point…

  9. I have done some double-checking on the information I am responsible for promulgating–I like that word–here on the Hammel shield wall. That manila envelope! I held it in my hands. From Soering’s interview with Reid and Gardner on October 5, 1985, a Saturday–though in the film, Reid says it was a Sunday!– I relearn that most likely that the envelope went to the law firm of the lawyer in the family in Nova Scotia. On the beautiful bay of the three churches. It’s kind of obvious innit? Derek Haysom let his lawyer son handle his taxes. And these were most likely Canadian and not IRS. His lawyer son took a look at the date and place that were was stamped on the large envelope–Monday, April 1, 1985– and phoned the police, probably the RCMP. It had gone out on a Monday. But it could have gone into a post box on a Saturday or a Sunday. In Washington, D.C.

    That might be right. ,

  10. I have to tidy up more. There is no doubt that at Macado’s, going into that very disturbing, quietly crazy, and to me, poignant luncheon–it is the worst I have ever heard of — Soering believed that EH had been committed, under duress, to some sort of mental hospital for alcoholic distress, though evidently for a very short time –or something like that– it would be hard to describe, because it was a completely outrageous and probably very naive fiction, and it carried with it the extraordinary implication and belief that Derek and Nancy were incomprehensibly powerful and ruthless people; this by an accuser, their daughter, who knew that they were not, and yet could not stop believing otherwise. And this was by no means the worst of what he had heard and believed. My ongoing suspicion is that Jens seems to have WANTED to believe every thing that EH said; and that, therefore, Jens is–or is it was?– far more of psychiatric case than anyone has ever believed. He always seems to protest too much.

    He went over the line very early on, and he knew it. And he knows it now.

    This hospitalization, however, was not mentioned at the Saturday, October 5, 1985, interview at Bedford that Soering had with Reid and Gardner. He was still a believer then. This remark was made in one of the June, 1986 interviews.

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