Real Name: Ira Samuel Einhorn
Aliases: "The Unicorn," so-called because his surname means "Unicorn" or "One Horn" (German)
Wanted For: Murder
Missing Since: January 1981
Details: Ira Einhorn was a counter-culture hero, an anti-war activist, and the alleged organizer of Earth Day, though this is contested. In 1971, he even ran for mayor of Philadelphia. In fall 1972, Ira met Helen "Holly" Maddux, a former cheerleader from Texas. They were living with each other within days. However, they seemed to have different viewpoints; for example, she was angry at him when he suggested that they try to get arrested during a protest. Their relationship was unstable and they frequently broke up, only to fall in love again.
Holly's family disliked Ira from the beginning. According to her sister, Elizabeth, he was rude to them and ordered her around. One morning, Andrea Boyce, a coworker and friend of hers, noticed odd bruising on her neck. Though she denied it at first, she soon admitted that he had hurt her. At this point, she began slowly distancing herself from him, mainly due to the abuse.
In July 1977, Holly left Ira without bothering to get her belongings. She moved to a beach resort near New York City, where she started a new, non-abusive relationship with Saul Lapidus. On September 9, 1977, Ira realized what she had done and called her, angrily threatening to destroy her belongings if she didn't go back to Philadelphia. She agreed to do so, but only to get her belongings back. While there, they went to the movies with another couple, which was the last time she was seen alive.
A few days later, Ira tried convincing friends to help him dump a large, heavy trunk (which he said was full of secret Russian documents) into a nearby river. When Holly failed to return home, Saul and her friends began to get worried. After they reported her missing, detectives questioned Ira, who told them she had gone to the store and never came back. This explanation was not believed by her parents, who hired two former FBI agents to investigate the matter privately. They located the movie-going couple, learned about Ira trying to dispose of the trunk, and interviewed the tenants in the apartment below his, who were complaining of a foul smell and odd fluid seeping through their closet ceiling, which had come to the attention of the building's landlord, who was refused by Ira on multiple occasions when he attempted to purge the building of the acrid odors.
The huge report by the agents allowed authorities to obtain a warrant on Ira's apartment. The police search of it on March 28, 1979, uncovered Holly's body, which had been locked in the trunk in Ira's closet for eighteen months. Upon discovery, he told detectives "You found what you found." An autopsy determined that she had been beaten to death. He later explained that the FBI and CIA had planted her body in his apartment because he knew about their "mind control weaponry". He was taken into custody but released when $4,000 - 10% of his already reduced bail - was paid by a socialite. He was able to get bail because his attorney, Arlen Specter, had prominent individuals testify to his character. In January 1981, two days before his trial, he fled to Europe.
A decade later, the Philadelphia authorities made an extraordinary choice, putting Ira on trial in absentia. He was convicted of murdering Holly in absentia in 1993 after a jury deliberation lasting only two hours. However, he remains a fugitive; authorities know that he has lived in Europe, mainly Ireland and Sweden and is believed to be in the company of a woman named Annika Flodden. She is not suspected of any crime, and probably does not know that he is a wanted fugitive.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the January 5, 1996 episode. It was also featured on America's Most Wanted and People Magazine Investigates.
Results: Captured. An American-Swedish viewer named Hjordis Reichel, 65, recognized Annika. Through the help of relatives, she was able to get her social security number. She contacted a high-ranking Swedish police official who contacted Pennsylvania authorities. They were able to discover a DMV application that she had made for a foreign driver's license in 1994 where she used an assumed name that she and Ira were using, and later cited her Swedish driver's license, with her real name on it. Officials then followed the trail back to France where they followed her to the home she shared with him. Authorities watched him for about a month before they finally arrested him on Friday, June 13, 1997.
Although Ira had been convicted in absentia in 1993, he successfully fought extradition for four years because French law required that foreign nationals not to be extradited based on trials in absentia. Finally, Pennsylvania officials agreed to give him a new trial, and on July 20, 2001, he was extradited from France back to the United States. At his new trial, the jury convicted him on the basis the murder has been committed out of jealousy over Holly leaving him for Saul Lapidus, who testified. His defense, which accused the CIA of murdering her in order to discredit him for his civil rights work and research on Soviet mind control weaponry, failed to hold water.
On October 17, 2002, Einhorn was given a life sentence, which he began serving in Houtzdale, Pennsylvania. In 2016, he was moved to a minimum-security prison, presumably due to illness. On April 3, 2020, he died in prison at the age of seventy-nine.
- Ira Einhorn on Unsolved.com
- Ira Einhorn on Wikipedia
- Ira Einhorn on Murderpedia
- The Search for the Unicorn
- Peace, Love, Murder
- Convicted killer arrested again in France
- U.S. fugitive in France loses extradition appeal
- Ira Einhorn Returns to U.S.
- Convicted murderer Ira Einhorn returned to Philadelphia to face new trial
- Long Run Ends For Ira Einhorn, Wanted in U.S. For '77 Killing
- Fugitive returns to U.S. 22 years after slaying
- Hjordis and the Unicorn: amateur sleuth foils international fugitive
- Einhorn convicted in 1970s slaying
- Einhorn sentenced to life in prison
- Earth Day cofounder killed, composted girlfriend
- Ira Einhorn transferred to minimum-security prison
- ‘Unicorn Killer’ Ira Einhorn, 79, dies in Pa. prison
- Holly Maddux on Find a Grave