Heiress Elizabeth Haysom pleaded guilty today to two counts of being an accessory before the fact in the 1985 slashing murders of her wealthy parents, heading off what was expected to be a long trial.
Haysom, 23, a former University of Virginia honor student, had been charged on two counts of first-degree murder.
Her trial was to start today in Bedford County Circuit Court, but in her arraignment before the proceedings were to begin, Haysom offered guilty pleas to the lesser charge.
Haysom was charged along with her boyfriend, Jens Soering, 20, in the April, 1985, murders of her wealthy parents, Derek and Nancy Haysom. There was no immediate indication whether Haysom would testify against Soering, now fighting extradition from London.
Derek Haysom, a retired Canadian steel executive, and his wife, Nancy, 53, a relative of Lady Astor, the first woman to serve in the British Parliament, were found lying in pools of blood in their spacious Colonial home in Boonsboro, a secluded, upper-middle-class community in northern Bedford County. The father had been stabbed 37 times; the mother had been stabbed six times, and her throat had been slit.
Haysom was charged with helping Soering plan the slayings. Prosecutors claimed that she hated her parents for objecting to her relationship with Soering and wanted them dead to collect her inheritance.
Soering, also a former Virginia honor student and son of a West German diplomat, is charged with murder and is in a London jail awaiting a hearing date on his appeal of an extradition order handed down by a British magistrate in June. His father is Klaus Soering, vice consul at the West German Consulate in Detroit.