Experts Uncover Info in Soering Investigation Despite Calls to 'Back Off'

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Albemarle County Sheriff J.E. "Chip" Harding says some people are asking him to back off an independent investigation into the murder conviction of a former University of Virginia student.

The sheriff held a press conference at CitySpace Monday, April 9, to offer up a new perspective in the Jens Soering case: a psychological profile created by the FBI.

Soering is serving a life sentence for the 1985 murders of Derek and Nancy Haysom, the parents of his then-girlfriend Elizabeth. He admitted to the crimes, which occurred in the family’s home in Bedford County, but has since claimed his confession was false.

It was revealed at Monday’s press event that the FBI had conducted a psychological profile early in the double-murder investigation. The profile concluded that the suspect or suspects were likely close to the Haysoms, and likely female.

"The first six months of this whole investigation was based and focused on a female," said former Bedford County Sheriff's Department Senior Investigator Chuck Reid.

"That is a fact. It was done, it was provided to the sheriff's department, and for reasons unknown they have decided to not admit that that ever happened," former FBI Special Agent Stanley J. Lapekas said.

"I've gotten calls roundabout from Bedford asking me to back down," Harding said Monday. The sheriff did not elaborate on exactly who from Bedford County is asking him to back down from looking into the case.

Harding has stated that he has spent hundreds of hours going over the case, and has joined other experts who are unsure of the evidence and investigation that resulted in Soering's conviction. Those people include Reid, former Charlottesville Police Department Detective Sergeant Richard L. Hudson Jr., as well as forensic science expert professor Moses Schanfield and former Deputy Attorney General of Virginia Gail Starling Marshall.

There is hope the uncovering of the FBI profile will help convince the governor to make a decision in their favor.

"Was finding the FBI document the smoking gun that could release him? Absolutely not, but it should certainly cause doubt on the entire investigation," Sheriff Harding said.

"We're talking about fair and equal justice here and due process here, and we're talking about people's lives," said Reid.

A spokesperson for the Office of Governor Ralph Northam released the following statement to NBC29:

Mr. Soering's petition is under review by the parole board. When that review is complete the governor will be presented with its findings and will make a decision on the petition. He takes every petition seriously and will give this one the proper consideration when it is presented to him.

Jens Soering is the son of a former German diplomat. Previous efforts have attempted to allow him to complete the prison sentence in his home country.

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