Looking Back: Earth Day Roots Include Participation by Convicted Murderer
Earth Day, originally founded in 1970 by then-U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI), is an annual event in which municipalities and communities express their support for preserving the environment in the form of fairs, festivals, and similar events. Among the festivals and feel-good events that took place this past Earth Day, however, there was no mention of one of the high-profile figures who claimed to have inspired – and to take full credit for the idea – one Ira Einhorn.
Although Einhorn is often cited as the co-founder of Earth Day, this is not the case as described in a recent Philadelphia Magazine article. He was, however, remembered as trying to co-opt the event and was asked to leave organizing committee meetings due to his disruptive nature.
Known as a liberal activist and college instructor with a loyal following of acolytes, Einhorn was involved in a tumultuous five-year relationship with Bryn Mawr student Holly Maddux. Although he often spoke about nonviolence and peace, he was also known to be possessive, controlling and self-centered when it came to his relationship. He was also known to be a serial cheater, yet kept a tight rein on his girlfriend’s whereabouts.
One summer day in 1977, Holly decided she had enough of Einhorn and his controlling ways, and ended the relationship. She was never again seen alive. Police found her decomposed, rotting body in a trunk inside Einhorn’s apartment roughly 18 months later. Shortly before he was to appear on murder and disappearance charges, Einhorn fled the United States for Europe, funded by wealthy sympathizers. Einhorn remained on the run for nearly 20 years when he was finally discovered, living the life of luxury in the French countryside with his new wife. He was finally extradited to the United States in 2001 and convicted of murder, currently serving a life sentence. Einhorn, never admitting to his guilt, maintained for years that he was framed by the CIA and that they planted her body in his apartment to set him up.
It is not surprising that the Earth Day founders have distanced themselves from any affiliation with a known murderer. May the beautiful soul of Holly Maddux rest in peace.