20 years on, Katie Beers says kidnapping saved her

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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” 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.

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.

The abduction and subsequent rescue saved her life, Beers said in an interview.

“The best thing that happened to me,” she said. “I would have never gotten out of the abuse situation I was in.”

She went on to play volleyball at East Hampton High, participated in drama productions and went to college in Pennsylvania, where she earned a degree and met the man who would become her husband and the father of their two children.

“There’s no point really in me right now being sad or wondering what if,” she said.

“I try not to be sad about what happened, because ultimately it made me who I am today, and I’m very satisfied and happy with my life,” she said.

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