Update: Missing New York Child Found Hidden in Hudson Valley
We've learned much more information about a missing girl who was found under stairs in a secret room in the Hudson Valley.
In 2019, 4-year-old Paislee Shultis was reported missing from Cayuga Heights, Tompkins County, New York. At the time, the child was believed to have been abducted by her non-custodial parents, Kimberly Cooper, and Kirk Shultis, police say.
Paislee now six was found in a small secret room beneath the stairs in a family member's Hudson Valley home, officials say. She was found Monday at her grandfather's Saugerties home after a tip led police to a search.
On Monday, after being told a child was being held within a hidden location at a residence located at 35 Fawn Road in the Town of Saugerties, Saugerties Police applied for and obtained a warrant from the Town of Saugerties Justice Court authorizing the search of the home for the child.
Police executed the search warrant around 8 p.m. At the time of search warrant execution, the owner of the residence denied having any knowledge of the child’s whereabouts telling officers that he had not seen the child since she was reported missing in 2019, police say.
Paislee was found little over an hour into the search in a secreted in a makeshift room, under a closed staircase leading to the basement of the residence, officials say.
Upon removing the step boards, the child and her abductor, Kimberly Cooper, her biological mother, were found hiding in the dark and wet enclosure, according to the Saugerties Police Department.
Saugerties Police Chief Joseph Sinagra stated the following about the discovery:
Over an hour into the search, Detective Erik Thiele noticed something about the staircase leading from the back of the residence into the basement of the house that caught his attention. Detective Thiele though the construction of the steps were odd, something was out of place, Using a flashlight, Detective Thiele shined the light through a crack between the wooden steps and observed what he believed to be a blanket. Upon inspecting the staircase, the structure appeared to be solid. However, Detectives used a halogen tool to remove several of the wooden steps, and that is when detectives saw a pair of tiny feet. After removing several more steps, the child and her abductor were discovered within. The space was small, cold, and wet.
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Paislee's biological parents, Kimberly Cooper and Kirk Shultis Jr., who don't have custody, were arrested.
As a result of the investigation, Saugerties Police also arrested Paislee's grandfather, Kirk Shultis Sr.
33-year-old Kimberly Cooper was charged with custodial interference and endangering the welfare of a child. Cooper was also wanted on an active warrant of arrest that had been issued through Ulster County Family Court. Cooper was arraigned in the Town of Saugerties Justice Court and remanded to the Ulster County Jail on the warrant.
32-year-old Kirk Shultis Jr. was charged with custodial interference and endangering the welfare of a child.
57-year-old Kirk Shultis Sr. was charged with charged custodial interference and endangering the welfare of a child.
Both Shultis Sr. and Jr. were arraigned in the Town of Saugerties Justice Court and released on their own recognizance. Stay-Away Orders of Protection were issued by the court against all three defendants.
Paislee was turned over to her legal guardian and reunited with her older sister, police say. The investigation is ongoing and additional arrests are pending.
Paislee's biological parents are due in family court on Wednesday.