Convicted double murderer Jens Söring has returned to Germany after serving more than three decades in a US jail.
The 53-year-old German was detained as a teenager in 1986 over the brutal killing of his girlfriend’s parents.
Söring, the son of a diplomat, was released on probation by authorities in the US state of Virginia on Tuesday. He is banned from returning to the US.
After first confessing to the killings, he later said he had done so to save his girlfriend from a death sentence.
Smiling as he was greeted by friends and supporters on arrival at Frankfurt airport on Tuesday, Söring described it as the best day of his life.
“I’m so happy to be in Germany after 33 years in prison in the US,” he told journalists, adding: “It is the happiest day of my life!”
In an emotional press conference, Söring said he now hoped for some time away from the media spotlight in order to “settle back into my life”.
While he is no longer permitted to enter the US, he is a free man on German soil.
What about the killings?
Söring was an 18-year-old student when the parents of his then-girlfriend, 20-year-old Elizabeth Haysom, were found murdered in March 1985 – their bodies were discovered at their home in the small town of Boonsboro, Virginia, with multiple stab wounds.
The young couple, who investigators later said were the main suspects from the very beginning, fled the US for Britain weeks later.
They were then arrested and extradited to the US to face trial.
Söring initially admitted responsibility for the killings, the motive of which he said was the couple’s disapproval of his relationship with their daughter.
But he later retracted his statement and pleaded not guilty. He told prosecutors his earlier confession was an attempt to protect Haysom, who he feared would face the death penalty.
He said that, as the son of a diplomat, he believed he would benefit from diplomatic immunity.
After retracting his confession, Söring said that Haysom was the person responsible for the murders. His defence lawyers then began petitioning for his release, highlighting inconsistencies between the pair’s accounts and – aside from his earlier confession – the fact that there was only one slight piece of evidence: a smeared footprint.
Söring’s team, however, failed to convince judges to reopen the trial.
Haysom, who pleaded guilty and testified against Söring, was jailed for complicity in the crimes.