The Full Wiki

Ira Einhorn: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ira Samuel Einhorn

1979 mugshot and a 2001 mugshot taken upon his return to the U.S.
Born May 15, 1940 (1940-05-15) (age 69)
Philadelphia, PA, U.S.
Charge(s) murder
Penalty life imprisonment
Status in prison
Occupation antiwar activist, environmentalist

Ira Samuel Einhorn, a.k.a. "The Unicorn Killer" (born May 15, 1940), is a former American activist of the 1960s and 1970s who is now serving a life sentence for the 1977 murder of Holly Maddux.



Einhorn was active in ecological groups and was an icon of the counterculture, anti-establishment and anti-war movements of the 1960s and 1970s. At one time, he was a friend and contemporary of Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman. He also claimed to have been instrumental in creating Earth Day in 1970, and during the first Earth Day event, which was televised globally, Ira Einhorn was on stage as master of ceremonies, although other event organizers dispute his account.[1] He called himself, poetically, "the Unicorn," because the name Einhorn (a German-Jewish name) means Unicorn, or more literally translated to "One Horn".[2]

Born into a middle-class Jewish family, Einhorn studied at the University of Pennsylvania and had a five-year relationship with Holly Maddux, a graduate of Bryn Mawr College who was originally from Tyler, Texas. In 1977, Maddux broke up with Einhorn. She went to New York City and became involved with Saul Lapidus. After learning about this turn of events, Einhorn called Maddux and told her to come back to Philadelphia to retrieve her belongings. She did so and was never seen in public again.

When questioned, Einhorn told police that Maddux had left to go to the store but never came back. Eighteen months later, Maddux's decomposing corpse was found by police in a trunk stored in a closet in Einhorn's apartment. Upon being confronted by police with this discovery, Einhorn reportedly replied "you found what you found". Einhorn's bail was reduced to $40,000 at the request of his attorney, Arlen Specter; Einhorn was released from custody in advance of his trial by paying 10% of the bond's value, or $4,000. This bail was paid, not by Einhorn, but by Barbara Bronfman, a Montreal socialite and a member of the family that owns the Seagram liquor company.

In 1981, just days before his murder trial was to begin, Einhorn skipped bail and fled to Europe. Einhorn traveled in Europe for the next 16 years, along the way marrying a Swedish woman named Annika Flodin. Back in Pennsylvania, as Einhorn had already been arraigned, the state convicted him in absentia in 1993 for the murder of Maddux. Einhorn was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.


In 1997, Einhorn was tracked down and arrested in Champagne-Mouton, France, where he had been living under the name "Eugene Mallon." The extradition process, however, proved more complex than it was initially envisioned, and contrasted the different interpretations that France and the U.S. have of the concept of the "right to a fair trial". Under the extradition treaty between France and the United States, either country may refuse extradition if it finds that the defendant may not get a fair trial.

Einhorn's defense attorneys, including Dominique Tricaud and the Human Rights League (LDH), argued that Einhorn would face the death penalty if returned to the United States. France, like many countries which have abolished the death penalty, does not extradite defendants to jurisdictions which retain the death penalty without assurance that the death penalty will be neither sought nor applied. Pennsylvania authorities pointed out that at the date of the murder, Pennsylvania did not have the death penalty and therefore Einhorn could not be executed, due to provisions in the U.S. and Pennsylvania Constitutions regarding ex post facto law. However, a second issue soon arose: French law and the European Court of Human Rights require a new trial when the defendant was tried in absentia, hence was unable to present his defense. On this basis, the court of appeals of Bordeaux rejected the extradition request.

Following the court's decision, thirty-five members of the US Congress sent a letter to President Jacques Chirac of France, asking for Einhorn's extradition. However, under France's doctrine of the separation of powers, which was invoked in this case, the President cannot give orders to courts and does not intervene in extradition affairs.

As a consequence of this refusal, in order to secure the extradition of Ira Einhorn, the Pennsylvania legislature passed in 1998 a bill (nicknamed the "Einhorn Law") allowing defendants convicted in absentia to request another trial. The bill was, however, criticized as being unconstitutional (as it was argued that the legislature cannot overrule a final judgment handed down by a court), and Einhorn's attorneys tried to use this to get French courts to deny the extradition again, on the grounds that the law would be inapplicable. However, the French court ruled itself "incompetent"[3] to evaluate the constitutionality of foreign laws. Another point of friction with the U.S. was that the court freed Ira Einhorn under police supervision — French laws put restrictions on remand (the imprisonment of suspects awaiting trial). Einhorn was then the focus of intense surveillance by the French police.

The matter then went before Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, since extraditions, after having been approved by courts, must be ordered by the executive. Meanwhile, Einhorn's supporters alleged that he had been unfairly treated by American criminal justice and that he would not receive a fair trial. The French Green Party, in particular, complained that Einhorn should not have been extradited until the issues concerning his case were fully settled.[4] In some respects, the debate took on a political character, with discussion going beyond the particular case of Einhorn and widening into criticism of American justice and its perceived unfairness for some categories of defendants; there were also concerns that the case against Einhorn was politically motivated. Because of the sensitive nature of the case, Jospin took some time to reach a decision, but eventually issued an extradition decree. Jospin was then criticized by some as having caved in to political pressure from U.S. President Bill Clinton. Einhorn litigated against the decree before the Conseil d'État, which ruled against him; again, the Council declined to review the constitutionality of foreign law.[5] He then attempted to slit his throat, and eventually litigated his case before the European Court of Human Rights, which also ruled against him.

On July 20, 2001, Einhorn was extradited to the United States.

Trial and penalty

Taking the stand in his own defense, Einhorn claimed that Maddux was murdered by CIA agents who attempted to frame Einhorn for the crime, due to Einhorn's investigations on the Cold War and "psychotronics." However, after only two hours of deliberation, the jury did not find his testimony credible and affirmed his conviction on October 17, 2002.

Einhorn is currently serving his sentence of life without the possibility of parole in the state prison at Houtzdale in central Pennsylvania.

See also


  1. ^ "Letter from the Earth Week Committee of Philadelphia". 1988-11-24. Retrieved 2008-07-23. 
  2. ^ Notorious murders: Ira Einhorn
  3. ^ In French legal terminology, a court or other authority rules itself "incompetent" if it is asked to make a decision on legal issues that it is not allowed to rule upon according to existing law.
  4. ^ Les Verts - Ira Einhorn extradé
  5. ^ Council of State (France), Ruling of 12 July 2001, #227747


  • Einhorn, Ira. 78-187880. (1972) ISBN 0-385-06387-3 Its title is its Library of Congress number.
  • Einhorn, Ira. Prelude to Intimacy. August 2005, ISBN 1-4116-4911-7. Einhorn's account of his life underground from the time he fled the United States in early January 1981 until he met his Swedish wife, Annika, in November 1987.
  • Levy, Steven. The Unicorn's Secret: Murder in the Age of Aquarius. 1988 ISBN 0-13-937830-8. Published while Einhorn's whereabouts were unknown.

External links

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address