The case of

Derek William Reginald Haysom & Nancy Astor Benedict Haysom

Victim

Derek William Reginald Haysom & Nancy Astor Benedict Haysom

Victim Race

Caucasian

Victim Date of Birth

1924-07-12

Victim Age

53

Date Reported

1985-04-03

Date of Death

1985-03-30

Case Status

Closed

Incident Location

Boonsboro, Bedford County, West Virginia, USA

Body Location

Boonsboro, Bedford County, West Virginia, USA

Date of Conviction

1990-09-04

Body Discovered Date

1985-04-03

Murderer

Elizabeth Haysom & Jens Söring

Who were Elizabeth Haysom’s parents?

Derek William Reginald Haysom was born on March 23, 1913, in South Africa. Nancy Astor Benedict was born on July 12, 1932 in Jerome, Yavapai County, Arizona. Little is known about their early lives but it is known that Nancy’s family were related to the high society family, The Astors. For context, John Jacob Astor was the wealthiest passenger on board the Titanic.

The couple married in 1960. Derek worked high up in the steel industry and Nancy was an artist. Between them, they had a combined total of six children from previous marriages and in 1964, the pair welcomed their daughter, Elizabeth Roxanne Haysom who would unfortunately be partly responsible for their murders 21 years later.

Victim was found dead/start of the crime

On April 3, 1985, a close family friend called Annie Massey discovered the bodies of Derek and Nancy Haysom in their home. The pair had both been slashed and stabbed to death and they were both almost decapitated.

It was clear to investigators that Derek and Nancy had been dead for some time and the coroner put their estimated date of death between the 29th and 31st March. The condition of the bodies also made it obvious that the attack on the couple was personal, it was very frenzied and bloody.

Derek’s body was found by the front door of the home and he had been stabbed 36 times. Whoever had carried out the attack continued to stab Derek long after he’d died. Nancy was found in the kitchen and she had been stabbed six times. However, even though most of the anger had been taken out on Derek, both of their throats had been cut, almost from ear to ear.

The dining table was still set for dinner and two of the plates had remnants of their last meal.

The Crime Description

The exact timeline of the murders of Derek Haysom and his wife, Nancy, isn’t known. As both Jens and Elizabeth Haysom blame each other, no one can be 100% certain of the facts.

At the time of Jens confession in 1986, he claimed that while he and Elizabeth were in Washington, they both spoke about the idea of killing the Haysoms. They quickly figured out that the trip to Washington would serve as their alibi. Jens left Elizabeth in their Washington hotel to order room service and buy movie tickets while he drove alone to the Haysom’s home. He claimed this all happened on the 31st March 1985.

Jens said that initially, he went there just to talk. He knew that Elizabeth Haysom’s parents disapproved of his relationship with their daughter and as their relationship seemed to be serious, he really wanted to sort things out with them. Jens said that when he arrived, Derek answered the door and the three of them had drinks around the table and discussed their issues. However, as the Haysoms drank more and more, the atmosphere turned argumentative and Derek started threatening Jens, saying he would have him expelled from the university.

Jens got up to leave but Derek slammed his head into the wall, allegedly causing the bruise that someone noticed at the funeral. At this point, Jens got out his knife and slashed Derek’s neck. Nancy came at Jens with a knife of her own so Jens also slashed her neck.

He said that once he was sure they were dead, he disposed of the weapon, his clothes and the tableware in a dumpster at the end of the road and then returned to the crime scene in just socks to get rid of his fingerprints. Jens then got back into his car and drove back to Washington DC.

Suspect or Convicted Killer Details

Elizabeth Roxanne Haysom was born in April 1964 in South Africa. It’s been said that as a child, she would demand a lot of attention. There were 10 years between her and her closest sibling so her parents were the ones who were expected to lavish her with the attention she wanted.

Elizabeth Haysom’s school years were far from normal. Her parents wanted the best education for her so they enrolled her in Wycombe Abbey, a boarding school near London. At first, Elizabeth had trouble settling in but eventually, she seemed to fit in. However, a couple of years after she started, she claimed that her peers have framed her for possession of drugs and she was banned from using the telephone. This meant that she wasn’t able to contact her parents for several days and this caused her to run away from Wycombe Abbey.

When she eventually returned, Elizabeth found that her friend group had moved on. Because she was now struggling to settle again, she turned to drugs and began to explore her sexuality. When Wycombe Abbey learned of her experimenting, they told her that she had to leave and return to Canada where her parents were living. This expulsion meant that Elizabeth wouldn’t be accepted by Trinity College in Oxford and her girlfriend had also been rejected by the university so they decided to take off together and travel around Europe.

For four months, the couple made it through by doing odd jobs and stealing food before finally accepting defeat. Elizabeth Haysom returned home to her parents, who were very open about their disappointment in their daughter. Derek was offered a job in Virginia, and he took it, thinking the move would be good for their daughter. When they were there, Elizabeth was offered a scholarship at the University of Virginia. This is where she met Jens Söring.

Jens Söring was born August 1, 1966 in Bangkok, Thailand. He was the son of a German diplomat, and in 1977, the family moved to the USA. Jens graduated from his school in Georgia in 1984, and he was then awarded a scholarship at the University of Virginia. At just 18, Jens looked smaller than his age. His frame was that of a young teenage boy wearing thick-rimmed glasses, giving him the overall impression of a “nerd.” But something drew Elizabeth to Jens and they pair fell hard for each other.

Neither Jens or Elizabeth had great relationships with their parents and this is evident in the letters they would send to each other. They hated spending time apart, and letters would be exchanged whenever they were separated.

Investigation Details

Upon arriving at the crime scene, police could see that the attack on Derek and Nancy Haysom was personal. The attacker would have had to get up close and personal with the couple and with the overkill to Derek, they would have had to have some deep rooted problems with them. It was also determined quite early on that the attack wasn’t a burglary gone wrong. Nothing was missing from the house, no valuables were missing and Nancy’s jewelry and purse, which was full of cash, were still in the house. There was no sign of forced entry, meaning the Haysom’s had let their attacker in.

At first, the investigators didn’t have much to go on. It was a true murder mystery. Rumors flew around that Derek and Nancy had been killed by a gang or a cult, involving voodoo witchcraft, because of the savagery of the murders. No weapons were found but there were footprints found in blood. Two of the prints looked like they’d been made with a tennis shoe while another looked like it had been created by someone just wearing a sock.

An autopsy discovered that the Haysom’s blood alcohol levels were incredibly high, 0.22 while the legal driving limit in Virginia is 0.08. Fingerprints were found on a vodka bottle and further testing proved that these prints were from Elizabeth Haysom. This didn’t implicate her because she’d spent a lot of time at her parent’s home.

Blood was found at the scene that wasn’t a match to the Haysom’s. A damp rag in the washing machine had traces of blood on that didn’t match Derek or Nancy and several droplets were found on the screen door and in the main bedroom as well.

When Elizabeth Haysom was told of her parent’s murders, her reaction didn’t raise alarm bells to investigators. But because there was no known motive and no forced entry, police were certain that the Haysoms knew their attacker so this made them focus their investigation on family and close friends. The Sheriff’s Department became desperate so they asked the FBI to send a profiler to the scene and help them narrow down their suspect pool.

As police questioned the Haysom family, they soon learned of the tension between Elizabeth Haysom and her parents. When Elizabeth was interviewed, the police got the impression that she wasn’t telling them everything. Someone who attended Derek and Nancy’s funeral came forward to tell investigators that Jens had a bruise on his face and bandages on his fingers.

However, even though Elizabeth Haysom and Jens seemed suspicious, they had an alibi. The couple had been on a weekend trip to Washington DC and stayed in a Marriott hotel which they had a receipt for. They also had proof of room service being ordered as well as tickets to two movies they’d been to see.

While their alibi was airtight, something didn’t add up. The couple had rented a car for the weekend and the log said that they’d driven 669 miles. The round trip should have only been around 230 miles so it didn’t make sense that they’d clocked up an extra 440 miles. Elizabeth and Jens claimed that they’d got lost several times and this was the cause of the extra mileage. Investigators didn’t believe them and soon discovered that driving to Elizabeth Haysom’s parent’s house and back would have been around 400 miles.

Elizabeth Haysom quite happily gave police her fingerprints and blood samples but when Jens was asked, he refused. He claimed that it would reflect badly on his father, the German diplomat, and he’d have to check with the German embassy if he was able to provide samples. He did arrange to provide his samples at a later date, but before he was able to do this, he left the country. Elizabeth soon joined him and they spent months traveling around Asia and Europe. They managed to get hold of false IDs as well as other documents they needed to fly under the radar for a while.

At the end of 1985, they arrived in Canterbury in the UK. They applied for a bank account allowing the bank to honor bounce checks up to £50. Using this method, they would buy something from a store using this card and then return the item for cash. They made around $9000 (around $22,000 now), and by this point, they were living in London. Their spree came to an end though when they were arrested for shoplifting and check fraud on April 30, 1986.

While they were being questioned by police in London, investigators came across documents that led them to the Haysom double murders. The police got in touch with an investigator in Virginia who flew over to question further the pair about the murder of Elizabeth’s parents. During his questioning, Jens didn’t have a lawyer present (something which he would later say he was threatened to do so), and he finally admitted to the double murder of Derek and Nancy Haysom.

Jens was arrested and charged with two counts of murder. Elizabeth Haysom was going to be charged with the same, but this was later changed to an accessory to murder before the fact.

Trial

Jens’ legal team fought for the trial to be held in England or his home country of Germany, but their efforts were in vain. The one thing they were able to do, though, was to have the death penalty removed.

Elizabeth Haysom pleaded guilty to her charges, and she also testified against Jens. She claimed that Jens was the one who had carried out the crimes, and she had been involved in the planning, as well as providing Jens with an alibi for that night.

Jens pleaded not guilty at his trial, claiming that he’d given a false confession at the time because he’d assumed he would get diplomatic immunity. Since his trial, Jens has said that he was coerced into confessing in London and several other irregularities with his trial.

Verdict

Jens Söring was given two consecutive life sentences for his crimes.

Elizabeth Haysom was sentenced to 90 years in prison, 45 years for each murder.

Frequently asked questions

What is Elizabeth Haysom doing now?

On November 25, 2019, Elizabeth Haysom and Jens Söring were granted their release from prison on parole. They were both sent to their native countries; Elizabeth now lives in Canada, and Jens, who is a German citizen, lives in Germany.

Does Elizabeth Haysom have siblings?

Yes, she has six. Both her mother and father were married before meeting each other and between them, they had six children before Elizabeth Haysom was born.

 

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