Deutschlandfunk is the main public radio station in Germany, and has just broadcast yet another podcast about the Jens Söring case, called “Das Versprechen” (“The Promise”). The 7-part podcast was created by Karin Steinberger and Markus Vetter, the pair behind the 2016 pro-Söring film titled “Killing for Love” in English. Like the documentary broadcast in August 2020 on ZDFInfo, it appears to consist mostly of archival material gathered for the film, with some new developments added. The host of the podcast, Pascal Fischer, contacted me for an interview for the very last episode of the podcast, to provide some balance. You can hear and download it here (g), my interview begins in the second half.
I haven’t listened to the whole podcast, because, well, I already know what everyone’s going to say. I did listen to this last episode, though. There’s no point in going into depth, but there are a few telling passages. Steinberger (I think) states around 5:10 that Tony Buchanan, the car repair guy, was “never officially questioned” about his evidence.
This snippet shows how Steinberger and Vetter work. The implication is that there was some sinister or culpable reason Tony Buchanan was never questioned by authorities. Perhaps his testimony was never sought because it didn’t fit with the prosecution’s tunnel-vision Söring-or-nobody theory of the case.
This is how most all the “arguments” in Killing for Love work: by insinuation, implication, and innuendo. Either the filmmakers or an interview subject suggest something wrong with the investigation, and that accusation is either just left there hanging, or accompanied by a truncated, defensive-sounding denial from Bedford County authorities. No context is provided to help the viewer or listener know whether the claim has any merit, or who’s right.
Why didn’t the authorities investigate Buchanan’s claim? The podcast doesn’t tell you, nor does the movie. So I will! The authorities didn’t investigate Tony Buchanan’s claim that Elizabeth Haysom and some unknown male dropped off a bloody car sometime in 1985 because Buchanan only made this claim in 2011, 26 years after the murders! Buchanan claims he tried to inform Ricky Gardner at some earlier date, but Gardner denies this.
And even if Gardner did brush off Buchanan, well, if you had important information concerning the most notorious murder in your community’s history which the police didn’t seem to be interested in, would you just hang up the phone and stay silent for 26 years? Never once contacting the defense attorneys, or the prosecutor, or the press? Never once telling your family or friends (as far as we know)? For 26 years? Steinberger also comments that it took a “brave man” to come forward with an alternate theory of the case, since everyone in Bedford County was eager to blame the nerdy foreigner. Buchanan, Steinberger tells us, was later portrayed as a “crazy” veteran, but she fails to say by whom, or why.
Maybe his pointing a loaded pistol at a reporter might have had something to do with it?
As for the substance of Buchanan’s story, well, it’s as bizarre as it is irrelevant. No informed observer has ever given it any credence.
In any case, many thanks to Pascal Fischer for the pleasant interview and the chance to speak about the case, and for discreetly editing out my worst German blunders.
8 thoughts on “Deutschlandfunk Broadcasts Interview with Me”
The plot thickens.
I’m starting to lose count of how many people were at Loose Chippings that night.
Farmer, the two drifters, Elizabeth and an unknown accomplice. As well as Soring who we know drove back without any trousers on and was recorded on the hotel cctv.
That just leaves the person who bought the two cinema tickets and ordered room service.
He missed a great party.
Komisch, was ist Tony Buchanan denn jetzt? Ein Lügner der zu seinem Affidavit Perjury (Meineid) begeht oder ein Verrückter. Ich lese und höre nichts substanzielles.
Wenn es um die Bilder in der Zeitung geht, dann passt selbst noch die Erinnerung von Buchanans genanntem Zeitfenster.
3-5 Monate nach den Morden
Einige Monate später das Bild in der Zeitung
So eine Zeugenaussage würde in einem Mordfallsfall vor Gericht einen Angeklagten in jedem Fall belasten. Auch wenn von der Zeitangabe über ein Jahr herauskommen müsste. Das Gericht würde immer Erinnerungslücken anstetzen. TB hatte immerhin einen Lügendetektortest angeboten.
Ausgegraben wurde TB höchstwahrscheinlich von Dave Watson in 2011, der wie vom Parole Board angeraten, nachermittelte.
And they all just stood by whilst Derek Haysom commited double murder
On August 6, 2020, Andrew posted “A New, Slightly Less Misleading (But Still Misleading) Soering Documentary.” On August 10, I made a comment about his essay, one of six observations made by the group at that time, Mine were about the allegations of Tony Buchanan and the problem he presents.
I am now going to repeat myself. I know that this is tedious. But at some point the reality is going to have to hammered home, it seems to me. There’s something bizarre going on in German journalism. It is almost as if Steinberger and Vetter have gone woke. I didn’t know Germans did woke.
Tony Buchanan gave an affidavit and he made strong statements to the media to the effect that he believed that the young woman who had come into his place of business in the matter of the bloody car was Elizabeth Haysom. But that the young man with her was NOT Jens Soering.
He states that he became concerned as the news brought accounts of Elizabeth’s and Jens’ arrest, and claimed that at some point later in the summer, I assume, he notified Bedford County authorities. At that time he had in his hands decisive proof of what worried him. Or should have had. It was not that long after the strange encounter. Three months? Four? These would have been credit card receipts, business records, even phone bills. Oddly, he kept nothing. All he had to do is to show the receipts etc. to Ricky Gardner. There would have been something there that would have connected her to her uncle, as he assumed later the person telephoned was. It was the uncle’s credit card, he thought. That could have been traced. I think that the call was on his telephone bill. Presumably her signature would have been in there somewhere, you would think. But if not, there was a definite connection to someone in Florida. And Elizabeth did have an uncle in Florida. To sum up my understanding of this–Elizabeth would never have contacted her uncle or uncles, though I am sure that if she had contacted the couple there that I got to know and visited –these were wonderful people–she would have been helped out with the bill, but certain younger family members who more directly carried the burden of the homicides and who were in frequent touch with Bedford police would have been notified, and in turn the Bedford or Lynchburg police would have been there pronto. Probably within the hour. Other uncles she would have had reason to fear.
So for Tony Buchanan then, there came an extraordinary shock of recognition when he saw her photo in the newspaper?
When had she been there? How long before? Tony was a little confused. “So that it was–timewise, I can’t actually say timewise, but my recollection was probably a month…”
OK. So when did Elizabeth’s photograph begin to appear in Virginia newspapers, or in any newspaper in the United States or even the UK? Can we tell when?
Yes we can. All you have to do is at least look at the right newspaper.
I resolved this question years ago to my own satisfaction by following the simple procedure of going up Rugby Road to the Alderman library reference room at UVA and running microfilmed reels of newspapers through a Minolta. I set a logical time frame and chose central Virginia newspapers to start with. These were papers like the Lynchburg News and Daily Advance, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Roanoke Times, and the Bedford Bulletin. Later on I got into London newspapers, the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, the Washington Post, others….
I am probably the only person in the world who did this. 🙂 What did I find?
I found that Elizabeth Haysom’s photograph began to appear in Virginia newspapers such as the Lynchburg News and Daily Advance only at the beginning of June, 1986. Not sooner.
And those first photos did not resemble her at all. I suspect that the first photos published could have been taken her last year at Wycombe Abbey. She had lost a lot of weight in the interim and no longer looked like a sturdy English school girl hockey player.
In a comment in one of the Virginia newspapers I once challenged anyone to come up with a photograph of Elizabeth Haysom in any newspaper in Virginia, or for that matter anywhere else, prior to June, 1986. I have not heard a peep.
It follows from this that if was a month previous to the moment of recognition then Elizabeth and her friend should have been in Tony Buchanan’s garage office around the end of April of 1986.
This is not rocket science.
But suppose you simply pushed it back as far as one could go, giving Tony Buchanan the benefit of the doubt. Suppose you gave it five months, then. So it was some time between January 1, 1986 and May 1, 1986 that Tony Buchanan saw Elizabeth in his garage. Will that work?
No, it will not work. Elizabeth Haysom’s passport, Jens’ passport, their own journals, their own statements, investigations by American and British police, have all placed Elizabeth and Jens out of the United Sttates by mid-October, 1985. That is a basic fact in this case.
As far as I am concerned, it actually turned out that Tony Buchanan, after all, did give us exactly what we needed to know. He didn’t say much, but what he did say did the trick.
Tony Buchanan never met Elizabeth Haysom. She was never there at his garage. He is all wrong. Simple as that.
I knew this immediately, after, doing it the cautious, old fashioned way, I ran a certain number of reels of microfilm through the Minolta over a number of hours. (The Minolta is powered, by the way, and quite high speed when you want it to be. You seem to be burning the days.)
When the state of Virginia eventually agreed with me on this, I was not surprised.
Well that nails that!
When did Buchanan first come forward?
I seem to think it was 2011 but I am probably wrong.
Did he really mull it over for 25 years?
Another aspect of the case which is conveniently overlooked by many journalists and supporters and which has been dealt with meticulously by Andrew Hammel, is the CCTV evidence, or should we say, lack of.
Soring was providing an alibi for Elizabeth in order to save her from the electric chair.
Why would he undermine his credibility by telling a proveable lie to the detectives at Richmond police station?
He knew there was cctv evidence from the hotel stlobby which would prove that he did not return to the hotel with no trousers on.
He was in fact waiting in the hotel room for Elizabeth to return from Loose Chippings.
Yes, I think that is a very good point. And it’s fascinating to think what the CCTV might have shown if that whole weekend’s video tapes had been preserved and recovered. You would think that there would be a complete timeline of E and J’s movements from Friday through Sunday.
If Elizabeth had done it you would see her going out of the Marriott in the morning, presumably with Jens following closely or preceding her. You would see their demeanor and their clothing. If you have Jens returning at the time he claimed he did, and then, after midnight, Elizabeth going in through that glass door–I’ve stayed there– wearing different clothing and perhaps looking distressed, then this is a a shocker and the possibility of knowing who cleaned up that car comes into focus. Elizabeth stated that she spent a long time doing this after Jens, who was exhausted, had gone to sleep. Wouldn’t the CCTV have shown her carrying something, say, an ice container filled with hot water, or soap, or paper towels, or a bottle of Coca-cola? Or would she have put these in a shopping bag?
If the CCTV had shown Jens Soering carrying some of these objects, or a shopping bag, going out through the door of the deep, underground garage after midnight and then going back in, an hour later– that would mean I would need psychiatric counseling.
The counterpane that Jens was wrapped up in, surely that was left in the car when she returned with the overcoat? Or did she have it on the whole time she was at the movie and waiting out in the night on the corner?
Anyone recognizable in that video who has not been implicated in the case thus far? A DC drug dealer? A student? ( Do I believe that would have been a serious angle to pursue? Not really. But it’s worth studying the faces.)
I don’t think that the jury had any bias towards Jens Soering because he was a German, or a foreigner. I didn’t see that at all. I don’t think there was any favoritism given to Elizabeth because she was purportedly (As Gail Marshall said) a hometown girl, someone from Bedford county. That was ridiculous. She was not. Both defendants seemed to me to have come from somewhere far, far away; I see them as being like figures from a Maxfield Parrish painting, dressed in classic diaphanous clothing, holding aloft a long-stemmed kylix and pouring out a libation at break of day high on a mountaintop in some earthly paradise to a world that was theirs by right. 🙂 Both struck people as being incredibly unusual, even strange, two brilliant young intellectuals who had spun completely out of control. I think the jury saw Soering as being young, naive, easily led, he had been lied to and manipulated, if a little too easily. To try them and convict them was simply a sad duty. His father and brother made a very good impression. There was sympathy for Jens Soering afterwards. I don’t think there is anything but hostility for him in Bedford County now. Surely, people would now like to forget these two, Exiling them from the United States was, I think, an unexpectedly hard, if fitting, punishment.
The overcoat, I mean. Did she have it on the whole time or not? So she would have been shown on the video entering the hotel and then returning hurriedly carrying the overcoat, if she had not gone out wearing it. And then Jens would be seen entering wearing the overcoat without trousers and she either behind or ahead of him….
And where did they get rid of the counterpane? I doubt that they wanted to carry that thing back into their dormitory at UVA. She was lying.
It will be fascinating to read Elizabeth’s account if the opportunity presents.
What is left out will be as fascinating as what is included and maybe somebody more closely involved like Frank will be able to spot that.
Knowledge is power and that’s all you have when you are locked up for 33 years. Will she relinquish that control?
Ironically it would appear that what clinched it for the jury was one of the flimsiest pieces of the prosecution evidence – the sock print.
Without that he may have got off. There were jurists in tears.
Elizabeth on the other hand cut an unsympathetic figure and served more time, although never wielded the knife.
I have not yet read the Sizemore collaboration as I prefer to read a killer’s account once I am acquainted with the facts.
But I have read “One day in the life…”
An unusual prison diary because unlike many, it provides very little essence of daily prison life or interaction with others and very little time devoted to cultivating their characters and personality traits.
There’s a fair bit about him though.
A hollow book which is a diatribe against the system.
A very lonely 33 years.