Criminal Law, Das System Söring / The Söring System, Evidence, Murder, Police and Prosecutors, Self-Promotion, Soering, True Crime

“The Söring System” — A Halfway-Point Recap

Yesterday the fourth and latest episode of “The Söring System” podcast was released, entitled “The Söring System Takes Shape”:

The first three episodes set out the facts of the case for those new to the story. They covered Söring and Haysom’s relationship, the events that led up to Söring’s murder of the Haysoms, and the confessions Jens Söring gave to detectives in London.

The fourth episode examines the campaign Söring launched from his prison cell in Virginia to gather support. At first, Söring sought relief from the courts. He took his case before every possible tribunal, going all the way to the United States Supreme Court. His claims were rejected each time, unanimously. After failing in the courts of justice, Söring took his case to the court of public opinion, just as he’s trying to do now in Germany.

He wrote everyone he could think of about his case, reciting his now-familiar story: Elizabeth was the real killer, I confessed to protect her, etc. At first, most of his supporters were Americans. However, a reporter for the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper in Germany, Karin Steinberger, became interested in Söring’s case and wrote several articles (g) for the newspaper in the late 2000s and early 2010s.1 A German TV show, 37 Degrees, also broadcast a feature (g) about Söring’s case. All of these reports simply take it as given that Söring was unjustly convicted.

Söring’s case soon became a minor media sensation in Germany. He acquired a broad network of supporters, called the “Circle of Friends” (Freundeskreis). They set up a website, solicited donations, set up letter-writing campaigns, and published Söring’s observations from prison. The case soon became a political issue: Members of the European Parliament and the German Parliament signed letters urging the Virginia authorities to release Söring or at least let him serve out his sentence in Germany. The Democratic Governor of Virginia even agreed in 2010 to permit Söring’s transfer to Germany to serve out his sentence, but that order was countermanded by his Republican successor in office.

In this episode, we gain intriguing insights into Söring’s supporter circle from the former supporter Annabel. Annabel, like so many others, had been convinced of Söring’s innocence by the pro-Söring documentary Killing for Love. She got in touch, and quickly became indispensable to Söring’s continuing efforts to gain release. She spoke to Söring routinely over the telephone, administered a vast trove of documents on Sörings behalf, and helped Söring prepare documents to send to the press. She notes that many of the “reports” about the case which were sent to reporters were actually written by Söring himself.

Annabel also noticed that Söring sometimes alienated supporters and sabotaged his case by making indiscreet and inflammatory comments. When he was called out, he would invariably curry sympathy by pointing out how terrible life in prison was: “This morning,” he said in sarcastic self-pity, “I was lucky enough to be served cherries, two of which were even mold-free.” She also noticed that the “Circle of Friends” were obliged to accept Söring’s story: Anyone who expressed doubt would be declared persona non grata by Söring, and everyone would immediately cut off contact with them.

By the time Annabel joined the team, Söring’s campaign had gained momentum: Martin Sheen, John Grisham, and Jason Flom had made statements on Söring’s behalf, and some of these wealthy supporters made campaign contributions to Ralph Northam, the Democratic Governor of Virginia, and mentioned the case to Northam. Annabel also describes a pretty interesting phone call, which I think I’ll keep under wraps until the English version of the podcast comes out later this year.

So far, I’m enjoying the podcast, and not just because I appear in it once in a while. For instance, I’m quoted in this episode saying Söring got a fair trial. This is obvious to unbiased parties who have read the trial transcript but it still must be repeated constantly, since Team Söring gaslights relentlessly on this issue.

I’m mainly enjoying the podcast because it’s finally correcting the record and offering Germans a balanced account of Söring’s case and his claims. This was long overdue.

Jens Söring murdered Derek and Nancy Haysom, and he was fairly convicted of this crime. The fact that these statements are controversial is a symptom of how much traction Team Söring’s alternative facts have gained in three decades of relentless propagandizing. If nothing else, this podcast will finally present all of the facts bearing on Söring’s guilt and his credibility, so that hearers can reach their own conclusions.

  1. They’re marked by the sort of smarmy, knowing cynicism which marks so many German reporters’ dispatches from the USA. Steinberger writes of Söring’s trial: “It was a case without proof…. This little boy, son of a diplomat, came across as arrogant and snotty, the journalists wrote. No remorse, a double-murderer, who supposedly danced in the blood of his victims. They wanted a monster, so they saw one…. In the courtroom, they only saw his grinning.”

    As usual, Steinberger is taking Söring’s claims at face value. The reporting in the USA about his case was generally sober and restrained, as you might expect of coverage of a brutal double-murder. I’ve never seen any reference in print to Söring “dancing in the victims’ blood”, which nobody claimed at trial. Nor have I discovered a single reference to Söring as a “monster”, “beast”, “animal” or anything like that in the American reporting on his case. Söring just made this up, and Steinberger was gullible enough to believe it — and to report it to millions of unsuspecting German newspaper readers as fact.

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