- The Washington Times - Friday, August 9, 2002

Meet Ira Einhorn. Today, as he awaits trial following a protracted murder case, he looks like an innocent aging World War II baby, with 62-year-old electric-blue eyes, gray hair and beard, and slightly paunchy after living off the means of others (including taxpayers), thank you. But in his heyday, the Unicorn, if you believe in such creatures, was something to behold and hear, as he held court in Philadelphia during the anti-Vietnam War days, schmoozing peaceniks and pinstripers alike with his talk about saving the planet. His dark-brown nappy locks, often drawn into a hippie-tail, and ratty beard were as much his trademarks as his self-proclaimed nickname Unicorn, drawn from his German-Jewish last name, which means one horn. His mean streaks were classic trademarks of an abuser.

The Unicorn met unsuspecting Holly, born Helen Maddux, while holding court in 1972 in one of his favorite dispensatories of peace and love, a bistro named La Terrasse. Their attraction to each other was fast and hard, and unsurprising. Her beauty was obvious but fragile Michelle Pfeiffer-like, one of her sisters said. She was a blond, bright and bouncy Texan, and an artsy Bryn Mawr grad to boot. He was a college dropout, having traded classes at the University of Pennsylvania for talk-ins at cafes around his native Philadelphia, but he was a brilliant student in literature. These two opposites were naturally, and tragically, attracted to one another.

In no time, Holly had moved into the Unicorn's apartment, and for five years they carried on a relationship, until Holly could take it no more. She was tired of the rants, and tired of coming up with excuses about the bruises. "Unicorns," I imagine she said, "are mythical creatures, and everything Ira says and does is of mythic proportions."

That was September 1977. She wasn't seen again for another 18 months when, in March 1979 and after pressure from the Maddux family, police, with warrant in hand, broke a padlock on a closet in the couple's apartment and opened a black steamer trunk. Her mummified remains were beneath styrofoam packing and newspapers dated Sept. 15, 1977. When a detective turned to the Unicorn and said he was fairly certain the corpse was Holly's, the Unicorn gave a five-word response: "You found what you found."

What an unbelievable jerk. Here's a guy who drops acid as easily as he drops names, smells as awful as the putrid drippings that oozed from the steamer trunk to the apartment below his, and hasn't clipped his toenails since Holly said, "I'm leaving you, Ira," as cool as a cuke.

He was a smooth operator in court, too, letting senator-to-be Arlen Specter, his defense attorney, and the pinstripers, do all the talking for him at his bond hearing. Charged with Holly's murder, he was released on $4,000 bond courtesy of Barbara Bronfman, she of the big-bucks Seagram's family. But he wasn't big enough, man enough, to hang around for his 1981 trial. He skipped, and fled to Europe, where Mrs. Bronfman and others, including a Swedish wife who, unsurprisingly bears a striking resemblance to Holly, further indulged him.

The laissez-faire French let him have his way, too. He was nabbed there in 1997, four years after a Philadelphia court found him guilty, in absentia, of murdering Holly. But the French preferred to spend $1 million a year in taxpayers' money to fight extradition rather than hand him over to the United States. (They let a little thing like capital punishment come between them and U.S. justice.)

The Unicorn, meanwhile, held court again last summer. When he learned all his appeals in France had been exhausted, he set up an interview with a French TV station then slashed his throat moments before the crew arrived. With cameras rolling and blood dripping, he ranted. Same old Ira.

Holly never had a chance. She had called the Unicorn and told him that fateful day in September 1977 that she was coming to collect her belongings. She did so because he had ranted that he would toss them into the street. Court records show that she was bludgeoned about the head.

In case you missed the Unicorn's first incarnation as a guru of peace and love, don't feel left out. You'll get to see and hear him this fall, perhaps on Court TV, and hear about the other women he abused. See, the Pennsylvania legislature passed a law in 1998 that grants a new trial, upon request, to anyone convicted in absentia in a criminal court. The Unicorn's new trial is scheduled for next month.

Don't expect any rainbows to make an appearance with this Unicorn, though.

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