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Murder Case Takes on Air of Shakespeare

June 25, 1990

BEDFORD, Va. (AP) _ Two star-crossed lovers who rewrote the plays of Shakespeare for amusement committed real-life murder most foul.

Jens Soering and Elizabeth Haysom, honor students at the University of Virginia, plotted the fatal stabbings of Miss Haysom’s parents in 1985 and fled to London.

A jury Thursday found Soering guilty of two counts of murder and recommended two life terms. Miss Haysom testified against him after pleading guilty to being an accessory to murder. She was sentenced to 90 years in prison.

At Soering’s trial, Miss Haysom, 26, testified that Soering stabbed her parents, Derek and Nancy Haysom, because they wanted to end her relationship with Soering and because Soering wanted to win her love.

Miss Haysom admitted playing Lady Macbeth by manipulating Soering, a pudgy, bookish West German and diplomat’s son who was in love for the first time. She said she was in Washington preparing alibis while Soering committed the deed.

But Soering, 23, painted himself as a love-struck, chivalrous young man.

He testified that Miss Haysom committed the murders and persuaded him to take the blame to save her from the electric chair. Soering said he figured he faced deportation and a light sentence.

However, authorities in London agreed when they arrested the two to turn Soering over to the United States if prosecutors would not press for the death penalty.

Miss Haysom had attended one of Britain’s finest boarding schools, Wycombe Abbey, where she played the dangerous enchantress Cleopatra in ″Antony and Cleopatra.″

She was accepted into Britain’s National Theatre and wrote three plays of her own. She and her lover shared an interest in Shakespeare.

In court, prosecutor James Updike drew parallels to ″Macbeth,″ in which Lady Macbeth persuades her husband to commit murder.

″Did you see yourself as Lady Macbeth?″ Updike asked Miss Haysom.

″Yes, sir, I did,″ she responded.

Miss Haysom’s father was stabbed 39 times. Her mother was stabbed eight times. Their throats were slashed.

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