Katie Beers, with co-author Carolyn Gusoff, released a memoir this week, ““Buried Memories: Katie Beers’ Story,” which details her abduction 20 years ago.
By Kathryn G. Menu
Most people who recall the 1993 kidnapping of Katie Beers remember the harrowing and devastating tale of a 10-year-old child with sandy blond hair and deep brown eyes. Before she was rescued by police, Beers suffered abuse during 17-days of captivity in the underground bunker of family acquaintance John Esposito at his Bay Shore home.
It was a story that unfolded while police searched for Beers for over two weeks, as revelations emerged painting the portrait of a neglected child who was even abused before her capture by her godmother’s husband.
But for the 30-year-old mother of two, now happily married and living in rural Pennsylvania, hers is more a story of hope, resilience and love — a story that unfolded in East Hampton, where Beers was raised by a foster family in the hamlet of Springs.
This week on the 20th anniversary of her rescue, Beers decided to break her long silence through the book “Buried Memories: Katie Beers’ Story,” which she co-wrote with Carolyn Gusoff, an Emmy Award winning broadcast journalist with CBS-TV who covered the Beers case.
“From the time I was 10 years old I knew I wanted to write my story,” said Beers in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday. “At that time, it was more of me being a 10-year-old and wanting to lay the rumors to rest about what happened to me. As I got older and matured, it became more of a survival story. I wanted people to see there is a recovery possible at the end of the tunnel.”
On December 28, 1992, just two days before Beers tenth birthday, she was kidnapped by Esposito, who held her captive in the underground bunker for more than two weeks. During that time, Beers says she was sexually abused by her captor.
As police searched for the child — the “missing” posters plastered on the cover of newspapers and television screens — it was revealed Beers had lived the life of a neglected and abused child even prior to her abduction. Her godmother’s husband, Sal Inghilleri, was convicted of sexually abusing Beers in 1994.
Inghilleri died in jail in 2009.
Esposito, who revealed the bunker to police, remains incarcerated for kidnapping Beers and is currently serving a sentence of 15 years to life. He has been denied parole on several occasions and his next parole hearing is slated for later this year.
Beers’ kidnapping and the revelations about her childhood, or lack thereof, led her to the East Hampton couple who would become her foster parents immediately following her rescue.
Referred to as Barbara and Ted in the book, but called Mom and Dad by Beers, the family has requested anonymity to protect their privacy.
Love, structure and protection from the media firestorm following her rescue were given to Beers in abundance by her foster family, she said, and by the East Hampton community.
“The book really credits the Springs School and East Hampton community with her recovery,” said Gusoff in a phone interview. “The teachers, the therapists, it was almost like a community shelter for Katie. I describe this as a community rescue.”
“Everyone kept me so safe,” said Beers.
“East Hampton and the East End gave me the chance to be a child and to grow up,” she said. “They shielded me from the media, they allowed me to be what a normal child is.”
When asked whether or not she felt the same kind of protection could be offered now, in the age of breaking news and the Internet, Beers said she thought it was unlikely.
“With social media the way that is and the Internet being so much a part of people’s lives, I don’t think the protection I received would be possible,” she said.
And it was that protection that allowed Beers to heal through her interaction with her foster family, community and East Hampton psychotherapist Mary Bromley, who helped Beers prepare to testify against Inghilleri while holding her hand in the Riverhead courtroom during the trial.
Being in East Hampton, surrounded by community and family, said Beers, was the first time she felt she really experienced a childhood, and what it was like to have a real family. Beers thrived in East Hampton, playing sports, participating in plays and later attending college.
“It was something I never experienced in my life,” she said. “There was no structure when I was growing up, so to go into a house where I had loving parents and siblings I could talk with, fight with and love was really special.”
For Beers, who runs a family owned insurance company with her husband, and is the mother of a three-and-a-half-year-old son and 17-month-old baby girl, said her hope for the book is that it helps others understand recovery is possible.
“I hope that people can see with the appropriate support system, family, friends and therapy that you can recover from trauma, whatever that trauma may be,” she said.
Beers said pursuing a career in motivational and inspirational speaking is something she is interested in, but that if the book doesn’t lead to that she is content where she is in life.
“I would love that, but I am very happy with my life in central Pennsylvania,” she said. “I am more than happy to just go back to that life.”