BERLIN (AP) — A German diplomat’s son who served more than 33 years in prison for a double murder in Virginia that he has steadfastly maintained he didn’t commit arrived in his homeland on Tuesday after being released on parole.
Jens Soering was met by a crush of supporters and reporters after he landed in Frankfurt following his deportation, saying “I would never have managed it without these people who supported me for years.”
“I”m so happy,” he said. “This is really the best day of my life.”
Soering, 53, was convicted of murdering his then-girlfriend Elizabeth Haysom’s parents in 1985 and was serving a life sentence in Virginia when he was granted parole last month. Haysom, who was serving a 90-year sentence as an accessory, was also granted parole at the same time.
Soering maintains that Haysom carried out the killings herself and only told him after the slayings. Haysom, a Canadian citizen, is also to be deported.
Soering initially confessed to the murders, but later said he had only done so because he thought his father’s status as a diplomat would provide him immunity in the United States, and that he would serve a short juvenile sentence in Germany while sparing Haysom the possibility of the electric chair.
The two met at the University of Virginia, where they were both students.
Over the years, Soering garnered many supporters advocating for his release, including from law enforcement officials who have re-examined the evidence using new forensic techniques, crime author John Grisham, and movie star Martin Sheen.
Peter Beyer, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party and the government’s coordinator for trans-Atlantic relations, was among those who met Soering at the airport.
Soering’s mother died while he was in prison and he has said he is now estranged from his father.
He did not say where he planned to live in Germany and took no questions at the airport. He asked reporters to respect his privacy for the next few weeks while he tries to settle back into society.