‘I’m ecstatic’: Albemarle County Sheriff reacts after Jens Soering is granted parole

Sheriff Chip Harding is longtime supporter of Soering’s innocence

BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. – After news broke that the two people responsible for the murder of a Bedford County couple in 1985 have been granted parole, there were mixed reactions.

Jens Soering and Elizabeth Haysom, both convicted for the murder of Elizabeth’s parents, Derek and Nancy, were granted parole on Monday.

A longtime supporter of Soering’s release is Albemarle County Sheriff, Chip Harding. He maintains Soering’s innocence.

“I’m ecstatic obviously. As is Jens and all the investigators that assisted,” said Harding.

Harding points to DNA and other blood evidence that wasn’t a match to Soering. He also questions whether Soering’s confession, which he later recanted, was true or not.

“In our opinion, all of the evidence presented at trial has pretty much been disapproved. Other than a confession, which is highly suspect. You would tend to think it was a false confession because he couldn’t get it right,” Harding said.

Harding says the DNA doesn’t lead to Soering, and in fact, it leads to two unknown men.

“Currently, the DNA is indicating there are two unknown males leading in the crime scene that are not Jens Soering,” Harding said. “In fact, the blood that was found on the door handle, that the prosecutor referred to over 20 some times and (in) his closing arguments to the jury, ... we know that it absolutely is not Jens Soering’s blood.”

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that Soering will be deported to Germany and Haysom to Canada.

“We are all just so happy that he’ll be going back to Germany. I mean, he has been locked up for all of his 20s, 30s and 40s. And he told me he has not touched a tree in over 30 years,” said Harding.

In 2011, while in Buckingham Correctional Center, Soering told 10 News, “I’m not a murderer but I was convicted wrongly of two murders.”

Harding said Soering never had an infraction in 33 years while locked up.

“It’s just so exciting to know that he’ll be able to touch a tree again. And go back and have some life left that he can live as a free man,” said Harding.

However, while Harding is “ecstatic” at the prospect of Soering spending the rest of his days as a free man, he still doesn’t have closure on the investigative side of things.

“As far as bringing it to an investigative conclusion, (we) will never be completely satisfied because Bedford never would cooperate with us,” Harding said. “So I guess we’ll never get the true answer and really know what did happen on that day.”

Harding said he plans to reach out to Bedford County authorities one more time, perhaps even working to get Soering a conditional pardon.

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