Paislee Shultis, a missing child who was located by police Monday night more than two years after her disappearance, was safe, healthy and back with her sister, Saugerties Police said Tuesday.
Shultis was reported missing from Spencer, Tioga County, when she was 4 on July 13, 2019. Acting on a tip, Saugerties police and the New York State Police searched a Fawn Road residence and found the now-6-year-old and her non-custodial parents, Kirk Shultis Jr. and Kimberly Cooper.
Police said Paislee and her non-custodial, biological mother Kimberly Cooper were located in a tiny room hidden beneath the basement stairs of a home at 35 Fawn Road.
“It appears that location was used on a number of occasions in the past,” Saugerties Police Chief Joe Sinagra said in an interview at his office Tuesday, “probably to hide the child, when police would show up at the residence looking for her.”
What You Need To Know
- Police said Paislee was found Monday evening, along with her non-custodial, biological mother Kimberly Cooper, in a tiny room hidden beneath the basement stairs of a home at 35 Fawn Road
- During some previous visits, Paislee’s non-custodial father and grandfather let police in the home to look around while Cooper, 33, would hide in the secret compartment with Paislee, according to police
- “The detectives, just talking to her, they learned she does not read and does not write,” Police Chief Joseph Sinagra said. “That’s a disadvantage to a child in this world — to be prevented from attending school”
- Sinagra said it does not appear Paislee was physically abused, nor does it seem she was forced to stay on the secret room for long periods of time other than when detectives visited
Sinagra said Paislee’s non-custodial, biological father Kirk Shultis Jr. told police in 2019 that Cooper had fled to Pennsylvania with Paislee, and he had not seen them.
Shultis, 32, lives at the Fawn Road home with his father, Kirk Shultis Sr., 57. No one answered the door Tuesday morning.
Sinagra said his detectives had been to the home several times over the last two years, but never had a search warrant. During those visits, the Shultis father and son let police into the home to look around while Cooper, 33, would hide in the secret compartment with Paislee, according to Sinagra.
“They just flat out lied to us,” he said. “They told us they had no idea where the child was.”
Saugerties Police caught a break Monday evening. After receiving new information about a hiding spot within the house, the Saugerties Justice Court authorized a search of the home for Paislee.
The chief said he understood Shultis and Cooper were fighting to regain custody of Paislee following a court decision to remove Paislee from their care, but the couple’s decision to hide the child was inhumane.
“The detectives, just talking to her, they learned she does not read and does not write,” Sinagra said. “That’s a disadvantage to a child in this world — to be prevented from attending school.”
Sinagra said it does not appear Paislee was physically abused, nor does it seem she was forced to stay in the secret room for long periods of time, other than when detectives visited.
Kirk Shultis Jr., Kirk Shultis Sr. and Cooper were arrested and charged with custodial interference and endangering the welfare of a child.
Shultis and his father were released on their own recognizance. Cooper was being held on an outstanding arrest warrant issued by Ulster County Family Court, according to a press release emailed out Tuesday.
Sinagra said Kirk Shultis Jr. was recently in family court, asking a judge that if Paislee were ever to be found, that he be granted custody of her.
“We we’re constantly getting that runaround,” Sinagra said.”