Ira Einhorn Returns to U.S.

July 20, 2001 -- Convicted murderer Ira Einhorn was extradited from France early today and turned over to authorities in Philadelphia where he faces a new trial in the bludgeoning death of his girlfriend.

Einhorn, a former hippie and an organizer of the first Earth Day, went on the lam in 1981, shortly before he was set to stand trial for the death of his girlfriend Holly Maddox, who vanished in 1977. Police found her partially mummified corpse stuffed in his steamer trunk 18 months later.

With the help of rich friends, he began a new life in Europe. A Pennsylvania court eventually tried him in absentia, convicted him of murder, and gave him a life sentence in 1993.

He was captured in France in 1997 after authorities got tips sparked by a television program on his case.

Then 57, the fugitive told ABCNEWS correspondent Connie Chung at the the time: "I like living in France. I like the situation here. But I have something hanging over my head, and I will for the rest of my life."

French authorities caught up with him at his country home in Bordeaux, but the French consider trials in absentia an abuse of human rights and a lower court refused to extradite him. Finally, Pennsylvania passed a special law to allow him a new trial and French judges agreed in February of 1999 to send him home.

Einhorn, once known as Philadelphia's foremost radical, then took his case to the French Supreme Court, which turned him down and set the stage for his extradition.

His hopes of staying in France were dashed last week when the European Court of Human Rights dropped a request it made a week earlier for a delay in the extradition.

Einhorn slit his throat last week when he lost his last French appeal, but he was not seriously injured, and the European court determined Thursday in its decision that he was fit to travel.

American Law vs. French Justice

"We agreed to do cartwheels for the French government and ourselves," says Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham. "We were determined that we would do everything to get Ira back."

Philadelphia lawyers might have been overanxious in the eyes of the French courts, when, in 1993, they took the unusual step of trying Einhorn without having him in custody.

The move gave some comfort to the Maddux family and others who were enraged that Einhorn was able to flee the United States after the court set $40,000 bail, but the conviction may have backfired, and allowed Einhorn another chance at freedom.

"I may have benefited by that, no doubt about that," Einhorn said. "I think it's ironic. Sometimes life works that way."

In January of 1998, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge signed a law allowing Einhorn a new trial.

Fervent Denial

Through it all, Einhorn has maintained his innocence in the death of 30-year-old Holly Maddux, claiming the CIA or KGB framed him after he uncovered classified mind-control experiments.

"As far as I can tell, [it was] one of the large intelligence agencies [that killed her]," he said. "But I don't have the data so that's speculation. When you're in my situation, it is very difficult when you have large forces operating against you to come to any secure conclusion."

Hippie Guru Romances Texas Gal

At the height of his fame, Einhorn ran for mayor, promoting himself as a "planetary enzyme." Some leaders of the Earth Day movement say Einhorn falsely takes credit for being a founder, and exploited the event for self-serving publicity. But others recall him using his charisma to help organize festivities.

As Einhorn recalls it, Maddux was immediately drawn to him when they met in 1972. She was a small-town girl from Texas and he was Philly's foremost radical.

"I was immediately attracted to her," he says. "She had a strange lost quality about her and I was probably collecting lost people at that time."

They moved in together two weeks after they met. But several of her friends recall that it was an abusive relationship, a charge Einhorn vigorously denies.

"She would go to work with a black eye, but also bruises on her neck, bruises on her arms," said Meg Wakeman. "And you have to have the purpose of hurting someone in order to inflict those injuries."

Maddux broke off the relationship a month before she disappeared. Einhorn tracked her down on New York's Fire Island and pleaded with her to come home. "We seemingly were getting along as far as I could say," he said. "And then she left. She disappeared."

The Ceiling Ooze

To Philadelphia police, Maddux was just one more missing person. Weeks passed. But when the Maddux family hired private detectives, Einhorn refused to cooperate. "I didn't like her family in terms of what they did to me," he said. "They had the district attorney call me up and accuse me of stealing her money."

Einhorn was still at the top of his game. The flower-power leader had made the unlikely transition into the world of corporate consulting and was even lecturing at Harvard.

But neighbors in his apartment building told police of a stench that smelled like dead animals, a brown fluid oozing through the ceiling, and that Einhorn stubbornly refused to let workers inside.

"This is like an Alfred Hitchcock story," said Mike Chitwood, a detective who led seven investigators on a search of Einhorn's apartment. With a crowbar, they pried open a padlocked closet and found the trunk.

Chitwood vividly recalls that day. "The first thing I observe is the hand," he said. "And the hand is in a mummified position, almost as though somebody had been put inside there alive and they were trying to push."

Her battered corpse weighed 37 pounds and her skull had been shattered, according to the coroner's report.

'I Made a Decision'

Despite the notoriety, Einhorn still had friends in high places. One by one, prominent Philadelphians took the stand in his support, and Seagram heiress Barbara Bronfman paid his bail.

His lawyers were less optimistic as his trial drew near. The evidence against him was damaging, and all he could offer was a bizarre conspiracy theory he could not prove.

"I felt that I could not get a fair trial, and I felt that I was going to be railroaded," Einhorn said. "So I made a decision."

He fled to Ireland at a time when that country did not have an extradition treaty with the United States. As authorities closed in, a friend lent him identification and he traveled Spain, Britain, and Denmark, meeting his future wife, Annika Flodin, along the way.

They eventually settled in the southwest of France, where they have lived since 1993.

Flodin, who bears some resemblance to Maddux, knew her union with a convicted murderer was risky. But she maintains her man's innocence. "A person like Ira who's intelligent does not leave — if he had killed Holly — her to rot in his apartment," Flodin told Chung. "For God's sake, you take the body and put her somewhere else."

The Maddux family hopes Einhorn will be convicted again in a U.S. courtroom and sentenced to prison, after 24 years of waiting for Holly's killer to be punished.

"It was frustrating, and then it was maddening, and then the first time the French said, 'You know what, we're not going to send him back,' it got painful," Wakeman said.

"It's a nice feeling to know that the facts of the case are being considered," she said. "For a long time, the facts of Holly being murdered and kept in a trunk were out there, but there were still people saying 'Ira's really a good guy.'"