4-year-old girl missing since 2019 found alive, hidden under stairs in New York, police say

·2 min read

A girl who went missing more than two years ago at the age of 4 was found alive by police on Monday, hidden underneath a staircase in a New York home.

Paislee Shultis, now 6, was found at a residence in Saugerties, about 45 miles south of Albany, on Monday night after authorities received a tip regarding her whereabouts, according to the Saugerties Police Department.

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Officers found the young girl after an hour of searching in a makeshift room under a staircase leading to the basement.

Detective Erik Thiele noted that something appeared odd about the staircase and saw a blanket after flashing a light between the steps.

Paislee Shultis (Saugerties Police)
Paislee Shultis (Saugerties Police)

"However, Detectives used a (Halligan) tool to remove several of the wooden steps, and that is when detectives saw a pair of tiny feet," police said in a statement on Tuesday. "After removing several more steps, the child and her abductor were discovered within. The space was small, cold, and wet."

Paramedics examined Paislee and after determining her to be in good health, she was returned to her legal guardian, police said.

Paislee was reported missing from Cayuga Heights in July 2019, and authorities believe she was taken by her "non-custodial parents." Cayuga Heights is about 160 miles west of Saugerties.

Kimberly Cooper, Kirk Shultis, Jr. and Kirk Shultis, Sr., were arrested and charged in Paislee's disappearance.

Police had previously followed leads to the residence where Paislee was ultimately found, but said that each time the residents had "denied any knowledge of the little girl’s whereabouts."

"During some of the follow ups to the Fawn Road location, authorities were permitted limited access into the residence to look around for the child, by both Kirk Shultis Sr and Jr. ... knowing the child and her abductor were hidden within the house and would not be found," police said.

Paislee Shultis was found being held within a hidden location at a residence in Saugerties, N.Y. (Saugerties Police Dept. )
Paislee Shultis was found being held within a hidden location at a residence in Saugerties, N.Y. (Saugerties Police Dept. )

Both Shultis' were charged with one count each of felony of custodial interference in the first degree and misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child.

Cooper was charged with custodial interference in the second degree and misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child. She was remanded into custody for an outstanding warrant issued in Ulster County Family Court.

Shultis, Jr., and Shultis, Sr., were released on their own recognizance, according to police. Neither Shultis was available following a phone call from NBC News to the residence where Paislee was found.

A number listed for Cooper was not in service Tuesday and she could not be reached for comment.

Orders of protection were issued against all three defendants.