Couple convicted of grisly 1980s murders get surprise release from prison before being deported

Clark Mindock

A couple convicted of a brutal double murder in 1985 have won their release from prison, and will now be handed over to immigration authorities for deportation.

Jens Soering and Elizabeth Haysom were convicted in the brutal murders of Haysom’s parents, in an attack that rocked Virginia at a time when sensational crime wasn’t the norm for major news coverage.

Soering, the son of a German diplomat, will now be sent back to Germany, while Haysom is set to be returned to Canada.

“She will be a free bird, and that’s wonderful,” Phyllis Workman, a third cousin to Haysom, toldThe Washington Post. “She has earned it. She’s been a model prisoner, and so has Jens. So it’s just time. The Lord’s working. The Lord is good.”

The decision was confirmed by governor Ralph Northam’s office, which noted that the two are scheduled to be released to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after the state parole board approved their release.

The decision marks an end — at least in the United States — to a shocking story that saw two former classmates, and former lovers, at the University of Virginia team up to stab Haysom’s parents to death.

The pair — he was 18 at the time, and she was 20 — were not initially considered suspects in the murder of Derek Haysom, 72, and Nancy Haysom, 53, but were ultimately closed in upon by authorities.

An undated file photo showing Elizabeth Haysom (AP)

They eventually fled the country as officials took increased notice of their apparent role in the crime.

But the decades since their conviction have sparked questions about the validity of the circumstances and evidence presented at the time.

While Soering initially admitted to the crime alone, he later recanted and said it was actually Haysom (and that he had lied to protect her from the electric chair).

And his supporters have questioned why his attorney — who has since been disbarred — did not broach important elements of the case. That included Soering getting key details about the crime scene wrong, as well as new analysis that showed that the male blood found at the scene was not his.

It was the only physical evidence tying him to the scene at the time of his 1990 trial, alongside a disputed bloody sock print. He has been serving prison time for two life sentences.

Haysom had pleaded guilty to an accessory before the fact, but has maintained that she did not physically get involved in the attack. She was has been serving a 90-year sentence for the murder.

But, efforts to grant them an absolute pardon were denied by Mr Northam.

“Governor Northam has rejected Jens Soering’s request for an absolute pardon, after thoroughly reviewing the case and the Parole Board’s investigation. This decision is in line with the Parole Board’s recommendation,” the governor’s office said in a statement.

“The Governor was also made aware that the Parole Board voted to release Jens Soering and Elizabeth Haysom to ICE, after which they will be permanently removed from the United States and unable to return. Governor Northam respects the Parole Board’s expertise and appreciates their work on this and all other cases.”

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