It’s fascinating to go back over interviews Jens Söring has given to the press and note how he subtly changes his story depending on which language he’s speaking and how neutral and/or well-informed the interviewer appears to be. What makes ‘Söring story-version archaeology’ even more fun is that in addition to intentional changes, Söring seems to just plain screw up once in a while by forgetting what he’s already said.
Here’s an example from the year 2008. This is from a report broadcast on the German public-broadcasting channel ZDF. Here’s what Söring says about the night of the crime, when, as he claims, Elizabeth drove off to kill her parents:
Soering claims that if he had only called 911 and told the police about Elizabeth’s plans, her parents would be alive and he would have had ‘a normal life’.
Soering case fans will already see the problem here. For the rest of you, here’s some background: On June 18, 1990, Soering testified about the day of the murders, as he and Haysom were driving around Washington, D.C., as follows (p. 50):
Q: That afternoon while you were driving to the northern end of Wisconsin [Avenue, a street in Washington, D.C.], did you and Elizabeth Haysom have any conversations about going down the Lynchburg and killing her parents?
A: No, we didn’t.
Q: In the restaurant, did you and Elizabeth Haysom have any conversations about going down to Lynchburg and killing her parents?
A: No, we didn’t.
Later, Soering recounts the tale about Elizabeth telling him she was using heroin, and had to pick up a shipment of drugs from Jim Farmer and later drive them back to Charlottesville, Virginia, where they were both students at the university.
Soering thus flatly denied, under oath, that he had any idea that Elizabeth was planning on killing her parents. He sticks by this story in Chapter 4 of his 1995 book Mortal Thoughts: Söring had no idea what Elizabeth was planning to do.
The question is: Why would Söring have called 911? What would he have said to the police?
That Elizabeth was going to kill her parents? This is obviously what he’s implying in the interview. Yet, according to his testimony and his books, he had no idea this was even a possibility. He simply thought she was going to meet her drug dealer somewhere.
Perhaps he was going to dial 911 to inform on Elizabeth for going to pick up a load of drugs? How, when he didn’t even know where she was going? And why would he send his one true love straight to prison, possibly for decades, on drug-dealing charges?
It’s hard to know why Söring decided to tell this odd version of the story to a German reporter in 2008. Was he responding to a question? Was he trying out a new version of his story before a naive reporter? Had he forgotten the version of the story he told at his trial and in Mortal Thoughts? Or was he trying to move away from it for some reason?
As I’ve said before, I don’t really blame Söring. He was trying to hustle his way out from under a life sentence, as anyone would do, and he was ultimately successful.
Once again, the blame must lie with German journalists who, as was so often the case, were too biased and frankly lazy to do even the most routine fact-checking.
Speaking of this, however, I’d like to end this post with a request. Apparently the German TV host Johannes B. Kerner interviewed Söring in person in 2007, and the interview was aired on German television on 26 September 2007. According to the knowledgeable case fans over at allmystery.com, this interview was actually fairly contentious, and Söring became flustered during it. According to the good people over there, this interview has been completely scrubbed from the Internet, possibly at the request of Söring’s lawyers. I have been unable to find it anywhere.
If anyone reading this post can find a link to the interview, or can provide it to me some other way, I would be most grateful. If Johannes B. Kerner turns out to be the one German journalist who actually did his homework and asked critical questions of Söring, I want to give him proper credit. Thanks in advance for your help!