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Story - News

Jan 15, 2013 5:49 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Katie Beers Tells Her Story In New Book

Jan 16, 2013 9:28 AM

Katie Beers turned 30 on December 30, but it was this Monday that marked the 20th anniversary of the day she came to live, at 10 years old, with a foster family in Springs.

The day before, she’d been rescued from 17 days of captivity in an underground bunker, but it was on this day that she started her childhood.

“I always joke around that I’m the age of the quote-anniversary-unquote, so today I’m 20 years old,” Ms. Beers said on the phone this week.

Now living in Pennsylvania with her husband and two young children, Ms. Beers was visiting with Carolyn Gusoff, a CBS-TV reporter with whom she’s written a book, “Buried Memories,” that was released this week. They had been making a circuit of interviews and media events only mildly reminiscent of the frenzy in 1992 and 1993 when Ms. Beers vanished after being abducted by a family friend while police searched for her everywhere, including in a room right above her prison.

On her 10th birthday she sang “Happy Birthday” to herself alone in the coffin-like bunker. On her 30th, “my husband and I went out for a nice, quiet dinner, because we knew we were going to be very busy in the next couple of weeks,” Ms. Beers said.

After a silence of 20 years, she attributes a great deal of her healing to the supportive community that welcomed her in Springs and East Hampton. She thanks them in her book for “circling the wagons to protect me.”

“Just the whole community of East Hampton kept me safe throughout my entire childhood there,” Ms. Beers said on the phone. “Everybody there I love so much. Everybody just kept me so safe and watched out for my well-being in everything I did and that they did.”

“This community embraced her,” said Mary Bromley of Springs, who was her therapist for nine years following the ordeal and whose work with Ms. Beers fills a chapter in the book. “The community that she came from was neglectful.”

As a young child, Ms. Beers was raised mostly by a godmother, Linda Inghilleri, whose husband, Sal Inghilleri, was convicted of molesting her. It was a friend of her mother, Marilyn Beers, named John Esposito who abducted her, chaining her by the neck in a box below ground with a TV, junk food and an unconnected commode. Ms. Beers says for the first time publicly in the book that he raped her during this time.

“She says that probably the best thing that ever happened to her was the kidnapping, in the sense that it took her away from that life,” said Ms. Bromley. “There was a collective love for this child in this community because of the awareness of how she was abandoned by her family and her community in Mastic,” she said.

“We pulled up to a house,” Ms. Beers writes of a social worker whisking her from the hospital “past strip malls and gas stations, and then farm land and barns. ....”

“It was a huge house with a two car garage, cedar shingles, and it looked like a storybook farm house. Only this was real, as was my exhaustion. I rang the doorbell, hiding behind the caseworker’s leg, and a smiling couple invited us all in.”

To protect their privacy, her foster parents, whom Ms. Beers said did not want to be interviewed, are simply called Barbara and Tedd throughout the book.

“She couldn’t have gone to a better family,” said Chris Tracey, who was assistant principal at the Springs School when Ms. Beers started fourth grade there. “She was placed in the care of a wonderful family,” he said, “with great kids.”

Tedd and Barbara introduced Ms. Beers to a normal life, buying her clothes, teaching her for the first time to brush her teeth, sending her to the school instead of to a grocery store to pick up cigarettes, as her godmother had done, and easing her fear, inspired by Mr. Inghilleri, of riding in a car with a man behind the wheel.

“It was a national story, and we got word that the next day Katie would be coming to school at Springs,” Mr. Tracey said. “We let everybody know: just be aware and advised there are going to be a lot of people that are going to try to sneak in the doors and take pictures the first day. ...We really snuck her out of the back of the building.”

“She came into the office and sat down with Pete and I,” Mr. Tracey said, referring to Peter Lisi, who was then the principal. “What we wanted to do was make her feel at home after the ordeal she’d gone through.”

What sticks out in his memory was that as Ms. Beers sat on a chair in the office, her feet weren’t even touching the floor. “She was so sweet, so innocent, so composed, I was just amazed,” Mr. Tracey said.

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Thanks Virginia! Great article about a true success story.
By MaryB (19), East Hampton on Jan 16, 13 8:52 AM
Amazing and inspiring Katie Beers!
By gansetteer (125), East Hampton on Jan 16, 13 2:12 PM
Thank goodness for the way Katie has turned out. I thought about her through the years and really hoped she would be as welll off as she is....
By suzer67 (51), nanuet on Jan 17, 13 7:57 PM