Boy shot in gas station holdup dies


William Wesley "Billy" Winebrenner, 16, who was shot along with his girlfriend during a robbery on Labor Day at the Middle River gasoline station where he worked, has died.

Winebrenner died at 5:11 p.m. yesterday at the Shock-Trauma Unit in Baltimore, police and hospital officials said. His death came two days after the funeral of his girlfriend, 14-year-old Melody Pistorio.

John Frederick Thanos, 41, who was released from prison in April, was arrested and charged last week with first-degree murder in the death of the Pistorio girl, who had been visiting Winebrenner at work when the robbery occurred. Thanos originally was charged with attempted murder in connection with Winebrenner's death and now is facing another murder charge, according to Jay Miller, a Baltimore County police spokesman.

"We expect to upgrade the charges to first-degree murder," Miller said. "We expect to do that [today]."

Thanos, of Joppa in Harford County, also was charged with murder last week in the death of Gregory Allen Taylor, 18, of Hebron.

Miller said that in the aftermath of the death of Winebrenner the county state's attorney's office will decide whether to bring a third murder charge against Thanos or have a grand jury indict him.

John Murphy, chief operating officer at Shock-Trauma, said Winebrenner's condition never improved after the shooting. "He's always been critical," Murphy said.

Billy Winebrenner and Melody Pistorio and had met in a drama class at Kenwood Senior High School in Essex.

According to police, they were shot on Labor Day between 4:15 p.m. and 5 p.m. at the Big Red station and convenience store in the 9000 block of Pulaski Highway where Winebrenner worked as a clerk.

A customer found the victims on the floor behind the counter. Both had been shot in the head. There was no cash in the register.

Thanos was arrested Tuesday in Smyrna, Del., after a gun battle with police. He was captured on the parking lot of a Wendy's restaurant, where a man he had abducted escaped. Thanos ran out of bullets during the exchange with police and surrendered.

On Wednesday, he led police to the body of Taylor in a wooded area near Berlin in Worcester County.

Taylor had been missing several days and apparently died of gunshot wounds to the upper body.

Thanos, an employee at a poultry plant in Salisbury, is being held without bail at the Worcester County Detention Center in Snow Hill.

When asked by a reporter why he allegedly killed, Thanos replied: "I'm just pissed off at the world."

Thanos had been released on supervised probation from Maryland's Eastern Correctional Institution April 5, after serving little more than half of a seven-year sentence for a Harford County robbery. He had earlier convictions for rape and escape.

Thanos has been linked to a robbery of Ernie's Market on U.S. 13 in Salisbury a week ago yesterday. An anonymous caller tipped Salisbury city police Tuesday to tail a car allegedly being driven by Thanos along U.S. 13.

An officer in a patrol car chased the Ford Festiva, which belonged to Taylor.

Two police cars tailed Thanos to just over the Delaware state line, police said.

Police said Thanos stopped his car and they set up a roadblock. Thanos allegedly began firing a clip-loaded .22-caliber semi-automatic rifle.

The uninjured officers fell back and Thanos sped away heading north on U.S. 13, police said.

Later, police said, Thanos flagged down a car, driven by Edward Mason, of Laurel, and ordered Mason to drive his black Chevrolet Beretta north.

Thanos told Mason to stop at a Wendy's, more than 50 miles north of Salisbury, and was later caught, police said.

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