Katie Beers' captor found dead at NY prison

Katie Beers' captor found dead at NY prison

Katie Beers' captor found dead at NY prison


by AP


Posted on September 5, 2013 at 8:14 AM

OSSINING, NY (AP) -- A man convicted of holding a 10-year-old girl prisoner for 17 days in a suburban New York dungeon has been found dead in his prison cell.

A state corrections spokeswoman says John Esposito was found unresponsive in his cell at Sing Sing on Wednesday. She says the death was under investigation but didn't appear to be suspicious.

He was serving a 15-to-life term for kidnapping Katie Beers and hiding her for 17 days under his Bay Shore, N.Y. home in 1992.

Linda Foglia says a corrections officer observed Esposito "not breathing" around 3:30 p.m. at the Ossining, N.Y., facility.

He had appeared before the parole board earlier in the day.

Beers said in a statement she's happy Esposito will "never have the opportunity to hurt anyone ever again."

ABC News background story:

In 1992, Beers, then 9, was abducted by John Esposito, a neighbor on Long Island, N.Y., and imprisoned by him for 17 days in an underground bunker. She said he sexually abused her during her captivity.

Speaking of the abduction, Beers said, "If it didn't happen, then I wouldn't be where I am today."

Beers had already been living a life of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her godmother's husband, Sal Inghilleri.

"I was sexually abused, physically abused, emotionally abused, verbally abused. I was [a] slave," Beers said.

Child Protective Services visited her house several times. Teachers didn't speak up, even though Beers made it to class only one or two days a week, she said.

"A lot of people kept to themselves," Beers said.

Beers said this situation prepared her to survive her abduction.

With no one else stepping in to help, she resolved to save herself by drawing on her own wits. As she watched reports about herself on a television in her bunker, Beers started playing mind games with her captor.

"I definitely think that by trying to manipulate him into thinking about the future and things like that, I think that got him a little scared and worried about what the future was going to hold," Beers told "20/20."

"When I asked [Esposito] how I would go to school, he told me that he would teach me what I needed to know. When I asked him how I would work, he would tell me that he had enough money for the two of us. When I asked him about getting married and having kids, he told me that when I was 18 he would marry me and have children with me."

After 17 days and intense round-the-clock surveillance, Esposito turned himself in. He pleaded guilty to kidnapping and was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.

As authorities excavated the bunker, Beers was placed in a new home with loving foster parents. Over years of therapy, she started to piece together the childhood she never had.

"The women in her life neglected her and did not protect her, and the men abused her. ... So her level of trust was very, very low," said Mary Bromley, Beers' therapist.

Life with her foster parents was "awesome," recalled Beers, who now lives in rural Pennsylvania and works in insurance sales. "They let me play. ... I didn't really have too much responsibility other than riding my bike and doing my homework."

In other words, normal -- and lucky.