‘I was very disappointed:’ Lead investigator breaks silence three decades later as Jens Soering, Elizabeth Haysom granted parole

Ricky Gardner is retiring next year, glad case was put to rest before leaving sheriff’s office.

BEDFORD, Va. – “I don’t know if you’ve ever been scrutinized for something you did 35 years ago, but it’s not fun,” Ricky Gardner said.

Gardner was an investigator with the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office in the 1980s and has worked his way up to major. Up until now, Gardner has been silent on one criminal case for the last three decades.

“Common sense tells you, the only two people that benefited from the death of her parents was Soering and Elizabeth. There was never anybody else that had the motive, means or the opportunity to kill the Haysoms,” Gardner said.

Jens Soering and Elizabeth Haysom, who were convicted for the murder of Haysom’s parents, Derek and Nancy in 1985, were granted parole last week.

“I was very disappointed,” Gardner said.

Soering spent the last several years pleading his innocence.

A support group reopened his case while some criticized Gardner’s investigation.

“I’ve been accused of withholding evidence. I’ve been accused of burying evidence.”

Gardner said responding to the critics served no purpose.

He's been interviewed several times, in the last few years, by parole board investigators who traveled to Bedford to revisit the crime scene.

“At the end of the day, I knew the only people that I had to defend the case to was the parole board and the governor. They were the ones that I wanted to make sure had the facts,” Gardner said.

Despite the news, Gardner said he is satisfied and proud of the work he and others put into the case, especially knowing Soering’s pardon was not granted.

“Here again it feels pretty good to be vindicated after all these years that I was actually right all along,” Gardner said.

Soering and Haysom, are currently in ICE custody. They are now preparing to live life in their native countries: Germany and Canada.

Gardner can now move on too, taking the high road.

“Just want to put this in a rear-view mirror and move on,” Gardner said.

Gardner tells 10 News he plans to retire next year and is glad this case was put to rest before leaving the sheriff’s office.

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