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Paislee Shultis, Missing Since 2019, Found Alive In Ulster County



SAUGERTIES, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — An upstate girl who was missing for more than two years has been found alive in Ulster County.

Paislee Shultis, then 4 years old, was reported missing in July of 2019, but police found her Monday night in a secret room under a staircase in her paternal grandfather’s home in Saugerties, CBS2’s Nick Caloway reported.

Police say the child is healthy and there is no evidence of physical or sexual abuse. She was found more than 150 miles away from her home.

This was not the first time police came to the house looking for Paislee, but her father always insisted he had not seen her or her mother. This time, however, police came with a warrant and searched underneath the floor boards.

Paislee was initially reported missing from the Tompkins County village of Cayuga Heights, near Ithaca.

Police have long suspected her biological parents, Kimberly Cooper and Kirk Shultis, of kidnapping the girl after losing custody of her and her sister.


“We believe what happened after that point was that somebody informed the parents that the older child had been picked up by the legal guardian and by county officials at the time and that caused the parents then to take Paislee and flee,” Saugerties Police Chief Joseph Sinagra said.

Then a tip came in to police this week that the girl was being held in the home.

Cops got a warrant and during the search, an officer noticed something about the stairs leading to the basement that made him take a closer look with a flashlight.

“And he 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,” Sinagra said.

It was little Paislee, now 6, hiding in the hole, along with 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 CBS2’s Ali Bauman. “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.”

Neighbors were stunned that the missing little girl had been in the home all along.


“I’m just shocked, because they seemed like regular people,” Annette Wrolsen said.

Some neighbors told CBS2 they never saw Paislee outside, but the police chief says she had her own bedroom inside.

“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,” Sinagra said.

Caloway tried talking to the parents at the family home, but a woman inside did not have much to say.

Police say the little girl was in good health, aside from being removed from society and kept in the Saugerties house for so long.

“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 said. “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.”

After that little girl was removed from the home, she was on her way to the police station when they passed a McDonald’s. She told the detectives that she hadn’t had McDonald’s in such a long time, so they turned around and got her a Happy Meal.


Paislee has since been returned to her legal guardian and reunited with her older sister.

Her mother, father and grandfather are all charged with child endangerment and custodial interference.

Her father and grandfather have been released. Her mother is being held because of a warrant.

CBS2’s Nick Caloway contributed to this report. This story first appeared on Feb. 15.

Source: CBS


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