The Capture of the Unicorn

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Maddux had grown too strong, finally, for a man accustomed to weakness. She met another man and in early autumn 1977 told Einhorn it was over between them. He threatened by phone to toss her belongings into the street, and she raced over to retrieve them. She would not be seen again. Ira calmly told anyone who asked that she'd gone to the nearby food co-op and simply never returned.

In Texas, Holly's parents Fred and Elizabeth Maddux became suspicious. Holly had never gone more than a few weeks without checking in. They called Philadelphia police, who made cursory checks but had no reason to suspect foul play. Unsatisfied, the Madduxes hired Bob Stevens, a retired FBI man working as a private detective in Tyler. Stevens hooked up with another retired G-man, J.R. Pearce, in Philadelphia. What they uncovered, in a year of spadework, was a story for Hitchcock.

A Drexel student who lived in the apartment below Einhorn's recalled a "blood-curdling scream" and heavy banging one night in the fall of 1977. In a neighborhood of frat houses and party hounds, the student downstairs thought nothing of it. But the odor that followed within weeks was impossible to ignore, as was the putrid, dark-brown liquid that oozed down through the ceiling from Einhorn's apartment. The tenant and his roommate tried unsuccessfully to clean it away, then called the landlord, who called plumbers. Einhorn stubbornly refused to let the workers into a padlocked closet just off his bedroom.

The private detectives turned it all over to police, and on March 28, 1979, at 9 a.m., homicide detective Chitwood knocked on Einhorn's door. Once inside, he headed straight for the locked closet. He pried it open with a crowbar and immediately smelled a "faint decaying smell, like a dead animal." Next he sprang the lock on the steamer trunk. The newspapers inside were dated August and September 1977. Under them was Styrofoam packing material. Chitwood scooped through it until he came to something he couldn't identify at first, and then it was clear. A hand. A human hand. He scooped some more, and as he did, Holly Maddux slowly emerged. Einhorn stood by, impassive.

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.

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