John Esposito
John Esposito, who abducted 9-year-old Katie Beers in 1992 and held her captive for weeks in an underground dungeon, was found dead in his jail cell on Wednesday. News12

John Esposito, the man convicted of abducting a 9-year-old girl in 1992 and holding her hostage for weeks in an underground dungeon in his suburban Long Island home, was found dead in his prison cell at Sing Sing on Wednesday. He was 64.

Linda Foglia, a spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, said it appeared Esposito died of natural causes, CBS New York reported. Foglia said that a corrections officer found Esposito unresponsive and “not breathing” in his cell at approximately 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, adding that officials were investigating the death even though it had not been deemed suspicious. At the time of his death, Esposito had been serving a 15 years-to-life sentence at Ossining, N.Y.’s Sing Sing prison.

In response to his death, Esposito’s victim, Katie Beers, released a statement on Wednesday night saying, “I’m saddened at the loss of a life, but at the same time I’m happy that John Esposito will never be granted parole or have the opportunity to hurt anyone ever again... Within 24 hours we have lost two monsters."

Beers' allusion to a second "monster" likely refers to the suicide of Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro, who hanged himself in his jail cell on Tuesday night. JoEllen Smith, an Ohio corrections spokeswoman, confirmed that Castro was found hanging from his bed sheets. Prior to his death, Castro, 53, had entered into a plea agreement that would have given him life in prison but saved him from the death penalty, after he admitted to abducting and raping Ohio women Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus for 10 years.

After two decades of resolutely avoiding the media, Beers, now 30, published a memoir in January, titled “Buried Memories: Katie Beers’ Story,” which has become a New York Times bestseller. The memoir detailed both her abduction as well as the childhood neglect and emotional and sexual abuse she experienced at home. In an interview with the New York Times shortly after the memoir’s publication, Beers said that the book had been on her mind ever since her abduction.

“From the time I was 10, I wanted to write a book,” Beers said. “I was tired of the rumors, of people saying, ‘You were held between the walls of this psycho’s house.’”

In the book, Beer recounts how Esposito, a family friend she knew as "Big John," enticed her to come to his Bay Shore home days before her 10th birthday by telling her he had presents for her. Instead he forced her into an underground bunker beneath his garage that he later admitted in court he'd built specifically for her. Beers was held captive there, chained by her neck, and abused for 16 days, until Esposito finally led police to her.