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

Söring and Most Supporters Retreat into Awkward Silence

Three key members of Team Söring, and the man himself. Source.

The most recent episode of Small Town Big Crime on the Söring case is out, called “The Battle Lines”. The podcasters continue their vain attempts to get anyone in the Söring camp to comment on the gaps and inconsistencies in Söring’s story.

They first reach out to Söring, who stonewalls them. As I predicted in my last post, Söring did in fact refuse to answer critical, well-informed questions from Small Town Big Crime on the record. It’s his only real choice, but it deals another blow to his credibility. We also learn that Söring’s American lawyer, Steven Rosenfield, is now also refusing to answer their questions, after speaking with them several times in the past.

Having been stonewalled by Söring and his lawyers, STBC turns to another question: How did Söring convince so many people to buy into his story?

They go back to the vault and dig out earlier interviews with Steven Rosenfield and Chip Harding. Rosenfield first talks about the failed attempt to have Söring transferred back to Germany in 2010. Harding, for his part, admits that he formed his opinions about the Söring case based on material Steven Rosenfield had sent him. That is, Harding relied on a cherry-picked, one-sided dossier of material which excludes or downplays the grave problems with Söring’s credibility and the inconsistencies in his stories.

After unwisely relying on this one-sided presentation, Harding says he then contacted his “friend”, music producer and criminal-justice activist Jason Flom. Thus, we now know how Flom became involved in this affair. This all appears to have happened sometime between 2010 and 2016. Flom confirms that he had never heard of the case before speaking to Harding, but that he had watched the pro-Söring propaganda vehicle Killing for Love. This STBC podcast episode makes it clear that Chip Harding played a key role, perhaps the key role, in creating “Team Söring” in the broader sense. The reporters then briefly review the involvement of Hudson and Reid, the press conferences, etc.

After this history, they turn to McClintock, asking him whether the unidentified DNA could belong to Derek Haysom, judging by comparison to Elizabeth’s full DNA profile, which (unlike Derek’s) is known. McClintock wrote back by email, saying all the unidentified DNA could belong to Derek Haysom, that Derek was thus not excluded, but that there were too many empty loci to permit a definitive statement. This strikes me as a fully accurate statement of the case. The reporters politely press him: Using the same techniques that did exclude Söring, the drifters, and Jim Farmer, can you now exclude Derek Haysom? The answer is no. McClintock sounds genuinely reluctant to have to confirm this conclusion, but he’s to be congratulated on his honesty.

The podcasters then call Moses Schanfield, who refuses to comment on the DNA evidence because it would cost him “time I don’t have”, and merely reconfirms his confidence in the blood-typing analysis. Which, as we have seen, is of little value. Schanfield then goes far beyond his remit, asserting in an email cc’ed to Jens Söring that there was no evidence Söring was at the crime scene, “unlike Elizabeth” (he doesn’t specify what this evidence is), and that the investigating officers had “a certain degree of observational bias”. This would seem to confirm that Schanfield, unlike McClintock, is still a full-on Team Söring partisan.

The podcasters then confirm, as noted above that Steve Rosenfield is also now refusing to speak with them, so they turn to the investigators Chip Harding and Richard Hudson. Harding scoffs at the idea the DNA could all have come from Derek Haysom, saying that scenario is as likely as aliens visiting the crime scene. One of the reporters presses him and the following exchange occurs:

Reporter: “McClintock said that’s possible–”

Harding: “Possible, sweetheart. It’s also possible that the alien came down… What is the degree of possibility?”

It’s a tribute to their professionalism that the reporters don’t harp on that revealing “sweetheart” (the podcasters are all women). Neither Harding nor Hudson, the reporters reveal, has read the Wright report. Hudson, for his part, invokes the standard Team Söring line that the prosecution mentioned Type O blood over twenty times in its closing argument, etc. etc. Hudson complains that the “Doc” with all his “fancy equipment” can’t tell whether the DNA results came from blood or some other type of cell. It’s pretty clear Hudson is well out of his depth here.

At the end, the podcasters, sum up, nobody is budging on the DNA issue. They then tease the next episode, in which they promise to investigate the Washington Marriott alibi, and do some “forensic testing” of their own. They include an audio clip of one of them talking about “9 and 1/2”, so this is obviously going to revolve around shoe sizes. They also mention a theory which nobody has yet considered.

SPOILER ALERT: I’m going to tell you what I think that theory is in the next post. But first, please go to the Patreon page for the podcast and sign up. These reporters have brought an incredible amount of new information to the case and cleared up many outstanding issues. The least you can do is help them out.

8 thoughts on “Söring and Most Supporters Retreat into Awkward Silence”

  1. I believe Rosenfield actually represented Elizabeth at her hearings, before switching sides at some point.
    He must be extremely well versed in all the evidence, like Terry Wright.

    1. Why yes, Stoppercrime, Rosenfield did represent Haysom for a period, and was even accused by Söring in “Mortal Thoughts” of having attempted to broker a cash deal for her testimony. I mentioned this in one of my German articles about the case.

      You’re clearly well-informed about the case. I’d love to exchange some emails — feel free to contact me using the contact page at the website if you like.

      1. Very interesting Frank.
        I am just curious why a lawyer would take on Soering’s cause when he presumably must have researched all the trial evidence and interview transcripts?
        Did he try and broker a cash deal for Elizabeth’s evidence and how come he ended up mates with Soering after Mortal Thoughts?

    2. No, Rosenfield does not have the knowledge that Wright has about the case. Rosenfield was not even at Elizabeth’s trial in 1987. Further, he argued ignorance of the case as late as May, 1990, in court at Bedford at a hearing about the question of whether or not he was in either civil or criminal contempt. (He was not, but he was ordered to stay away from the case.) He had written Elizabeth upon the suggestion of Dr. Showalter, who had seen her not long before at Goochland. He may have gotten up to speed later on, but I doubt it. Holdsworth noticed him making errors only a few years ago on the Coy Barefoot show. What he said meant he was shaky on the medical report. I’ve noticed some surprising statements, a couple of times when I am paying attention to him.

      This is ‘The Bridge of San Luis Rey’ and we are Fray Junipers.

      Wright and Beever lived this case. I don’t know how many times they flew across the Atlantic, but it was a lot. I remember that a speaker system failed that first day, and Wright and Beever simply read Elizabeth’s letters from the witness box into a hushed courtroom. It was absolutely riveting. The words were beautiful but I realized oh how so very empty. Those lines of Matthew Arnold came to mind. “Sophocles heard it on the Aegean…” Here we were of an afternoon in an enormous, portrait hung room in America sitting on what I suspected to be church pews, and not in the olive groves of Sicily , but we were still listening to men’s voices speaking in rhythmic incantation of terrible things.

  2. Is it true that Rosenfield was fired by Elizabeth after she learned about this cash deal for her testimony or is this just another Soering-fabricated stuff ?

    1. No. I suspect that this was another one of those cases where Elizabeth was making things happen. She was playing both sides. She wanted to be transferred to Canada. She wanted some benefit for her testimony in the upcoming trial, which had been originally scheduled for middle March but had been continued to June 1. Rosenfield suggested to Cleaveland that money–” a check”– be sent to her by the Soering team. She would then work with them. Rosenfield had previously written a couple of letters to Updike informing him that he would now have to seek his permission to contact Elizabeth. Updike didn’t respond to the letters and waited. He had had subpoenas served on January 19 and, after the continuance, on March 12, 1990. (Rosenfield would testify that he did not know this.) After a second letter with an ultimatum to Updike, and the deadline passed, with silence from the Commonwealth, the audacious Rosenfield wrote the letter to Cleaveland at Roanoke suggesting some money for his client. Cleaveland informed Neaton, who was in Detroit. Neaton talked to a Detroit judge who advised going to Judge Sweeney immediately. This led to a hearing on the contempt question. Elizabeth found herself yanked out of Goochland and hauled off to Bedford to testify. She was surely distressed by this. Not what she had expected. She fired Rosenfield at Bedford because he had failed to serve her well. If she had toed the line I assume there would have have been a complicated situation, since Updike still needed to see her at Goochland to discuss her testimony with her. I assume that that is the correct way to put it. To prep her? Would Rosenfield have had to be present? Plus the gent?

      Updike and Gardner had already been, in February, twice to see Elizabeth and had found her forgiving and very cooperative. But at the same time she was presumed to be in touch by telephone with a gent who served as a paralegal for Rosenfield, who had been in prison and who acted as a contact for the lawyer, introducing him to some prison cases. More than ninety per cent of Rosenfield’s cases were with prisoners in the D.O.C. The gent had had an accident and become addicted to pain-killers. Otherwise he was a very rich and eccentric man who sounds to me like either a wannabe lawyer or a scofflaw, or both. Updike had convicted him on some widespread scrip writing that happened to take place in Bedford. I think this gent was the catalyst. He told her they owed her for her testimony. He was a very persuasive man who could impersonate doctors and pharmacists brilliantly. The opioids did him in, eventually.

      Updike pointed out something I find interesting. Rosenfield had made noises warning both sides that Elizabeth had lost her Fifth Amendment rights. She had been tried and was now serving her sentence. This meant that if she refused to testify at the Soering trial she could be held in contempt. This would hardly matter to her–say a year in jail for contempt–when she was serving ninety years. Cleaveland stated in court that he felt that this smacked of blackmail. (A threat of pay to play?) What Updike noted was that this did not seem to have the client’s interests very much at heart at all, though under the ethical code that is all important. I think this was a very good point. Noone said this at the time, but what I think is that Elizabeth would have suddenly realized and feared was that she could be at risk with a contempt citation on her when she came up in front of a parole board. It might have some bearing on an assessment of her claimed rehabilitation. The parole board would not like it that she had, in effect, obstructed justice. It would be a strike against her. It could cost her years. Nor had she forseen the uproar that she had had a principal part (yet again) in creating. As Carlos Santos amusingly noted in his TD article, she was smiling brightly when she told the judge she would testify against Soering. Her hair was cut short, she had on a light green jump suit she had probably borrowed from a girl serving time with her, and she looked great.

  3. I’m not sure Soering can quite believe it.
    He’s been hit by at least three different juggernauts since leaving prison.
    These podcasters play it text book and are very sharp.
    The mainstream media could learn a lot.
    They have been lucky with timings, but even so, they are very cute and corner McLintock before he too can get the hell out.
    Very disappointing and disturbing that two retired Virginia detectives either don’t understand the DNA evidence or refuse to follow where the evidence leads.
    Aliens, for heaven’s sake!

  4. The podcasters pose a very interesting question.
    How did Soering manage to convince so many people?
    Which begs a supplementary:
    Why did Elizabeth only occasionally correct the falsehoods in public?
    Understandably fatigued, but the occasional rebuttal and reference to trial evidence would surely have kicked Soering into touch?

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