On September 22, 1998, longtime fugitive guru Ira Einhorn was re-arrested in France under a new extradition warrant for the 1977 murder in Philadelphia of a Texas womany. Einhorn's attorneys said he will fight his return to the United States after having fled in 1981. Justice Department officials refused to comment.
A antiwar activist leader in the 1960s, Einhorn was well known in Philadelphia where he once ran for mayor. Einhorn became a successful New Age hippie guru -- as well as the founder of Earth Day -- in the 1970s. At the height of his popularity he had an international network of scientists, corporate sponsors and wealthy benefactors.
But in 1981 he was arrested on murder charges after police found the remains of Helen Maddux, aformer cheerleader and Bryn Mawr College graduate from Tyler, Texas, in a trunk in his apartment. The woman, his former girlfriend, had disappeared 18 months earlier. Allegedly Einhorn slept with her corpse stuffed in a trunk next to his bed. He was arrested after neighbors complained about the stench coming from Einhorn's apartment, and Maddux's remains were found. Forensic experts said her skull had been bashed six times. The hippie guru was released on bail and fled the country. He was convicted in absentia in 1993 and sentenced to life in prison.
A fugitive for 16 years living in several European nations, Einhorn was tracked down and recaptured in France in June 1997. But the Bordeaux court refused to extradite him, citing a French law that requires a retrial for all defendants, and released him from custody. Pennsylvania then passed a law promising Einhorn a retrial and he was re-arrested in September 1998.
On February 18, 1999, a French court agreed to extradite Einhorn to the U.S., then ordered him set free pending his appeal. Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham expressed concern that Einhorn would run again. "He has proved to be elusive and resourceful in the past," said Abraham, interviewed on WCAU-TV. "My guess is that he will do everything he can to flee the country." In Washington, Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder called on France to take "the necessary steps" to ensure Einhorn is returned to the United States if the extradition is upheld.
In a desperate attempt to delay his extradition, on July 12, 2001, Einhorn tried to slit his throat at his house in southwestern France. "I think he had really decided to end his life," said his lawyer, Dominique Delthil, "but at the last minute he changed his mind. It wasn't just an act... He tried to cut his throat with a knife... It was not very pretty." Einhorn was found by French TV crew sitting in the kitchen with an open wound at the base of his neck and blood soaking his shirt. "I don't think they'll be able to arrest him if he's hospitalized," Delthil added. The suicide attempt came two hours after French authorities announced Einhorn lost his appeal to fight his extradition to the U.S.