On August 21, 2016, Jens' attorney Steve Rosenfield submitted a petition for an absolute pardon to Governor Terry McAuliffe, based on incontrovertible scientific proof of absolute innocence. He based his petition on three pieces of evidence:
At Jens' 1990 trial, Commonwealth's Attorney Jim Updike stressed the significance of the type 0 blood in his closing arguments to the jury. Click here to read transcript excerpts. In the following decades, lead investigator Ricky Gardner gave dozens of interviews in which he, too, emphasized the importance of the type 0 blood: "evidence showed that the killer was cut while there and left some of his own blood. The blood was type 0; only Soering had that blood type among those involved." Click here to read Mr. Gardner's latest interview with the "Bedford Bulletin," July 27, 2016.
Of the 42 blood samples that Ms. Edler DNA tested in 2009, 31 were too small or too degraded to yield results. However, 11 were successfully DNA tested -- and they definitively excluded both Jens and Elizabeth as possible sources. The 2009 DNA lab report strongly suggested that these 11 samples had been left by the victims, and until 2016 there had been no reason to doubt this conclusion.
But that conclusion was incorrect. The 11 blood samples that were successfully DNA tested in 2009 included samples 2FE and 6 FE. ("FE" stands for "front entrance.") And the 1985 lab report by Mary Jane Burton showed that samples 2FE and 6FE were type 0.
Type 0 was Jens' type ... but the 2009 DNA tests proved conclusively that Jens could not have left THOSE TWO type 0 samples. (The other three type 0 samples and the one type B sample were among the 31 blood samples that were too small or too degraded to be DNA testable.)
Ms. Edler -- and, a few days later, another expert in blood analysis -- confirmed: The two victims were types A and AB, so the type 0 had to belong to the murderer. But Jens was definitely not the man who left THAT type 0 at the scene. (The DNA tests revealed that the type 0 was left by a male, since it had XY chromosomes.)
The only way to maintain that Jens is guilty now is to argue that he committed this crime with another man, and that this man injured himself and left the type 0 blood. (This hypothetical second killer cannot be Elizabeth Haysom, since she has blood type B and, as a woman, XX chromosomes.) No one has suggested such an absurd theory of the case until now, and there is no evidence to support it.
2. False Confession Expert
At the end of his analysis, Dr. Griffiths authored a 21-page report, dated July 21, 2016, that begins with a survey of the scientific literature going back to 1908, and finishes with the minutiae of Jens' specific statements of "fact" to the police. Dr. Griffiths's concluded that there were "significant doubts" about the reliability of Jens' confession, due both to the circumstances (i.e., denying Jens access to his attorney throughout the four days of interrogation) and the actual content of the confession (since many details were contradicted by physical and forensic evidence at the crime scene Overall, Dr. Griffiths judged Jens' confession to be "unreliable".
3. Original Lead Investigator's Opinion
On June 24, 2016, the documentary film "The Promise," by Marcus Vetter and Karin Steinberger, had its premiere at the Munich Film Festival. "The Promise" brings to light new evidence, some of it suppressed by the police and prosecution for decades.
4. Timeline and Recording by Jens
At a press conference held on August 24, 2016, Jens' attorney Steve Rosenfield played a recording of Jens' comments on the new DNA evidence. To listen to Jens' speech, click here.
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On August 24, 2016, the Washington Post and Virginia Public Radio broke the news of the filing of a petition for an absolute pardon, putting this development in Jens' case into the context of the U.S. presidential election campaign. Click here to read the Post article, and click here to listen to the radio report or read the transcript.
Developments since Filing of Petition
On October 11, 2016, Virginia Public Radio RadioIQ and Richmond TV station NBC 12 (WWBT) broadcast interviews with Chuck Reid, the original lead investigator on this case. He told reporters that, based on the totality of the evidence, “I don’t think Jens Soering was at the house" where the Haysoms were killed. If DNA had been available in 1985, “he would have been cleared,” Reid said. Also, he called on Governor Terry McAuliffe to grant the petition for an absolute pardon. Click here to listen to the radio report, watch the TV segment or read the transcripts.
On October 5, 2016, Jens made another discovery in the two lab reports from 1985 and 2009. Again he phoned his attorney Steven D. Rosenfield, and he again called Shelley S. Edler, the DNA expert at the Department of Forensic Sciences. On October 27, 2016, they conducted a lengthy phone conference, including Ms. Edler's supervisor, the head of the lab's DNA section. And again the Department of Forensic Sciences confirmed Jens's and Steve's findings -- as did another expert a few days later.
On the same page of the 2009 DNA lab report containing the two type 0 blood samples discussed above, reference is made to two further blood samples: Item 23K #1 and Item 7FE #1. ("K" stands for kitchen, where Nancy Haysom was found. "FE" stands for front entrance, close to where Derek Haysom was found.) Both of these samples yielded only limited DNA types, not a genetic profile suitable for comparison. However, for both samples, Ms. Edler was able to determine that the DNA was "indicative of a male contributor."
When one compares these two samples to the 1985 serology report prepared by Mary Jane Burton, one finds that both item 23K #1 (on page 9) and item 7FE #1 (on page 11) are type AB blood. Page 11 also provides the test results of the reference samples for Nancy and Derek Haysom: Nancy was type AB and Derek type A.
Consequently, the two samples 23K #1 and 7FE #1 could not have been left by either one of the victims. Nancy Haysom is a woman, and the two samples are "indicative of a male contributor." And Derek Haysom is type A, whereas the two samples are type AB.
That means these two samples must have been left by an attacker who injured himself -- just like the two type 0 blood samples discussed above.
What this means is that DNA evidence now proves the presence at the crime scene of two killers, both of whom injured themselves and both of whom are not either Jens Soering or Elizabeth Haysom. One of the attackers has type 0 blood -- but a different genetic profile from Jens -- and the other had type AB blood. Both killers are male.
Interestingly, both the original Bedford County lead investigator on the murders, Chuck Reid, and the F.B.I. profiler he brought into the case, Ed Sulzbach, initially thought this crime may have been committed by a group or gang of people. The 2016 documentary film "The Promise" shows them discussing this possibility. Also, the movie contains footage from Jens's 1990 trial in which a female neighbor of the Haysoms testifies that, on the night of the murders, she saw many cars in the Haysoms' drive way -- from the house almost down to the street. Finally, there were three sets of bloody footprints at the crime scene: the bloody sneaker print LR2, the bloody sock print LR3, and the large bloody boot prints in the grass outside the front door (Commonwealth's Exhibits 269 and 270).
On December 1, 2016, this new DNA evidence was submitted at Jens' twelfth parole hearing. See below to listen to a radio report, watch a TV report and read an article about the hearing.