Albemarle sheriff, forensic scientists find mismatch in DNA samples of former U.Va. student convicted of murder

Soering was convicted in 1990 for matching blood type, but not matching DNA

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McClintock (left), Harding (middle) and Hudson (right) held the press conference to assert that Soering is "way beyond a reasonable doubt" not guilty of the 1985 murders of Derek and Nancy Haysom.

Anna Higgins | Cavalier Daily

Albemarle County Sheriff J.E. “Chip” Harding, forensic scientists Dr. J. Thomas McClintock and Richard L. Hudson, Jr., the former Detective Sergeant to Gov. Terry McAuliffe, held a press conference Wednesday afternoon to disprove the 1990 murder conviction of former University student and Jefferson Scholar Jens Soering.

Soering was convicted for the 1985 murders of ex-girlfriend Elizabeth Haysom’s parents, Derek and Nancy Haysom. He is currently serving two life sentences. 

Soering had originally confessed to the murders but recanted his confession and said Haysom, also a former University student, had committed the murders and informed him of her guilt later.

Haysom is currently incarcerated at Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women until May 2032.

In 2009, then-Gov. Tim Kaine’s administration allowed for a review of convictions that were made before DNA testing was available. Because Soering’s evidence still existed, he was eligible for the review. 

In the summer of 2016, Soering petitioned McAuliffe for a pardon on the basis that the blood tested did not match Soering’s DNA, but only his blood type. 

According to Hudson, only blood typing serology was used in 1985. Soering was convicted based on the assumption that the type O blood found at the scene was his type O blood. 

“It was Type O, it was male, it had a Y chromosome, but Jens Soering compared profile to profile was eliminated as possibly being a contributor,” Hudson said. “So, the theory that the Commonwealth used in 1990 to convict him was wrong.”

Out of the DNA samples originally left in the house in 1985, none of those that remained testable included any traces of Soering’s DNA. McClintock — the forensic scientist contracted to examine the DNA samples by Soering’s lawyer Steven D. Rosenfield — said he was brought on to provide an unbiased scientific opinion. 

“There is no way genetically possible that Jens Soering could have contributed to any of these samples,” McClintock said. 

McClintock also said his research showed that all of the samples came from single sources, meaning none of the DNA samples were mixtures of multiple people’s blood. 

According to Harding, there is no way to absolutely prove Soering’s innocence, but there is also no way to prove that Soering is guilty. 

“It doesn’t mean he wasn’t wearing a jumpsuit and left nothing in the house,” Harding said. “The standard in America is supposed to be that there be ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.’ There is way beyond reasonable doubt in this case, this isn’t even close.” 

Hudson said he took part in the pro bono work to prove Soering’s innocence because “it’s all about the justice.” He said even in his interviews with Soering, he never felt that Soering lied and cited his years of detective work to judging honesty.

“I believe he was telling me the truth,” Hudson said. “If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here now.”

Harding said the recommendation he made to McAuliffe was to deport Soering — who is a German citizen and son of a German diplomat — back to Germany and to allow law enforcement to find who actually murdered the Haysoms. However, he said the justice system does not care to reevaluate decisions once suspects are found guilty.

“Even when there is strong evidence that someone is actually innocent, the system doesn’t seem to really care,” Harding said. “If you’re not fortunate to get a pro bono attorney or the Innocence Project to take up your costs for you, once you’re found guilty, you’re pretty much dead in the water.”

According to Harding, Soering will continue to push for a pardon ahead of McAuliffe’s departure from the Governor position in January. 

“We want to get to get to [McAuliffe] what we do have, to try to give him the opportunity to make a decision before he leaves office,” Harding said.

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