The 67-year-old retired handyman accused of kidnapping at least five females and keeping them as sex slaves in an underground concrete dungeon may have been active since the 1980s, police say.
John Jamelske is accused of luring or pulling his victims into his car, and then bringing them back to his house, where he allegedly kept them chained in a two-room bunker beneath his back yard in the quiet town of Dewitt, outside Syracuse, N.Y.
Onondaga County Sheriff Kevin Walsh described a concrete prison that could only be reached with difficulty.
"Concrete walls, concrete ceiling, concrete floor," Walsh said. "You have to crawl on your hands and knees through an opening in the cellar."
The only furnishings in the bunker were a mattress, a microwave, a small tub, and a bucket for a toilet.
Seeking Additional Victims
Police are now seeking additional victims. They believe Jamelske has kidnapped, raped and imprisoned a series of girls and women in his suburban home as far back as 1988.
They released Jamelske's photo for the first time Monday, in an effort to coax other women to come forward.
Jamelske is being held without bail on charges of kidnapping, rape, sodomy and sexual abuse of a 16-year-old girl, whom he allegedly held hostage from October or November until earlier this month.
Toward the end of her captivity, Jamelske began taking the girl out with him, police said. She managed to make two secret phone calls to her sister, Angela Wilson.
"She sounded afraid, she was quiet, I could barely hear her," Wilson told ABCNEWS' Good Morning America. The conversation was 15 or 20 minutes. She told me that he [Jamelske] was a rapist and that she was being held against her will and was not able to come home," Wilson said.
After Wilson alerted police, Jamelske was arrested and the teen girl was rescued on April 7.
Ishmael Wilson, the girl's brother, is in the Army and was away on duty while his sister was missing. "Being in the military and coming back to such a horrific thing and some demented person who takes my little sister away into a dungeon against her own will, it's something that I can't believe happened to this family and to my sister," Wilson said.
The 16-year-old girl's attorney, Charles Bonner, says he and the girl's family were waiting to find out how much the police knew about Jamelske before he was arrested.
"We have heard the accounts of other women indicating that they were not heard, that they complained to police and the police did not believe them," Bonner said.
"We don't know if these reports are true. The family is quite disappointed, however, if indeed women did complain and the police did not respond, because the family believes that this 16-year-old girl would have been spared.
Snatched Off the Street
The latest victim to come forward described her ordeal in a statement released by the Onondaga County Sheriff's department. The woman, whose name has not been released, was 53 when Jamelske allegedly snatched her off the street after she rejected his offer to drive her home on the night of Aug. 31, 1997. She said he choked her twice, and then drove her to the house, where he raped her twice and chained her up.
"I cried and prayed every day of my captivity. I never cried in front of him again after he slapped me so hard and injured my ear," she said in her statement. The woman said the beating left her deaf in that ear.