Leaving the country after committing a crime seems to be a logical step that most criminals attempt. Whether it’s to assume a new identity, get to a location to simply disappear, or to reside in a country without an extradition treaty so that even if they are found they will not need to return to face justice for their crimes. All three seem to be reasons for Ira Einhorn, The Unicorn Killer. Einhorn is German for Unicorn, hence the nickname.
May 15, 1940, Ira Samuel Einhorn was born to a Jewish family. He attended the University of Pennsylvania and received an undergraduate degree in English in 1961. He completed graduate work in 1963. Ira was a very charismatic person; he was active in ecological groups and was part of the anti-establishment.
In 1970 the first Earth Day was organized in Philadelphia, and it has been reported that Ira was one of the founders. But in reality, he had been asked to leave the committee because he was disruptive and didn’t contribute to the event in any way. Since he was a prominent figure in the environmental community he was allowed to speak, but he refused to give up the microphone or the stage for 30 minutes.
The original leaders of the Earth Day stated that Ira Einhorn was a fraud, and that he used the time on stage for free television publicity. They stated they waited for his “act” to finish before introducing the keynote speaker, Sen. Edmund Muskie author of the Clean Air Act of 1970.
Ira was also a ladies’ man. He had numerous girlfriends and the relationships all ended in violence. But none as bad as the relationship with Holly Maddux.
Holly was from Tyler, TX and graduated from Bryn Mawr College. She and Ira had been in a relationship for 5 years and broke up in 1977. Holly had left the apartment they had shared and went to New York City and started a new relationship. But she returned to Philadelphia in September to collect her things she had at the apartment. She disappeared after this visit and was never seen again.
Weeks later the police questioned Ira and he claimed Holly had gone out to a neighborhood co-op to get tofu and sprouts and never returned. His explanation was not questioned until the neighbors reported a foul smell and some dark liquid leaking from his apartment into theirs.
On March 28, 1979, the police got a search warrant and found a trunk in Ira’s closet, inside was the mummified remains of Holly Maddux. When confronted with this discovery, Ira said “You found what you found.” He was arrested but released on bail that was paid by Barbara Bronfman, a Montreal socialite who knew Ira and shared an interest in the paranormal.
Barbara Bronfman would continually provide financial support to Ira on his escape and time in Europe. A week before his trial was to begin, Ira left the US and made his way to Ireland, as they did not have an extradition treaty at the time, and then he made his way through other European countries, one of these was Sweden where he met Annika Flodin. They eventually would marry and move to France in 1993.
However, the trial in Pennsylvania continued without Ira. He had already been arraigned and the state convicted him in absentia for the murder of Holly Maddux and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Eventually Barbara would be the key to locating Ira Einhorn. She was questioned multiple times and stated she didn’t believe he was guilty and had provided financial support to him for several years. She eventually gave the authorities the name of Ira’s wife, which enabled them to track the couple down to Champagne-Mouton, France and arrest Ira in 1997.
Annika Flodin, Ira’s wife, didn’t believe he was guilty of the crime of murder either, and that is why she knowingly supported Ira, or as he was known for the past 20 years, Eugene Mallon.
The extradition process would be very complex and take several years, either country can refuse the extradition. Ira was an educated man and would use multiple tactics to avoid extradition back to the United States. Ira had not been sentenced to death, but his attorney’s claimed that he would face the death penalty when he returned to the US, since France does not extradite back to countries that use the death penalty unless they are assured that it will not be sought nor applied.
It was pointed out that Pennsylvania did not have the death penalty when the murder was committed, therefore he could not be executed for it as the constitution forbids ex post facto law. He needed a new strategy. This one would revolve around his trial in absentia.
The European Court of Human Rights requires a new trial when the defendant is tried in absentia. On this basis the court of appeals in Bordeaux rejected the extradition request. Would Ira continue to get away with murder?
In 1998, Pennsylvania passed a bill “Einhorn Law” that allowed defendants convicted in absentia to request a new trial. Ira’s attorneys claimed this was unconstitutional and tried to get the extradition denied. French courts stated they were not able to evaluate the constitutionality of foreign laws. After his extradition was approved, and any attempts at appealing his case in France were lost, Ira slit his own throat.
He didn’t do a good job of it, and he was taken to the hospital and then released. On July 20, 2001, Einhorn was extradited to the United States. As promised by the Einhorn Law, Ira was given another trial, and after two hours of deliberation, a jury convicted him again to live without the possibility of parole.
Ira served in Pennsylvania until his death on April 3, 2020, from natural causes.
Be strong, make good choices, be safe