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Girl Abducted In 2019 Found Hidden In ‘Small, Cold And Wet’ Secret Room Under Staircase

Photo: Saugerties Police Department / Facebook
Kirk Shultis Jr., Paislee Shultis, Kimberly Cooper

A 6-year-old girl who went missing in upstate New York more than two years ago was found alive by police on Monday, hidden underneath a staircase in her grandfather's home in Saugerties, NY.

Paislee Shultis, who was 4 at the time of her disappearance, had been found in a "small, cold, and wet" space by authorities, along with her reported kidnapper, her biological mother, Kimberly Cooper, 33.

Paislee Shultis was found after allegedly being kidnapped by her parents.

Cooper and Paislee's father, Kirk  Shultis Jr., 32, are believed to have kidnapped their daughter from central New York after losing custody of her.

She was reported missing by a legal guardian whose identity has not been made public.

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The police had managed to obtain a warrant after receiving information that the girl was being hidden in a home in Saugerties, New York.

Saugerties police detectives, officers, state police detectives and troopers arrived at the home around 8 p.m. on Monday, where the owner of the home, Kirk Shultis, 57 — Paislee's grandfather — told police that he hadn't seen his granddaughter since 2019 and did not know she was being held underneath the stairs.

While searching the home, Saugerties Detective Erik Thiele found the little girl after noticing "something about the staircase leading from the back of the residence into the basement of the house that caught his attention," according to CBS New York.

It was only after officers had removed several of the wooden panels on the staircase, that they reportedly saw "little feet."

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In a police statement, according to The Daily Freeman, the compartment where Paislee was being held was "a makeshift room, under a closed staircase leading to the basement of the residence." 

Paislee was first reported missing from Cayuga Heights, which is about 160 miles away from Saugerties, in July 2019. Authorities believed that she had been taking by her "non-custodial parents."

Paislee Shultis was due to be placed in the care of a legal guardian.

The parents had been scheduled to lose custody of Paislee and her older sister at the time of the kidnapping. Paislee's older sister had been at school on the day of the abduction, and has been living in the care of a legal guardian.

Police had previously followed leads at the home where Paislee was being held, 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 told NBC News.

Both Kirk Shultis Sr. and Jr. were arrested and charged with one count each of felony of custodial interference in the first degree and misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child. However, the two men were arraigned in Saugerties Town Court and released with appearance tickets for a later date.

Cooper was charged with custodial interference in the second degree and misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child. 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.

After finding Paislee, paramedics examined her, and after determining she was in good health, she was released back to her legal guardian.

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Follow her on Instagram.

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