Police revealed Paislee appeared to be in good health when she was found.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on February 17, 2022. It has since been updated.
Trigger Warning: This story discusses child abduction which may be disturbing to readers.
A 6-year-old girl who went missing in 2019, when she was just 4 years old, was finally found alive. PEOPLE reports that the little girl was found in a basement staircase in her grandfather's home in upstate New York. Paislee Shultis was finally discovered by investigators on February 14, 2022, in a "small, cold and wet" space with her mother, Kimberly Cooper, 33, who is believed to be her alleged abductor, The Daily Freeman reports.
Authorities at the Saugerties Police Department believe that Cooper and Paislee's father, Kirk Shultis Jr., 32, abducted the little girl in central New York state at the time of her disappearance. The police then obtained a warrant after receiving information that the girl was being hidden in a home in Saugerties.
Around 8 pm on the day the little one was found, Saugerties police detectives, officers, state police detectives, and troopers descended on the home, ABC7NY reported. As for the owner of the home, Kirk Shultis, 57–Paislee's grandfather–allegedly told police that he had not seen Paislee since 2019 and claimed that he had no idea she was being kept under the staircase. Saugerties Det. Erik Thiele discovered the girl after he "noticed something about the staircase leading from the back of the residence into the basement of the house that caught his attention," Saugerties Police Chief Joseph Sinagra told CBS New York. The officers then removed several of the wooden panels on the staircase, after which they reportedly saw "little feet."
In a release, police said that the compartment was "a makeshift room, under a closed staircase leading to the basement of the residence."
These 2 kidnapped their daughter.— Rose (@901Lulu) February 15, 2022
Then they hid her in a secret compartment under the stairs.
Police officers acted on a tip stating her location.
See something. Say something. #paisleeshultis pic.twitter.com/jCazXjkL4z
Apparently, the parents were scheduled to lose custody of Paislee and her older sister at the time they allegedly abducted Paislee. The sister was at school on the day of the alleged abduction and after Paislee was abducted, she was placed in the care of a legal guardian. Singara then revealed that Paislee appeared to be in good health when she was found. Later, she was released to the custody of her legal guardian and reunited with her sister at an undisclosed location. The little girl recognized her big sister, police said.
Cooper was charged with custodial interference and endangering the welfare of a child, both misdemeanors. She had an active warrant issued through Ulster County Family Court and is being held at Ulster County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail.
Meanwhile, Shultis Jr. was charged with felony custodial interference and the misdemeanor of endangering the welfare of a child. Shultis Sr. was charged with felony custodial interference and endangering the welfare of a child, which is a misdemeanor. Reports revealed that the Shultises were arraigned in Saugerties Town Court and released with appearance tickets for a later date, and all three defendants were ordered by the court to stay away from both the children. It is unclear if the three of them have a legal representative.
Cover Image Source: SAUGERTIES POLICE DEPARTMENT