A man convicted of kidnapping a 10-year-old girl and holding her in a Long Island dungeon was found dead Wednesday in his New York prison cell, reported the Associated Press.
John Esposito, 64, was found unresponsive and unconscious Sept. 4 in his cell at the Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, NY. He had been jailed since 1994 after pleading guilty to first-degree kidnapping in connection with the abduction and captivity of then-10-year-old Katie Beers.
According to reports, Esposito had lured Beers to his Bay Shore home two days before her 10th birthday. Esposito, a friend of the Beers family, held the preteen in a small dungeon under his home. The 6-foot by 7-foot concrete bunker was concealed by a concrete trap door that weighed nearly 200 pounds. For 17 days, Beers was held, chained at the neck, and forced to remain in the dungeon.
Prior to her kidnapping, Beers had suffered years of abuse and neglect from her mother and was sexually assaulted by her godmother’s husband.
Beers released a book earlier this year “Buried Memories: Katie Beers’ Story.” The novel is co-written with WCBS-TV reporter Carolyn Gusoff, who initially covered Beers’ disappearance.
“It’s time to close another chapter in my life,” Beers wrote in an online statement about Esposito’s death. “The NYS Parole board [sic] let me know that at about 3:30 p.m. today, after his hearing, John was found unresponsive in his jail cell,” she said.
Esposito had appeared earlier Wednesday before the parole board, state records show. He had previously appeared before the parole board on three other occasions. The outcome of Wednesday’s hearing was not known.
“I have to say that I’m not sadden by John’s passing,” wrote Beers.
Referring to the deaths of Ariel Castro and Esposito, Beers tweeted “Within 24 hours, we have lost 2 monsters.”
A spokesman for the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Esposito’s cause of death will be determined after an autopsy by the Westchester County medical examiner’s office.