Finding Paislee Shultis: Police Searched Home for Over an Hour Before Spotting 'Little Feet' in Makeshift Room

Authorities visited the home where Paislee was found "several times" since her 2019 disappearance but were previously unable to locate her

Missing girl found
Photo: ap/shutterstock. inset Saugerties Police Department

When 4-year-old Paislee Shultis went missing in 2019 shortly after her parents lost custody of her, New York authorities had an idea of where to find the little girl.

But years of searching proved unsuccessful — until Monday, when a detective noticed "little feet" sticking out of a makeshift room beneath her grandpa's basement staircase.

According to arrest reports from the Saugerties Police Department, investigators long believed Paislee to be in the care of her non-custodial parents, Kirk Shultis Jr., 32, and Kimberly Cooper Shultis, 33, after disappearing.

They searched for Paislee in the home of her grandfather, Kirk Shultis Sr., 57 — where they had reason to believe she was being held — on "multiple occasions" to no avail, and he denied knowing her whereabouts each time.

Monday evening, a search of his house began the same as before, police say: Kirk Sr. denied having seen Paislee since 2019, and detectives struggled to find evidence of the girl inside the residence. Kirk Jr. was also in the home at the time that the search warrant was executed, and he denied knowing her whereabouts as well.

It wasn't until just over an hour into the search that a detective noticed something strange on the stairs leading to the basement.

"He took a flashlight and looked between the cracks between the steps," Saugerties Police Chief Joseph Sinagra told WDSU. "He saw what he thought was a blanket, and at that point, they used a Halligan tool, a forcible entry tool, and they started ripping the steps off the staircase itself."

"At one point they saw little feet, as he put it," Sinagra said, per the outlet.

It was there, in the makeshift room beneath the staircase, that Paislee was discovered — alive — with Kimberly, hiding in what police described as a "dark and wet enclosure."

Kimberly and Kirk Shultis Jr.
Kimberly Cooper, Kirk Shultis Jr. SAUGERTIES POLICE DEPARTMENT

Sinagra told The Daily Freeman that Paislee, now 6, appeared to be in good health when she was found. She was then released to the custody of her legal guardian and reunited with her sister at an undisclosed location. The little girl recognized her big sister, police said.

Kimberly was arrested and charged with custodial interference and endangering the welfare of a child, both misdemeanors, according to an arrest report. She had an active warrant issued through Ulster County Family Court and is being held at Ulster County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail, The Daily Freeman reported.

Kirk Jr. and his father were also arrested and both charged with felony custodial interference and the misdemeanor of endangering the welfare of a child.

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE's free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.

All three defendants were ordered by the court to stay away from the children. It was not immediately clear if the trio have engaged legal representation to comment on their belief.

They are scheduled to appear in Saugerties Town Court at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 16.

If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

Related Articles