Pressure to pardon: New experts weigh in on Soering case

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New experts are in Jens Soering's corner. He's pictured here in 2003. Photo: Clement Mayes New experts are in Jens Soering’s corner. He’s pictured here in 2003. Photo: Clement Mayes

 

A nationally recognized DNA expert says his conclusions provide further evidence that convicted murderer and former UVA student Jens Soering, who was charged with the 1985 murders of his girlfriend’s parents, Derek and Nancy Haysom, could be innocent—and that two killers who were involved are still at large.

Forensic scientist Thomas McClintock, who is a Liberty University professor and founder of DNA Diagnostics Inc., reviewed DNA test results done in September 2009. Such testing was not available in 1990, when Soering went to trial.

McClintock focused primarily on three blood-spattered samples—a piece of formica kitchen countertop, the front door and its threshold—from the Bedford County residence where Soering is accused of repeatedly stabbing the Haysoms and slitting their throats.

“Does Jens Soerings’ DNA profile match any of those?” McClintock said to a room full of local and national reporters at City Space on the Downtown Mall September 27. “They absolutely do not.”

In a report dated September 21, he stated that the blood came from at least one male contributor doesn’t match Soering or Derek Haysom’s genetic makeup.

Albemarle Sheriff Chip Harding, a longtime advocate of Soering’s innocence who asked Governor Terry McAuliffe to pardon him more than a year ago, called the press conference to announce new details that support his claim.

McClintock insists his is an unbiased, scientific review. “I don’t have a dog in this race,” he says. “I’m just looking at the data.”

Richard Hudson, a retired detective sergeant who investigated major crimes for the Charlottesville Police Department for more than 25 years, has also joined the cause.

In a September 12 letter to Governor McAuliffe, he writes, “I am a conservative Republican and I don’t generally think releasing criminals from the penitentiary is a good idea. I am persuaded, however, that Mr. Soering could not be convicted today on the evidence, science and analysis that has now been developed.”

He’s spent more than 250 hours reviewing the case, and echoes that there is no genetic evidence that connects Soering to the bloody scene at the Haysom home called Loose Chippings.

“The scientific evidence now demonstrates that two unknown men left their blood at the crime scene,” he wrote. “A shot glass was found on a table near where Derek Haysom’s body was found with an unidentified fingerprint; neither Elizabeth Haysom’s prints nor Mr. Soering’s prints matched.”

Harding’s theory is that the couple’s daughter, Elizabeth, whose uncommon type B blood was found at the scene and who has claimed her mother sexually abused her, had the motive for the savage slayings and used either an emotional or a drug connection to entice the unknown accomplices.

“This case is truly overwhelming,” Hudson told the room of reporters, and the sheriff, who has clocked more than 400 hours on the case, agreed it would be impossible to boil down years of research into an hour-long press conference.

Representatives from ABC’s 20/20 were present, and Harding says they’re working on a documentary, expected to air in November, that he hopes will encompass all of the evidence that supports his evidence-based theory that Soering is innocent.

Harding said the film, along with a supplemental letter he sent to the governor September 13, could pressure McAuliffe to pardon Soering before he leaves office in January.

“As of today, the Bedford County authorities refuse to make any attempt to identify and locate the two men who left their DNA at the crime scene,” Harding wrote. “That leaves two likely killers free to roam Virginia and possibly commit other offenses. …Derek and Nancy Haysom and their families have never received justice, because two killers have escaped prosecution for 32 years. If a pardon for Mr. Soering becomes the first step toward arresting and convicting the two murderers, you will finally give the victims and their loved ones what they deserve.”

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