Small Town Big Crime

Small Town Big Crime

A beloved couple brutally murdered in their home. Their daughter's boyfriend, Jens Soering, confessed to the crime and was sentenced to life in prison. But decades later, DNA evidence tells a different story. So who really killed Derek and Nancy Haysom and why?


November 18, 2019 2 mins

In 1985 Derek and Nancy Haysom were brutally murdered in Bedford County, Virginia. Their daughter Elizabeth, a University of Virginia student, and her then-boyfriend, Jens Soering, the son of a German diplomat who was also attending UVA, were convicted of the crime in 1990 after the pair were apprehended in Europe and Soering confessed. He recanted almost immediately and insists he offered a false confession to protect Elizabeth. M...

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The announcement this week that Jens Soering and Elizabeth Haysom had been granted parole after spending 33 years in prison sent shockwaves across the world and surprised even Soering's staunchest supporters. This bonus episode features the phone call where Jason Flom and Amanda Knox learned of Soering's release, and reaction from a local sheriff who says he still firmly believes the murder investigation of Derek and Nanc...

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December 17, 2019 20 mins

It was the bloodiest crime scene investigators in Bedford County had ever seen. Derek and Nancy Haysom were stabbed more than thirty times in their own home. There was plenty of forensic evidence to collect, but detectives had few leads. After months of dead ends in the investigation, the couples' youngest daughter, Elizabeth, aroused suspicions with her strange behavior. When detectives started questioning her and her boyfrie...

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December 24, 2019 22 mins

In 1985 Jens Soering and Elizabeth Haysom were bright, promising students at the University of Virginia when Haysom's parents were found brutally murdered in their Bedford County home. The young couple became the prime suspects in the crime and fled the country. They were arrested in London several months later, and British detectives found some disturbing letters. Haysom pleaded guilty to being an accessory before the fact in...

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December 31, 2019 26 mins

The weekend Derek and Nancy Haysom were brutally murdered in their home in Bedford County, their youngest daughter Elizabeth and her boyfriend, Jens Soering, had rented a car and driven to Washington, DC. After the killings, Elizabeth maintained Jens drove the 200 miles from Washington to Bedford County to confront her parents about their disapproval of their relationship and ended up stabbing them to death. But Jens has a very dif...

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January 14, 2020 21 mins

Type O Blood was found at the crime scene and was an important piece of evidence in convicting Jens Soering in the 1985 murders of Derek and Nancy Haysom.  But newly tested DNA evidence suggests Soering wasn't at the crime scene, and the Type O blood belonged to an unidentified male. More testing revealed a second unknown male left blood at the scene. DNA experts don't believe Soering could have been at the Haysoms' ...

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January 21, 2020 21 mins

Officials in Bedford County are convinced that Jens Soering is guilty of brutally murdering Derek and Nancy Haysom in their home in 1985, even though new DNA testing suggests two unidentified men were at the crime scene. The refusal of the Bedford County Sheriff's Office to reopen the case and test additional evidence for DNA has frustrated many people, including a former lead investigator in the Haysom murders. Elizabeth Hays...

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January 28, 2020 23 mins

Jens Soering and Elizabeth Haysom were granted parole in November of 2019 after serving more than three decades in prison. But the parole board also ruled that Soering’s claims of innocence are without merit, and he was denied a pardon by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam. In the eyes of the law, Jens Soering murdered Derek and Nancy Haysom, and officials in Bedford County maintain the case is closed. But the parole board investigati...

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June 30, 2020 23 mins

With new DNA evidence showing two unidentified men bled at the Haysom crime scene, our focus turns to the two so-called "drifters" who were convicted of a separate fatal stabbing that happened a week after the Haysom murders. Who were these men, and could they have been involved? We track them down to a Virginia prison, where they had both been sent to serve life sentences, and we find another surprising source: William S...

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June 30, 2020 21 mins

The night after brutally stabbing a homeless man in Roanoke, Virginia in 1985, William Shifflett and Robert Albright checked into a nearby emergency shelter called the RAFT. In 2018, a volunteer from the RAFT wrote a letter to the Virginia governor and to one of the original investigators in the Haysom murders stating she believed Jens Soering was wrongfully convicted. She cited incriminating conversations volunteers at the shelter...

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July 7, 2020 19 mins

The son of one of "the drifters", William Shifflett, shares his father had type O blood. The DNA evidence revealed in 2009 suggested two unidentified men may have bled at the crime scene. One of those men had type O blood, according to experts. Could it be a match? With Bedford County officials refusing to retest crime scene evidence, the investigation has remained at a stalemate. But a new path to DNA testing is forged t...

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July 14, 2020 21 mins

After years of speculation that "the drifters," William Shifflett and Robert Albright, were the real killers of Derek and Nancy Haysom, the results of a DNA test shed new light. In Germany, Jens Soering reacts to the results of that DNA test, and retired law enforcement investigators suggest next steps. Shifflett's son Will is confronted over evidence that he's lied about Elizabeth Haysom.

To support th...

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October 13, 2020 19 mins

Elizabeth Haysom's cousin and closest confidante describes how Elizabeth evolved over the years and shares an update on her new life in Canada. A forensic psychologist who examined Elizabeth for her parole hearing offers new details about her troubled childhood and gives a professional assessment of her current mental state.

To support the investigative efforts of Small Town Big Crime, please visit our Patreon page <...

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October 13, 2020 20 mins

Jens Soering and Elizabeth Haysom exchanged flowery love letters in the early months of their relationship but their writings also contained dark and violent fantasies that hinted at murder. Three decades later we re-examine those letters and compare their words then with what they are saying now. As Jens and Elizabeth begin new lives decades later and an ocean apart, they can't escape the crime that changed the course of both...

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October 13, 2020 28 mins

Our investigation into the murders of Derek and Nancy Haysom has already eliminated one alternate suspect through DNA testing. Now we turn our sights on the other possible suspects who may have bled at the crime scene. New DNA evidence provides answers that have eluded investigators for decades. The commonwealth's attorney in Bedford County defends the decision not to conduct additional testing on crime scene evidence. A DNA e...

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October 20, 2020 34 mins

Just as we think our investigation has reached a dead end, a Facebook message prompts new questions about Jens Soering's claims of innocence. A report by one of the British detectives who interrogated Jens in 1986 cites evidence that Jens' has been lying for 30 years.  Thanks to our friend and fellow podcaster, Allison Melody, the host of Food Heals, we hear from a former  Bedford deputy who has never spoken publicly abou...

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October 27, 2020 20 mins

We ask Jens Soering and his attorney to respond to discrepancies between his 1986 confession and what he told us last year. We trace the web of Soering's support to see how each influential person was brought in and became convinced of his innocence.  The DNA experts and investigators who reviewed the case for Soering, respond to the alternate explanation about the unidentified DNA.

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June 28, 2022 29 mins

Jens Soering’s team has been calling for new DNA testing on crime scene evidence for years but claims Bedford County officials are stonewalling. After Rachel and Courteney meet with the man who could reopen the case and order new testing, Bedford’s top prosecutor Wes Nance, he gives them a challenge: find a lab on the cutting edge of DNA science and see if new testing technology can provide answers in the case. A path to DNA testin...

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June 28, 2022 26 mins

As they wait for the Bedford County Circuit Court to respond to their petitions for new DNA testing in the Haysom case, Rachel and Courteney use a new law to gain access to the never-before-seen investigative files. Thousands of pages of notes and other documents reveal how investigators eliminated early suspects and honed in on Jens and Elizabeth. The court responds to the petitions, and the push for DNA testing takes a twist.

To s...

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June 28, 2022 28 mins

After investigating the Haysom murders for three years, the reporters have eliminated three alternate suspects and created a path for DNA testing. Their investigation has come full circle back to Jens and Elizabeth, who now each have a decision to make.

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Sound production by Taylor Thomas

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