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Charitable contributions by individuals

What individuals deduct

Long Islanders claimed nearly $2.8 billion in charitable donations on their federal tax returns for 2015, the latest data available from the Internal Revenue Service. That number has risen and fallen in recent years in each county, although on the state level, the total has risen consistently since a decrease in 2011. You can read more about what might happen under the new tax code here.


Hofstra’s heroics: The last-second shots

Hitting one game-winning shot in the final seconds is enough excitement for some teams. Hofstra did it three times in a five-week span this season.

“Sometimes you go years without having a last-second win and shots like we’ve had this year. It’s incredible,” coach Joe Mihalich said. “To have three in one year, I don’t know how to equate that, I don’t know how to put that in perspective.”

Watch the three plays below and listen to the coach and key players discuss their roles in the big moment.

‘It’s never, ever worked’

The score: Monmouth 84, Hofstra 82

Time left :02.4

Justin Wright-Foreman stood at the foul line for the second of his two free throws. But there was a problem for Hofstra. The Pride trailed by two points with 2.4 seconds left. Every college basketball fan knows what the broadcasters will say: Miss the free throw on purpose, get a rebound putback or tip it out to a shooter. Here’s the thing: That play never works.

This time, however, it did.

Wright-Foreman, an 84-percent shooter from the foul line, intentionally bricked his shot. Stafford Trueheart got good position, Hofstra got a great bounce and Jalen Ray got wide open at the three-point line to hit the shot with 1.5 seconds left for the 85-84 win.

‘Just had to buckle up and make a shot’

The score: James Madison 72, Hofstra 69

Time left :01.1

The ball was inbounded from the sideline on a cross-court skip pass to the far corner. Matija Radovic caught the ball in the corner and passed to Justin Wright-Foreman, who was coming off a screen. Wright-Foreman hit the three-pointer in front of two defenders with 1.1 seconds left to tie the score at 72. Hofstra won the game in overtime, 87-81.

‘I thought I overshot the ball’

The score: Towson 73, Hofstra 73

Time left :01

Jalen Ray barely was in view when Hunter Sabety gathered up the rebound off a Towson airball. Ray already started running the floor to beat the Towson defense. He took a pass from Justin Wright-Foreman, stopped and swished a buzzer-beating three-pointer for a 76-73 Hofstra win.

(Game footage courtesy of Hofstra Athletics)

Did you feel that? A history of earthquakes on Long Island

Long Island has seen its share of natural disasters: hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards. But an earthquake? Yes, actually.

The most recent shock to reach Long Island was in November, when a 4.1 magnitude earthquake struck near Dover, Delaware, and the rumbles were felt in the mid-Atlantic region. Earth’s surface is made up of a number of puzzle pieces that move – that’s how it’s described by the United States Geological Survey’s Earthquake Hazards Program. The pieces can stick and grind against each other, releasing the shock waves known as earthquakes.

Earthquake strength is measured in magnitude, which assigns a score based on ground motion.

Earthquakes are frequent along the West Coast of the United States and Mexico because those borders hug the edge of a tectonic plate. But shifting of the plates can also trigger quakes and tremors in areas like Long Island, too.

The Ramapo Fault System, for example, is a “braid” of smaller faults that run roughly from eastern Pennsylvania to the Hudson Valley, according to Columbia University’s Earth Institute. The New York City metro area is considered stable but there are smaller fault lines – cracks in the earth’s crust known as seismic stress points – that run through the area.

In general, university researchers said the New York City/Long Island area sees a 5.0 quake every hundred years or so and is due for one this century.

Here’s a look back at some of the area’s notable earthquakes.

Aug. 10, 1884

Believed to be the most powerful earthquake to strike the New York City area, this one was believed to be around a 5.5 magnitude with an epicenter near Coney Island.

Newsday wasn’t founded until 1940, but New York Times reports said the quake rattled buildings from Manhattan to Suffolk County.

In Amityville, the earthquake interrupted a funeral. As the minister knelt to pray, the building began to shake, according to The New York Times. A large mirror shattered, the walls cracked and the flowers fell off the coffin, frightening mourners.

A handful of people, including the minister, reportedly fainted and the rest of the group fled in a stampede.

July 18, 1937

New Yorkers were skeptical they had felt this earthquake.

Several dozen people in Brooklyn, Queens and Nassau County called The New York Times to report they’d felt shaking and rumbling at about midnight. The Times and Nassau County police declared in the next day’s paper that it was not an earthquake, but a particularly dramatic Long Island fireworks show held near Belmont Park.

Seismologists and Harvard University’s data disagreed. In a lengthy update, The Times wrote the deep rumblings of the “moderately strong” quake were recorded as far away as Boston. It lasted three minutes, originated in the western Long Island area and was somewhere around a 4.0.

March 29, 1950

The 1980s

Three earthquakes shook Long Island within the decade, but all without significant effect.

On Oct. 22, 1981, a 3.5 magnitude quake occurred just over the North Fork, with its epicenter in the Long Island Sound. On land, windows rattled, but little damage and no injuries were reported after the 12:49 p.m. event.

Almost two years later, on Oct. 7, 1983, tremors were felt on Long Island again when a 5.2 magnitude earthquake shook upstate Blue Mountain Lake. The epicenter was about 85 miles northwest of Albany and it occurred at about 6:18 a.m., so most people slept through it.

Again – though for less than a minute – on Oct. 19, 1985, Long Island residents were shaken by an earthquake that came closer to home. At 6:07 a.m., a 4.0 magnitude earthquake with its epicenter in the Westchester County village of Ardsley, shook the Northeast.

The only reported casualty was a Selden parakeet. The bird panicked and flew into a wall, the Zarkadas family told Newsday at the time.

“Don’t tell me we’re having an earthquake. We just had a hurricane,” said Huntington Station resident Marianne Brown, referring to the 1985 Hurricane Gloria, which struck about a month earlier. “I was thinking about the food in the freezer. I just filled it up.”

April 20, 2002

Long Island felt rumblings when a 5.1 earthquake hit in Plattsburgh, New York, near the Canadian border, at about 7 a.m. Upstate, drivers were warned to be cautious until officials in Essex County could check local bridges.

On Long Island, there was little concern.

Robert Berkle, 30, of Wantagh, said his computer began to shake and he thought it might be his cat, who liked to jump on top of the warm computer.

“When the cat jumps up there, it shakes a little, but nothing like this,” Berkle said. “The cat was nowhere to be found.”

June 22, 2010

At about 10:49 a.m., a 3.9 magnitude quake deep in the Atlantic rattled Long Island. It was determined to have originated about 80 miles southeast of Quogue and Southampton, Newsday wrote.

No injuries or damage were reported, but scientists told Newsday they were intrigued because the epicenter did not appear to fall on any known fault line. The U.S. Geological Survey reported the quake could be felt as far away as Vermont and West Virginia.

“Nothing fell but there was a really heavy vibration,” said Rose Swezey, 55, of Watermill. “It was just things vibrating – the lamp shade, that kind of thing.”

Aug. 23, 2011

This 5.8 magnitude earthquake that originated in Virginia caused buildings to sway for 20 seconds or more on Long Island at about 1:51 p.m.

Cellphone networks slowed due to the volume of calls shortly after the quake. Little damage was reported – a downed tree, a crack in the drywall at Brookhaven National Laboratory – but it brought Long Islanders outdoors en masse.

David Dominski, 61, co-owner of Scoops Ice Cream Parlor in Cutchogue, told Newsday the cones started shaking on the shelves, and he realized something was happening when “the women across the street ran out the building waving their arms.”

The Long Island Rail Road briefly evacuated its Jamaica Control Center.

“You can be on an amusement park ride, but you’re in a building swaying back and forth and it’s something else,” then Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy said in Hauppauge.

Long Island unemployment rates for December

The overall unemployment rate on Long Island for December 2017 rose to 4.2 percent, 0.3 percentage points above where it was in December 2016, according to data from the state’s Department of Labor.

The town and village rates were up all across Long Island, with 0.5 percentage point increases in Brookhaven and Riverhead towns being the largest. The rate for New York City declines 0.5 percent inthe same period, to 3.9

Click on the bar chart for details, or check on the tables below.

Local jobless rates for December

Details on the monthly unemployment rates

DECEMBER 2017Labor ForceEmployedUnemployedRate (%)
Nassau County692,400664,90027,4004.0
Freeport Village22,50021,3001,1005.1
Glen Cove City13,90013,4005003.8
Hempstead Town394,800378,30016,4004.2
Hempstead Village27,20025,8001,4005.1
Long Beach City19,40018,6007003.8
North Hempstead Town111,500107,5004,0003.6
Oyster Bay Town152,800147,1005,7003.8
Rockville Centre Village12,00011,5005004.1
Valley Stream Village19,40018,6008004.1
Suffolk County771,500737,10034,4004.5
Babylon Town110,600105,6005,0004.5
Brookhaven Town252,000240,80011,2004.5
Huntington Town103,20099,3003,9003.8
Islip Town176,900169,4007,5004.3
Lindenhurst Village15,10014,5006003.9
Riverhead Town16,00015,1008005.2
Smithtown Town59,40057,1002,3003.8
Southampton Town29,10027,5001,6005.6
New York City4,160,4003,998,300162,2003.9
New York State9,550,9009,131,600419,4004.4
NOVEMBER 2017Labor ForceEmployedUnemployedRate (%)
Nassau County697,000667,50029,5004.2
Freeport Village22,60021,4001,2005.3
Glen Cove City13,90013,4005003.7
Hempstead Town397,600379,80017,8004.5
Hempstead Village27,40025,9001,4005.3
Long Beach City19,50018,7007003.8
North Hempstead Town112,300107,9004,4003.9
Oyster Bay Town153,800147,7006,1004.0
Rockville Centre Village12,10011,5005004.3
Valley Stream Village19,60018,7009004.7
Suffolk County775,500739,80035,7004.6
Babylon Town111,400106,0005,5004.9
Brookhaven Town253,600241,70011,9004.7
Huntington Town103,80099,7004,1004.0
Islip Town178,100170,1008,0004.5
Lindenhurst Village15,20014,6007004.4
Riverhead Town16,00015,2008004.7
Smithtown Town59,70057,4002,4004.0
Southampton Town29,00027,6001,4004.9
New York City4,204,5004,035,500169,0004.0
New York State9,644,0009,212,500431,5004.5
DECEMBER 2016Labor ForceEmployedUnemployedRate (%)
Nassau County688,500663,40025,1003.6
Freeport Village22,40021,3001,1005.0
Glen Cove City13,80013,3005003.5
Hempstead Town392,400377,50014,9003.8
Hempstead Village27,00025,8001,3004.7
Long Beach City19,30018,6007003.7
North Hempstead Town111,000107,2003,7003.4
Oyster Bay Town152,000146,7005,3003.5
Rockville Centre Village11,90011,5004003.7
Valley Stream Village19,30018,6008003.9
Suffolk County765,800734,20031,6004.1
Babylon Town109,900105,2004,7004.3
Brookhaven Town250,000239,80010,1004.0
Huntington Town102,60098,9003,6003.5
Islip Town175,800168,8007,0004.0
Lindenhurst Village15,00014,5006003.9
Riverhead Town15,80015,1007004.7
Smithtown Town58,90056,9002,0003.4
Southampton Town29,00027,4001,6005.5
New York City4,092,2003,911,700180,6004.4
New York State9,437,3009,016,500420,8004.5

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Long Island job levels in December

The total, non-farm sector job count on Long Island rose 4,900 to more than 1.357 million in December 2017 compared with the same month a year earlier, according to the state Labor Department. Leading the gains were private educational and health services sector, which was up 7,500 jobs in December, and leisure and hospitality, up 4,200 jobs in December from the year before. Leading the declines were the trade, transportation and utilities sector, which was down 4,000 jobs; professional and business services, which fell by 1,900, and manufacturing, which fell by 1,500. Click on the trend lines below for details on the 10 sectors going back to 1990. To eliminate some of the lines, click on the sector name in the color key. The table below gives details for the 2017 and 2016 levels. Read more. Posted Jan 18, 2018.

Jobs in the 10 sectors on Long Island

More detailed breakdown of 2017 vs. 2016

Industry            (job levels in thousands)Dec. 2017Dec. 2016Change in year
TOTAL NON-FARM1,357.11,352.20.4%
TOTAL PRIVATE1,155.51,149.90.5%
Total Goods Producing 144.8144.10.5%
   Construction, Natural Resources, Mining
         Specialty Trade Contractors 54.352.33.8%
      Durable Goods 38.039.5-3.8%
      Non-Durable Goods 31.831.80.0%
Total Service Providing1,212.31,208.10.3%
Total Private Service-Providing1,010.71,005.80.5%
   Trade, Transportation, and Utilities288.0292.0-1.4%
      Wholesale Trade 71.872.4-0.8%
         Merchant Wholesalers, Durable Goods 34.734.02.1%
         Merchant Wholesalers, Non-durable Goods 27.327.20.4%
      Retail Trade 168.5173.3-2.8%
         Building Material and Garden Equipment
         Food and Beverage Stores 37.437.01.1%
            Grocery Stores 30.730.41.0%
         Health and Personal Care Stores 13.813.80.0%
         Clothing and Clothing Accessories Stores 20.021.4-6.5%
         General Merchandise Stores 29.730.8-3.6%
            Department Stores 23.124.2-4.5%
      Transportation, Warehousing, and Utilities 47.746.33.0%
         Transportation and Warehousing 42.941.53.4%
            Couriers and Messengers
         Broadcasting (except Internet)
   Financial Activities71.271.9-1.0%
      Finance and Insurance 53.653.20.8%
         Credit Intermediation and Related Activities 20.320.5-1.0%
            Depository Credit Intermediation 11.511.6-0.9%
         Insurance Carriers and Related Activities 26.026.5-1.9%
      Real Estate and Rental and Leasing 17.618.7-5.9%
         Real Estate 14.014.2-1.4%
   Professional and Business Services 176.7178.6-1.1%
      Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services 82.781.51.5%
            Legal Services 17.418.7-7.0%
            Accounting, Tax Prep., Bookkpng., & Payroll Svcs. 14.814.33.5%
      Management of Companies and Enterprises 16.516.40.6%
      Admin. & Supp. and Waste Manage. & Remed. Svcs. 77.580.7-4.0%
   Education and Health Services275.6268.12.8%
      Educational Services 43.942.82.6%
      Health Care and Social Assistance 231.7225.32.8%
         Ambulatory Health Care Services 90.888.72.4%
         Nursing and Residential Care Facilities 35.734.53.5%
         Social Assistance
   Leisure and Hospitality121.7117.53.6%
      Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation 20.318.112.2%
         Amusement, Gambling, and Recreation Industries 15.313.711.7%
      Accommodation and Food Services 101.499.42.0%
         Food Services and Drinking Places
   Other Services 58.358.30.0%
         Personal and Laundry Services 23.923.32.6%
Government 201.6202.3-0.3%
   Federal Government 16.016.9-5.3%
   State Government 25.325.4-0.4%
      State Government Education
      State Government Hospitals 1.31.4-7.1%
   Local Government 160.3160.00.2%
      Local Government Education 108.7108.10.6%
      Local Government Hospitals

Gary Melius Pathway to power


Gary Melius’ rise through Long Island’s cozy political system




One man’s rise shines light on LI’s corrosive system


One man’s rise shines light on LI’s corrosive system

Gary Melius has transformed himself from onetime West Hempstead street tough to owner of a Huntington castle that became Long Island’s unofficial political clubhouse. He made his way from the outside in as a player with powerful friends and a practical understanding of the day-to-day workings of the Island’s cozy, transactional political structure.

Melius, who was shot and wounded four years ago in the shadow of his greatest accomplishment, Oheka Castle, didn’t invent Long Island’s way of doing business. But through him, a portrait emerges of how the game is played and how hard it may be to change.


Deals, cop contracts: Learning from the masters


Deals, cop contracts: Learning from the masters

By the mid-1970s, Melius was making his way on Long Island, having emerged from five sets of criminal charges without jail time. Largely responsible was brilliant, politically connected lawyer Richard Hartman, who became one of his two great mentors. The other was Alfonse D’Amato, and the ’70s were when D’Amato and Hartman first scored big.

Hartman won police contracts that made the counties’ officers among the highest paid in the country. D’Amato rose from Hempstead supervisor to U.S. senator.

D’Amato toughed out an investigation into kickbacks by town employees to the Republican Party; allegations of favoritism in placements into subsidized housing in his hometown, Island Park; and a district attorney’s report that concluded politically connected developers had received below-market leases on valuable properties in Mitchel Field.

Melius, meanwhile, bought Hartman’s headquarters building and, using politically involved lawyers, built a property portfolio worth millions. He joined civic boards. His foundation, named for his mother, made the first of what would become $2.8 million in charitable donations. He gave $1,000 to D’Amato’s 1980 Senate campaign, which he would follow over decades with more contributions to a range of politicians.


Casino flop: Struggling outside LI’s cozy network


Casino flop: Struggling outside LI’s cozy network

One way to measure the sustaining power of Long Island’s network of insiders is to witness how Melius struggled during the ’90s, when, operating outside his network of political connections, he tried to rebound from a financial meltdown.

A recession and tax law changes sent his finances reeling. Five of his companies went into bankruptcy, and at one point he was more than $20 million in debt. He also owed more than $250,000 to casinos, most of it to ones owned by Donald Trump.

Trying to rally, he managed boxers, invested in a sexploitation film and joined forces with a prodigal member of the Gucci family in a fashion business. Most of these ventures failed.

In a last move, he tried to start a casino on a remote upstate Indian reservation with a Long Island partner.


The rise of Oheka Castle


The rise of Oheka Castle

Gary Melius received an unexpected call in 1988. It came from a broker for a Japanese billionaire facing prison time for a fatal fire in a hotel he owned that lacked sprinklers. He wanted to buy Oheka Castle.

The billionaire was moving assets out of Japan as he awaited his fate. He paid a recorded price of $22.5 million for Oheka. He also allowed Melius to live at the castle and manage it.

But soon Melius began amassing code violations for fire and building hazards and illegally hosting weddings and flea markets. By 1997, he owed more than $600,000 in taxes and Huntington had sued to shut the castle down. Melius waged a consummate counteroffensive, though, that showed his rising skill as a power player. Despite his past record, the Huntington Town Board allowed him to operate Oheka commercially. The board placed significant restrictions on the use of the castle, but within a few years it had eliminated or eased virtually every one of them. In 2003, Melius bought back the castle for $6.9 million.


A multimillion-dollar taxpayer bailout


A multimillion-dollar taxpayer bailout

As Oheka thrived, a Melius property in Freeport bled money. Called Brooklyn Water Works, it was anchored by an abandoned 19th century pumping station. Melius had tried to redevelop the property unsuccessfully for two decades. He said Water Works had cost him millions of dollars and was waging legal war over the property with the village.

Freeport’s attorney told police in 2009 that Melius employed threats against him to pressure the village to settle.

How he worked his way out of the project at public expense reveals how Melius had come of age as a power broker. 

In 2009, he threw his support and contributions into the successful insurgent mayoral campaign of Andrew Hardwick. Then he quickly cemented ties with the newly elected county executive, Edward Mangano.

Their two administrations would spend a combined $11 million in public money on the property, including $6.2 million that – based on questionable valuations – Nassau County spent to buy it. And the village lawyer never pressed his complaint. He became an Oheka regular.


A politically motivated arrest on a public bus


A politically motivated arrest on a public bus

In 2013, Randy White, a man with a learning disability, was pulled off a bus and arrested. White wasn’t a wanted felon, but he had given testimony that jeopardized Andrew Hardwick’s third-party bid for Nassau County executive. Hardwick’s candidacy, financed largely by Melius, could have helped Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, a Melius ally, by diverting votes from his Democratic challenger.

White testified he was paid by the signature for petitions, an election-law violation that threatened Hardwick’s candidacy. According to a report by Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice, Melius called his friend, Thomas Dale, the Nassau County police commissioner, and said the Hardwick campaign “wanted to file a perjury charge against” White. Officers found no evidence of perjury, but they did find an outstanding warrant issued for White’s failure to pay a fine in a misdemeanor case involving bootleg DVD sales.

Police jumped White’s warrant ahead of 50,000 others and jailed him, setting off a furor. Rice’s report found much of what happened from there troubling, but not criminal. Still, Dale resigned under pressure and his chief of detectives decided to retire rather than be demoted. White filed a lawsuit against the county, citing civil rights violations, and won a $295,000 judgment. Newsday has found unreported information raising new questions about the scandal.


With new players, will LI’s entrenched system survive?

At its peak, Oheka Castle has been a place of celebrity weddings, pop star videos and $1,000-a-night hotel suites. It also has been Long Island’s unofficial political clubhouse, filled with party endorsement meetings, political tributes and fundraisers, exclusive poker games and man-cave cigar gatherings.

At its low point – four years ago this Saturday – Melius was nearly assassinated in its rear parking lot, in a still-unsolved crime.

A lot has happened since then. Melius says his health and finances have suffered. His bank has sued to foreclose on Oheka. And several of his friends in politics and law enforcement have been indicted or imprisoned. Newcomers, espousing reform, have emerged.

But a look at Melius’ half-century on the scene shows both his resiliency and the staying power of the entrenched and lucrative political system he travels in.

Whether Melius can rebound remains to be seen. More importantly, is it possible to fundamentally change Long Island’s troubling way of business, and, if so, how easily?

This project was reported and written by Gus Garcia-Roberts, Keith Herbert, Sandra Peddie and Will Van Sant with contributions from Aisha Al-Muslim, Matt Clark, Paul LaRocco, Maura McDermott and Adam Playford. It was edited by Martin Gottlieb and Alan Finder. Mike King and Mark Tyrrell were the copy editors; Caroline Curtin, Dorothy Levin, Laura Mann and Judy Weinberg were the researchers.

Production: Saba Ali, Jeff Basinger, Raychel Brightman, Daryl Becker, Anthony Carrozzo, Matthew Cassella, Bobby Cassidy, Tara Conry, Susan Yale, Mario Gonzalez, Joseph Hegyes, Greg Inserillo, Sumeet Kaur, John Keating, Jessica Kelley, TC McCarthy, Ryan Restivo, Chris Ware, Yeong-ung Yang

Photo credits: Michael E. Ach, Nick Cardillicchio, Bill Davis, J. Michael Dombroski, Chuck Fadely, Thomas A. Ferrara, Elliott Kaufman, Dick Kraus, Patrick E. McCarthy, Robert Mecea, Megan Miller, John Paraskevas, Jim Peppler, David L. Pokress, Alan Raia, Howard Schnapp, Barry Thumma/Associated Press, Chris Ware, J. Conrad Williams Jr., Stan Wolfson, Nassau County Government, Associated Press

Living arrangements for millennials on Long Island

More millennials on Long Island, those between the ages of 18 and 34, are living with parents, in-laws or other family members, according to a survey in the closing months of 2017 conducted for the Long Island Index, a project of The Rauch Foundation. Click on the charts below for details. Data posted on Jan. 17, 2018.

How millennials live on Long Island

Percentage in survey aged 18-34 who live with relatives, rented or owned residences.

And here’s the breakdown for everyone

Percentage in survey over age 18 who live with relatives, rented or owned residences.

More people say it’s likely they will leave Long Island

Percentage indicating how likely it is that they will leave Long Island within the next five years.

Higher percentage of younger people say they’re likely to go

Percentage indicating how likely it is that they will leave Long Island within the next five years, by age group. (Data also for N.J, and northern suburbs).

Very likelySomewhat likelyNot very likelyNot at all likely
All Long Island37%22%19%21%
   LI ages 18-3448%23%15%13%
   LI ages 35-49 36%19%21%21%
   LI ages 50-64 38%26%18%17%
   LI age 65 +21%21%21%35%
Northern suburbs32%25%15%26%
N.J. suburbs30%26%17%24%

Numbers won’t add to 100% because of rounding and because a small percentage said they didn’t know the answer. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is ±4.1 percentage points. You can read more about the Long Island Index report here.

JavaScript charts via

Katie Beers: 25 years after the Long Island girl’s kidnapping

When Katie Beers thinks about her childhood, it feels like a lifetime ago.

She has a job in insurance, a husband, two children and a comfortable home in rural Pennsylvania. She said she’s come a long way from her upbringing on Long Island and her famous kidnapping. Jan. 13 marks 25 years since she was rescued from the underground bunker in Bay Shore where a family friend held 9-year-old Beers hostage for 17 days.

Anniversaries can make her emotional, but 2018 also brings a sense of peace.

“It’s a lot different this year than it has been in prior years,” Beers, 35, said. “This is the first big anniversary where both of my abusers are deceased, so I know I don’t have that worry of either of them getting out of prison.”

John Esposito, the man convicted of kidnapping and holding Beers hostage, died in prison in September 2013. He admitted to sexually abusing Beers in a parole hearing days before his death. Sal Inghilleri, another family friend who sexually abused Beers prior to the kidnapping, died in prison in 2009.

Beers said she spent time reflecting on her life after the 20-year anniversary and wrote a book, “Buried Memories.” She does not have contact with her biological mother and brother but maintains a close relationship with her foster parents and siblings in East Hampton.

Now she’s focused on giving her children, ages 6 and 8, a childhood. When the time comes, she will tell them the full story – she said she’s talked generally about the kidnapping but not shared many details.

For now, she said she’s trying to be the best parent she can.

“I’m at the standpoint that they shouldn’t be out of my sight for extended periods of time, but I’m trying hard to not be a helicopter mom,” she said. –LAURA BLASEY



The following article was published Jan. 13, 2013, on the 20th anniversary of Katie Beers’ rescue. It was written by Ann Givens.

The Long Island girl whose tortured childhood culminated 20 years ago in her abduction and imprisonment for 17 days in an underground dungeon is now a married woman with two children of her own.

She has not only survived. She has prevailed. And she is finally breaking her silence.

Beers, 30, said that her horrific imprisonment in the end freed her from a childhood in which she endured neglect and sexual abuse at the hands of the adults who were supposed to protect her.

“Being abducted was probably one of the best things that could have happened to me in my life,” she said in a Newsday interview.

Sitting in the cozy, toy-filled living room of her log cabin overlooking the Pennsylvania countryside, Beers said her nationally publicized rescue on Jan. 13, 1993, opened the door to a new life with a loving foster family in East Hampton, one that allowed her to play “like any other kid,” frolicking in the snow in winter and riding her bike in the spring. At the end of a long day last week, Beers’ son Logan, 31/2, was happily playing with his favorite fire truck, Fiery Flynn, while her daughter, Halee, 17 months and in pigtails, rode through the house on her mother’s hip. Beers said when the time comes, she will tell her children what she lived through.

But she will also give them the innocence she was denied.

“If my childhood hadn’t been what it was, I wouldn’t be who I am,” Beers said. “I just accept it. If it all hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be with my [foster] parents, I wouldn’t have my kids. It would be a whole different life.”

This week, Beers, whose oval face and deep chestnut eyes have changed little since the day America watched her get freed from her captor’s underground chamber, will release her memoir, “Buried Memories,” which she wrote with WCBS-TV reporter Carolyn Gusoff.

During the interview, Beers talked about physical and sexual abuse she said she endured beginning when she was a toddler, the terrors of the sleepless 17 days and nights she spent captive in an underground vault in Bay Shore, of the core strength that allowed her eventually to put her fear aside and how she learned to be the best mother she could be to her two children.

Beers said she has wanted to tell her extraordinary story since the day she was rescued from her dungeon, where she was held captive by a family friend named John Esposito, and into a police car in the blinding glare of press photographers’ flashbulbs. But she said she knew she needed to come to terms with her own past first.

“I wanted to graduate high school, I wanted to graduate college. I wanted to get married because I knew it was going to be a journey for me and I wanted to be sure that my roots were set,” she said. When they were, Beers started allowing the memories back in, writing them down on napkins and scraps of paper so that, once examined, she could begin to release them. “That was my healing process,” she said. “To be able to remember, but then also to forget, so the memories didn’t weigh so heavily on me.”

Sitting on the beige sofa in her home, Beers today is friendly and open, surrounded by reminders of her family life, including photos of her with her husband, Derek, beaming on their wedding day.

But she does not claim to be without scars.

“I’m very cautious about my surroundings,” Beers said. Indeed, she stands up to look out the window during the interview, thinking that she hears someone coming.

“A woman that works in the office next to me always jokes that I’m always honed in on what people are doing when they walk past her office,” said Beers, who works at an insurance company. “I try to maintain that everybody is a good person, but I still have to prepare for the worst.”

Beers said she believes she has avoided paranoia when it comes to her young children, and she hopes she can preserve that attitude as they get older.

“I don’t think right now that I’m too protective,” she said. “My son is 31/2 years old, so he shouldn’t be outside my field of vision for more than two seconds anyway. But when they’re a little bit older, sleepovers, going to friends’ houses, possibly it could be more difficult.”

When she recounts the terrors of her childhood, it seems as if Beers is speaking about events that happened to someone else. She will answer any question, yet emotionally wrestles with her past.

Beers said that in the first years she lived with her foster family in East Hampton, she was often angry and unapproachable.

She said before her first day at Springs Elementary School, teachers held an assembly warning students not to question her about what she had been through. They did anyway, but Beers said she answered all questions matter-of-factly, if tersely, and in time she became just another kid at the school.

Her foster father cooked her French toast in the mornings and her foster mother taught her for the first time how to brush her teeth. School became mandatory, where throughout her life it had been optional. And chores were assigned to teach her responsibility, not to harass her.

“Now I had to bring the laundry basket downstairs. Not do the family’s laundry,” Beers said.

By high school, she was captain of the volleyball team. She played tennis, she had a steady boyfriend.

Through years of acceptance and safety, she gradually learned to trust her foster parents, who she now refers to as Mom and Dad, her four foster siblings, her friends and, finally, even men. Beers said her foster family did not want to be interviewed for this story.

Beers maintains a limited relationship with her biological mother and her half-brother John, both of whom she’s seen a few times in recent years. For more than four years after she was rescued, Beers said she longed to live with her biological mother. But she said it was better that she had not been returned to her.

“It’s still hard to admit that she neglected me,” Beers said. “I’d still like to say, ‘Well, she was working two jobs to make a living for us.’ But it wasn’t the case. Maybe if she was around more often, the abuse wouldn’t have happened.”


When Katie was 2 months old, her mother, Marilyn Beers, dropped the baby at her friend Linda Inghilleri’s apartment so she could rest, Beers said. The baby-sitting job that was supposed to last a few hours instead continued for much of the next nine years. Later, Marilyn Beers said Inghilleri, who was Katie’s godmother, refused to give her daughter back, while Inghilleri said her friend checked out of her daughter’s life.

“Before I was a parent, I might not have thought of it as that odd about living with my so-called godmother,” Beers said. “But now, if I’ve let my children sleep at their grandparents’ house, of course I’ve always gone to pick them up the next day. I don’t know how or why, or what was going through anybody’s head about it.”

By the time she was 4, little Katie was wandering the neighborhood, alone and underdressed at all hours of the night, doing the Inghilleris’ laundry and running across the busy street to buy them cigarettes and Hostess cupcakes. Beers says by the time she was a toddler, still unable to speak in sentences, she can remember Sal Inghilleri molesting her. As she got older, it happened more often, and she said he would hunt her down even when she tried to hide.

Sal Inghilleri, Linda’s husband, was convicted in 1994 of two counts of sexual abuse for molesting Katie Beers and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child. He died in state prison in 2009. At Sal Inghilleri’s trial, Beers testified about being abused by him, and of the couple’s slave-like treatment of her. She said she did not reveal the depth of her physical and sexual mistreatment until now.

“I wasn’t ready to admit to anybody, especially myself, that it happened,” she said last week.

Marilyn Beers, who lives in West Islip, declined to comment for this story. A lengthy Suffolk Family Court process begun after Katie was freed from Esposito resulted in Katie being turned over to the foster family in East Hampton. A woman who answered the door at a Nassau County address listed to Linda Inghilleri also declined to comment. Neither woman was charged with any crimes related to Katie’s treatment.

One of the peripheral figures in Katie Beers’ life was a neighbor and friend of her mother’s named John Esposito, who called himself “Big John.” The Bay Shore man had offered to be a mentor to Katie’s half-brother, John Beers, who was six years older than she and known as “Little John.”

Esposito kept his garage in Bay Shore stocked with candy and video games, and through the years the site had become a favorite place for neighborhood kids to hang out.

Years after Katie’s rescue, a stray memory from her days spent at Esposito’s home nearly knocked the teenage Katie Beers over, she writes in her book.

“Behind Big John’s house, there was a hole in the ground,” she recounts, recalling that she was about 6 or 7 at the time. “Little John and my cousin Jason were jumping in and climbing out of it. I was too small to join the guys, so I was just standing on the edge of the deep hole, laughing.”

Later, Esposito poured a concrete slab over the hole.

“I suddenly realized that I had watched the construction of the bunker that would later be my prison,” she writes.


In the months leading up to her 10th birthday, Beers said — in her first published interview — Esposito tried to get her alone.

Just before Beers’ birthday, when she was at the Inghilleris’ home, Esposito visited. He gave Beers a Barbie Dream House for her birthday, and then took her to a video arcade. Afterward, he took Beers back to his home, and had her play a video game while sitting on his bare mattress with the lights off and the curtains drawn, she told Newsday.

“I’m not going to hurt you, Katie,” he whispered.

Beers said Esposito then carried her, screaming, down his stairs.

As Beers watched, nearly hyperventilating with fear, Esposito unscrewed a bookshelf from his office wall, moved it aside, then rolled up the beige carpet underneath.

There Beers saw a slab of concrete with a frame around it. Esposito attached a bar with a hook to the slab and began cranking it open.

He screamed at her to get down into the hole, and threw her down when she refused.

He then followed her into the darkness and through a tunnel that led to a tiny door. Inside, there was a closet-sized room covered in cork and foam insulation. Elevated off the floor was a coffin-like cabinet with a television at one end secured with a padlock.

Esposito ordered Beers to climb into the cabinet, where he fastened a chain around her neck.

“When am I going home?” Beers said she asked.

“This is your new home now,” he answered.

For the next 17 days, Beers lay awake in the box, unwilling to close her eyes for more than a few minutes at a time. She feared that if Esposito found her sleeping he would hurt her, or do as he had threatened and take a photograph of her sleeping to leak to police to convince them that she was dead so they would stop searching for her.


During those endless days, Beers watched news accounts of police looking for her, and her mother and half-brother begging for her return. She kissed their faces on the TV screen, she said.

When Esposito descended into the hole, he’d bring her soda and candy. Other food she would refuse for fear that it was poisoned. After Eight mints are a taste that still makes Beers gag with the remembrance of her torture, she said.

In writing the book, Gusoff, who had covered Beers’ disappearance when it happened, was allowed to listen to a chilling relic from Beers’ imprisonment: voice-activated tapes Esposito made of his conversations with her in the dungeon. Beers herself has never heard them, nor does she want to.

The tapes, which were discussed during Esposito’s trial, contain the sounds of Katie sobbing and singing happy birthday to herself. And Esposito can be heard on the tape worrying aloud that he will be caught. He tells Beers that he might kill himself, but promises that he would leave a note on his body telling police where to find her.


Finally one day, Beers heard Esposito coming into the underground chamber. This time, he was not alone. Esposito had been a suspect in the case ever since he reported her missing from the video arcade, and at last he had admitted to his lawyer that he was holding the girl.

As Esposito descended to the dungeon for the last time, he was followed by two men wearing suits. Beers was so broken and scarred by then that her first thought was that Esposito had brought friends who wanted to hurt her, too.

“So I stayed put, frozen,” Beers says in the book.

Reaching out to help her, the men announced they were police.

At Esposito’s 1994 trial, Suffolk prosecutors said Esposito sexually abused Beers repeatedly during her captivity. Beers told officials at a 2007 parole hearing that she had been raped, according to a transcript.

In a plea agreement, Esposito, who declined to be interviewed for this story, pleaded guilty to kidnapping charges and was sentenced to 15 years to life. He remains in jail. At a 2007 parole hearing, he said that he never sexually assaulted Beers.

In last week’s interview and in her book, Beers said that Esposito and Sal Inghilleri had raped her.

Within hours of her rescue, Beers was interviewed intensely by Suffolk police who wanted details of the crime while they were fresh in the child’s mind.

In tapes of those interviews she listened to, Gusoff said in the book that Beers sounded “chipper,” humming to herself amid the questions by detectives.

“You’re pretty smart, you know,” Special Victims Det. Deborah Tyrell told the child, according to the book.

Interviewed by Gusoff years later, now retired Suffolk Chief of Detectives Dominick Varrone, who led the kidnap team in Beers’ disappearance, said that spark gave police faith that, in the long run, Beers would not only survive, but thrive.

“It was an all-consuming case,” Varrone told Newsday last week. “When you have a situation like that, a child out there who needs your help, it takes over your life. It was a very intense time, and we’re lucky it turned out the way that it did. This story has a happy ending.”