Thanos wants body given for science after execution

October 02, 1993|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Staff Writer

John Frederick Thanos, the convicted killer scheduled to die in Maryland's gas chamber next month, has requested that his body be donated to medical science after the execution.

His mother, Patty Thanos, yesterday confirmed that her 43-year-old son had made the request.

"I told him I don't approve of it, but it's his body. He can do what he wants," she said.

Leonard A. Sipes, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, said yesterday that he could not comment on whether Thanos has made such a request, or if it will be honored.

Richard B. Rosenblatt, an assistant attorney general, said he'd heard of no such request from Thanos, who faces execution for the 1990 murder of two Baltimore County teen-agers. But Mr. Rosenblatt said state law is clear that unless Thanos' family asks for possession of the body, the warden of the Maryland Penitentiary is required to bury it.

Mrs. Thanos said her son sent her a form to sign requesting that his body be donated to medical science. She said she signed it and sent it back. It was unclear whether the form would carry enough weight for Thanos' request to be honored.

If the request is honored, it appears that the State Anatomy Board would get Thanos' body after his execution. The board distributes cadavers to state medical schools.

The board's administrator, Ronald S. Wade, said through his secretary that he would have no comment on the case.

Earlier this week, a Garrett County Circuit Court judge signed a death warrant directing the warden of the Maryland Penitentiary to execute Thanos between Nov. 1 and Nov. 8.

Judge Fred A. Thayer, ruling that Thanos was competent to fire his attorneys and waive his right to further appeals, refused to stay the execution.

A public defender filed an appeal on Thanos' behalf, arguing that Thanos is not competent to waive his right to counsel and further appeals. No decision has been issued on that appeal.

Thanos was convicted in January 1992 in the shooting deaths of Billy Winebrenner, 16, and Melody Pistorio, 14, during a holdup of the Big Red gasoline station in the 9000 block of Pulaski Highway on Labor Day 1990.

The execution-style slayings of the teen-agers capped a weeklong crime spree during which Thanos robbed and killed an 18-year-old Eastern Shore welder, robbed a cabdriver and shot a convenience store clerk during a robbery in Salisbury.

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