Self-proclaimed Earth Day co-founder Ira Einhorn was the master of ceremonies at the first Earth Day event in 1970, but he might be better known as the convicted murderer who hid the “composted” body of his ex-girlfriend inside a trunk in his closet.
Einhorn, an environmental activist who wore tie-dyed clothes and a long beard, became popular among ecological groups during the 1960s and ’70s by taking on the role of an ecological guru and prominent Philadelphia hippie. An advocate of peace and free love, Einhorn influenced fellow students at the University of Pennsylvania, preaching against violence and the Vietnam War.
But seven years after the first Earth Day event, a different side of Einhorn was revealed. When Helen “Holly” Maddux, Einhorn’s girlfriend of five years, relocated from Philadelphia to New York and broke up with him, Einhorn contended that if she did not return to pick up her left-behind personal belongings, he would he would throw them onto the street.
Maddux returned to the apartment she had shared with Einhorn on September 9, 1977 to collect her belongings—and was never seen again. Several weeks later, Philadelphia police questioned Einhorn about Maddux’s disappearance and he claimed that she had left to go to the neighborhood co-op to purchase tofu and sprouts, and never returned.
Eighteen months later, investigators searched Einhorn’s apartment following a complaint from one of his neighbors that a reddish-brown, foul-smelling liquid was seeping from the ceiling directly below Einhorn’s bedroom closet. Inside the closet, police discovered Maddux’s beaten and partially mummified body in a trunk that had also been stuffed with newspapers, Styrofoam, and air fresheners.
Following his arrest, Einhorn jumped bail and spent 23 years hiding in Ireland, Sweden, the United Kingdom and France, after which he was finally extradited to the United States from France. During his trial, Einhorn took the stand in his own defense and contended that Maddux had been murdered by CIA agents who framed him for the killing because he knew too much about the agency’s paranormal military research. The murder charge stuck, and Einhorn is currently serving a life sentence.
Einhorn maintains that Earth Day was his brainchild, and that he was responsible for its inception. Distancing themselves from Einhorn, Earth Day’s organizers cite Gaylord Nelson, an environmental activist and former Wisconsin governor and U.S. senator who died in 2005, as the official founder and organizer of Earth Day.
H/T: NBC News
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