Girl missing since 2019 found alive

SAUGERTIES, N.Y. — A girl who went missing when she was 4 years old in 2019 has been found safe by police, according to multiple reports.

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Authorities previously asked for the public’s help finding Paislee Joann Shultis, who was last seen in Tompkins County in July 2019. Officials said they believed she had been taken by her non-custodial parents, Kimberly Cooper 33, and Kirk Shultis, 32.

MISSING CHILD: The Saugerties Police Department is requesting assistance in locating Paislee Joann Shultis. Paislee was...

Posted by Saugerties Police Department on Wednesday, June 17, 2020

During a search Monday night of her grandfather’s house in Saugerties, authorities found Paislee in a “small, cold and wet” space under a staircase, the Daily Freeman reported. Investigators initiated the search with a warrant after getting a tip indicating that the girl was being hidden at the home, according to the newspaper.

Police said that before the discovery, they spoke to Paislee’s grandfather, 57-year-old Kirk Shultis Sr., who denied knowing where his granddaughter was and claimed he hadn’t seen her since 2019, the Daily Freeman reported. About an hour later, Detective Erik Thiele noticed that the construction of stairs in the home seemed to be odd, according to the Daily Freeman. He shined a flashlight on the steps and, through a crack in the stairs, spotted what appeared to be a blanket, according to WRGB.

Detectives removed some of the steps and saw “a pair of tiny feet,” the Daily Freeman reported, citing a news release.

“After removing several more steps, the child and her abductor were discovered within,” the news release said.

Authorities said Paislee was found with Cooper, though both the elder and younger Shultis had previously told investigators that Cooper had fled to Pennsylvania, according to WRGB.

Paramedics examined Paislee and determined her to be in good health, WETM-TV reported. She has since been reunited with her legal guardian and her older sister, according to the Daily Freeman.

Authorities arrested Cooper on one count each of second-degree custodial interference and second-degree endangering the welfare of a child, WETM reported. She was jailed in Ulster County on a warrant out of the Ulster County Family Court, according to the news station.

Both the younger and elder Shultis were arrested on charges of custodial interference and endangering the welfare of a child, WETM and WRGB reported. Both men were released on their own recognizance after their arraignments, according to the news stations.