Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Ira Einhorn: The Unicorn Killer


For four years, Ira Einhorn vanished. His existence seemed as questionable as that of the one-horned, winged animal after which he named himself. But, by late 1985, a determined sleuth back in Philadelphia had traced him to Ireland. There, he had taken a new name, Ben Moore. By the time that detectives arrived, however, Ben Moore was gone. Thus begins one of the most dramatic and longest pursuits of a fugitive in the history of crime — and surely one with the strangest conclusion.

Engineering the manhunt was Assistant District Attorney Richard DiBenedetto, age 49. His large office in downtown Philadelphia had shrunk behind a wall of cardboard boxes over the past several years, crates all containing information on his prey; his Einhorn files. The inventory included the more than 60 handwritten journals that the Unicorn left behind. Each journal contained more than 125 pages. And DiBenedetto could recite every page.

Time explained: "Although he sat at his desk, he worked from inside Einhorn's mind, having studied every word...Among the lines that stopped him, revealing the cold depths of Einhorn's darkness, were these: 'Sadism — sounds nice — run it over your tongue — contemplate with joy the pains of others.' 'To beat a woman — what joy... The violence that flowed through my being tonight...could result in the murder of that which I love so deeply.'"

DiBenedetto drew up from everywhere a long list of names that were, at any given time in Einhorn's past, friends, colleagues, supporters. The list included celebrities and laymen, rich and poor, people who may innocently shelter and abet Einhorn, not realizing that he was a wanted criminal. Among the potpourri were rock stars like Peter Gabriel and the world-famous Israeli psychic Uri Geller.

"I knew he liked to play a game called Go. It's an ancient Oriental game and I found out through the Internet where the Go clubs were located throughout Europe," DiBenedetto explained. "One was in Dublin, Ireland, one of Einhorn's first stops. He and his girlfriend rented an apartment from a Trinity College professor named Denis Weaire. When Weaire visited friends in Chicago in 1981, he told them about this mysterious character named Einhorn. His friends thought the name rang a bell; they called the newspapers and got the full story." But, when Weaire notified the Irish police back home, they could not act. No extradition papers were in effect, so all that Weaire could do was evict him. The Unicorn, however, got the hint and fled Dublin.

Einhorn hosts Earth Day, April 1970
Einhorn hosts Earth Day, April 1970

From there, Einhorn traveled extensively throughout the United Kingdom, always one step ahead of DiBenedetto's investigators. By now, Professor Weaire had spoken with DiBenedetto and realized who Einhorn was and why the Americans wanted him; so when he again came across him in the Trinity College cafeteria, he immediately phoned DiBenedetto. Extradition papers were issued and the Irish police moved in. But, the elusive creature, the Unicorn, was gone — again. This time, he crossed the English Channel to blend in among the bohemian culture of continental Europe.

DiBenedetto suspected that someone was financing Einhorn's travels all these years — possibly Barbara Bronfman, who had paid his bail after his arrest. The investigator questioned her in 1988, and, yes, she finally admitted she had been. But, she had just finished reading The Unicorn's Secret by Steven Levy; and learned some things about Einhorn she had never known — she now truly believed he was guilty. Bronfman revealed his whereabouts, giving DiBenedetto the Stockholm, Sweden address where he was currently renting. When the authorities arrived, he was gone.

Annika Flodin, Einhorn's girlfriend
Annika Flodin, Einhorn's

The woman who lived at the address gave her name as Annika Flodin, and said she was the building's landlady. She had had no idea Einhorn was a fugitive; he had used the name Ben Moore and seemed very pleasant. Where he had gone, she couldn't say.

The Philadelphia DA smelled fish. This "landlady" bore an uncanny resemblance to Holly Maddux and, more so, was exceedingly wealthy — the kind of female that a penniless escapee and opportunist would seduce. He believed they were having an affair. DiBenedetto, an armchair student of military strategy, waited for them to make a wrong move. The coup worked. When Flodin disappeared from Stockholm, he was sure it was to meet up with the Unicorn somewhere. To track her, he notified his Interpol contacts and had them run her Swedish social security number through records. Word soon came that an Annika Flodin Mallon, age 46, had applied for a French driver's license. It appeared she had relocated to France and married Einhorn, who changed his name to Mallon.

The law was closing in. After 16 years of stakeouts and near-misses, DiBenedetto traced Einhorn/Mallon to the remote French village of Champagne-Mouton, in France's sumptuous wine country, melting without a murmur in the mountain scenery.

Columnist Steve Lopez wrote, "Eugene Mallon lived like a king in the south of France, sharing a tile-roofed farmhouse with his strawberry-blonde Swedish wife. He read books, put idle thoughts on paper and played in a bridge club every Friday. She baked bread, tended garden and strolled into the nearby village...on market day, tall and delicate, a sight so fair the mayor's tired old heart would stir. The Gold Creek met the Silver Creek near the Mallon's acreage, and all around the gentlest breeze would set fields of sunflowers ablaze with waves of golden light."

Just after sunrise on June 18, 1997, Flodin answered a series of knocks on her front door. More than the scent of morning dew filled the open doorway this morning. The police, their 9-mm Berettas drawn, nudged her aside and vaulted the staircase that led to the loft. There they found Monsieur Mallon. Forcing him to dress, they then hustled him in handcuffs to the ages-old constabulary in town, where he denied he was Einhorn. But, a two-hour auto ride to Gradignan Prison in Bordeaux proved that he really was.

Time wrote, "Though his physical appearance had changed dramatically, in his years on the lam — he had lost 50 pounds and whacked off his long hair and beard — his fingerprints hadn't."

But, while DiBenedetto and many others rejoiced, they were soon to find out that the celebration was quite premature. The Unicorn's luck had not run out. He would beat the extradition charges.


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