john esposito
John Esposito in his latest New York State Department of Correctional Services mug shot.

The man who infamously kidnapped a 9-year-old girl and locked her in an underground chamber behind his Bay Shore home 21 years ago has died in his upstate New York prison cell.

John Esposito was found dead Wednesday at Sing Sing maximum security prison in Ossining, state corrections officials told the Press. The 64-year-old inmate’s death is reportedly not believed to be suspicious.

“I’m not saddened by John’s passing,” Katie Beers, who Esposito had abducted for 17 days two days before her 10th birthday in December 1992, said in a Facebook post. “I’m saddened for his remaining family. They lost John a long time ago, but now they’ve lost him forever.”

She noted that the state parole board called her to break the news, which came the day of Esposito’s fourth parole hearing and a day after Ariel Castro—who was sentenced last month to more than 1,000 years in prison for holding three women captive in his Ohio home for years—committed suicide in his cell.

Beers, now a 30-year-old married mother of two living in Pennsylvania, had broken her silence upon the 20th anniversary of the case with the release of her memoir, Buried Memories: Katie Beers’ Story, co-written by WCBS-TV reporter Carolyn Gusoff.

Katie Beers
Katie Beers (Facebook photo)

The Beers case had prompted a Suffolk County grand jury report that found problems with the investigation and recommended the creation of child-friendly victims centers designed to minimize trauma of others like her.


Esposito, who reportedly claimed to have loved Beers and denied sexually attacking her, had been serving 15 years to life in prison for first-degree kidnapping at the time of his death, which The Associated Press reported is believed to be of natural causes.

The family acquaintance, who was 43 years old at the time of the abduction, eventually led police to the bunker in his garage in the case that drew national headlines. Beers spent the rest of her childhood in foster care after allegations of abuse and neglect surfaced in her family home.



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Timothy Bolger is the Managing Editor for the Long Island Press who’s been working to uncover unreported stories since shortly after it launched in 2003. When he’s not editing, getting hassled by The Man or fielding cold calls to the newsroom, he covers crime, general interest and political news in addition to reporting longer, sometimes investigative features. He won’t be happy until everyone is as pissed off as he is about how screwed up Lawn Guyland is.