TIME Archive: The Ira Einhorn Case

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Ira Einhorn taken into custody upon arrival in the U.S.

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Then began the parade. One after another at Einhorn's bail hearing, his supporters took the stand in his defense. A minister, a corporate lawyer, a playwright, an economist, a telephone-company executive. They couldn't imagine Einhorn's harming any living thing. Release of murder defendants pending trial was unheard of, but Einhorn's attorney was soon-to-be U.S. senator Arlen Specter, and bail was set at a staggeringly low $40,000 — only $4,000 of it needed to walk free. It was paid by Barbara Bronfman, a Montreal socialite who had married into the Seagram distillery family and met Einhorn through a common interest in the paranormal. It was Einhorn's new rage, and his orbit of friends had expanded to include Uri Geller, the spoon-bending Israeli illusionist.

The whole thing was a setup, Einhorn assured followers. Through his antiwar research and with contacts that extended beyond the Iron Curtain, he simply knew too much about weapons development, psychic research and global conspiracies. Maddux was murdered to discredit him. The CIA, the KGB, who knew? The most damning evidence against him was also the most obvious proof of his innocence: Would a man as smart as he murder his girlfriend and keep the evidence at his bedside?

But the evidence against him mounted. Testimony from two friends who were asked by Einhorn to help him dispose of the trunk. The two former girlfriends who ended up in the hospital after trying to break off relationships with Einhorn. One was nearly strangled; the other had a Coke bottle smashed over her head. So much for flower power. The public embodiment of peace and love was in private a monster. Sickened friends spoke of betrayal and wondered if Einhorn had ever cared about anything but Ira. George Keegan: "We were walking down the street together. People who once would come up and hug Ira crossed the street and averted their eyes... He looked at me, sad, and said, 'I'm not going to be able to be Ira Einhorn now.' And I realized he was a selfish, arrogant bastard."

And then, shortly before his trial was to begin in January 1981, Philadelphia's own philosopher king simply vanished into the vapor of his grandiose mutterings.

The year Einhorn fled, DiBenedetto became a father, and it gave deeper meaning to his telephone conversations with Holly's parents. Moved by their grief, he became obsessed with the case. Especially after Ira's friend Harry Jay Katz baited him, "You'll never catch Ira. He's too smart for you."

Working from a closet-size cubicle on the eighth floor of the D.A.'s office in downtown Philadelphia, the deceptively low-key DiBenedetto, now 49, gradually shrank behind a growing wall of cardboard boxes — his Einhorn files. He never had the luxury of devoting full attention to Einhorn, but it was always a priority. Although he sat at his desk, he worked from inside Einhorn's mind, having studied every word in the 63 different 150-page journals Einhorn left behind. 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 seem to love so deeply."

DiBenedetto dredged up the names of literally hundreds of Einhorn's international coterie of friends and true believers, and he went after every last one of them. The mere thought of the task was daunting, but DiBenedetto, an amateur sculptor and book collector, has no problem with long stories. He owns multiple copies of the Iliad — six or eight, he can't remember which. Einhorn didn't have some burned-out patronage stiff after him. The Unicorn was being tracked by a hard-boiled, law-and-order renaissance man.

"I knew he liked to play a game called Go. It's an ancient Oriental game, sort of like chess, and I found out on the Internet where the Go clubs were in Europe." One was in Dublin, Ireland, one of Einhorn's first stops. He and his new girlfriend rented an apartment from a Trinity College professor named Denis Weaire. When Weaire visited friends in Chicago in April 1981, he told them about this mysterious character named Einhorn. His friends thought the name rang a bell; they called newspapers and got the full story. Weaire evicted Einhorn, but Irish police told him that with no extradition treaty in force at the time, there was no cause for arrest, and the Unicorn jumped.

By phone and fax, DiBenedetto pursued leads through England, back to Ireland and then to Wales. It took four years for another break; again, it was from Weaire. He spotted Einhorn in the Trinity cafeteria. Confronted, Einhorn insisted his name was Ben Moore. Weaire ran for the phone and called DiBenedetto. An extradition treaty was in place by then, but by the time Irish police moved in, the Unicorn was gone. Again.

"It's not like on TV, where you just pick up the phone, call Interpol, and they're there in two hours. With the red tape, it takes forever to make something happen," DiBenedetto says. So whenever Philadelphia cops went to Europe on vacation, DiBenedetto begged them to do some legwork for him. He even used his own vacation time to knock on doors. Hank Harrison, a Grateful Dead biographer and the father of Courtney Love, had lent Einhorn a few dollars in Britain. But neither Harrison nor British rock star Peter Gabriel, twice visited by Einhorn, knew he was an accused murderer. DiBenedetto suspected Gabriel was funneling money to Einhorn. Gabriel told Scotland Yard he had not.

But someone else had, and after years of pursuit by DiBenedetto, she finally relented. Bronfman, by then divorced from the distilling family, at last admitted to DiBenedetto that she had sent Einhorn cash regularly until 1988, when she read "The Unicorn's Secret," a damning book about Einhorn by journalist Steven Levy. Find a woman in Sweden named Annika Flodin, Bronfman said.

The D.A.'s office, the FBI, Interpol and Swedish police moved quickly. It had been seven years, and this was the best shot yet. But Einhorn was quick too; once again he slithered away, just hours ahead of the sheriff. As for Flodin, she claimed to know nothing about any murderer named Ira Einhorn. The man's name was Ben Moore, and she was his landlady, nothing more. DiBenedetto didn't buy it. She was attractive, and her family had money — the Daily Double that Einhorn lived for. Flodin moved to Denmark three years later, then disappeared, leaving the address of Dublin bookseller Eugene Mallon. "I knew the name," says DiBenedetto. And he knew that Einhorn was once a customer of the bookseller's.

DiBenedetto would never get to call Maddux's parents with good news. Ill and depressed over a leg amputation, Fred Maddux killed himself in 1988. Two years later, his wife died of emphysema. Holly's murder "ruined their life," daughter Elisabeth says. "And they died thinking that Ira beat them."

In 1993, fearing that witnesses would soon vanish, Philadelphia D.A. Lynne Abraham decided to use a new state law allowing trials in absentia. With only Einhorn's memory filling the defendant's chair, a jury listened for two weeks and then took just two hours to convict the Unicorn of first-degree murder.

It wasn't satisfaction enough for DiBenedetto. Then, early this year, he heard from Hjordis Reichel, a Swedish woman living in California who had seen an "Unsolved Mysteries" show about Einhorn. She had relatives in the upper echelons of the Stockholm police. Call them, DiBenedetto said. It can't hurt.

Through those connections, Reichel got Flodin's Swedish social security number. DiBenedetto's Interpol contact ran it through motor vehicles in Sweden — and made the discovery that broke the case. In 1994 Flodin had applied for a French driver's license under the name Annika Flodin Mallon.


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