NEW YORK (Reuters) - A man serving prison time for kidnapping and hiding a 10-year-old girl in an underground bunker on his property on New York’s Long Island was found dead in his cell, prison officials said on Thursday.
John Esposito, 63, was discovered dead by an officer at Sing Sing prison during rounds on Wednesday, said New York State Department of Corrections spokesman Tom Mailey.
“His death is not considered suspicious,” Mailey said.
The county medical examiner will determine the cause of death.
Esposito was serving a 15-year sentence for kidnapping Katie Beers in 1992 and holding her for 17 days in the secret cellar the size of a coffin under his Bay Shore, Long Island, home.
Esposito’s body was discovered hours after the suicide of an Ohio man who was one month into a life sentence for the kidnapping, rape and beatings of three young women he kept imprisoned in his Cleveland home for roughly a decade. Ariel Castro was found hanged by a bed sheet in his cell, an Ohio coroner said.
After news of both deaths, Beers, now 30, tweeted that “Less than 24 hours apart, the world lost 2 monsters - Ariel Castro & John Esposito.”
Beers told Reuters on Thursday that Esposito’s death “was that last little bit of my childhood being closed because now I don’t ever have to worry about John being paroled.”
“Obviously I‘m happy he was never paroled, I‘m happy it was the other option, but at the same time I‘m a little sad for his family because they did lose a brother, a cousin, whatever it might be. But I‘m not saddened by his death at all,” said Beers.
Esposito, an acquaintance of the Beers family, admitted in 1993 that he had kidnapped the young girl on December 28, 1992, two days before her 10th birthday.
Over the next 2-1/2 weeks, she was kept trapped in the box and was eventually found by police after surveillance video from a local arcade showed Esposito with her.
The search for Beers captured national attention and as her story emerged, a picture was painted of a neglected child who had been sexually molested by her godmother’s husband, court records showed. That man, Sal Inghilleri, also died behind bars in 2009 after serving 12 years for abusing Beers.
Beers has said her kidnapping outed the abuse she had suffered, and she was eventually adopted by a family on Long Island.
Now a married mother of two living in Pennsylvania, Beers works as a motivational speaker.
“I‘m talking not only to abuse victims and survivors, I‘m talking to people who have recovered from any kind of trauma,” she said.
On the 20th anniversary of her kidnapping ordeal, she released a book “Buried Memories: Katie Beers’ Story.”
Editing by Barbara Goldberg, Maureen Bavdek and Tim Dobbyn