Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Ira Einhorn: The Unicorn Killer

And While We Wait...

...the extradition dossier, compiled on May 27, has been mislaid! The papers were to have been signed by the consenting Prime Minister of France within two weeks of the hearing. Without that signature, Einhorn cannot be returned to the U.S. to stand trial. But, according to a website called Holly Lives!, which monitored a list of up-to-the-minute clippings dedicated to the life and death of Holly Maddux, "his office says they have no such file." Where it went, was it ever really sent, what happened to it — these are anyone's guess. "If this act is ever done," the site read, "then there is an appeal to the Conseil d'Etat. Meanwhile, Einhorn remains at liberty." His stay in France could be indefinite.

To quote a popular tune from the days when the Unicorn might have still made love, not war, "The beat goes on..."

Helen 'Holly' Maddux, before her death
Helen 'Holly' Maddux, before
her death

In the meantime, the Maddux family has experienced some closure to their pain, symbolic if nothing else. On July 28, 1999, a civil jury awarded them a settlement of $907 million in a wrongful death suit. The family does not expect to get the money, of course, and really doesn't want it — all they want is Ira Einhorn brought back for trial — but the reward quickly takes away from him any remuneration he would earn off of book rights or through other media channels. In fact, what generated the lawsuit were rumors about Einhorn's deal-cutting with a foreign publisher. The Madduxes refused to sit by and let him get rich over this tragic matter.

The civil charges consisted of wrongful death, intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault and battery and abuse of a corpse. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, "In deliberations that took just over an hour, the six member jury awarded the family $752 million in punitive damages and $155 million in compensatory damages. Family members, overjoyed at the verdict, conceded they will never see the money, but they said, neither will Einhorn."

The trial, though victorious, wasn't without its heartbreak. "The black steamer trunk that had been Holly Maddux's coffin for 18 months stood in (the) City Hall courtroom as a gruesome symbol of her violent death," the Inquirer continued. Jurors "left their seats in the jury box to look inside the trunk while (Detective Chitwood) described how he pried open its padlock, pushed aside old newspapers, and found Maddux's mummified remains."

"It's a little bit hard. That's the first time I have seen the trunk in person," said Meg Wakeman, one of Holly's sisters.

Pointing to a large color blowup of the victim's mummified skull, showing the fractures, Prosecuting Attorney James E. Beadsley addressed the jury. "We want to show you the suffering and pain for punitive damages. You must know what Holly went through. We can legally attach any earnings of Einhorn or his wife. If he can spend it, we want it." And in closing, he added that the award "has got to be so substantial that it will be a shot heard around the world."

Both of Holly's parents are dead, her father having killed himself in 1988 and her mother passing away soon after. Their children — Meg, John, Elisabeth and Mary — are carrying on and live for the day that the Killer Unicorn comes home in chains. "My parents died thinking that Ira had beat them," Elisabeth explained. "Well, I want to go put some roses on my parents' graves and tell them, 'We got the bastard.'"

* * * * *

"Close to 60 now, Ira Einhorn looks like his own ghost...His dark hair has turned snow white, his Biblical patriarch's beard replaced by a goatee," wrote columnist Maralyn Lois Polak "Ira Einhorn resembles nothing more than a nearly prosperous burgher in a Truffaut film, wanting...nothing more than to be left alone by a carnivorous international press that would chew him up alive and spit him out in little pre-measured pellets of electronic entertainment."

Polak had met the Unicorn in his glory days and recalls him as "barrel-chested and (with a) bearded face, pocked, body thick with various excesses, a corrupt Buddha of a teacher fattened on the worship of uncritical student acolytes."

She related a story she had heard from a friend. One afternoon Einhorn and two colleagues were sharing chat in Philadelphia's Camac baths, when the subject of women arose. "Someone asks Ira what he would do if Holly cheated on him. Well, Ira's eyes started bulging and his veins swelled, and he said, 'Boys, mark my words, I'd kill the bitch.' Apparently, he already had. She was missing two months when he said that."

The trunk in which Holly's body was found
The trunk in which Holly's body was

The year 1999 may be the year Ira Einhorn comes back to tally up for what he has done. Or maybe the French appellates will decide against handing him over to "barbaric" America. If that's the case, then the Unicorn will be scot free to enjoy what's left of his life in the verdant hills of the wine country.

But, somewhere — in the shadows of the vineyards perhaps — just when he is oh, so sure that forgetfulness absolves his crime, the memories of Holly Maddux may one day replay themselves in a phantasmagoria. 

After all, a trunk may be waiting for him. His own, personal Pandora's Box.


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