Fugitive murderer, onetime counterculture guru, captured in France
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ A counterculture guru, convicted in absentia of murdering his girlfriend two decades ago and hiding her body in a trunk, has been captured in Europe after 16 years as a fugitive, the FBI said today.
Ira Einhorn, 57, was arrested without incident Friday at his converted windmill home in France’s Bordeaux region, the FBI said in a statement this morning.
He had been using the alias Eugene Mallon, the name of an Irish friend, officials said.
Einhorn was captured in part with leads developed after a story about him on the syndicated television program ``Unsolved Mysteries,″ officials said. His Swedish girlfriend’s application for a French driver’s license also alerted authorities to Einhorn’s whereabouts.
``I feel a tremendous (sense) of gratification and relief,″ District Attorney Lynne Abraham said at a news conference this morning. She said she looked forward to seeing him come before the judge who sentenced him.
``I guess persistence pays off,″ said Richard DiBenetto, a district attorney’s office investigator on the case since 1981.
A judge in 1993 sentenced Einhorn to life in prison for murdering Helen ``Holly″ Maddux in 1977 and hiding her body in a trunk, which he put in a closet of his apartment.
Police found Maddux’s mummified remains in Einhorn’s apartment in 1979, 18 months after they say she was killed. The remains were discovered after the stench filtered into neighboring apartments.
Witnesses testified that Maddux, 31, had been trying to break off the relationship with Einhorn.
Einhorn’s attorney, Norris Gelman, said this morning that his client would challenge extradition to the United States.
``That may prevent him from coming back because the European courts don’t like trials in absentia,″ Gelman said. ``I think that essentially what one would look for in this kind of case, he would be sent back (only) if he gets a new trial. ... That’s the best scenario.″
Challenges could delay extradition up to a year, officials said.
Gelman said he had not spoken to Einhorn since 1981, when his client disappeared just before he was to stand trial.
Before making the arrest, French police put Einhorn under surveillance and reported that he was ``very cautious, almost wary and suspicious,″ said FBI Special Agent Bob Reutter. After the arrest, he said, Einhorn was ``cool, cold.″
A brilliant and charismatic bear of a figure, Einhorn was a ladies’ man and counterculture oddball given to such habits as answering his door stark naked.
Though he dressed in a dashiki and dirty jeans, sported shoulder-length hair and frequently smelled bad, Einhorn established a successful place as a New Age corporate guru-consultant in the 1970s with a global network of scientists, corporate sponsors and wealthy benefactors.
At his preliminary hearing in 1979, the courtroom was packed with professors, lawyers, civic leaders and other prominent Philadelphians who wanted to testify about his good character.
Several hearings were held before Einhorn, free on $40,000 bail, boarded a plane for London with a new girlfriend.
Steven Levy, who wrote a biography of Einhorn, said Einhorn had befriended celebrities, local business and religious leaders, and counterculture figures, including the late Abbie Hoffman.
``Ira ingratiated himself to these folks they would buy him lunch and he would tell them about the future,″ Levy said.