Thanos appears to make second attempt at suicide

December 07, 1991

John F. Thanos, the convicted robber and rapist accused of killing three teen-agers in a crime spree following his mistaken prison release last year, was found unconscious in his cell Wednesday morning after his second apparent suicide attempt at the "Supermax" prison in Baltimore.

He "ingested something" in a possible suicide attempt, said Sgt. Gregory M. Shipley, a Division of Correction spokesman.

Thanos was in stable condition last night at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

The incident was not initially made public by prison officials. It was acknowledged yesterday after press inquiries.

Thanos, 42, had been hospitalized in May after trying to strangle himself with his own hair.

Correctional officers found the prisoner unconscious, with braids ofhair wrapped around his throat, and three suicide notes.

This week's incident followed by four days the only escape from Supermax -- the maximum-security Maryland Correctional Adjustment Center -- since it opened in January 1989.

The escaper, convicted killer Harold Benjamin Dean, remained at large last night.

Sergeant Shipley said prison officials did not know what Thanos may have swallowed.

He acknowledged that Thanos was on medication but could not say whether the prisoner had taken an overdose of drugs.

Normally, Sergeant Shipley said, an inmate receiving medication would be watched while he takes a drug so that no hoarding is possible.

The incident is under investigation, the sergeant said.

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