Twenty years after she was imprisoned and chained in a coffin-size box as a child, Katie Beers said getting kidnapped was a blessing in disguise because it allowed her to escape a life of abuse.
Beers, now a 30-year-old married mother of two living in rural Pennsylvania, is breaking her decades-long silence with the release of a memoir co-written with WCBS News reporter Carolyn Gusoff called "Buried Memories: Katie Beers' Story" (Title Town Publishing).
The kidnapping had gripped the nation in the early 90s. The last words the public heard from Beers were in 1993 in a terrifying phone message, according to WCBS-TV.
"Aunt Linda, a man kidnapped me and has a knife, and oh no, here he comes right now," she said.
That man was John Esposito, her neighbor. He held her in a dungeon hidden below a slab of concrete in his Bay Shore, N.Y., home, abusing her sexually and emotionally for 17 days.
After Esposito admitted to kidnapping Beers on Jan. 13, 1993, the girl was placed in foster care and raised her in an East Hampton home with four siblings.
Her foster parents shielded her from the media, so Beers has barely been seen or heard since then. She is going public for the first time with her memoir and media tour.
"The best thing that happened to me," Beers told The Associated Press about her abduction and subsequent rescue. "I would have never gotten out of the abuse situation I was in."
In an exclusive interview with WCBS in New York, Beers described what it was like to have all those repressed memories resurface.
"I just believe that if you are in an abusive situation, emotional, physical, sexual, spousal, whatever it might be, you need to get out of that situation," she said. "Find somebody to talk to, because if I didn't have somebody to talk to about the abuse I sustained, my life would be a completely different situation."
Beers told WCBS many things help her overcome the horrors she suffered: Her East Hampton foster family, her therapists, graduating college and her loving husband.
While researching for her memoir, she communicated with Esposito, who is now serving 15 years to life in prison.
"I know I'm guilty of my crime, but I believe I've been punished enough. I mean I didn't kill anyone, and when I started my crime, I really thought it would be good for both of us," he wrote.
In the book, Beers writes she had been molested and raped by Sal Inghilleri - her godmother's husband - from the time she was a toddler. Inghilleri, who served 12 years in prison for molesting Beers, died in jail in 2009 following his arrest on a parole violation.
Beers also writes that Esposito raped her in the dungeon, explaining that she repressed her memory of the sexual assault for many years as a defense mechanism.
"I told him if he would release me I would run away and not tell the police," she told WCBS. "I remember asking John how I would have children. He said I'd have children with him. I said no."