A 4 Year Old Had Been Missing Since 2019. She Was Just Found Alive Under A Staircase.
Sunrays Shining Through Staircase Into A Dark Room - stock photo
Daniela Simona Temneanu / EyeEm / Getty Images

In 2019, four-year-old Paislee Shultis and her older sister were removed from their biological parents’ home after the parents lost custody. The sisters were going to be placed with a legal guardian when Paislee was abducted.

Her biological parents were suspected immediately, and police repeatedly returned to the home where Kimberly Cooper, 33, Kirk Shultis Jr., 32, and Kirk Shultis Sr., 57, lived. Each time they asked Shultis Jr. where his daughter was, he insisted he hadn’t seen her and that Cooper had fled with the young girl to Pennsylvania, The Washington Post reported. Police searched the house multiple times but could not find the little girl, until earlier this week.

Police received a tip that Paislee was in a “hidden location” in the Shultis house, so they returned once again. This time, Saugerties, New York, police detective Erik Thiele thought something seemed off about a staircase in the back of the house that led down to the basement. Thiele walked up and down the stairs several times, but something seemed off, so he shined a flashlight on the stairs.

Saugerties Police Chief Joseph Sinagra told CBS New York that Thiele “saw what he believed was a blanket and based on that, they started ripping the steps off the stairs. And at one point they had taken several of the steps off, they could see small feet.”

Thiele then found Paislee hiding with Cooper, her mother.

“It was pretty dingy. It was cold. There was blankets that were laying on the ground, on the concrete floor. They were completely soaked, extremely heavy,” Sinagra told CBS New York. “Now it is our belief that each and every time in the past two years that we went to the residence with new leads, that this is where the child and mother would hide.”

Sinagra added that Paislee had her own bedroom in the house.

“And on the wall it said ‘Paislee.’ There was clothing items there, it appeared that someone had been sleeping in the bed and somebody had been using the bedroom, and of course, the father and the grandfather said, no, that they had set that room up like that so that if Paislee was ever found, she had a place to come back to,” he said.

Paislee’s biological parents and her grandfather were arrested and charged with “custodial interference and endangering the welfare of a child,” The Post reported. Shultis Jr. and Shlutis Sr. have been released, while Cooper is still being held in jail on a separate warrant.

Paislee has been returned to her legal guardian, who is also caring for her Paislee’s older sister. While Paislee was living with her biological parents, CBS New York reported, she wasn’t going to school.

“Number one, this little girl didn’t have a opportunity to go to school. We are pretty certain that she probably wasn’t receiving proper medical attention,” Sinagra told the outlet. “Obviously, the family just couldn’t take her to a doctor because she was a reported missing person. The other concern is you have a child that doesn’t write or read because they didn’t have the opportunity to go to school. They will now.”

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