Katie Beers

BAY SHORE, LONG ISLAND, NEW YORK –   UNITED STATES.

 1992

A tortured life, bound to get worse before it got better.

A tortured life, bound to get worse before it got better.

Katie Beers’ life was one of constant struggle from the moment she was born. Surrounded by abject poverty, a dysfunctional family, and sexual predators, Katie became streetwise at a very young age, running errands for her family at all hours of the night through the streets of New York. While the adults around her ignored her needs, John Esposito was making plans for the nine-year-old.

Lead up to Crime

In 1977, John Esposito attempted to abduct a seven-year-old boy from a shopping mall. He was caught and pleaded guilty to attempted aggravated harassment and placed on probation. Though he would lay low for many years, what desires drove him would eventually resurface in much more sinister ways. Rejected from joining mentoring programs for children of single-parent homes in 1980, Esposito used supermarket bulletin boards in an attempt to secure his prey.

Long before Katie Beers was abducted and held captive, she was already a child in a dangerous and perilous situation. She was a girl neglected and let down by the adults in her life. She had a long history with Social Services and was known in the neighbourhood as “the cockroach kid.” She was also known in the area of West Islip, Long Island, as a girl who lacked parental guidance, roaming the streets, running errands for family members, and barefoot and poorly dressed in the dead of winter. She lived with her single mother and other adults who formed a makeshift family, residing in a dilapidated house that from the outside resembled a car-wrecking yard, in a neighbourhood struck with chronic poverty.

Marilyn Beers, Katie's mother.

Marilyn Beers, Katie’s mother.

Marilyn Beers, 43, was never sure who Katie’s father was, having fallen pregnant during a night of bar hopping, she gave up her child to Linda Inghilleri, 39, who became Katie’s godmother and surrogate parent. Linda was married to Salvatore (Sal) Inghilleri, 39, who was physically and sexually abusing Katie. He also killed her cat by throwing it against a wall.

The nine-year-old missed a lot of school, instead she stayed home to complete chores, go shopping for cigarettes, and wash clothes at the laundromat.

John Esposito was a friend of the Beers family, and Marilyn trusted him with Katie, believing he was gay. In 1991 Marilyn Beers reported Esposito to police for molesting her 16-year-old son, John Beers, known as “Little John,” with the abuse beginning when he was seven. Esposito “Big John” would lavish Little John with gifts, and invited him and his friends to his house that was stocked with videogames and toys.

When sitting in Esposito’s truck, Little John was told, “I’m looking for another kid. You’re getting too old.” That’s when Big Johns attention turned towards John Beers’ sister Katie.

Held Captive

On December 28, 1992, Katie disappeared from the Spaceplex indoor amusement park on Long Island. She was visiting with Esposito, now a 43-year-old contractor, who was treating her to a day out for her tenth birthday, which was two days away.

“I’ve been kidnapped by a man with a knife,” Katie’s terrified voice screamed on her godmother’s answering machine. “Oh my God. He’s coming back.”

Hundreds of police searched across Long Island, but there was one place they were focusing on specifically.

John Esposito lived at 1416 Saxon Avenue, Bay Shore, New York. At the property he had constructed a playground, basketball court, swimming pool, and deck. But, 18-months earlier, beneath the converted garage, which he used as an office, he had constructed an underground dungeon. Katie would play in the mound of dirt as Esposito excavated the site.

To enter the bunker, a bookshelf had to be moved, the floor coverings lifted, and a 90 kilogram (200 pound) concrete slab had to be hoisted by an electric wrench, to reveal a vertical shaft that dropped three metres (10 feet) to a soundproof chamber. Preparing for a lengthy stay, Esposito fitted the dungeon with a porcelain toilet lined with black plastic, dehumidifiers, heating, ventilation, television monitors, and a separate containment cell for his captive to sleep in.

Chained around the neck, Katie was held captive for 16 days in the small bunk-box, with only the television to keep her company and to light the darkness. She noticed what looked like blood on the sheets and wondered if others had been held there before her.

Esposito visited her daily to bring fast food and sexually abuse her. One night they watched and episode of America’s Most Wanted together, where Katie’s abduction was featured. Her captor left a voice-activated tape-recorder in the enclosure so he could listen back as she called for help. One recording contained Katie singing “Happy Birthday” to herself on the day she turned ten.

Esposito appeared on television news reports, distraught and pleading for Katie’s safe return, but police were already focusing their attention on Esposito, tracking him 24-hours a day, following him through supermarkets and pressuring his family.

Find out the rest of the story and read 27 other cases in the Captive Humans book or ebook on Amazon.

Maria Monaco

Santa Maria Capua Vetere, CASERTA ­­- ITALY.

2008

In a small Italian town, the Monaco family hid their stigma and shame away in a forgotten room of the house. For nearly two decades their secret was confined. The case rocked Italy, but was largely ignored and forgotten in the worldwide media frenzy surrounding the Fritzl case, which came to public attention just two months earlier.

Lead up to Crime

The picture postcard setting of Santa Maria Capua Vetere — a small medieval town in Southern Italy, known for its Roman ruins and its tourism — was home to a dark tale, in contrast to its picturesque surroundings. The sunny and slow paced town, about 40 kilometres north of Naples, was not the place many would expect to find a family who held captive one of their own.

In 1990, 29-year-old Maria Monaco did something that millions of women around the world do — she had a child out of wedlock. However, unlike families of other women, Maria’s family did not provide her with a support structure; instead they became angry and consumed with shame. They forced Maria into her bedroom and locked her in there, a place they intended to hold her for the rest of her life.

The people directly responsible for holding her captive were those closest to her: Maria’s mother, Anna Rosa Golino, 80, who ruled the family with an iron fist, but to the outside world looked like any kindly, rural Italian woman; her sister, Michelina Monaco, 54, who worked as a kindergarten teacher; and her brother, Prisco Monaco, 44, who worked as a farmer like his father, who died in 1985, five years before Maria was imprisoned.

A Trio of Mugshots

A Trio of Mugshots

The Monaco’s held a good reputation with the locals, maintaining a positive outward appearance.

“Good people, one of the best families of St. Andrew,” one local told a newspaper. The locals also knew of Maria, although that had not seen her in nearly twenty years.

From the outside, the entrance to the Monaco’s two-story house doesn’t stand out from its surroundings. It is along Via Cormons, a small winding alley, laid with asphalt and lined with ancient stone walls, leading to the town square. Heavy green iron gates protect the collection of houses within. The suburb, littered with centuries old buildings, backs onto farmland.

When Maria was in the early stages of her pregnancy, she received care from a health worker. But when the worker suddenly died a few months into the pregnancy, all health care for Maria ceased.

Held Captive

On the balcony of the Monaco’s house, white sheets air in the summer sun. From behind the doors facing a courtyard, the rank smell of urine seeps out. A passageway strewn with wet and dirty linen lines the way to Maria’s room.

Maria’s son was born in December 1990, from an undisclosed affair, after she had already spent much of her pregnancy locked away. He survived by being taken in by the family, where he lived with his grandmother, and was aware that his own mother was held in the family home. He was restricted from seeing his mother, being told she was too ill for visitors.

Maria Monaco was locked in her bedroom on the second floor; the room would not be cleaned for years. The filth and sheer inhumanity of Maria’s prison shocked even the hard bitten police officers who rescued her from her decades long hell. Soiled mattresses and sheets, and the rancid stench of years of squalor hit them like a wave when they entered the room. The Spartan room contained grime encrusted furniture and a toilet caked with faeces. Mountains of cigarette butts surrounded the woman.

Maria with the dog bowl she ate from.

Maria with the dog bowl she ate from.

The room housed two battered beds, one with clean linen, the other soiled with blood and a large amount of faeces. Presumably, this allowed Maria to rotate between beds when they became filthy when covered in bodily fluids. Maria ate from dog bowls, drank from plastic water bottles, and used a chair for a table. The toilet had not worked for years, leaving Maria’s excretion to cake around the room.

As much as the family had kept Maria’s captivity a secret, some locals knew of her situation. The local church priest attended the house in 2002 to check on her care, but was turned away. A doctor had also been prescribing Maria medication. The family doctor was aware Maria was receiving medication, even though he never saw Maria or entered the house. The medication was collected by Michelina Monaco.

Rescue

A report to police came from a neighbour who could no longer stand the stench coming from the Monaco house, believing someone was locked inside. Police made their way to the house on the edge of town to investigate.

When Italian police raided Anna Rosa Golino’s home they were horrified by what they found. Maria was dazed and disoriented, brought on in all likelihood by years of torture and segregation from human contact. She cowered in a corner.

When Captain Carmine Rosciano entered, he stated, Maria “greeted us with a sound like a howl, a shriek inhuman.”


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Around lunchtime on June 13, 2008, Maria Monaco, now 47, was removed from her home-style prison, after being held captive for 18 years. On a makeshift stretcher she was led through the courtyard to an awaiting ambulance. Her face was swollen and puffy, covered with tangles of thick hair. A blue-green shirt covered her twisted and frail body.

Read more about this case and similar cases in the Captive Humans book.

By David Phoebe.

Kyle Ramirez

TRACY, CALIFORNIA – UNITED STATES.

2008

Witnesses watched as an almost naked boy dropped over a fence and stumbled through the car park. Covered in an array of wounds and injuries, the gaunt boy carried a chain, still locked around his ankle. Not turning back, he could sense his captors weren’t too far behind.

Why has a near naked boy, with chains around his ankles, turned up at local gym?

Lead Up to Crime

Susan Barnett had three children: Brandon Cardiff, Austin Louisgnont, and Kyle Ramirez. Caren Ramirez was a friend of Barnett’s, and Kyle considered her an aunt, though they were not related. The two youngest boys started living with Ramirez when Kyle was eight years old, after being removed from the custody of their abusive father. Barnett had scant involvement in her children’s lives.

On September 20, 2005, Caren Ramirez sent her adopted son, Austin, 16, out onto the streets to panhandle. After spending the day begging around Citrus Heights, Sacramento, the boy returned home in the evening, sat on the couch, and revealed he had made only $9.00. News of the meagre takings sent Caren Ramirez into a violent rage.

Caren Ramirez in a early mugshot

Caren Ramirez in a early mugshot

Deputies from the Sacramento Sherriff’s Department were dispatched to Caren Ramirez’s home, responding to an assault in progress — a juvenile being hit by an adult. Police found Ramirez had forced Austin into her bedroom.

“I’m going to fuck you up,” said Ramirez. “I heard you talking shit, saying that I’m not your mom!”

She beat him with a martial arts stick. As Austin attempted to cover his head, Ramirez screamed, “Don’t put your hands up.”

The woman told police Austin’s injuries were sustained while he was play fighting with a friend. She stated Austin made the complaint against her after she took away his Game Boy, and that he had not taken his Ritalin in two months. Austin was removed and placed with a foster family.

In the early hours of the morning on May 30, 2006, police returned to the home of Caren Ramirez. Ramirez’s biological daughter, Cristina Sanchez, 21, reported Kyle, 13, had shown her injuries garnered from his adopted aunt: bruised arms, legs, and buttocks, and a split and swollen lip. Caren Ramirez had beaten Kyle with a martial arts stick the day before the report was made. The boy revealed to police officers that when Ramirez was angry she also assaulted him with broom handles, a spatula, and a coat hanger.

Child Protective Services were called and Kyle was taken out of Caren Ramirez’s care, and delivered to the Children’s Receiving Home in Sacramento. His brother Austin, now 18, had been moved to foster care in Central California and had concerns about Kyle. Caren Ramirez stated the allegations made against her were inaccurate, but could not state what the inaccuracies were. She suffered from depression and anxiety and was prescribed Zoloft.

On May 9, 2007, Kyle was reported as a runaway from the receiving home — afraid of being placed in foster care.

Kyle had met with Caren Ramirez who convinced him to travel with her, first stopping at Pleasanton, California. They spent the summer living with Catherine Cockrell and her three children. She considered Kyle “lazy,” who pillaged neighbours houses for food. Cockrell’s son begged for his mother to kick the pair out, accusing Kyle of hogging the computer games.

The pair moved on to Tracy, California, and lodged with husband and wife, Michael Luther Schumacher and Kelly Layne Lau, and their four children.

Care workers from the receiving home failed to make contact with Cristina Sanchez through monthly phone calls.

On August 22, 2007, social worker, Linda Hirsch, was assigned Kyle’s case, and discovered Caren Ramirez had been collecting his Social Security check, but the Social Security office refused to provide her with Ramirez’s address. Police were not able to locate the boy. Hirsch made monthly attempts to locate Kyle, but her searches proved fruitless.

Sacramento County Department of Social Services reported Kyle Ramirez missing on March 27, 2008.

Held Captive

Michael and Kelly Schumacher, partners in crime

Michael and Kelly Schumacher, partners in crime

Michael Schumacher, a contractor, and his wife, Kelly Lau, a Girl Scout leader, lived in a detached two-story home at 630 Tennis Lane, in the centre of Tracy, Sacramento. Their street was family friendly; where neighbours hung American flags from their porches and kept their lawns tidy. They had four children between the ages of one and nine, and often babysat the neighbours’ children. They were friends of Catherine Corkrell. Caren and Kyle came to live in their house in July 2007.

Kyle was padlocked by his ankle and chained to a coffee table or the fireplace grill. They called the boy “Iggit” slang for idiot. He was forced to complete all the household chores, look after the infants, and kneel on the floor for hours. Kyle would also help the Schumacher children with their homework.


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Read other stories like Kyle’s, his TRIAL and the AFTERMATH in the Captive Humans book

By David Phoebe.

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