Saugertues, New York: Officers arrived at the residence of 57-year-old Kirk Shultis Sr. at about 8:00 pm on Monday, February 14, armed with a search warrant.
Officers had received a tip that 6-year-old Paislee Joann Shultis, who had been missing since July 13, 2019.
"When this family was living up in Spencer, New York, there was some sort of custody issues where both lost custody of their children, one of them being Paislee," Police Chief Joseph Sinagra stated.
The day that officers were to take custody of Paislee and her sister, her sister was in school. Investigators always suspected it was her parents that had abducted her despite continued denial by her father, 32-year-old Kirk Schultis Jr.
He had told officers that he had not seen Paislee since before her disappearance and that the girl's mother, 33-year-old Kimberly Cooper had moved to Pennsylvania. "He's even gone to court and told the court he had no idea where the child was," Sinagra stated.
Officers told that they had been to the residence before looking for the girl and had at times been met with resistance and at others, had been given limited access to the home and told, "There's nobody here. The child's not here."
During the four hours that officers were searching the residence, one investigator noticed something appeared off with the staircase leading to the basement. Shining his flashlight into the cracks, he noticed a blanket.
It was only when they began to investigate further that the girl's feet were seen, and once a few stairs were removed, Paislee was found hiding in a makeshift "room" with Cooper.
"Our belief is that at times when we went into the residence, although we were given limited access, they were using this location to hide the child," Sinagra was quoted by the Daily Freeman as saying.
Cooper, Shultis Sr., and Shultis Jr. where all charged with custodial interference and endangering the welfare of a child.
Sr. and Jr. were released on their own recognizance and Cooper is being held in lieu of $50,000 and a warrant through Ulster County Family Court.
All three are scheduled to appear in court this afternoon.
Paislee was checked out by paramedics and found to be in good health, though she had not been receiving any form of education. On her way to be reunited with her custodial guardian and her sister, the detective driving made a stop at McDonald's and got her some food.