Convicted of holding a 9-year-old girl captive in his suburban New York dungeon, John Esposito was found dead in his Sing Sing prison cell shortly after a parole hearing Wednesday.
Esposito, 64, was found dead late Wednesday, according to the state Department of Corrections. Authorities said the death does not appear suspicious. The county medical examiner is yet to release the cause of death.
He was serving 15 years to life for the kidnapping Katie Beers, his 9-year-old neighbor, in the early 1990s. He held Beers for 17 days bound and tied an underground dungeon.
Beers, who grew up in an abusive, broken home, was taken just two days before her tenth birthday. Esposito lured her into his home with the promise of birthday presents. The dungeon, or bunker, where he tied her up had been constructed by Esposito himself. He admitted to police he built it just for her.
“You had to roll the carpet back, and use a block and tackle to lift the 200-pound slab of concrete. She was in a secret room in his house,” police said.
Esposito confessed to the crime to police on Jan. 13, 1993, but claimed he never meant to hurt Beers.
“I would never harm her. I like her, I loved her, really,” he said.
In a statement Wednesday, Beers, now 30 years old, said, “I’m happy that John Esposito will never be granted parole or have the opportunity to hurt anyone ever again.”
Sing Sing spokeswoman Linda Foglia said the hearing was Esposito’s fourth in 20 years.
His sudden death follows on the heels of the suicide of the notorious Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro. Castro was convicted of 937 charges including kidnapping, rape and aggravated murder. He was sentenced to live in prison plus 1,000 years on Aug. 1, 2013.
Despite added security checking on Castro every 30 minutes, which cost the prison $25,000 more per year to house Castro than the average Ohio inmate, he was found dead on Sep. 3, hanging from a bed sheet in his cell.