Katie Beers' kidnapper found dead in jail cell

John Esposito of Bay Shore, L.I., was convicted in the 1992 abduction of 10-year-old Katie Beers.

NEW YORK John Esposito, the man convicted in the notorious 1992 abduction and imprisonment of a Long Island girl, was found dead in his cell Wednesday at Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, N.Y.

CBS Station WCBS reports the 64-year-old Esposito was found shortly after a parole hearing.

It appears he died of natural causes, the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision said.

Esposito was serving 15 years to life in prison for the kidnapping of Katie Beers, then age 10, who was a neighbor in the Long Island town of Bay Shore. Esposito held her captive, chained in a secret room in his house, for 17 days.

Esposito claimed that he loved Beers. "I would never harm her. I like her, I loved her, really," he said.

On Wednesday night Beers released a statement: "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."

Last January -- after 20 years of silence on her ordeal -- Beers told WCBS correspondent Jennifer McLogan that getting kidnapped was a blessing in disguise because it allowed her to escape a life of abuse.

Beers, now a married mother of two living in rural Pennsylvania, recently co-wrote a memoir, "Buried Memories: Katie Beers' Story."

Esposito's death follows the shocking suicide of Ariel Castro, the man who held three Cleveland women captive for roughly a decade. Castro was found late Tuesday hanging in his cell in an Ohio state prison facility.