Child missing since 2019 found hidden in secret “smelly, cold and wet room” in Saugerties

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Kimberly Cooper
Kirk Shultis, Jr.

SAUGERTIES – A girl that was reported missing in 2019 has been located by the Saugerties police department.  At the time she was reported missing from her Tompkins County home, Paislee Shultis was 4-years-old.

At the time, the child was believed to have been abducted by her non-custodial parents, Kimberly Cooper, and Kirk Shultis Jr.  On Monday, the non-custodial parents and Kirk Shultis Sr. were arrested in relation to the abduction of the child.

Three arrests have been made related to the child’s abduction.  Kimberly Cooper,33, is charged with Custodial Interference and Endangering the Welfare of a Child. She was also wanted on an active warrant of arrest that had been issued through Ulster County Family Court. Cooper was arraigned in the Town of Saugerties Justice Court and remanded to the Ulster County Jail on the warrant.

Kirk Shultis, Sr.

Thirty-two-year-old Kirk Shultis Jr. was charged with felony Custodial Interference and misdemeanor Endangering the Welfare of a Child.  His father, Kirk Shultis Sr., age 57, was charged with felony Custodial Interference and misdemeanor Endangering the Welfare of a Child.  Both men were arraigned and released on their own recognizance.

Police received information that the child was being held within a hidden location at a residence located at 35 Fawn Road in the Town of Saugerties.  Police obtained a search warrant for the residence and executed it on February 14. 

At 8:06 p.m. Monday,  Saugerties Police detectives, uniform officers, New York State Police BCI, and uniform troopers, executed the search on the residence. The owner of the residence denied having any knowledge of the child’s whereabouts telling officers that he had not seen the child since she was reported missing in 2019.

Saugerties Police Chief Joseph Sinagra said  “A little over an hour into the search of the residence, the child was located secreted in a makeshift room, under a closed staircase leading to the basement of the residence.”

Saugerties Detective Erik Thiele noticed something odd about the construction of the staircase leading from the back of the residence into the basement of the house that caught his attention.  Detective Thiele shined a flashlight through a crack between the wooden steps and observed what he believed to be a blanket. Detectives used a halligan tool to remove several of the wooden steps leading to the discovery of the child and her abductor, Kimberly Cooper.  Sinagra described the space as “small, cold, and wet.”   

The child was transported to police headquarters where she was met by paramedics from DIAZ ambulance, examined, and released to her legal guardian in good health.

The investigation is ongoing and additional arrests are pending. Since the disappearance of Paislee in 2019, Saugerties Police and other police agencies have investigated numerous leads relative to Paislee’s disappearance, including several related to the Fawn Road address. On several previous occasions, police were given limited access to the residence by Paislee’s biological father, Kirk Shultis Jr., and his father.  On each occasion, the residents denied any knowledge of the little girl’s whereabouts.  Each time authorities were permitted limited access into the residence to look around for the child, Both men knew the child and Cooper were hidden within the house and would not be found. 

Since 2019, Kirk Shultis Jr. has denied knowing the whereabouts of his missing daughter.  He claimed that he had not seen the child since 2019 when he alleged that Cooper fled to Pennsylvania with his daughter.  

The investigation is ongoing and additional arrests are pending.