Here’s an inconvenient truth about the self-described founder of Earth Day: He murdered and composted his girlfriend.
Environmental activist and self-proclaimed Earth Day co-founder Ira Einhorn had a dark side. NBC News reported in 2011 that Einhorn was found guilty of murdering his ex-girlfriend and stuffing her “composted” body inside a trunk.
After five years of being together, Helen Maddux broke up with Einhorn. Enraged, he threatened to throw Maddux’s belongings onto the street if she didn’t come by to get them. She went to Einhorn’s apartment to retrieve them on Sept. 9, 1977 but was never seen again.
Several weeks later, Einhorn told police that she went missing after going out to the neighborhood co-op to buy tofu and sprouts. However, 18 months later authorities searched his apartment after neighbors complained that a “reddish-brown, foul-smelling liquid was leaking from the ceiling directly below Einhorn’s bedroom closet,” reports NBC News.
In the closet, police found Maddux’s “beaten and partially mummified body stuffed into a trunk that had also been packed with Styrofoam, air fresheners and newspapers,” according to NBC News.
Einhorn jumped bail and spent 23 years evading authorities and hiding out all over Europe. Finally, he was caught and extradited to the U.S. from France, where he was put on trial and convicted of murder. He is currently serving a life sentence.
NBC News reports that, “Taking the stand in his own defense, Einhorn claimed that his ex-girlfriend had been killed by CIA agents who framed him for the crime because he knew too much about the agency’s paranormal military research.”
Earth Day was created in the spring of 1970 to raise awareness of and take action on the pressing environmental issues of the time. Einhorn was master of ceremonies at the first Earth Day celebration at Fairmount Park in Philadelphia on April 22, 1970. He still maintains the holiday was his idea and he was responsible for launching it, though most activists credit Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson instead.