The 1992 abduction and captivity of Katie Beers two days prior to her tenth birthday captivated the region of Long Island, New York and made headlines nationwide. Following the girl’s release from an underground bunker constructed by family friend John Esposito – who had held Beers prisoner for over two weeks – renowned novelist and journalist Arthur Herzog III (1927-2010) tackled the Beers case in his book, 17 Days: The Katie Beers Story.
Originally published by HarperCollins less than one year after Beers’ kidnapping, 17 Days was re-released in 2003 under the iUniverse umbrella. The book chronicles the events leading up to the abduction and Esposito’s twisted confinement of the girl, which reminded many of the plot to the Silence of the Lambs Hollywood film. Beers’ troubled homelife (which included various forms of domestic abuse) prior to her disappearance is also probed, in addition to the legal fallout from the case regarding custodial placement of the child and questions surrounding social services’ failure to appropriately investigate Beers’ living conditions.
The book appears to suffer from a lack of sources close to the case (Beers essentially disappeared from the public eye until 2013) and Herzog seemingly relies on guesswork when relaying the thoughts of central figures to the story, including Beers and Esposito. 17 Days may also feel incomplete to those familiar with the Beers case, as it concludes mere months following her placement into foster care.
Most glaring is the book’s portrayal of Beers’ godmother, Linda Inghilleri, who is described as showering the child with love and attention while making Katie the center of her world. Beers has staunchly refuted this depiction of Inghilleri (whose husband Sal was convicted in 1994 on two counts of sexual abuse for molesting Beers as a child) on numerous occasions, including in her own memoir, Buried Memories, as well as during an interview with True Crime Factor this past January.
“(The media) were playing Linda Inghilleri – my so-called godmother and Sal’s wife – they were playing her as this saint who was trying to save me,” Beers told me. “She did not try to save me, she did not want to save me. She actually enslaved me my entire childhood. I became very, very angry at the fact that the media was making this third monster look almost angelic.”
17 Days is not without redeeming qualities, however. The day-by-day documentation of Beers’ abduction and captivity leading to the rigorous investigation by law enforcement makes for easy, orderly reading and Herzog’s inclusion of daily television lineups for many of the 17 dates is a small, but fun detail which provides atmosphere for those old enough to remember the time period.
Overall, I would recommend 17 Days to anyone with an interest in the Katie Beers story, but only after reading Buried Memories for a balanced perspective.
(Special thanks to Jessica Jacobs and Gol Yburan of Author Solutions)