staircase in a old rundown home

4-year-old girl missing since 2019 found alive, hidden under stairs in New York, police say

This is a story that is as intriguing as it is invigorating. We often come across tales of family members going ‘missing’, never to be found again. But stories like this remind us that we should never give up hope. Paislee Shultis was only 4 years old when her legal guardians reported to the police that she had gone missing in July 2019. However, the authorities held out hope and kept searching with determination. Now, almost 2 years after the initial report, the young girl has been found.


The Missing Girl

In 2019, Paislee was reported to have gone missing in Cayuga Heights’ Tompkins County Village, near Ithaca.[1] At the time of her disappearance, the authorities had reason to suspect that her biological parents had a hand in the disappearance. At that time, Paislee’s parents, Kirk Shultis Jr. and Kimberly Cooper were about to lose custody of the 4-year-old and her older sister.

Palsee Shultis
Image Credits: Saugerties Police Department

On the day when Paislee was to be handed over to the authorities, her parents and the girl disappeared. Her sister happened to be at school at the time. Their legal guardian consequently took the older sister into their care. However, Paislee could not be found.

According to the report by the Saugerties Police Department, officers had repeatedly chased down leads that had taken them to Kirk Shultis Sr.’s, Paislee’s grandfather’s, house. However, every time, the inhabitants would either deny them entry or let them search while telling them that there was no one inside.

Authorities finally got to the bottom of the mystery on February 15th, Tuesday, after the police received a tip regarding Paislee’s whereabouts. The tip confirmed that the young girl was, in fact, in her grandfather’s house at 35 Fawn Road in Saugerties Town.[2] So, the authorities issued a warrant and conducted a thorough search of the premises.

Read: How missing college student’s odd message to family led to her rescue


The Ingenious Hiding Place

The search team, consisting of state police troopers and detectives, as well as officers and detectives from
Saugerties Police Department arrived at the residence at around 8 P.M. on February 14th.  This time too Paislee’s grandfather claimed that he had not seen the little girl since 2019.

However, Detective Erik Thiele from the Saugerties Police Department noticed something amiss. He thought that something was off about a staircase that connected the back of the residence and the house’s basement.

The hidden room underneath the stairs.
Image Credits: Saugerties Police Department

When Thiele took a closer look using his flashlight, he caught a glimpse of a blanket through the gaps in the stairs. From the outside, the staircase seemed solid. But, when the officers began dismantling a few of the steps, they “saw a pair of tiny feet. After removing several more steps, the child and her abductor were discovered within.”

There was a makeshift room underneath the staircase. Paislee and Cooper, her alleged abductor, were hiding inside that room. The authorities suspect that the abductors had used this hiding place every time they had searched the house in the past. The space was described as “small, cold, and wet.”

The police had immediately taken Paislee, who is now 6 years old, for a check-up at the hospital. Fortunately, Joseph Sinagra, the Saugerties Police Chief said, that the girl was “well taken care of and in good health. The only problem is she hasn’t attended school and they weren’t educating her at the house.


A Happy Ending For The Girl

The police had immediately taken all three- Kimberley Cooper, Kirk Shultis Jr., as well as Kirk Shultis Sr. into custody. All three faced charges of custodial interference as well as endangering a child’s welfare.[3]

Sinagra remembers that Shultis Jr. had even re-appeared a short while after Paislee’s disappearance. Apparently, he had even testified in court that he had no clue as to the whereabouts of the child.

35 Fawn Road, the house in which the young girl was being kept.
Image Credits: Tania Barricklo | Daily Freeman

Be that as it may, the police have since reunited young Paislee and her older sister. The detective who drove her to her sister and legal guardian even gave the girl a delightful meal from McDonald’s. The two siblings had immediately recognized each other, as per reports.

As for the three accused, the investigation is ongoing. For now, the court has sternly ordered all three of them to never get close to the children.[4]

All’s well that ends well, right? We are glad to know that the young girl can live a bright life out in the open.


Keep Reading: Teen Fills Out College Applications Only To Realize He’s Been A ‘Missing Person’ For 13 Years



  1. Paislee Shultis, Missing Since 2019, Found Alive In Ulster County.” New York. Ali Bauman. February 16, 2022.
  2. 6-year-old allegedly abducted in 2019 found in Saugerties in small space under staircase.” Daily Freeman. Diane Pineiro-Zucker. February 15. 2022.
  3. 4-year-old girl missing since 2019 found alive, hidden under stairs in New York, police say.” NBC NEWS. Doha Madani. February 15. 2022.
  4. Paislee Shultis, Missing Since 2019, Found Alive in Secret Space Under Staircase.” People. Staff. February 15. 2022.