Did The Unicorn Killer found Earth Day?

The Unicorn Killer & his ex GF whom he killed.

The Unicorn Killer & his ex GF whom he killed.

The Unicorn Killer, a character in a book I’m writing, often shows up in media stories. This is especially true just before the annual celebration of Earth Day. The big day is always April 22, just as it was back in 1970 when Senator Gaylord Nelson and others helped get it off the ground.

Usually the story headlines look like this:

  • “Earth Day Cofounder Killed, Composted Girlfriend”
  • “Earth Day Started by Convicted Killer who Mummified his GF’s Body.”

The Unicorn Killer.

I’ve spent time with The Unicorn Killer, both before and after he bludgeoned his former girlfriend to death. Seven years after the original Earth Day in 1970, Einhorn (the German word for Unicorn) beat Holly Maddux to death for rejecting him. He then stuffed her body into a steamer trunk that he kept in a locked outdoor cupboard on a screened-in 2nd floor porch of his apt.

Ira Einhorn got away with the murder for 18 months before suspicious apt tenants and the cops figured things out.

I knew Ira in the ‘60s because both of us believed in nonviolence and encouraged Philly police to negotiate and be more humanitarian in dealing with citizens.

How Ira’s violent inner self got the better of  him—and how it changed me—is one of the four stories I tell in my upcoming memoir Four Murders and a Funeral. 

Trunk of Unicorn Killer with body being seized.

Trunk of The Unicorn Killer with body being seized.

Two important points.

  • Ira did not “compost” his murdered gf —much as those with a kind of gallows humor like to suggest every Earth Day.

He probably didn’t mummify her either. He counted on cold weather much of the year to slow the decomposition and stench of her remains. And he used a lot of air fresheners during hot days in Philly.

And regarding the question in the headline of this blog:

  • Ira did not “cofound” Earth Day.
Ira Einhorn at Philadelphia Earth Day 1970.

Einhorn at Philadelphia Earth Day 1970.

As this week’s Time magazine article shows, Ira was more an impediment than a facilitator of the original Earth Day. Time quotes 

two organizers of Philadelphia’s Earth Day celebration, Edward Furia and Austan Librach, who wrote to Time back when Ira was caught hiding in France 

“explaining that in fact — no matter what else Einhorn may have done or said — he wasn’t the founder of Earth Day, and there was no meaningful link between Earth Day and this convicted [in absentia] murderer.

They also explained what was really happening in the  photo here where Einhorn is raising his arm: “He was not even a member of the committee of 33 men and women who did [organize the event]. The photo .. was taken during a one-hour period when Einhorn literally occupied the podium, refusing to get off the stage and delaying Senator Edmund Muskie’s keynote speech. It was an unsuccessful attempt — at least at that time — to seize 15 minutes of fame.”



To learn about CLEFT HEART: Chasing Normal, click the Amazon or Barnes & Noble buttons in the margins. Or click the image of the book cover. My coming-of-age memoir has intertwining love stories, mystery, tragedy, and triumph.

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