Katie Beers, the Long Island girl freed two decades ago from a Bay Shore dungeon of abuse, shared a group hug Tuesday, reuniting with the lead investigator on her case and the psychotherapist who helped her become a well-adjusted young mother.
"What happened to me," Beers said, "is not the way the world's supposed to be."
The three hadn't seen one another in years.
"It turned out exactly as we hoped," said the now-retired investigator, Dominick Varrone, as he, Beers and the therapist took note of how far Beers had come since the terrifying 17 days she spent in the underground bunker. She turned 10 in captivity.
The trio came together Tuesday at Hofstra University to help Beers promote her new first-person book, "Buried Memories: Katie Beers' Story" (Title Town Publishing) documenting her ordeal.
"I'm very thrilled about it -- very proud of her," said Varrone, a kidnap-investigation lieutenant at the time who would rise to be the Suffolk County Police Department's chief of detectives. "Our dreams came true."
The psychotherapist, Mary Bromley, said that it took years of hard, introspective work for Beers, now 30, to begin to recover -- if one can ever fully recover -- from the torture she withstood: molested by her godmother's husband and then kidnapped by a family friend who imprisoned her in the dungeon.
"Now she can be truthful with her voice and with her experience," Bromley said of Beers, whom she treated for more than a decade.
"She had to relearn that the world is essentially a benevolent place that will take care of her."
Beers wrote the book with Long Island-based television reporter Carolyn Gusoff, who had been working with Beers on the project for years.
Gusoff, who covered Beers' disappearance for News 12 Long Island, recalled what astounded her about the case.
"It was this vast failure of everyone around her," she said.
Beers is now married, lives near Altoona, Pa., works in insurance sales and has two children of her own, a 31/2-year-old boy and a 17-month-old girl.
Shortly after Tuesday morning's reunion with Varrone and Bromley, Beers spent the day speaking to more than a dozen cameramen, photographers and reporters.
It was a big change for Beers, who, after authorities freed her in January 1993, went to live with a foster family on the East End. At school, Beers was hounded by news photographers camped outside, so administrators routed her path away from windows.
In her mid-20s, she said, she started jotting down memories of her abuse so she wouldn't forget them -- notes that became grist for the book.
"It's definitely been very, very therapeutic to write the book, to stir everything up again, all of the abuse that I sustained, and then being able to rebury it," she said. "And now I feel that I can bury it for good and not think about it or dwell on it."