NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Twenty years ago this week the kidnapping, imprisonment, and torture of a Long Island child captured the attention of a nation.
On Monday night, Katie Beers broke her silence and told her story of torment and recovery to CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan.
“I was more concerned with trying to get free and trying to survive. Looking back, it’s amazing to learn of the support I had from everybody,” Beers told CBS 2. “The remembering has been difficult because I buried it for so long.”
The last words that the public had heard from Beers were in 1993 in a terrifying phone message.
“Aunt Linda, a man kidnapped me and has a knife, and oh no, here he comes right now,” she said 20 years ago.
Beers grew up in a profoundly neglected home where she was a victim of emotional and sexual abuse. Her neighbor and kidnapper, John Esposito, claimed that he loved her.
“I would never harm her. I like her, I loved her, really,” he said.
Despite Esposito’s denials, he kidnapped Beers and held her for 17 days until police found her in an underground dungeon.
“You had to roll the carpet back, and use a block and tackle to lift the 200-pound slab of concrete. She was in a secret room in his house,” authorities explained.
Beers dropped out of public sight after that day, until now.
“I’m in a more mature place. With hindsight it is easier to recall things. My life now, I’m married, work full-time, and have two beautiful children,” she told CBS 2.
At the age of 30 Beers is thriving. She told McLogan that while in captivity she tried to negotiate with her captor.
“I told him if he would release me I would run away and not tell the police,” she said, “I remember asking John how I would have children. He said I’d have children with him. I said no.”
Beers told CBS 2 that there have been many things that have helped her overcome the horrors that she suffered. Her East Hampton foster family, her therapists, graduating college, and her loving husband, have all contributed.
Beers has collaborated with CBS 2 reporter Carolyn Gusoff to write a book, ‘Buried Memories: Katie Beers’ Story,’ about her buried memories.
“Katie’s resilience is truly remarkable, inspirational. Here is a child who was let down by everyone in the first 10 years of her life — community, family, institutions, schools, courts, no one was there for her,” Gusoff said.
While researching the book, Gusoff communicated with Esposito, who is now serving 15 years to life in prison.
“I know I’m guilty of my crime, but I believe I’ve been punished enough. I mean I didn’t kill anyone, and when I started my crime, I really thought it would be good for the both of us,” he wrote.
Katie’s new life began when she was able to overcome her kidnapping.
“I just believe that if you are in an abusive situation, emotional, physical, sexual, spousal, whatever it might be, you need to get out of that situation,” she said, “Find somebody to talk to, because if I didn’t have somebody to talk to about the abuse I sustained, my life would be a completely different situation.”
Katie is honoring the anniversary of her rescue, not with sadness about her past, but with hope for the future.
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