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With the voices of Imogen Poots and Daniel Bruehl

A True Story

The story of Jens Söring and Elizabeth Haysom



A True Story

The story of Jens Söring and Elizabeth Haysom


“Compelling murder-mystery“

The Sunday Times

“Engrossing and unnerving“

The Daily Telegraph


The Times

“A film like a grenade“

Stern TV

“Gruesome, but utterly gripping…“

The Times


“I felt like the hero in Charles Dickens’ novel “A Tale of Two Cities”, who gave his life for love.”

Jens Soering

A true Story

First love life sentence

Obsessed young lovers, obscene murders, a sensational trial, and a shocking miscarriage of justice. KILLING FOR LOVE is a riveting dissection of the prosecution’s case, the courtroom battle played out on television, and the disturbing aftermath. Convicted of brutally murdering his girlfriend’s parents, Jens Soering has been in prison for over 30 years. The film reveals for the first time the mounting evidence of his innocence: the FBI profile of the killer withheld from the jury, the bloody footprint and unidentified fingerprints pointing to other perpetrators, and the new exculpatory DNA analysis. Highly cinematic in the way of The Staircase, as suspenseful as Serial, and as confounding as Making of a Murderer, KILLING FOR LOVE delivers a powerful story that is indeed, stranger than fiction.

Read the whole story

“Every morning, when I open my eyes and see the thick bars across my window I cannot help but think back to that evening my downfall began.”

Jens Soering

The love letters

of Jens Soering and Elizabeth Haysom

With the voices of Imogen Poots and Daniel Bruehl

Perhaps their lives would have turned out differently if Jens Soering and Elizabeth Haysom had not kept their love letters. When they were arrested in London on April 30, 1986, it was the collection of love letters that aroused suspicion with the police. In these letters Jens and Elizabeth frequently fantasized about the death or transformation of Elizabeth’s parents, prompting the investigators make inquiries with Virginia law enforcement. In those pre-Internet times, in which cooperation and communication between jurisdictions, let alone in different countries, was uncommon, except for the letters, Jens and Elizabeth might have gotten away with just the cheque fraud they were arrested for. In our bonus material, you can find exclusive excerpts from these letters – read by Daniel Bruehl and Imogen Poots. They illustrate how obsessive and tempestuous this love was.

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“When my love swears that she is made of truth, I do believe her, though I know she lies, That she might think me some untutored youth, unlearned in the world’s false subtleties.”

Sonnet 138, Shakespeare


 Chuck Reid was a member of the Bedford County Sheriff’s Department and one of the investigators in the Haysom murder case. In an interview, he spoke about a FBI crime scene profile that was created for the case in 1985, but which was not turned over to the defense or mentioned in court. The profile described a female suspect and does not fit the confession of Jens Soering. Reid is confident that there was such a crime scene profile. But Ricky Gardner claims it never existed.

 Ricky Gardner describes himself as a “lead investigator” in the Haysom murder case. He was there when Jens Soering confessed to the murders in London without a lawyer. To this day, Gardner defends the comparison made in court of Soering’s sock imprint found at the crime scene even though experts later said that this comparison was wrong and misled the jury.

Rich Zorn (right), former Senior Assistant Deputy Attorney General and a friend of the Soering family. His son went to the same school as Jens Soering. He supported the family for many years and is committed to the cause of Soering’s transfer to Germany.

Gail Marshall, former Deputy Attorney General of Virginia, has been fighting for Jens Soering for many years. She is certain of his innocence and says she only had two cases in her entire career where she was firmly convinced that the prisoners were innocent. One is now a free man, the other is Jens Soering.

Tom Elliott, a Catholic deacon and chaplain, who accompanied Soering for many years. He is one of the few that visits him regularly in prison. He is just in the process, together with other supporters, to push once again for Soering’s transfer to Germany.

Dave Watson, a private investigator who was hired by Gail Ball to reinvestigate the case.

Steven D. Rosenfield, Jens Soering’s new repatriation attorney, filed suit on January 18, 2011, to enforce his transfer to Germany. On January 12, 2010, the Democratic Governor of Virginia, Timothy M. Kaine, consented to the repatriation of Jens Soering to Germany. A week later, the new Republican Governor, Robert F. McDonnell, sent a letter withdrawing Virginia’s consent to Jens Soering’s repatriation. In July 2012, a court ruled against his repatriation lawsuit; in December 2012, the Virginia Supreme Court refused to even hear the appeal.

William Sweeney, the judge who led the Haysom trials. He swore that he was unbiased, even though he had given an interview before the trial in which he said he thought Jens Soering was guilty. In addition, he was a friend of the brother of one of the victims for over 40 years.

Tony Buchanan, a new witness, who came forward in 2011 to say that, in 1985, Elizabeth Haysom brought a damaged car to his garage, accompanied by another man – not Jens Soering. In the car lay a bloody knife. The witness was never officially questioned.

Ed Sulzbach was a special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a highly respected FBI-profiler. He was the recipient of the FBI’s Medal of Valor and FBI Star, two of the Bureau’s highest honors. He investigated the crime scene at Loose Chippings and wrote a psychological profile, in which he concluded that the perpetrator very possibly was female and someone close to the family. Sulzbach’s presence at the crime scene was never mentioned in court. Jens Soering’s lawyers were not aware of the existence of a profile, which would have been exculpatory evidence. According to the Bedford County Sheriff’s Department, the profile never existed, and several FOIA requests for the profile remain unanswered. He died on April 13, 2016 at the age of 75.

Carlos Santos, a journalist, who followed the case from the beginning.

Director‘s Statement

By Karin Steinberger and Marcus Vetter

The first time Karin Steinberger met Jens Soering in person, he had already been a prisoner for 20 years. He had spent more time incarcerated than walking free. That was in August 2006. He was talking about his great love for Elizabeth Haysom, about lies and betrayal. It was a flood of words; he spoke as if his life depended on it. And repeatedly this one phrase: I am innocent.

That was 10 years ago. Since then he wrote her nearly every day, his letters are full of rage, and sometimes of hope. And there are news with every visit: There was a parole-hearing, during which the chairman fell asleep, in front of everyone present. Like all pervious parole applications, this one was also denied. Then there was this new witness, who exonerated Soering, but no official had any interest in him. There was DNA evidence from the crime scene, but none matched that of Jens Soering. A moment of hope came when Tim Kaine, the democratic governor of Virginia, declared Jens Soering’s transfer to Germany. And it was destroyed when his republican successor, Bob McDonnell stopped the transfer on his first day in office. Jens Soering stayed prisoner number 1161655, given two life sentences for the murder on Nancy and Derek Haysom, who were stabbed to death in their home in Lynchburg, Virginia, on March 30th, 1985. The question that still lingers: Is Jens Soering guilty beyond reasonable doubt?

Three years ago Karin Steinberger asked Marcus Vetter if he would like to make a movie about this case. All those inconsistencies, procedural errors, and unanswered questions. The story seemed far from finished. At this moment Jens Soering was in prison for 27 years.

Karin and Marcus have worked together previously, on two documentaries: “Hunger“ (2009) and “The Forecaster“ (2015). And now they looked at the Haysom-killing, a story that seemed written in Hollywood. Two brilliant students meet each other at the University of Virginia, she was beautiful and bold, he was very intelligent and arrogant. They fall in love, become a couple, and then Elizabeth’s parents get killed.

At first the police have no traces, but they get closer and closer to the couple. So Elizabeth and Jens flee to Asia, Europe, and finally get caught in London for cashing bad cheques. They both confess the murder during interrogations, then revoke. Soering says, he confessed to safe her from the electric chair. Haysom says: He did it.  The great love turned into a deadly betrayal.

The interview with Jens Soering by Steinberger and Vetter in the Buckingham Correctional Center is the last he is allowed to give in front of a camera. Since then: No more filming. By accident Steinberger and Vetter get the complete video footage of the processes. The gruesome double murder was a public sensation back then in the US, to be seen every day live on TV. The footage is another sensation, you can see everything: How Elizabeth Haysom wraps herself up in lies, how Jens Soering’s lawyer fails because of the special procedural rules in the state of Virgina, how Jens Soering’s with his juvenile arrogance turns everyone against him, how facts get twisted and how crucial questions never get asked.

The movie shooting has its own impact: Steinberger and Vetter get to know the FBI-agent, who had made a perpetrator profile; however its existence has been denied by officials to this very day. Together with a private investigator Steinberger and Vetter search for witnesses who, without any stated reason, have never been asked to give testimony in court. They learn that the abuse of Elizabeth Haysom by her mother is still a taboo. Nude pictures of Elizabeth taken by Nancy Haysom are to this day under seal and cannot to be found.

Jens Soering was in prison for 30 years, one month and 24 days when the movie had its world premiere on June 24th, 2016 at the Filmfest in Munich. The movie’s effects are already noticeable. What remains is one crucial question: Is Jens Soering guilty, beyond reasonable doubt?

Munich, August 8th, 2016


The Truth About True Crime with Amanda Knox

This season, on The Truth About True Crime, host Amanda Knox explores the perplexing and sensationalized case from the docu-series Killing for Love, streaming on Sundance Now. Listen as she untangles a tale of obsessed young lovers, heinous murders, and a shocking miscarriage of justice that eerily parallels her own story.

New Season Preview: Killing for Love
Killing for Love: The Catalyst
Killing for Love: Martin Sheen – Life Lines
Killing for Love: Two Crimes
Killing For Love: The Confession
Killing for Love: Big Crime, Small Town
Killing for Love: The Black Box
Killing For Love: Grinding Gears
Killing for Love: The Cost

Listen now

USA Release

December 15. 2017 at IFC Center, New York and Laemmle Royal, Los Angeles

We are pleased to announce the U.S. theatrical and VOD launch of “The Promise” as “Killing for Love”, opening in New York City at the IFC Center, and in Los Angeles at Laemmle Royal, on Friday, December 15. The film is being released by IFC Films/Sundance Selects, additional US cities will be announced soon.

Theatrical Cities & Opening Dates

(A week of screenings per city)

12/15/2017 New York IFC Center (1)