Welcome to Saturday, y’all. A week from now, I plan to be in Yerevan at long last… if all goes well, that is. I expect it will go off without a hitch, and we’ll be roaming the streets while we wait for check in. Unfortunately, our flight arrives in Yerevan in the wee hours of the morning. This is how it’s always been, for as long as Armenia has been in my life. Flights arrive and depart at obscenely early hours. Fortunately, we’re used to being up in the wee hours of the morning.
Today, Bill is coming home from Bavaria, four days ahead of when he was supposed to come home. I’m delighted, because it’s been kind of a boring week for me. I did manage to record a couple of songs. I might even do another one this morning, since I won’t be around during our week in Armenia. Why not? I seem to be better at singing songs than writing blog posts.
I did want to mention, though, that I actually tuned into Netflix yesterday, and it’s all because of this blog. Seriously… I pay for subscriptions to both Hulu and Netflix, and I very rarely use them. Hulu is pretty much a pain in the ass to use if you aren’t in the States. I subscribe so I can watch The Handmaid’s Tale. Once that’s done, I’ll probably quit paying for it. German Netflix is pretty good now, but I just don’t watch it very often. I like watching YouTube and shows I download from iTunes.
I noticed I kept getting hits on a blog post I wrote back in 2o18 and reposted in 2020. It was a review of Ken Englade’s 1990 book, Beyond Reason: The True Story of a Shocking Double Murder, a Brilliant, Beautiful Virginia Socialite, and a Deadly Psychotic Obsession. I bought the book in 2015, but didn’t get around to reading it until May 2018. And then when I moved my blog in February 2019, I slowly reposted some of the more interesting posts from the original blog… my review of Mr. Englade’s book didn’t get put up until January 2020.
The book review was about the 1985 murder case involving Elizabeth Haysom and Jens Soering. I was interested in the story because the couple were UVA students, and I’m from Virginia. Haysom is Canadian, but her parents owned a home in Boonsboro, Virginia, which is in Bedford County. I have a lot of family from that area; my parents grew up in neighboring Rockbridge, County and Buena Vista. And Soering is German, and as you probably know, I live in Germany.
Haysom’s parents, Derek and Nancy Haysom, were brutally murdered in March 1985. I was in the seventh grade, living in Gloucester, Virginia. I don’t remember hearing about this case, even though it was a real sensation at the time. Legal wrangling went on for years, mainly because Soering and Haysom fled the country and wound up in England. Since Soering is an EU national and the crime he was accused of put him at risk of the death penalty, there was a lot of controversy over whether or not he should be extradited to Virginia. It was only after Virginia authorities promised not to ask for the death penalty that Soering was sent back to face a trial in Bedford County. He and Haysom were both found guilty and spent years locked up in Virginia, but they were released in November 2019 and deported to their respective home countries.
Soering did his time at a men’s prison in Dillwyn, Virginia, which is very close to where I went to college. Haysom did her time at the women’s prison in Fluvanna, Virginia, which is where fellow murderers Erin McCay George (who went to my alma mater) and Jennifer Kszepka (who is from my hometown) are currently incarcerated. Thanks to Democratic former Governor Ralph Northam, Virginia has abolished the death penalty (a real shocker for me, as Virginia has historically been a big death penalty state). Northam is also responsible for allowing Soering and Haysom to go back to their home countries. I know a lot of my fellow Virginians were not fans of Governor Northam, but I think he was a great Governor. I didn’t vote for him, though, because I haven’t been a Virginia resident since 2007. I fully support abolition of the death penalty in most cases.
Soering has been very outspoken about the case and apparently appears on a lot of talk shows in Germany. I haven’t seen him here, because I don’t watch a lot of German television. But apparently, Till Murder Do Us Part, a new miniseries on Netflix, was made with his full cooperation. That’s why my blog post on a 1990 book has been getting a lot of hits lately.
I also have a 2017 true crime documentary about this case in my iTunes movie collection called Killing For Love. I did include a trailer for the documentary in my review of the book, although the documentary probably doesn’t offer any information that isn’t in the Netflix series. I found the Netflix series very comprehensive and interesting, except for the part when I dozed off. But that’s not necessarily because of the show, but because I tend to doze off in the early afternoon if I’m on my bed. I spent most of yesterday afternoon binge watching the series, so it was definitely nap time. 😉
I would recommend the Netflix series, Till Murder Do Us Part for the sheer reason that it’s an interesting case, but the one thing about it that I found especially compelling about it was listening to the prosecutor, Jim Updike, who is now a judge in Bedford County. Updike was fascinating to me on many levels. He had the aura of an especially gifted orator. If he hadn’t been a lawyer, he could have been a very good Baptist pastor. I even looked up his credentials. He is a UVA graduate, and went to law school at the College of William and Mary, which is a school near and dear to me. It must have been electric to watch him in the courtroom when he was prosecuting Elizabeth Haysom and Jens Soering.
Now, according to both the documentary I mentioned, and the Netflix series, there is evidence that Soering wasn’t alone in Elizabeth Haysom’s parents’ house, Loose Chippings, when the murder occurred. Soering has said repeatedly that he took the fall for the crime, thinking he’d get a light sentence or be deported to Germany. It surprises me that he thought that, as brilliant as he supposedly is. But then, when this crime occurred, Soering was still a teenager at 18 years old. He wrongly assumed that Virginia authorities handle crime like German authorities do. And he did find out how wrong that assumption was.
I still don’t know where the truth lies regarding this crime. It was an absolutely brutal murder, and my heart goes out to the victims. The only people who know what really happened are Soering and Haysom, and evidently another person, whose type AB blood was found years after the murder occurred, when advanced DNA testing became available. The fact that this testing wasn’t available until many years after the crime is one reason why I strongly oppose capital punishment in most cases. Because even today, in 2023, we think we have extremely advanced testing available for crime scenes… as I’m sure they thought they had in 1985. Twenty years from now, what new science will be available? And if we put people to death when we aren’t absolutely certain without any doubt that they are 100 percent guilty, how do we make up for the inevitable mistakes that will be made?
There have been a few cases in which I thought capital punishment was entirely justified. They involve people who absolutely committed the crime, have no remorse whatsoever, and would definitely be a danger to everyone in society if they were ever released or managed to escape. The vast majority of murderers don’t fit those criteria, in my opinion. Too many times, the death penalty is about politics, racism, or revenge. And I think if we have a bunch of politicians who champion people to give birth, they should be equally passionate about the lives of people on death row.
Anyway… I am glad Jens Soering survived his time in Virginia. He’s apparently doing well in Germany. I don’t fear for my life with him on the loose. On so many levels, I think it’s a real shame that this happened. By all accounts, Soering and Haysom were people with bright futures, and Elizabeth’s parents did not deserve to be slaughtered. And I feel like if this couple hadn’t come together, this never would have happened.
If you have access to Netflix, I hope you’ll watch the miniseries and let me know what you think of it in the comment section. I am going to sign off now, take Noyzi for a walk, and then, maybe, try a couple of songs while I wait for my husband to come home. Have a nice Saturday!