In 1970 Ira Einhorn was at the top of his game. The outspoken environmental and political activist worked closely with Philadelphia-area groups to designate April 22 as Earth Day – a day he would later claim he single-handedly founded. Einhorn, also known as “The Unicorn” due to the German translation of his last name, would go on to work with other groups and made a point to make an appearance anywhere he could make a spectacle of himself and could become a part of the spotlight. Quite the showman Einhorn must have been, because very few had suspected that behind Einhorn’s bearded unwashed hippy facade lied a dark and brooding man
Seven years after his public speech during Philadelphia’s Earth Day observance, Einhorn’s life had begun to fall apart. His girlfriend of five years, Helen “Holly” Maddux, decided to call it quits on the relationship. Einhorn was furious that Holly had packed her things and immediately left for New York to begin a new life with a new boyfriend. He would stop at nothing to have Holly back, but deep down Einhorn knew she was gone for good.
Einhorn hatched a plan to get Holly to return to his apartment. He called her up and demanded that she come to pick up what was left of her possessions immediately, or else he would throw the items in the garbage. Holly agreed to meet with her former lover one last time and to collect the rest of her things at Einhorn’s Philadelphia-area apartment.
September 9, 1977 would mark the last time Holly Maddux would be seen alive. Several weeks later she would be reported as missing and Einhorn was the number one suspect in the case. Police came knocking on Einhorn’s door and asked what had happened to the young woman. Einhorn’s story was that she had told him that she was heading to a local co-op to pick up some tofu and sprouts, but she never returned to the apartment. With no probable cause, investigators tasked with the case were forced to let Einhorn go free.
18 months later the hunch that investigators had about Einhorn would turn out to be correct. The tenants below Einhorn’s apartment complained to management about a foul smelling brownish liquid leaking through the ceiling. Investigators were able to obtain a search warrant after receiving the tip from the apartment complex’s management and entered into Einhorn’s apartment. Inside the closet was the corpse of Holly Maddux.
The woman appeared to have been severely beaten before hastily stuffed into a trunk. Newspapers, Styrofoam and air fresheners were used in an attempt to help conceal the body and to mask the awful scent of the partially mummified body.
Einhorn was immediately arrested and charged with Holly’s murder. Several days later he would be back out on bail. In 1981, just days prior his trial proceedings were set to begin, Einhorn decided to flee the country.
For the better part of 23 years Einhorn zig zagged his way across Europe, always staying one step ahead of the law. In spite of his disappearing act, Pennsylvanian courts continued on with Einhorn’s murder trial. In absentina, Einhorn was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder of Holly Maddux in 1993.
Although he was on the run, Einhorn settled down and married a Swedish woman. The couple was found to be living in France in 1997, where Einhorn had taken on the name “Eugene Mallon.” It would be another four years before Einhorn was officially extradited and imprisoned within the U.S..
Complexities within France’s extradition laws allowed Einhorn’s defense team to postpone the convicted killer’s inevitable fate. Back in Pennsylvania, lawmakers wanted to make sure that once Einhorn’s attorneys had exhausted all of their efforts to avoid his extradition to the U.S. that they could make sure that Einhorn would spend the rest of his natural life behind bars.
“The Einhorn Law” was a bill proposed to the Pennsylvania Senate that would see to it that anyone convicted in absentia could request a new trial upon their capture, in order to appease French officials and ensure Einhorn could be extradited as quickly as possible. His defense attempted to call the bill’s constitutionality into question in order to further postpone Einhorn’s return to the U.S., but the French court’s hands were tied on ruling in regards to foreign laws. The bill passed and all of Einhorn’s attempts to contest his extradition were quickly shot down.
In 2001 Einhorn was handed over to the U.S. by the French government.
Acting as his own defense, Einhorn told the court he had been framed. He proceeded to weave an incredible tale eluding to the CIA using him as a patsy after discovering his damning cold war research. He claimed that it was the CIA who had killed Holly and stuffed her in Einhorn’s closet in order to make him pay for threatening to expose their secrets. A jury was not convinced by Einhorn’s elaborate defense strategy and was once again sentenced to serve a life sentence without the possibility of parole. He is currently housed in the Houtzdale State Correctional Institution.