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Ira Einhorn: The Unicorn

Crime Files
Ira Einhorn: The Unicorn

Einhorn was born into a middle-class Jewish family but developed into a bona fide left wing radical by the time he was in his twenties. He was a symbol and a prominent figurehead of the youth-driven movement in the sixties that stood in opposition to America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. Instantly recognisable as ‘Philadelphia’s head hippie’, he was a large burly man with electric blue eyes and an unkempt beard, and he seldom washed or bathed. However, he was a master of rhetoric and he had networking skills that drew many important and famous people to the cause of freedom and peace that he preached. The self-styled ‘Prince of Flower Power’ and ‘Guru of Peace and Love’ was revered and admired by many of the leading intellectuals of Philadelphia and America. A brilliant student at the University of Pennsylvania, he counted as friends many of the authors of the Beat generation, such as Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac; he hobnobbed with celebrities including Isaac Asimov, Peter Gabriel and Uri Geller; and hung out with the Yippie (Youth International Party) crowd, including their founders Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin. Pot-smoking, LSD-popping, free-loving Einhorn was the toast of Philadelphia. Strangely, he also endeared himself to the corporate set, who were entranced by his convincing predictions of future trends of anything from computer science to quantum physics to New Age management. He was intelligent, a voracious reader and his ability to influence people was magnetic. He sold blueprints of the future to Fortune 500 company CEOs, convincing them that their money could save the world through ecological awareness. He was a speaker at the inaugural 1970 Earth Day rally in Philadelphia and was reportedly its creator, although its organisers disputed this claim. In 1977, he even held a fellowship at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Einhorn had been going out with Holly Maddux, his beautiful and gracefully delicate girlfriend, for five years when she disappeared in 1977. Originally from Tyler, Texas, Maddux was a blue-eyed former cheerleader, had been a brilliant student at Bryn Mawr College and had then turned her energies to the women’s liberation movement. She was drawn to Einhorn as one of the political icons of their day. However, although an advocate of peace and non-violence, the hulking Einhorn treated her poorly, as he had with previous girlfriends. His behaviour extended to physical abuse, smashing a soft drink bottle on one girlfriend’s head and even attempting to strangle another. Tiring of his violence, Maddux moved to New York where she began a relationship with a kind and gentle man named Saul Lapidus. She called Einhorn from New York to sever their relationship. He flew into a temper and commanded her to return to Philadelphia to collect her belongings, which he threatened to throw out into the street. Maddux left for Philadelphia on 9th September 1977 and was never seen alive again.


Born 15th May 1940The Victim 9th/10th September 1977 – Helen (Holly) Maddux, 30Arrested 28th March 1979: First arrest, at Ira Einhorn’s apartment in Philadelphia, USA13th June 1997 - Second arrest, in Champagne-Mouton, France21st September 1998 - Third arrest, in Champagne-Mouton, France21st July 2001 - Extradition to the United StatesThe Trials 3rd April 1979 - Bail hearing in Philadelphia. Einhorn released on $40 000 bail.September 1993 - Trial [i]in absentia[/i], Pennsylvania, USA. Einhorn sentenced to life imprisonment.2nd September 1997 - First extradition hearing in a French court. Application for extradition denied, Einhorn released on 29th September 1998.1st December 1998 - Second extradition hearing in a French court. Court rules itself incompetent to rule on American constitutionality arguments but grants extradition on the condition that Einhorn gets a new trial if he requests one. Einhorn appeals.28th July 1999 - Civil suit against Einhorn brought by the Maddux family for wrongful death damages, which amounts to $907 million, ensuring that any profits Einhorn makes from his case will go to the Madduxes.4th December 2000 - Appeal to the [i]Conseil d’Etat[/i] is heard. Appeal dismissed on 12th July 2001. Further and final appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.18th July 2001 - Appeal to the European Court of Human Rights is dismissed. Einhorn extradited to the United States two days later.September 2002 - Einhorn stands trial in Pennsylvania for the murder of Holly Maddux.Sentenced 17th October 2002 - Life imprisonment without possibility of parole.

The Arrest

Detective Mike Chitwood led the search of Einhorn’s apartment on 28th March 1979, almost 20 months after Maddux had gone missing. In a wardrobe, Chitwood found Maddux’s suitcase, handbag, driver’s licence and social security card. In the same wardrobe, he also found Maddux’s body in a trunk, packed in styrofoam, air fresheners and newspapers. Her decomposing body was partially mummified and the remains weighed only 37 pounds.A post-mortem revealed that Maddux had suffered trauma to the head and her skull was smashed in several places as a result. However, the position of the body and size of the trunk meant that she had actually been alive and semi-conscious when placed in the trunk and had died trying to claw her way out. Upon his arrest, Einhorn reportedly shrugged indifferently and said, “You found what you found”. He was charged with murder, as Pennsylvania has no degrees of murder.Einhorn was represented by the notorious defence attorney Arlen Specter. Later a Senator, he served on the infamous Warren Commission and was the author of the ‘single assassin/crazy bullet theory’ used to explain the assassination of John F Kennedy. Specter argued successfully at the bail hearing on 3rd April 1979 for bail to be set at the strangely low sum of $40 000, of which only 10% had to be paid in cash to secure the release of the bailor.The bail hearing in itself was abnormal, as it was unheard of for bail to be granted in murder cases. While Einhorn’s friends in high places might not have influenced the bail hearing or the amount of bail itself, they certainly did put up the money for his release. Barbara Bronfman, a Montreal socialite who had married into a wealthy distillery family, paid Einhorn’s bail.Still vociferously protesting his innocence, Einhorn was released onto the streets. He told anyone and everyone that he would clear his name, claiming it was a conspiracy by the CIA or FBI, who wanted to discredit him and halt his political activities. Then, on 21st January 1981, Einhorn skipped bail on the eve of the pre-trial hearing and disappeared, probably to Europe. Thus began the most determined international pursuit of a fugitive since the Israeli Mossad’s hunt, capture and cross-border kidnapping of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann.Conducting the manhunt was Assistant District Attorney Richard DiBenedetto, who, through Einhorn’s 60 handwritten journals, knew his prey better than anyone else. In 1985, Einhorn was traced to Dublin, Ireland, where he was living under the name of Ben Moore. However, there were no extradition papers in effect and Einhorn fled Dublin after the alert. From there, he probably travelled throughout the United Kingdom, crossing the English Channel at some point, to enter continental Europe. In 1993, the unprecedented step, in Philadelphia at least, was taken to try Einhorn in absentia, a hugely significant development that would later be exploited by Einhorn. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.Circa 1994, DiBenedetto learned that Einhorn’s benefactor, Barbara Bronfman, had been financing his flight from his hunters. However she had a change of heart, to one in the belief in Einhorn’s guilt, and she provided DiBenedetto with the Stockholm address where Einhorn was residing. The address turned up one Annika Flodin, who disclaimed all knowledge of Einhorn, saying that she knew him as Ben Moore, and that she had no idea where he was. When Flodin subsequently disappeared, investigators ran her name through Interpol and found that she had relocated to France and married Einhorn, who was then known under the moniker of Eugene Mallon.On 13th June 1997, DiBenedetto and his men arrested Einhorn in a converted millhouse outside Champagne-Mouton, a beautiful village in the French countryside near Cognac.

The Trial

Einhorn enlisted the services of Ted Simon, an expert in international law and a brilliant attorney, to fight the extradition process. Simon did so by citing established rules of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), to which France is a party and an active defender. The rules deny the legitimacy of trials in absentia, especially when the maximum sentence is life imprisonment. In French and European jurisprudence, trials in absentia deny the suspect the right to defend themself in a court of law and make a mockery of the presumption of innocence, the cornerstones of any just legal system.In addition, under the ECHR, France is prevented from deporting or extraditing anyone within its borders to a country where they are not guaranteed a fair trial. Under the existing Pennsylvanian law, Einhorn would have had no recourse to a new trial and he would have been imprisoned immediately under the terms of the 1993 sentence upon his arrival back on American soil. Simon demonstrated that Einhorn would not have been granted a new trial and, at that time, enjoyed little to no appellate rights. The extradition application failed in the French courts and on 4th December 1997, Einhorn was released.In January 1998, the Pennsylvanian legislature passed a new law that granted a previously tried and condemned man a new trial. Einhorn was rearrested and placed on bail to await a new extradition hearing. At the hearing, Simon countered using established American constitutional principles of the doctrine of separation of powers, essentially arguing that it went against all notions of good governance and the rule of law for a legislature to interfere with a final judgment of the judiciary. In other words, a law-making body can never direct a court to change its judgment, nor can it direct a retrial after the initial trial has been finalised.A second point of contention that was brought up by Simon was that the new Pennsylvanian law, the so-called ‘Einhorn law’, appeared to have been enacted to firstly, retrospectively apply in Einhorn’s case, and secondly, appeared to have little general application outside of Einhorn’s case, both of which offended principles of the rule of law; a law cannot retrospectively apply to someone, nor should a law target a specific person or specific case.The second extradition hearing ended with the French court declaring itself incompetent to hear arguments relating to the constitutionality of foreign laws. The decision therefore went to French Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, since an extradition must be ordered by the executive after being approved by the courts. On 21st July 2000, Jospin eventually agreed to the extradition and was roundly criticised for having succumbed to political pressure from America, including American President Bill Clinton who had personally intervened. Meanwhile, Einhorn’s lawyers appealed to the Conseil d’Etat, the highest French court of law, and Annika Einhorn, his wife, canvassed the support of a wide spectrum of human rights organisations, including heavyweights like Helsinki Watch and S.O.S. Racisme.The appeal to the Conseil d’Etat failed, as did the final appeals to both courts of the European Court of Human Rights on 18th July 2001. Einhorn publicly slit his throat in front of television cameras after the Conseil d’Etat decision, although he suffered little damage as he had only used a butter knife. On 21st July 2001, Einhorn returned to the United States via Philadelphia International Airport to stand trial for the murder of Holly Maddux.The murder trial itself was relatively straightforward after the years of legal wrangling that had preceded it. The prosecution amassed a body of circumstantial evidence against Einhorn, including the corpse found in his apartment. They also led him in cross-examination to read large portions of his diaries, which gave insight to his violent and misogynist character. The defence tried the ploy of having the trial dismissed as the ‘Einhorn law’ was unconstitutional, arguing that the law violated the protection against ‘double jeopardy’, that is, being tried twice for the same crime, but the judge refused to hear arguments on the constitutionality of the trial. The defence also tried to introduce reasonable doubt that Einhorn had committed the murder, claiming that he had been out of the apartment for several months in 1978 and that it was possible for the body to have been sneaked in to frame their client. Einhorn, when asked to enter his defence, claimed that he had been framed by the CIA or KGB.After only four weeks, on 17th October 2002, a racially mixed jury of six men and six women found Ira Einhorn guilty of the murder of Holly Maddux in 1977. Judge William Mazzola sentenced Einhorn to life in prison without parole. He is currently incarcerated at Houtzdale State Prison in Pennsylvania.

The Crimes

It is speculated that Maddux was murdered on or around the 9th or 10th of September 1977, when she returned to the apartment she shared with Einhorn on Race Street. No one except her family noticed Maddux’s absence and they became apprehensive at her continued silence. Her mother’s birthday had come and gone without a call from Maddux, who was normally a considerate and attentive daughter.The family notified the police. Einhorn was cursorily questioned but upon his claims of ignorance, was left alone. Dissatisfied with the police’s efforts, the Maddux family hired two private detectives to investigate the girl’s disappearance. In the meantime, Einhorn continued with his life, embarking on speaking tours and taking a semester-long fellowship at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.However by 1979, the private investigators had pieced together enough circumstantial evidence to give the police enough probable cause to obtain a search warrant for Einhorn’s apartment. The evidence included the fact that Einhorn had requested help from friends to dispose of a trunk containing what he said were “secret documents”; there had been Einhorn’s non-cooperation with police investigators; and a putrid and rancid brown liquid had been leaking through Einhorn’s floorboards into the kitchen of the neighbours below.

The Aftermath

Thus ended the manhunt for one of the most famous cultural and political icons of his time, and Einhorn was finally brought to justice for the crime he had committed. However, the debate still rages on whether or not he should have been brought to trial in the first place. The arguments put forward by his lawyers, Ted Simon and Norris Geldman, at the French extradition hearings were impeccably sound, based upon trite principles of a just legal system that one should always have the right to represent and defend oneself, and that the presumption of innocence must always be preserved.The American reaction to those arguments, while understandable, was vitriolic and at times jingoistic. It was not uncommon to hear the sentiment, “Why are the French interfering in a matter that concerns an American suspect committing a crime against an American citizen, on American soil?”, conveniently ignoring the terms of the extradition treaty between the United States and France, stating that local law must be applied in extradition matters.Rather more persuasive are the arguments that the trial in absentia had to be conducted by 1993 because many of the material character witnesses, such as Maddux’s parents, were dying or getting old. Fred Maddux killed himself in 1988 and Elizabeth Maddux died of emphysema in 1990. The emotional arguments focusing on the heinous character of Einhorn, the wonderful or youthful attributes of the victim, or the grisly nature of the crime, while again understandable, are beside the point.The point, and also the principle at stake, is that justice is as much in the process as it is in the final result. A full-scale trial in absentia complete with verdict and sentence offends the principles of observance of due process. These principles may have protected Ira Einhorn in this case, at least temporarily, but they also protect an innocent person every day from the excesses of government. A person cannot be arbitrarily sentenced to punishment without having the chance to enter a defence. It obviously need not be stated that proof of absence is not proof of guilt, not by a long measure.The Einhorn case saw the clash across the Atlantic of two differing viewpoints on law. The resulting politicisation saw Einhorn alternately reviled as a disgusting and cold-blooded murderer and celebrated as a human rights cause. In the end, while it appears that Einhorn got his just deserts and that justice for Holly Maddux was finally achieved, it also appears that human rights and the rule of law suffered a blow and that emotion and politics triumphed over the law.