When John Thurberg left home to get to the restaurant where he worked, nobody fathomed the events that unfolded after. A botched robbery led to the young manager’s brutal death, leaving his fiancée devastated. Investigation Discovery’s ‘Homicide City: A Manager’s Murder’ chronicles how an inside job to rob the restaurant led to an avoidable death. So, let’s find out more about this case then, shall we?
How Did John Thurberg Die?
John was a 28-year-old Massachusetts native. He was described as a friendly and outgoing guy who always had a smile on his face. John was engaged to Patti Hemko at the time, and they lived together in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. They met while working at a local restaurant before John was transferred to another branch in Abington, Pennsylvania. At the time, he worked as an assistant manager there.
The couple was planning to get married just months later when tragedy struck. John went to work sometime before 8 AM on May 13, 1996, but never returned. One of the restaurant employees later called 911 to report a robbery, leading the authorities to rush there. John was found in one of the bathroom stalls lying facedown in a pool of blood. He had been shot execution-style in the back of the head behind his right ear. The authorities believed that the murder weapon was a handgun.
Who Killed John Thurberg?
It was evident that the motive was robbery, but it didn’t go according to plan for the suspects. Apart from John, two other employees were also present during the incident. They were Mark Griffin and a then 30-year-old Johnnie Blalock, the dishwasher. Mark was shot in the hand and was rushed to the hospital while Johnnie was unharmed. As per the show, Johnnie told the police that two armed men had barged into the restaurant, and one of them struggled with John before all three were overpowered and tied up.
Johnnie claimed to hear a gunshot and later saw the two gunmen leave in a getaway car. Mark, interviewed later, corroborated most of the story but said that he saw the assailants flee on foot. Before that, the three men were taken into separate bathroom stalls and held. The police then began to suspect Johnnie knew more than he let on and pressed him for more information. It was stated on the show that he later claimed to know the attackers, naming them as David Travers and Samuel Hall.
The authorities arrested both of them, but what they heard from Samuel changed the course of the investigation. Then about 20 years old, Samuel claimed that Johnnie masterminded the robbery, adding that David, then 18, was the triggerman. Soon, a disturbing story of an inside job began to emerge. Johnnie had come into the possession of a key to the restaurant. He let in David and Samuel on the morning of the incident before the others came in. The two men then ambushed John, Mark, and Johnnie. All the while, Johnnie acted like he knew nothing of the plan while they tried to rob the safe in the restaurant.
However, the safe had two sections, and one of them required two keys. One was with the manager, John, and another was with the armored truck driver who would come to pick up the money. The other section, though, was accessible. Despite John telling them he would open the second compartment, the robbers felt they could make away with more. In the meantime, the robbers were interrupted by other employees ringing the doorbell to be let in. Panicked, David shot John in the head and left with Samuel.
Where Are Johnnie Blalock, David Travers, and Samuel Ross Now?
Samuel cooperated with the authorities and pled guilty to third-degree murder. According to the show, he was handed down a sentence of 60 years. Today, Samuel remains incarcerated at State Correctional Institution – Somerset in Pennsylvania. On the other hand, David Travers pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, and Johnnie pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. Both were sentenced to life in prison. While David is serving his sentence at State Correctional Institution – Albion, Pennsylvania, Johnnie remains behind bars at State Correctional Institution – Mahanoy in Frackville, Pennsylvania.
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