Longform

A Killer Abroad

Page 3 of 8

When Liz Maddux phoned Einhorn to ask about her daughter, she got little information. Though he was unusually polite and expressed concern (pointing out that he'd called Holly's friends, hospitals, and the police when she did not return to his apartment), he expressed no real interest in attempting to find the young woman who had lived with him for five years. "I was left with the impression," Liz recalls of the 10-minute conversation, "that he felt she'd gone off somewhere to collect her thoughts and didn't want any of us to contact her."


By the time Christmas and New Year's Day passed without word, fear was growing within Holly's family. Her father, Fredrick, sought out retired Tyler FBI agent-turned-private investigator R.J. Stevens and hired him to find his daughter. The search would go on for more than a year, eventually broadening to include investigators, police, and the district attorney's office in Philadelphia.

Ultimately, statements by college students living in an apartment directly below Einhorn and the off-hand recollection of two of Ira's young female friends finally pointed the way to a resolution of the mystery:

For months after Holly's disappearance, the downstairs neighbors had attempted every chemical they could think of--ammonia, Lysol, bleach--to mask a growing stench emitting from a dark liquid that had oozed through the ceiling of their kitchen closet. One of the residents, a biology major, had even observed to his roommate that the smell was "much like that of dried blood." The odor, he suggested, was coming from the apartment above them. It would be months before the smell finally began to wane.

Then, there had been the September evening when Einhorn had asked the two teenage girls if they would help him haul a trunk allegedly filled with "secret Russian documents" to the nearby Schuylkill River where he planned to dump it. The young women, arguing that their car was too small to accommodate it, had refused.

Finally, acting on the information collected by investigators, Philadelphia police detective Mike Chitwood, accompanied by six uniformed officers, knocked on Einhorn's door on the morning of March 28, 1979, carrying a 35-page search warrant.

In his 1988 book on the case, The Unicorn's Secret, writer Steven Levy of Newsday deftly reconstructed what occurred that day at the 3411 Race Street apartment:

"Almost as if Chitwood had no interest in the apartment itself--though in fact he had never seen a place with so many books, and it held a strange fascination for him--he brushed aside the maroon blanket covering the French door. He walked purposefully to the closet, stopped, and contemplated the thick Master padlock on the door...The closet was 4-and-a-half-feet wide and 8-feet high, and a little less than 3-feet deep...Inside some of the boxes he saw were labeled 'Maddux.' On the floor was a green suitcase. On the handle was the name 'Holly Maddux' and a Texas address. Behind the suitcase on the closet floor was a large black steamer trunk...

"Michael Chitwood took off his suit jacket. He was now ready to open the trunk. The foul odor was now much stronger...Scooping away newspapers and a layer of Styrofoam and plastic bags, he at first could not make out what it was, because it was so wrinkled and tough. But then he saw the shape of it--wrist, palm, and five fingers, curled and frozen in their stillness. It was a human hand...He had seen enough."

The discovery of Holly Maddux's body and the arrest of Einhorn bumped even the potential nuclear disaster at nearby Three Mile Island from the lead position on the front page of the Philadelphia Daily News. "Hippie Guru Held in Trunk Murder," the banner headline read.

In Tyler, during a driving April rain, Holly Maddux was buried.


Meanwhile, Einhorn's explanation of the morbid discovery in his apartment was as vague as it was preposterous. The CIA and Soviet KGB, eager to shut down research he'd been doing on the military use of mind control, had sought to frame him, placing Maddux's body in his apartment. High-placed friends and devoted followers quickly spoke out, suggesting it was impossible that the colorful pacifist they so admired could have committed such a horrible crime.

Which served as a good indication that they knew nothing of the Unicorn's dark side. In journals taken from his apartment, the authorities found detailed recollections of previous violence. He had written of entering the college dorm room of one former girlfriend and strangling her until she passed out. In a fit of rage, he had hit another in the head with a Coke bottle, knocking her unconscious.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Carlton Stowers
Contact: Carlton Stowers