Virginia sheriff is pushing governor to pardon convicted killer

ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A Virginia sheriff held a press conference today to discuss his push to pardon a convicted killer who he says is innocent.

Jens Soering was convicted of killing his girlfriend’s parents in a highly publicized case back in 1985.

In 1985, it was a shocking story. Two UVA students – Jens Soering, the son of a German Diplomat, and his girlfriend, Elizabeth Haysom, the daughter of a wealthy couple – were convicted of planning and brutally murdering Haysom’s parents in Lynchburg.

For decades, Soering has claimed his innocence, saying he made a false confession, and after reviewing the case on a whim, Sheriff Chip Harding believes he’s telling the truth.

“There’s way beyond reasonable doubt in this case,” Harding said. “This case isn’t even close.”

A few months ago, Soering’s attorney asked Harding to look at the case. What he thought would be a quick glance turned into hundreds of hours of investigating.

He concluded that Soering was wrongfully convicted. Since then, he’s made it his mission to get him pardoned.

“If one of you all was abducted and was being held hostage somewhere, this whole community would be up in arms,” he said about Soering’s wrongful incarceration.

Harding says he saw a number of holes in the case, but none bigger than blood found at the crime scene and used to convict Soering. While the type matched Soering in 1985, back then DNA testing was not available. Harding reached out to a nationally renowned DNA expert.

“There is no way genetically possible that Jens Soering contributed to any of these samples,” Thomas McClintock, the DNA expert said.

Harding said he has also gotten help from retired Charlottesville Detective Richard Hudson. He agrees mistakes were made. When he and Harding reached out to the local department that investigated the case.

“Both the Sheriff and the Chief Deputy refused to discuss the case with us,” Hudson said.

The Commonwealth’s attorney did speak to the sheriff and said that he believes they have the right person.

According to Hudson, “They believe they have the right person and they believe this DNA evidence is not accurate.”

Harding says he has also spoken to the governor personally about this case and is hoping he will pardon him before his term is up this year.

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