Co-Founder Of Earth Day Was A Hippie Guru Nicknamed "The Unicorn Killer" And He Was Convicted Of Murdering His Girlfriend

By Gina Florio··  3 min read
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earth day founder murderer Ira Einhorn

When Earth Day comes to mind, you probably think about environmentalists having panel discussions about climate change, peaceful protests about the impact of fossil fuels, etc. But there's a dark history about the co-founder of Earth Day that you never would have guessed.

The co-founder of Earth Day was initially just like you would expect – he was a bearded hippie who spoke at environmental rallies and preached about peace. His name was Ira Einhorn, and he was reportedly a charismatic activist who was well-known among environmental groups in the 1960s and 1970s. He was a popular figure in Philadelphia who supposedly co-founded Earth Day in 1970, and his original nickname was "Unicorn" because his last name (which is German and Jewish) translates to "one horn." He studied at the University of Pennsylvania and was staunchly against the Vietnam War. But there was a violent side to Einhorn that eventually came to light.

Earth Day Co-Founder Ira Einhorn Was Convicted of Killing His Girlfriend Holly Maddux

It's not exactly what you'd expect from the peace-loving co-founder of Earth Day, but he was in fact a murderer who killed his long-term girlfriend Holly Maddux. They were together for five years when she broke up with him and moved to New York. He threatened to throw all of her personal belongings on the street if she didn't come pick them up herself. So she did just that on September 9, 1977, but she was never seen again.

She disappeared around the time she went to Philadelphia to pick up her stuff from the apartment she once shared with Einhorn. The police questioned Einhorn about her disappearance, and he said Maddux went to a co-op to buy a couple of things but she just never returned.

About a year and a half later, Einhorn's neighbors complained about a smelly, reddish-brown liquid that was leaking from their ceiling, which was right below Einhorn's apartment. Police entered the home and found Maddux's body stuffed into a steamer trunk. She had been beaten and partially mummified.

Einhorn was arrested, but he jumped bail and escaped overseas to evade arrest; he even married a rich Swedish heiress named Annika Flodin. It took 23 years for him to be extradited from France back to the U.S. to answer for his violent crime. But he claimed that he didn't actually killed Maddux. According to the Earth Day co-founder, it was actually the CIA who killed his ex-girlfriend, but they framed him because he was aware of top secret military research.

That wasn't quite convincing enough, so he was convicted of murdering Maddux in 1979 and given a life sentence in prison. His nickname "Unicorn" turned into "The Unicorn Killer." He died in prison in 2020 when he was 79 years old. Well, you'll never be able to think of Earth Day the same ever again knowing Einhorn's creepy history.

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