Did a hero of the counter-culture murder his ex-girlfriend?

Ira Einhorn

The victim, Holly Maddux

CASE DETAILS

Ira Einhorn was a counter-culture hero.  During the 1960’s in Philadelphia, he was the symbol of opposition to the war in Vietnam.  In 1970, he organized Earth Day, a pro-ecology festival still celebrated every year.  Einhorn also palled around with peace movement superstars like Abbie Hoffman.  He even ran for mayor of Philadelphia.

Holly’s body was found in a trunk

However, there was a side of Ira Einhorn the crowds and news cameras never saw.  In private, he was jealous, abusive and self-centered.  And in 1979, Einhorn became the prime suspect in the disappearance of his one-time girlfriend, Holly Maddux.  According to author Steven Levy, Holly was seduced by Einhorn’s charm:

“She was blown away because the force of his personality was considerable.  And on the other hand, there was Holly who was really not at a solid stage in her life, and was susceptible to a big come on.  To a big con.  And really within a few days they were living together.”

But before long, the relationship became abusive.  Andrea Boyce worked with Holly in a neighborhood co-op:

“I remember a morning we were trying to get the store stocked.  And while we were taking our break she turned her head in such a way that I noticed a mark on her neck.”

By July of 1977, Holly Maddux decided she had enough.  She walked out on Einhorn, without even bothering to pack her belongings.  Holly ended up at a beach resort near New York City, where she began a romance with Saul Lapidus:

“She was just wonderful, curious, very bright.  Knew what was going on.  For those many weeks we were kind of inseparable.  It was the start of possibly something big.”

The investigator’s report

But according to Joel Rosen, who was Philadelphia’s Assistant District Attorney at the time, Einhorn went ballistic when he learned of Holly’s new beau:

“Einhorn called her and he was going nuts.  He said in his words he was off the wall.  He threatened to throw all her clothing and all her belongings out into the street unless she came down to Philadelphia immediately to come see him.  He could not handle the fact that she was going with this other man.”

Holly never returned from Philadelphia.  Consequently, Saul Lapidus and some of Holly’s other friends reported her absence to authorities.  According to Joel Rosen, detectives in Philadelphia were quick to interview Ira Einhorn:

“His explanation was that he had gone into the shower, that she was going to the store,  and that he never saw her again.  She just walked off into the sunset.”

Einhorn was finally captured in Southern France

The Maddux family hired two former FBI agents to investigate.  Their ambitious report filled hundreds of pages, contained dozens of interviews, and detailed the events surrounding Holly’s disappearance.  The investigators located a couple who had gone to the movies with Ira and Holly during the weekend Holly went to pick-up her belongings.  It was the last time she was known to be alive.

A few days later, Einhorn tried to convince friends to help him dump a large trunk into a nearby river.  He said it was filled with secret Russian documents.  Finally, the tenants in the apartment below Einhorn’s told one of the investigators about a choking stench, seeping into their apartment. That report brought Detective Michael Chitwood of the Philadelphia Police Department to Einhorn’s apartment:

“Once I opened the door I could smell kind of a decaying smell and spending years as a homicide detective I knew that smell to be body smell.  And I thought she may be here. There was a sickness, a sadness that Holly Maddux was found.  But then there was kind of a feel good that we were going to lock-up Ira Einhorn for killing her.”

Einhorn was extradited to the US

Einhorn soon came up with an explanation.  He claimed the FBI and CIA had framed him by planting Holly’s body in his closet. Einhorn’s attorney pulled off the impossible—bail for Ira Einhorn.  It was a crushing blow for Detective Chitwood and the rest of the Philadelphia Police Department:

“I was offended when they allowed him out on bail because in my entire career, somebody who’s charged with murder never gets out on bail.  And when I sat in that courtroom and I watched the parade of prominent people march before the bar and the court and sing the praises of Ira Einhorn, who was a murderer, who was a murderer but nobody wanted to admit it.  I said this guy will never, ever stand trial.  He will take off.”

In January of 1981, two days before the start of his trial, Ira Einhorn fled the country. Twelve years passed.  Finally, Philadelphia authorities tried Einhorn in absentia for the murder of Holly Maddux.  It took the jury only two hours to find Ira Einhorn guilty.

Update:

In 1997, Interpol tracked Einhorn down to a farmhouse in Southern France.  He had been living there for several years under an assumed name.  Four years after he was captured, Einhorn was extradited to the United States and re-tried for the murder of Holly Maddux.  He was found guilty and is currently serving a life term without the possibility of parole.


Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season eight with Robert Stack and in season two with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.

 

6 Comments

  1. Mary

    Because of my interest in cold cases and such (Criminal Justice degree), I chose Ira Einhorn and his unscrupulous deeds to do a paper on in one of my college English course. The professor said it was one of the most interesting things she had ever read. I received an A on the paper. I also wrote a case study on O.J. Simpson for one of my Criminal Justice courses. The professor dubbed it the best case study he has seen to date. An Interest in this field will make you want to delve deeper and find the answers where others couldn’t.

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  2. Anonymous

    When I read the whole thing, it reminded me of what my mother always used to say, “I can tell a bad person by just his looks and his behaviour. And once I know he is bad, I just won’t allow him to enter my house or go into his house. I don’t smile even for courtesy sake. It’s just safe to keep them at a distance from the very beginning.” My mother being a patient of hallucinations, I didn’t believe her initially. But I started observing the list of my friends she liked and those she didn’t for years, and particularly watched those whom she didn’t like. Surprisingly, she was right almost every 4 out of 5 cases. It’s true and I can say from experience that no matter what good works some people are involved in (like the Einhorn in this story), you can always say from a closer look at their behaviour whether they are really good or just acting. And remember, they are afraid. They are afraid if you are stern from the very beginning of your interaction with them. if you be modest, they will take advantage.

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  3. Mike Maddux

    Dear Old Arlen Specter was up to his old tricks manipulating the system to get his client far removed from, justice. He did the same thing when he failed to place on the docket the criminal charges against Frank Purdue after he sped into another car while he was travelling the wrong way on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, killing an innocent family man. Just like when as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee he set up his son, Shanin, to hand pick candidates for the Federal Bench to Arlen so he could push them through the confirmation process and return to The U.S. Court for the Eastern District of PA. where Shanin takes cases before those same guys (and receives favorable rulings, believe it or not!)

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  4. Um no

    He was set up by the government, never given credit for earth day.
    They couldn’t control him like the rest of the yippies.

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  5. Anonymous

    Sick….this man…..omg…glad he was found. You just never know about how people are in their privated life……hope holly is in a better place. To bad her life ended so tradgic.. Thnks unsolved mysteries for the update

    Reply

  6. Anonymous

    Got a game of the crime. So shocking isn’t it? How could a star kill his ex-girlfriend? Clever that he fled but police found him eventually!

    Reply