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Offers to Help Girl Held in Bunker Pour In

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From Associated Press

Calls came in from around the country Friday with offers of money, toys and even adoption for 10-year-old Katie Beers, the Long Island girl who was held captive in an underground bunker for 16 days.

“Anybody would be touched by this,” said one anonymous caller from Philadelphia, who told the Associated Press that he wanted to set up a trust fund for Katie. “Any human being would be touched. Especially someone who has children of their own. It’s such a shame.”

The girl was held captive in an underground bunker built by a family friend who had once been convicted of child-snatching. She was found Wednesday night after the man told police where she was.

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Hundreds of people called Suffolk County officials asking to donate money to Katie, become her foster parents or adopt her. Some showed up holding stuffed animals at the offices of Suffolk County Child Protective Services.

A couple who run an annual beauty pageant for little girls wanted to give Katie a crown and a gown and have her present the award at their next pageant, a social worker said.

“It’s been a deluge,” said Victoria Mo, director of the county’s Child Protective Services. “We’ve had an outpouring of calls from everywhere. They call the police, the foster care unit. Everyone wants to help.”

Gordon Langdon, 42, who works for a Minneapolis power company, said he and his wife want to adopt Katie.

“A co-worker got upset reading about her and showed me the article,” Langdon said Friday. “When I read it, I was just moved to reach out and love that little girl the way a parent should. We have two little boys, but we’ve always wanted a daughter. She’s never known a father and I’d like to be hers.”

Katie was held for 16 days in the bunker, sometimes chained by the neck, at the home of the family friend who reported her disappearance. John Esposito, 43, was being held on $500,000 bail on second-degree kidnaping charges.

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As people responded to Katie’s plight, her family fought over custody. Her mother, Marilyn Beers, 43, an unemployed cab driver, and godmother, Linda Inghilleri, 43, both say they want the child back.

Katie was discharged Thursday night from a hospital and was being held at an undisclosed location. Social workers said she will be undergoing psychological counseling and will be placed in a foster home before a permanent decision on her custody is made.

Marilyn Beers, who signed papers giving temporary custody of Katie to the county after the girl was found, went to Family Court in Central Islip on Friday, hoping to rescind the order. She was accompanied by her grandmother, a psychic and her son. Her son was arrested for allegedly punching his mother in the face last week but she dropped the charges.

Inghilleri, who has cared for Katie off and on since the child was 2 months old, hung yellow ribbons on her house and complained that “Katie is being held prisoner. She’s being kept from me.”

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