Longform

A Killer Abroad

Page 5 of 8

The frustration in both Philadelphia and Tyler had become a dull, ever-present ache as the '80s drew to a close with Einhorn still a free man. Finally, though, a tip that he was seen in Sweden with a wealthy woman named Annika Flodin resulted from a segment on the case aired by the television show America's Most Wanted. Stockholm police visited the address only to be told by Flodin that Einhorn no longer lived there. The trim, blond Swede, who bore a remarkable resemblance to Holly Maddux, soon disappeared herself.

The sighting of Einhorn in Sweden would be the last solid lead to cross DiBenedetto's desk for seven years.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia's district attorney decided to exercise a newly established judicial process. Einhorn, it was determined, would be tried in absentia; in effect, a murder trial would be conducted during which the defendant, though represented by counsel, would not be present during the proceedings.

Memories of the nine-day trial still haunt Buffy Hall. "Sitting in that courtroom, listening to the medical examiner detail the blows that Holly suffered--and even suggest that it was possible that she had still been alive when she was placed in that trunk--was one of the most difficult things I've ever experienced," she says. For weeks after, nightmares interrupted her sleep.

"Over time," she says, "your mind plays strange games. For whatever reason, I had always assumed Holly's death was the result of some fit of jealous rage. But hearing testimony that indicated Einhorn had done things like purchase the trunk just days earlier, something even more horrible soaked in. It had been premeditated. He was planning to kill her, even as they went out to dinner and a movie with friends that night."

Her only consolation was that the jury agreed. In September 1993, the jury deliberated for three hours before finding Einhorn guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced him to life in prison for the murder of Holly Maddux. DiBenedetto, by then Philadelphia's assistant D.A., renewed his vows to bring Einhorn back to American soil.


"He's still the arrogant, sarcastic jerk he was the day we found the body. He's all bullshit, a bum, a con man...a coward."

--former Philadelphia detective Mike Chitwood, on Ira Einhorn

On his 57th birthday, Ira Einhorn's luck finally ran out. DiBenedetto, with help from Interpol, had followed a paper trail of the Swedish woman whom Einhorn had married in 1982, and learned on May 15, 1997, that she had applied for a driver's license in France. She had told local authorities that her name was Annika Flodin Mallon and gave an address on the outskirts of Champagne-Mouton, southwest of Paris, as her new home.

Several French undercover officers, posing as tourists and fishermen, visited the quaint village and determined that Annika Flodin was indeed living in a restored mill with an American who generally fit Einhorn's description. The man, who was known locally as Eugene Mallon, said he was a writer. A bit thinner than he'd been in his glory days in Philadelphia, his hair was gray and cut shorter, the trademark bushy beard now only a stringy white goatee.

In the early morning hours of June 13, French authorities arrested Einhorn. Though he argued that some mistake had been made, a fingerprint comparison quickly proved he was, in fact, the fugitive for whom American authorities had been searching for 16 years.

Upon hearing the news that her sister's killer had been arrested, Buffy Hall took flowers to Holly's gravesite. "I cried and I told her, 'We finally got him,'" she remembers. "And I began looking forward to seeing him returned to the United States to serve his sentence."

However, neither the Maddux family nor the Philadelphia D.A.'s office anticipated the legal quagmire that would soon develop. Returning Einhorn to the U.S., they learned, would prove to be every bit as difficult as finding him had been. As the convicted killer sat in Bordeaux's Gradignan Prison, his French legal team prepared to argue that his American trial in absentia was in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. Under French law, he would have to be given a new trial. Back in Pennsylvania, state statutes offered no such provision; Einhorn had already been convicted and thus should begin serving his long-delayed life sentence immediately upon his return. Lending weight to the legal logjam was the anti-American mindset of the French, who viewed the U.S. justice system, which included the death penalty they so strongly opposed, as patently cruel and often barbaric.

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Carlton Stowers
Contact: Carlton Stowers