OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. — Being chained as a 10-year-old for more than two weeks in a coffin-size box in a suburban New York dungeon was, Katie Beers says 20 years later, "the best thing that happened to me" because it allowed her to escape a life of abuse.
On the 20th anniversary of her ordeal, Beers has co-written a book with a television reporter who covered her kidnapping. "Buried Memories: Katie Beers' Story" (Title Town Publishing) has a happy ending.
Beers is now a 30-year-old married mother of two who earned a degree in business management and works in insurance sales near her home in rural Pennsylvania.
Her kidnapping attracted nationwide attention in early 1993, when revelations surfaced while she was still missing that she had suffered years of neglect from her mother and had been repeatedly sexually assaulted by her godmother's husband since she was a toddler.
Beers was described in Dickensian terms back then — a louse-infested, filthy waif who had no friends and often was forced to lug the family's laundry down the block or fetch cigarettes and junk food for her elders.
After kidnapper John Esposito, a family acquaintance, admitted to detectives on Jan. 13, 1993, that he had kidnapped Beers and showed them the dungeon where she was hidden for 17 days under his Bay Shore, N.Y., home, the little girl was placed in foster care and raised in a comfortable East Hampton home with four siblings.
Her foster parents not only imposed newfound discipline into her life, making her go to school regularly and do small chores around the house, but they also shielded Beers from intense media interest. And reporters largely complied with a parent-like plea from a prosecutor to leave her alone.
"We as a society must protect this child, or our professed love for own children is just a fraud, and our so-called compassion for each other is just a mockery," said James Catterson, at the time the Suffolk County district attorney.