A six-year-old girl who was reported missing in 2019 was found alive under a secret set of stairs at her grandfather’s New York home on Monday.
ABC News reports Paislee Shultis, who was four when she disappeared, was discovered in a hidden room beneath a staircase in Saugerties, a town in the Hudson River Valley located about 110 north of New York City. A medical evaluation showed Shultis is healthy, and she was subsequently returned to her legal guardian.
Paislee Shultis was initially reported missing from Cayuga Heights, a village in the town of Ithaca, in July, 2019. Police say Shultis had been abducted by her non-custodial parents, Kimberly Cooper and Kirk Shultis Jr.
Cooper and Kirk Shultis Jr. lost custody of the girl in 2019.
After receiving a tip about a child being held “within a hidden location,” Police executed a search warrant on the property, where they ultimately discovered Paislee.
“Upon inspecting the staircase, the structure appeared to be solid. However, detectives used a [halligan] tool to remove several of the wooden steps, and that is when detectives saw a pair of tiny feet,” according to law enforcement.
It wasn’t the first time Police had visited the residence, only to have Cooper and Shultis deny having “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.
Cooper, 33, was charged with custodial interference in the second degree and misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child. Kirk Shultis Jr., 32, and Kirk Shultis Sr., 57, were both charged with one count each of felony of custodial interference in the first degree and misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child.
“Number one, this little girl didn’t have an opportunity to go to school. We are pretty certain that she probably wasn’t receiving proper medical attention,” Saugerties Police Chief Joseph Sinagra said, per WLNY. “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.”
Authorities say the investigation is still ongoing. Paislee is now with her legal guardian, with whom the girl’s older sister has been living with.
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