Katie Beers, the Long Island girl who was kidnapped in 1992, two days before her 10th birthday, describes her ordeal Monday at 9 p.m. on the Investigation Discovery documentary series "Killer Carnies."
The episode, "Dungeon of Doom," revisits the Dec. 28, 1992, abduction of the Bay Shore 9-year-old, who endured 17 days in a small concrete bunker built under a garage on Saxon Avenue in the community. During the search for her, Suffolk County police followed the kidnapper's misdirecting clues, including a planted phone call for help and a claim that Beers had been taken from the now-defunct, fondly remembered indoor amusement park and arcade Spaceplex, in Nesconset.
"As we often see with victims of crimes, they find it somewhat therapeutic" to talk about their trauma, explains Investigation Discovery senior executive producer Pamela A. Deutsch. Beers, she said, "was very willing to speak and she's incredibly strong and extremely articulate. It's just amazing to me that she can recount all of these horrible things that happened to her, with great detail."
In the episode, Beers, now 37 and happily married with children in rural Pennsylvania, where she has worked in the insurance industry, gamely avoids giving away the name of her abductor until near the end.
While the bulk of the show covers the kidnapping and the search for the girl, the episode also delves into the dysfunctional family dynamics that even before the abduction had created a hellish environment for her.
Those accounts are described in Beers' 2013 memoir "Buried Memories," written with WCBS-TV reporter Carolyn Gusoff, and in Newsday coverage. Katie's mother, Marilyn Beers, had left the girl in the care of godparents Sal Inghilleri, now deceased, who was convicted of sexually abusing Katie, and Linda Inghilleri, who according to prosecutors treated Katie as an indentured servant. Rare bright spots included time with her half brother John and with family friend John Esposito, who lavished the girl with presents and outings. Esposito was convicted of the kidnapping and died in prison.
Beers, who was interviewed by the show's U.K. crew in mid-March, just before coronavirus restrictions, told producers she "wanted to show how you can move on in your life and that one event doesn't define you," said an Investigation Discovery spokeswoman. Nonetheless, Beers stipulated that she would not speak if Marilyn Beers or Linda Inghilleri also were interviewed. "Katie didn't want to be involved if either of these two were," the spokeswoman said.
Now-retired Suffolk police Chief of Detectives Dominick Varrone, who headed the investigation, speaks on camera, as does Larry Helfand, a Spaceplex manager at the time.
"It was just so beyond the pale, in terms of the hand that she was dealt as a young child," Deutsch says. "All of the authority figures in her life really betrayed her."