Editorials True Crime

The Unicorn Killer – Who is Ira Einhorn?

In this True Crime editorial, new writer Yvonne Glasgow takes a look at The Unicorn Killer.

On September 9, 1977, Holly Maddux was murdered. She was only 30 years old when she “disappeared,” leaving her family feeling empty and lost. What really happened to Holly, born Helen Maddux, was sinister and disturbing.

Photo Source: Getty Images Holly Maddux, in an undated photo. She was a happy and free spirit before being brutally beaten to death.

While Holly’s story is important, this is about the person that made her story come to an abrupt end. This is about Ira Einhorn, who was dubbed The Unicorn Killer after his ex-girlfriend was found dead in his place of residence 18 months after he killed her. His nickname comes from his sir name, which means Unicorn in German.

The First Earth Day

In 1970, the very first Earth Day celebration was underway, and at the helm (according to Einhorn himself) was Einhorn. For years, Einhorn had people believing that he created the first Earth Day rally, held in Philadelphia. While he may have been all about “saving the Earth,” this celebration wasn’t his idea.  Though he was an active member of many antiwar groups throughout the 60s, and he remained an activist until he fled the United States in 1977.

The Murder

What happened between 1970 and 1977 that would turn Einhorn into a murderer? There may not have been any changes between who Einhorn was in public – it was more about who he was behind closed doors. The activist had a dark side, according to Maddux, and that was why she left him after five years together.

Maddux had packed up and moved to New York, but Einhorn contacted her and told her he was going to throw all of her belongings away if she didn’t come and get them. Maddux made the wrong choice – she went back to the apartment in Philadelphia she had shared with Einhorn on September 9, 1977, and she wouldn’t be seen again until 18 months later when he remains would be found.

When her family became concerned and the police question Einhorn, he told them she’d left to pick up some groceries and never came back. He lied. All the time, Maddux was in his closet stuffed inside a trunk. It wasn’t until a neighbor called the police to report a reddish, foul-smelling liquid leaking through their ceiling, that the police investigates inside the home. The leak was directly below the bedroom closet in Einhorn’s apartment.

Inside the closet, the police found a partially mummified body inside a trunk. Einhorn beat Maddux severely and stuffed her in the trunk. He packed styrofoam and newspapers around her and even tossed in some air fresheners.

Photo Source: karlshconborn.com Einhorn’s trunk containing his girlfriend’s mummified remains being removed from their apartment in Philadelphia.
The Outcome

Einhorn was promptly arrested, and then let out on bail – and allowing him bail was the worst thing to do. Einhorn jumped bail, then fled the United States. For 23 years he evaded authorities by hiding out in various countries, including Ireland and Sweden. He even had at least one relationship while he was on the run (which didn’t turn to murder).

While in France, Einhorn was finally extradited to the United States to go to trial and finally pay for his crime (though he had been convicted of murder in 1993, after fleeing justice). Einhorn, being the confident go-getter he was, stood in his own defense. Now he had a new story – the CIA killed Maddux and framed him. Why? He knew too much about their paranormal research. A plea of insanity might have done him better (he obviously wasn’t a mentally stable person).

His stories managed to get him a life sentence, which he is currently serving as of October 17, 2002 in a Pennsylvania prison.

There are a few books out there that talk about Einhorn’s life and his crime, as well as a 1999 made for TV movie titled The Hunt for the Unicorn Killer, starring Naomi Watts and Kevin Anderson.

Featured image was taken from The Strange & Unexplained YouTube channel.


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