Thanos taken off life-support system Slayings suspect is off respirator, said to be better after a suicide try.


Slayings' suspect John Frederick Thanos has been taken off a life-support system and is listed in satisfactory condition at University Hospital following a May 7 suicide attempt at the Maryland Correctional Adjustment Center.

Joyce Tarrant, a spokeswoman for University Hospital, said Thanos is improving after being on a respirator for two days.

"He really has no injuries," Tarrant said, adding that neurological exams showed there is no permanent brain damage.

Thanos, 41, was hospitalized after correctional officers found him unconscious in his cell. Prison officials say Thanos tried to kill himself by tying his hair braids tightly around his throat. The braids, approximately 20 inches in length, were tied so tightly that officers had to cut them loose, a prison spokesman said.

Thanos has been charged in the slayings of three Maryland teen-agers.

He is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the Sept. 3, 1990, shooting deaths of Melody Pistorio, 14, and her boyfriend, Billy Winebrenner, 16, during the holdup of the Big Red Mini Mart on Pulaski Highway in Middle River. A trial is scheduled to begin June 24 in connection with those charges.

Thanos also is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and robbery in connection with the death of Gregory A. Taylor, 18, of Hebron. Taylor was killed after giving Thanos a ride on the Eastern Shore Aug. 31.

In March, Thanos was sentenced to 50 years in prison for armed robbery and assault with intent to murder in the Sept. 2 shooting of a Salisbury convenience store clerk. He was jailed at the Worcester County Jail.

Thanos was transferred to the Maryland Correctional Adjustment Center in connection with the Baltimore County murder charges. The super maximum security prison houses 280 of the state's most dangerous inmates.

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