A 4-year-old child who went missing more than two years ago was found alive Monday by police hiding under a staircase in a New York home.
Paislee Shultis was found at a residence in Saugerties, about 45 miles south of Albany, Monday night after authorities received a tip regarding her whereabouts, according to the Saugerties Police Department.
Officers found the girl after an hour-long search in a makeshift room under a staircase leading to the basement.
Detective Erik Thiele noted that something seemed odd on the stairs and saw a blanket after turning on a light between the steps.
“However, detectives used a … tool to remove several of the wooden steps, and that’s when detectives saw a pair of tiny feet,” police said in a statement Tuesday. “After removing several more steps, the child and her abductor were discovered inside. The space was small, cold and damp.”
Paramedics examined Paislee and after determining she was in good health, she was returned to her legal guardian, police said.
Paislee was reported missing in Cayuga Heights in July 2019, and authorities believe she was taken by her “non-custodial parents.” Cayuga Heights is about 160 miles west of Saugerties.
Kimberly Cooper, Kirk Shultis, Jr., and Kirk Shultis, Sr. have been arrested and charged with Paislee’s disappearance.
Police had previously followed leads to the residence where Paislee was eventually found, but said each time residents ‘denied knowing where the little girl was’.
“During some of the follow-ups to the Fawn Road location, authorities were granted limited access to the residence to search for the child, by both Kirk Shultis Sr and Jr. … knowing that the child and her abductor were hidden in the house and would not be found,” police said.
The two Shultis were charged with one count each of felony interference with custody in the first degree and misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child.
Cooper was charged with interference with second-degree custody and a misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child. She was taken into custody on an outstanding warrant issued by Ulster County Family Court.
Shultis, Jr., and Shultis, Sr., were released on their own recognizance, according to police. Neither Shultis was available following a phone call from NBC News to the residence where Paislee was found.
A number listed for Cooper was not in service Tuesday and she could not be reached for comment.
Protection orders have been issued against the three defendants.