CHAMPAGNE-MOUTON, France – Fugitive murderer Ira Einhorn was finally extradited from France on Friday and placed on a plane to Pennsylvania, where he will face a second trial for the 1977 bludgeoning death of his girlfriend, Holly Maddux.
The 61-year-old Einhorn was handed over to U.S. authorities at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport shortly before the flight took off for Philadelphia at 7:25 p.m. EDT.
Linda Vizi, an FBI spokeswoman in Philadelphia, confirmed Thursday night that the plane carrying Einhorn had taken off from Paris, but she had no other details.
"He's in the air," Vizi said. "He will be turned over to the Philadelphia police and they will transport him to his new home."
Earlier Thursday, French police took Einhorn from his home in the southwestern village of Champagne-Mouton and sped him away under heavy guard to Paris.
France had been preparing to extradite Einhorn last week, but agreed to wait a week after the European court requested a delay so it could examine the case.
On Thursday, the court in Strasbourg said it was dropping the request because Einhorn's medical condition was satisfactory and U.S. officials had provided assurances that he would not face the death penalty.
Einhorn will be given a new trial in Pennsylvania for the murder of Maddux, for which he was convicted in absentia. Einhorn has already exhausted all legal recourses in France.
In Philadelphia, a former city district attorney's office investigator who helped track down Einhorn called Thursday's developments "a victory for justice."
"I think it shows clearly that his arguments had no merit," Richard DiBenedetto said. "He was given a full trial, and in addition to that he is going to be given a full trial again. I don't think there's a case in the history of crime where one defendant has gotten so many breaks."
A Philadelphia police homicide detective was in France with an FBI agent and some U.S. marshals, ready to take Einhorn into custody, Philadelphia police spokesman Cpl. Jim Pauley said Thursday.
"When we see him in handcuffs in the custody of an American citizen, we will be really happy," said Maddux's sister Meg Wakeman, a Seattle-based nurse who was in Washington, D.C., for the introduction of a proposed extradition enforcement bill.
Earlier Thursday, Einhorn had said that if he lost the appeal, he would go peacefully.
"If there is to be any transfer, we want it to be totally peaceful," he said in a telephone interview. "Nobody is going to be hurt."
In a move that confused lawyers, the European court did say that it would still consider Einhorn's case in September, and it said it was asking France for more details on the guarantees of a new trial. However, a court spokeswoman, Emma Hellyer, said: "That has nothing to do with the extradition."
Before Einhorn was taken into custody, two vans of police kept guard outside his home. He stayed inside all day, receiving a few visitors. He ate leftovers from a party he'd thrown the night before, which he called a "Last Supper." Against a background of colored party lights, guests had chatted and sipped wine from plastic cups until late into the night.
The former anti-war activist adamantly denies killing Maddux, saying he was framed by the CIA.
After losing his final French appeal on July 12, Einhorn slit his throat in a dramatic gesture of protest. Though he called it a suicide attempt, he was not seriously injured, and returned home later that day after receiving outpatient treatment. His neck is still bandaged.
In an interview earlier Thursday, Einhorn brushed off questions about whether he planned a repeat of such self-inflicted violence. "Oh, I really do doubt that," he said, laughing.
He said he couldn't understand the need for such a heavy police guard outside his home. "If I want to do away with myself again, there's no way they can stop me," he said.
Einhorn fled the United States in 1981, soon before he was to stand trial for the murder. Maddux's battered corpse was found stuffed in a trunk inside a closet of the Philadelphia apartment the couple shared.
He lived in England, Ireland and Sweden under pseudonyms before he was arrested in France in 1997.
A 1998 Pennsylvania law provided for a retrial, and U.S. officials promised that Einhorn would not be eligible for the death penalty because capital punishment was not legal in that state at the time of the crime. European Union countries generally refuse to extradite suspects who face the death penalty.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.