WARNING: Content might be too disturbing for some readers.
John Jamelske, a former handyman, kidnapped underaged girls and women and held them captive in a concrete windowless bunker under his garden in DeWitt, a suburb of Syracuse, New York, United States.
Jamelske’s first victim was 14 years old. The victim awoke naked on a cold cement floor in a bunker with a chain wrapped around her ankle.
Jamelske, with no signs of remorse, said that girl was there to have sex with him, and he raped her every day for the next three years. He told the young girl and other victims that his “boss” would hurt and kill her family if she goes to the police.
When Jamelske freed her, the 14-year-old did not report the horrific incident, fearing the rapist would find and kill her family.
With the first victim not reporting anything to authorities, Jamelske did it again. Five other young girls and women were raped and help captive in his two-room bunker in Syracuse, New York until he was caught in 2003.
After 18 years, Jamelske, now 85, became eligible for parole with a possible release date in April. But his application for release was denied and he won’t be able to apply again until 2022.
“We begged for this evil man to remain where he was, behind bars,” one of his unnamed victims said in a statement. “We hope, even after all these years that he will take his last breath incarcerated.”
In September 1988, Jamelske’s first victim was lured into his vehicle while the 14-year-old was out with friends. He kept her inside a tiny shed where the house pumping equipment is stored before he transferred her to the underground bunker.
Encased in a concrete cell behind a thick steel door, and was placed 4ft under, no one will suspect that a dungeon was there.
Jamelske also made his victim write letters to her family assuring them that everything was alright, without saying her location. Her nightmare of daily sexual abuse continued for another three years until he finally decided to let her go.
In 1991, Jamelske took her to Lake Tahoe in California before she was finally freed, aged 17, outside the Syracuse airport.
The rapist did it again, another 14-year-old girl was abducted, and she was also kept in the bunker and raped for 15 months until he released her outside her mother’s apartment building, threatening to kill her family if she reported what happened to the police.
Jamelske then kidnapped and raped a 53-year-old woman and a 26-year-old woman, both suffered the same fate. Raped daily for over a year, made them write to their families, released and threaten to kill them.
15 years later, Jamelske abducted his final victim.
He kidnapped a 16-year-old and kept her in the bunker. But this time, Jamelske felt confident enough to start taking her outside. The girl took this opportunity and was able to get away from him by asking to make a call to a church, which Jamelske agreed to.
But the truth is she called her sister instead and told her what had happened.
“She sounded afraid, she was quiet, I could barely hear her,” the sister told Good Morning America. “She told me that he was a rapist and that she was being held against her will and was not able to come home.”
The sister called and reported the incident to the police, and Jamelske was arrested on that same day.
When police searched Jamelske’s home, they found it filled with hoarded canned goods and empty beer bottles. They also found the underground bunker, secured with four steel doors and with writing on the walls.
Investigators also found photos and videotapes of Jamelske’s victims in the bunker who had never reported what had happened to them.
During the trial, the serial rapist pleaded guilty to five counts of kidnapping.
Jamelske told prosecutors that his kidnapping began when his wife, Dorothy, was diagnosed with cancer and was left unable to have sex. He believed he would avoid sexually transmitted infections by keeping his victims captive.
His wife died in 1999 and it’s unclear if she is aware of what was going on under their house for 11 years before her death.
Jamelske admitted and apologized for his crimes in court, but judge Anthony Aloi didn’t believe his apology was sincere.
“You are a sick coward,” the judge said, according to the New York Times. “You are an evil man, you are a kidnapper and rapist, a master manipulator of people and the truth, but your reign of terror is over.”
The judge sentenced him to 18-99 years, and his assets worth around $1million were liquidated and split between his victims.
After 18 years behind bars, Jamelske had his first Parole Board hearing last December, which could free him in April.
But Rick Trunfio, Onondaga County First Chief Assistant District Attorney who prosecuted Jamelske, wrote to the Parole Board to say that he shouldn’t be released.
“They would wake up in a dungeon-like room that he built in an underground bunker, chained and naked,” Trunfio wrote, according to CNY central. “During their respective captivities, Jamelske controlled every aspect of their lives; when they ate, when they slept, and when they bathed.”
“He even controlled whether they had lighting in the dungeon,” Trunfio wrote. “He forced them to have sex with him every day, and he made them keep a calendar log of the type of sexual conduct they were forced to endure.”
The parole board denied his discretionary release, and he won’t be able to apply again until 2022.