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.