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John Esposito, Katie Beers' abductor, died of natural causes, M.E. says

Katie Beers says she reacted with little emotion

Katie Beers says she reacted with little emotion to the news that the man who held her captive in a Bay Shore bunker 20 years ago had died. But in her heart she's forgiven him. (Jan. 8, 2013) Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa

Katie Beers' abductor, found dead in his prison cell at Sing Sing on Wednesday, died of natural causes related to heart disease, officials said Friday.

John Esposito's cause of death was stenosing coronary artery disease, which causes clogged arteries, the Westchester medical examiner's office said.

The condition put Esposito, 64, at high risk of having a fatal cardiac event, the office said.

He was found unconscious in his cell in Ossining hours after a state parole hearing, but officials said they didn't know whether the stress of appearing before the board contributed to his death.

Department of Corrections officials couldn't say Friday whether the board had reached a decision on whether to release Esposito.

Beers was 10 when she was abducted on Dec. 28, 1992.

Esposito, a family friend and contractor, first said he took Katie to a Nesconset arcade, where he lost her.

After police couldn't find anyone who saw the pair there, Esposito later held a news conference to plead for the girl's return. All the while, he had the girl chained in an underground bunker he had built under his Bay Shore home.

Suffolk said Esposito sexually abused Beers repeatedly during her 17 days of captivity. He pleaded guilty in 1994 to kidnapping charges in exchange for a 15 years-to-life sentence, but denied raping Beers.

"He was a very, very quiet man -- hardly spoke," said Bay Shore attorney Stephen Siben, whose firm represented Esposito. "I just hope he made peace with his God. I'm glad that Katie Beers turned out OK."

The day after her abductor's death, Beers, 30, said she had steeled herself for years for either her captor's release from prison or his death behind bars.

"I have no emotion, except I can close that chapter in my life," said Beers, now married with two young children and living in Pennsylvania.

Earlier this year, Beers released a memoir of her experience, "Buried Memories."

With Ann Givens

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story erroneously stated when John Esposito pleaded guilty to kidnapping.

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