SAUGERTIES, N.Y. (TCD) -- A girl who reportedly went missing in 2019 when she was 4 years old was found alive this week living under a staircase in her grandfather’s house.
Paislee Joann Shultis was reported missing to Saugerties Police in June 2020, though she had not been seen since July 13, 2019. Saugerties Police said in their missing child announcement that Paislee was last seen with her non-custodial parents, Kimberly Cooper and Kirk Shultis.
According to WTEN-TV, Saugerties Police reportedly received a tip saying Paislee was living at a home at 35 Town Road. On Monday, Feb. 14, at about 8 p.m., law enforcement officials from Saugerties Police, the New York State Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and State Police executed a search warrant at the residence. The homeowner, who the Daily Freeman identified as Paislee’s grandfather, Kirk Shultis Sr., reportedly said he had not seen the little girl since she went missing.
The Daily Freeman reports detectives and the other police officers conducted a detailed search of the home. About an hour into it, police reportedly found a "makeshift room" that was located "under a closed staircase leading to the basement of the residence."
According to the Daily Freeman, which cites the police press release, a Saugerties detective "noticed something about the staircase leading from the back of the residence into the basement of the house that caught his attention." The detective reportedly used his flashlight to shine into this area and saw what looked like a blanket and "a pair of tiny feet."
Investigators began removing the steps and eventually found Paislee and her alleged abductor.
Paislee was transported to a local hospital for examinations and later released in good health.
WTEN reports Cooper, 33, was charged with second-degree custodial interference and second-degree endangering the welfare of a child. Cooper also reportedly had an outstanding warrant from the Ulster County Family Court.
Kirk Shultis Jr., 32, was charged with first-degree custodial interference and first-degree endangering the welfare of a child. His father, 57-year-old Kirk Shultis Sr., was also charged with first-degree custodial interference and endangering the welfare of a child. Shultis Jr. and Sr. were reportedly released on their own recognizance and protective orders have been placed against all three of them.
The Daily Freeman reports Paislee was returned to her legal guardian.