A young woman who was kidnapped by a family friend and kept hidden away in a concrete dungeon where she slept inside a makeshift coffin for 17 days is speaking out about the harrowing ordeal and how she managed to survive.
Katie Beers, now 34, participated in a Reddit AMA on Thursday, during which she revealed that the years of sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her godmother’s husband prepared her for the ordeal.
She was just 9 when she was abducted by John Esposito in 1992, who lured her in with the promise of a girl for her upcoming birthday.
Espositio then took her to his house where he kept her in a dungeon he had specifically built for her that was buried under his garage and hidden by a 200lbs. slab of concrete.
Linoleum flooring and carpeting covered the trapdoor, which was tucked away in a closet whose entrance was obscured by a bookcase.
Katie was trapped there in almost complete darkness for close to three weeks, while her captor sexual abused her and police were just feet away, having set up a command post on Esposito’s lawn but unable to hear the girl’s screams because she was buried away below the ground.
Taken by someone she knew: Katie Beers (above) was kidnapped by family friend John Esposito in 1992 just days before her tenth birthday
Plan: Esposito (above) then took the child to an underground dungeon he had built for her where he kept her chained by the neck inside a makeshift coffin
Bravely speaking: Katie, now 34 and married with two children (above), recounted the 17 days of torture and sexual abuse she endured during a Reddit AMA
Katie explained that her life was already a nightmare long before her abduction, part of the reason she has said in past interviews that she was able to keep calm.
‘I should have been in foster care from the time that I was 2 or even younger. I was sexually abused by my “aunt’s” husband from the time that I was 2 until I was abducted by a “family friend” when i was almost 10,’ said Katie.
‘I was also physically, emotionally and verbally abused by all of the adults who were supposed to take care of me as well as neglected. CPS did come to the house to do interviews with me, but it’s difficult to be truthful with CPS workers when they’re interviewing you in the house where the abuse is occurring in the exact room where it was occurring.’
She spent a good deal of her childhood living with her godmother Linda Inghilleri, who she has said in the past treated her like a ‘slave’ while her husband Salvatore sexually abused Katie.
Esposito, who she called Big John, was a friend of the family, and on December 28, 1992 said he wanted to buy her a gift.
He would later tell police that after taking Katie to a toy store they went to a nerby arcade where she disappeared, a story that immediately made him the prime suspect in the case.
Police found nothing however when they set up a post on his property, despite the fact that Katie was just feet away.
Hidden: Espositio then took her to his house where he kept her in a dungeon (above) he had specifically built for her that was buried under his garage
Silencing her screams: The entarce was hidden by a 200lbs. slab of concrete (above)
Coming up: Katie was trapped there in almost complete darkness for close to three weeks (police removed Katie’s dungeon)
Katie called her godmother soon after the abduction to say a man had taken her, and with the investigation heating up Esposito decided to take a photo of Katie in which she looked dead and send it to police.
She refused however, and made herself stay awake for most of her time in the dungeon so that he could not get the shot.
Katie said in her AMA that Esposito sexually assaulted her for the first time on the day he took her, and also revealed that when he did turn himself in she believed that the police entering the dungeon were men he had brought to sexually assault her.
Esposito’s confession put him in jail for 15 years to life, and he was never charged with the rape or sexual assault of Katie.
He died while incarcerated in 2013 shortly after a parole hearing
‘There are times that my memory is more clear about the day i was abducted. As part of my coping mechanism, I blocked out the experience,’ explained Katie.
‘When working on [her memoir] Buried Memories, I had to allow myself to re-experience the memories. There are things that will randomly trigger my memories, and I’ve learned how to deal with them.’
Katie was then sent to live with a foster family, and the revelations about the abuse she had been suffering put her godmother’s husband behind bars.
She credits her foster family with giving her the safe environment she had been in desperate need of for years, and now she herself is a married mother with two young children.
Horrible fate: She had been sexually abused for eight years prior to her kidnapping by her godmother’s husband, who was her guardian at the time (godmother Linda Inghilleri above)
So close: Katie believes that devastating reality helped her keep calm during her captivity, and ultimately saved her life (police command post just feet from Katie who could not hear her screams)
Free: Esposito turned himself in 17 days after he kidnapped Katie, with the young girl believing she managed to influence his decision by discussing their future
‘The most important part of Buried Memories is not about the abuse that I sustained, but that because of my support system afterwords, that I was able to come out on the other side & have a somewhat normal childhood, teenage years, and adulthood,’ Katie said in her AMA.
‘But… to understand how far I came and the hurdles that I jumped, you have to understand what I encountered and endured.’
She told 20/20 back in a 2013 interview: ‘My life is exactly what I always wanted: two parents who love me, siblings who are amazing, and a husband and two kids.’
In that same interview she also offered more insight into how she managed to play mind games with her captor.
‘I definitely think that by trying to manipulate him into thinking about the future and things like that, I think that got him a little scared and worried about what the future was going to hold,’ said Katie.
When I asked [Esposito] how I would go to school, he told me that he would teach me what I needed to know. When I asked him how I would work, he would tell me that he had enough money for the two of us. When I asked him about getting married and having kids, he told me that when I was 18 he would marry me and have children with me.’
Days later, he had turned himself and Katie was set free.