CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- Albemarle County Sheriff Chip Harding is asking the Governor of Virginia to pardon a former University of Virginia student convicted of murder.
Harding said he conducted his own investigation of the Haysom murders and said DNA evidence shows that Jens Soering is actually innocent.
DNA evidence from the 1985 crime scene is key to the sheriff's conclusion and the reason he believes Governor Terry McAuliffe should pardon Soering. What's more, Harding said the evidence places two other suspects at the scene of the murder.
"Sometimes people get wrongly convicted and that's even a worse injustice," Harding said, sitting in his office.
A spread of folders and documents, some inches thick, are stacked on a table and the floor next to Harding's desk. For him, the Haysom murders investigation has been a passion project, which he has been doing in his free time.
"I thought what I was going to see was a confession that pretty much matched up with what happened with the crime scene," Harding said.
Soering was convicted of the murders of Derek and Nancy Haysom following a confession he provided police.
But now, Soering claims he is innocent.
After more than 200 hours of investigations and sifting through hundreds of documents, Harding agrees with Soering.
"The DNA evidence is the most compelling," Harding explained. "That wasn't available at the time of the trial because evidence wasn't tested for DNA."
In the original investigation of the murders, blood from the crime scene in Bedford County was not tested for DNA, only blood type.
Harding said later DNA testing of the type-O blood used to convict Soering shows the blood does not belong to Soering.
"It could be the prosecutor would have re-evaluated the whole case," Harding said. "Maybe the kid is telling the truth and he falsely confessed to protect the woman he loved."
Even more staggering to Harding's investigation, he said later testing also points to two other men at the crime scene.
"I think you've got people who've gotten away with murder for 30 some odd years," Harding said.
Harding's theory is that Soering's ex-girlfriend Elizabeth Haysom got two of her friends to help kill her parents for alleged sexual abuses.
"She's the one that's angry, she's the one that doesn't seem to be stable," commented Harding.
Despite the allegation, Harding said it is only a theory. For now, he said he is focused on moving forward with his investigation to figure out to whom the DNA samples belong.
But Harding is sure of one thing.
"He got convicted. I just don't think he would be today," Harding said.
He would not comment as to whether he thought the investigation of the Haysom murders was mishandled, or if he believed the case should be reopened.
As recently as 2015, another investigator from the case, Ricky Gardner (who is now second in command at the Bedford County Sheriff's Office), said he still believes Soering is guilty.
McAuliffe's office has said the governor is still considering Soering's pardon request.