John Thanos: From Troubled Kid to Sick Killer

Anne Marble
6 min readSep 10, 2021

In the late summer of 1990, Marylanders prayed that John Thanos would be caught. His week-long murderous crime spree led from Maryland’s Eastern Shore area to Middle River.

While Thanos talked tough during his trials, he was of slight build. As a youthful offender, he was targeted by adult prisoners. He also spent so much time in prison that he had never learned to pump his own gas.

My co-workers and I talked about this case around the water cooler or in the break room. We gritted our teeth until Thanos was caught. We watched coverage of the trial. One of my co-workers lived near the sight of one of the murders and had read details about his past. Like many, she realized the judicial system may have turned a troubled teen into a monster.

A black-and-white head-and-shoulders shot of a many wearing a white skullcap and glasses. He looks older than his years and wears a strange expression. There is a police officer behind him.
John Thanos. (Source: Wikipedia. Photo provided by, Fair use,

A String of Robberies and Murders

One of Maryland’s most notorious crime sprees started in Salisbury, Wicomico County, in the Eastern Shore area on August 29, when Thanos kidnapped cab driver Milton Marsey. Thanos locked Marsey in the trunk and drove the cab for a short time, then abandoned the cab. Marsey was one of the few lucky ones because Thanos let him live.

On August 31, 18-year-old Gregory Allen Taylor Jr., a resident of Hebron, also in Wicomico County, made a mistake that cost him his life. He spotted the hitchhiking…



Anne Marble

I’m a writer and a copy editor with experience in editing science and engineering articles. Click Lists to find my most popular articles. And hidden gems.