How serial rapist John Jamelske kidnapped girls and kept them in a concrete bunker under his garden for 15 years04/01/2021
JOHN Jamelske's first victim was just 14 years old when she awoke naked on a cement floor in tiny windowless cell with a chain around her ankle.
He calmly explained that she was there to have sex with him, and he raped her – every day for the next three years.
Jamelske told her and other victims that his "bosses" would kill her family if she went to the police.
When he did finally let her go, she didn't report her ordeal, fearing her captor would carry out his threat.
Jamelske got away with it, so he did it again – five girls and women were enslaved in his two-room bunker in Syracuse, New York, before he was caught in 2003.
Now 18 years on, 85-year-old Jamelske became eligible for parole for the first time, with a possible release date in April.
But his application for release was denied and he won't go before a board again until 2022.
"We begged for this evil man to remain where he was – behind bars," one of his victims said in a statement.
"We hope, even after all these years that he will take his last breath incarcerated."
Schoolgirls snatched from the street
Jamelske's first victim was lured into his car while she was out with friends, who wouldn't see her again for years.
In September 1988, the 14-year-old was abducted in Syracuse and taken to Jamelske's property.
For a year, he kept her in a tiny shed which housed pumping equipment before he moved her to a dungeon the former handyman built under his house.
Four feet underground, no one knew she was there, encased in a concrete cell behind a thick steel door.
The dank bunker was furnished only with a mattress, a microwave, a small bathtub, and a bucket for a toilet.
He also made his victim write letters to her family assuring them that everything was OK, without saying where she was.
Her nightmare of sexual abuse continued for three years until he finally decided to let her go.
It was 1991 when he first took her to Lake Tahoe in California before she was finally freed, aged 17, outside the Syracuse airport.
Within the next few years, another 14-year-old girl was taken.
She too was kept in the dungeon and raped for 15 months – Jamelske released her outside her mother's apartment building, again threatening to kill her family if she ever told anyone about what happened.
He also abducted and raped a 53-year-old woman for 10 months and, in 2001, a 26-year-old woman.
The latter was high on LSD and walking through Syracuse when Jamelske offered her a lift, which she accepted.
While in the dungeon, she begged Jamelske to let her write to her family to tell them she was OK.
He allowed her to – but made her tell them she had run off to a drug rehab centre.
After two-and-a-half months, Jamelske let her go.
She went to the police and told her what happened, but they didn't believe her story.
Caught by victim
After 15 years of uninterrupted horror, Jamelske was brought down by his final victim.
He'd abducted a 16-year-old runaway and kept her in the dungeon but felt confident enough to start taking her outside.
Jamelske first took her to a karaoke bar – other patrons noticed them, and that he never left her side, but no one intervened.
A few days later, he took her out again to a bottle recycling centre.
There, she was able to get away from him by asking to make a call to a church, which he agreed to – instead she called her sister, and told her what had happened.
"She sounded afraid, she was quiet, I could barely hear her," the sister previously 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."
Cops were called and Jamelske was arrested the same day – the girl told them he'd imprisoned her in a dungeon and raped her for the last six months.
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.
When they searched his home, they found it filled with hoarded canned goods and empty beer bottles.
They also found the dungeon, secured by four steel doors and with writing scrawled on the walls.
They were able to verify that at least one other victim had been telling the truth when she recalled "Wall of Thugs" was written on the concrete – something she could only have known by being there.
To their horror, investigators also found photos and video tapes of victims in the dungeon who had never told authorities what had happened to them.
'You are a sick coward'
At trial, Jamelske pleaded guilty to five counts of kidnapping.
He told prosecutors that his sick plan began when his wife, Dorothy, was diagnosed with cancer, and was left unable to have sex.
Jamelske believed he would avoid exposure to sexually transmitted infections by keeping his victims captive.
Dorothy died in 1999 – it's not clear if she ever knew what was going on beneath their house in the 11 years before her death.
Jamelske apologised for his crimes in court, but judge Anthony Aloi didn't believe his remorse 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."
People wear ankle bracelets all day long.
He was sentenced to 18-99 years, and his assets – worth around $1million – were liquidated and split between his victims.
In a distressing interview Jamelske gave from jail in 2004, he told Dateline that he believed he was "a pretty nice guy", and claimed he hadn't realised what he'd done were extremely serious crimes.
"I'm thinking, you know, maybe I'm going to get some community service or something of that nature, for, you know, a little bit of unlawful imprisonment or whatever," he said at the time.
He also dismissed chaining his victims up for hours at a time, saying: "People wear ankle bracelets all day long."
Kept in a cage
After 18 years in prison, Jamelske had his first Parole Board hearing last December, which could have seen him free in April.
Rick Trunfio, Onondaga County First Chief Assistant District Attorney who prosecuted Jamelske, wrote to to the Parole Board to argue he shouldn't be released.
"They would wake up in a dungeon-like room that he built in an underground bunker, chained and naked," he wrote, CNY Central reports.
"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. 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.”
In his defence, Jamelske instructed his lawyer to tell the Board that he "often provided bubble bath".
They denied his discretionary release, and he won't reappear before the board again until 2022.
At his sentencing back in 2003, one of Jamelske's victims feared what could happen if he was ever released.
"What if he gets out and is able to begin another regime of terror to other women?” she said.
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