Earth Day Founder Dies in Prison After Composting Girlfriend

Sad news for environmentalists.

A former hippie guru who lived the high life in Europe for years after murdering his ex-girlfriend in Philadelphia in the 1970s has died in prison.

Ira Einhorn, 79, died early Friday in a state prison in western Pennsylvania of natural causes, according to Susan McNaughton, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections. The death at SCI-Laurel Highlands was not related to the COVID-19 virus, she said.

Ira had claimed that he founded Earth Day and certainly was popular with enviros. He lived the lifestyle by composting the woman he murdered.

Ira Einhorn was on stage hosting the first Earth Day event at the Fairmount Park in Philadelphia on April 22, 1970. Seven years later, police raided his closet and found the "composted" body of his ex-girlfriend inside a trunk.

A self-proclaimed environmental activist, Einhorn made a name for himself among ecological groups during the 1960s and '70s by taking on the role of a tie-dye-wearing ecological guru and Philadelphia’s head hippie.

But the charismatic spokesman who helped bring awareness to environmental issues and preached against the Vietnam War — and any violence — had a secret dark side. When his girlfriend of five years, Helen "Holly" Maddux, moved to New York and broke up with him, Einhorn threatened that he would throw her left-behind personal belongings onto the street if she didn't come back to pick them up.

And so on Sept. 9, 1977, Maddux went back to the apartment that she and Einhorn had shared in Philadelphia to collect her things, and was never seen again. When Philadelphia police questioned Einhorn about her mysterious disappearance several weeks later, he claimed that she had gone out to the neighborhood co-op to buy some tofu and sprouts and never returned.

Einhorn was caught red-handed, but was protected by his lefty comrades.

Then began the parade. One after another at Einhorn's bail hearing, his supporters took the stand in his defense. A minister, a corporate lawyer, a playwright, an economist, a telephone-company executive. They couldn't imagine Einhorn's harming any living thing.

Einhorn fled to Europe where he was supposed by cash from assorted rich and famous lefties. After he was caught and brought back, he tried to get the famous folk to vouch for him.

Einhorn has invited some old friends from his hippie seer heyday to speak to his good character, among them singer Peter Gabriel, actress Ellen Burstyn and Edward Bacon, father of actor Kevin Bacon.

Such is the bizarre world of Ira Einhorn, a man who once hung out with beat heroes and hippie superstars such as Allen Ginsberg, Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, organised 'be-in' events, ran for mayor of Philadelphia on a ticket of free love and expanded consciousness, 

Now he's dead. But his environmentalist movement lives on.


Wondering what happened to your Disqus comments?

Read the Story