Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Suburban Sex Slaves: Six Shocking Cases

John T. Jamelske

Unlike other rapists and kidnappers, John T. Jamelske was not terribly picky about the age of his victims. During the 20-plus years of his criminal activities he kidnapped women aged from 14 to 53. But fortunately for the women, he was sometimes sloppy, allowing one of his victims to make the phone call that ultimately led to his capture.

John T. Jamelske
John T. Jamelske

From 1988 to 2001, Jamelske, who had become a millionaire through real estate investments, kidnapped and lured women off the street. He would hold them captive in his home as sex slaves for years at a time and then, simply let them go. Unbelievably, he was married and living in with a wife when this took place. She never knew.

The first victim was a 14-year old Native American girl, whom he held captive for three years. He grabbed her off the street after convincing her to ride with him. He took her to his mother's house, chained her ankle and dumped her down an abandoned well next door. Eventually he would build his own "dungeon" in his home with a well of his own where would keep his victims.

He made the girl keep records of everything that happened: when she bathed, when she brushed her teeth and when he raped her. To keep her in line, he threatened to kill her family. One day, three years after abducting her, he freed her. Fearing for her family, she did not report the abduction to police.

Sadly, Jamelske wasn't going to stop. His pattern of abduction, abuse and release, would repeat itself several more times before he was caught. Four years later, Jamelske grabbed his second victim from the streets, again by convincing her to get into his car. He began to perfect his routine: she was drugged, chained and woke up naked in his dungeon. On a constant supply of Viagra, Jamelske would rape his victims numerous times a day. He would allow them to bathe only a few times a month with a garden hose. Again, Jamelske released his victim after a few years, and again, because he'd threatened to kill her family, she did not report the incident to police.

He tired of his third victim, Tina, 52, an older Vietnamese woman that he had kidnapped off the street, after only a year. Unlike the others, Tina did go to police and told them everything, but because she had no idea where she had been held, and police couldn't find the "shed" she described, they questioned her story.

In 2001, he took his fourth victim, Jennifer, 26, but released her after only two months. Like Tina, she too went to police and told them her story, but again, because she couldn't tell them where she had been held, they didn't believe her. Much to their embarrassment, they would soon be proved wrong.

Jamelske's final victim was more cunning than the others. The 16-year old black teenager, who, like his other victims, he had convinced to get in his car, developed a closer, friendlier relationship with her captor. This prisoner was allowed to be upstairs in the main part of the house. He took her out in public. One night she sang karaoke in front a roomful of people at a local bar. After several of these outings, the girl, renamed Meikka by Jamelske, mustered the courage to escape her tormenter. On a routine shopping trip, she convinced him to let her use the phone to call the church about service times, but instead called her sister for help.

With the arrest of John Jamelske, police finally found his dungeon and began to see the stories of the other women in a different light. Jamelske was convicted and sentenced to 18 years to life in prison. By that time he was 68-years old.