From the Archives: Katie Beers: A Childhood Abducted
Related mediaThe Katie Beers case
This article was originally published Jan. 14, 1993
In retrospect, the odds were always against her being kidnaped by a stranger with a knife, weren't they? How much bad luck could one person have?
There she was, more or less given up by her mother at the age of two weeks; turned over to a family that treated her neglectfully for the next nine years; sexually abused, allegedly, by the husband of her surrogate mother; "befriended" by a man with a history of child abducting.
With friends and family like these, Katie Beers didn't need to be kidnaped by a stranger with a knife, as police were initially led to believe.
Her childhood was kidnaped every day for years by people in her closest circle. Honestly, how much bad luck could one person have?
The good news is that Katie Beers is alive. You have to feel good about that. A lot of people want to do nice things for her now. The man who owns Spaceplex, the amusement center where she was supposedly kidnaped - it turns out she was never there on the day of her disappearance - says he will throw her a big party. I hope he does.
The bad news, of course, is that Katie Beers' life as a kid has been pretty lousy up until now, and nobody has done much to help her: not the neighbors, not the schools, not the well-meaning grown-ups who saw her wandering pitifully through her wonder years; and certainly not the Bureau of Child Protective Services, which investigated her home life and found it clinically uneventful (or whatever absurd bureaucratic label they used to stamp her case file.)
Police detectives yesterday pulled Katie out of a seven-foot-deep tomb beneath the floor of the converted garage where John Esposito lived. Police say it was an "absolutely bizarre" hiding place, and that to get there they had to unbolt a built-in cabinet, lift a large concrete slab and climb down a shaft.
But this was not the first tomb Katie Beers ever was hidden away in. The homes of her godmother, Linda Inghilleri, and her mother, Marilyn Beers, might also be described as absolutely bizarre: Katie doing the family laundry at the local Laundromat at age 6; running shopping errands for the adults when she should have been in school; allegedly suffering sexual abuse from Inghilleri's husband, Sal, and possibly also from John Esposito, the man who is accused of kidnaping her and holding her for 16 days in the six-by-seven, wood-paneled tomb beneath his basement.
More bad news: police say they are "very concerned" about that tomb beneath Esposito's house, and what it was used for before Katie Beers got there. The questions police need to answer now are: Have other children spent time in it? Where are those children now?
They are adamant that they are not embarrassed at having been inside Esposito's house many times - including one long visit for a top-to-bottom search of the premises - without ever discovering Katie.
"Absolutely not," said Lt. Dominick Varrone, when asked the question about being embarrassed. "We would have had to have gone in there with demolition equipment . . . "
More bad news: from now on, whenever the home of a Suffolk citizen is searched by police, it is likely the police will be bringing demolition equipment.
"I haven't seen her yet," said Marilyn Beers, standing outside the side entrance to the Suffolk County Police Department's Fourth Precinct yesterday, smoking a cigarette. "I'm a mass of knots inside."
She was informed three hours earlier by newsmen that police had found her daughter. She had waited at home until one of them offered her a ride to the police station. She left home without a coat.
"I wish I could understand any of this," she said.
Why had she waited for a ride to the police station, she was asked. Why was she now standing outside? How would this whole episode change her life?
Marilyn Beers looked straight ahead, smoking. She said, "I don't know" to most of the questions, and nothing to others.
Then the side door of the police station opened up, and a man inside said, "Want to come in?"
She left behind an unfinished lit cigarette, which burned for a long time on the sidewalk.