tip off Girl (6) missing for two years in New York found hidden inside secret stairwell
A tip-off led police to the address on Monday night where an officer, using a torch, spotted a small piece of blanket through a crack
A six-year-old girl has been found alive in New York two years after she went missing after an eagle-eyed detective spotted her “tiny feet" inside a secret stairwell.
A tip-off led police to an address on Monday night where officers discovered little Paislee Shultis hidden away in a hovel-like makeshift room beneath the stairs of her granddad’s upstate New York home.
She had been allegedly abducted by her biological parents after they lost custody of her in 2019.
Her parents, Kimberly Cooper (33), and Kirk Shultis Jr (32) and grandfather, Kirk Shultis Sr (57) have all been charged in her abduction.
Police believe they had kept her hidden in the house where her paternal grandfather lives in Saugerties.
A tip-off led police to the address on Monday night where an officer, using a torch, spotted a small piece of blanket through a crack in the staircase.
"Detectives used a tool to remove several of the wooden steps, and that is when detectives saw a pair of tiny feet," police said.
"After removing several more steps, the child and her abductor were discovered within."
Paislee, who was reportedly found in good health despite being found alongside her mother in the “cold and wet" space, was treated to McDonald's Happy Meal after she was removed from the home.
Saugerties Police Chief Joseph Sinagra told CBS New York the girl was on her way to the police station when they passed the fast-food restaurant.
She told the officers she hadn't eaten there in a long time, prompting them to turn around and buy her the meal.
After being released Paislee was reunited with her older sister and unidentified legal guardian. However, authorities have raised concerns about her emotional, social and academic well-being.
“Number one, this little girl didn't have an opportunity to go to school. We are pretty certain that she probably wasn't receiving proper medical attention,” Sinagra said.
“Obviously, the family just couldn't take her to a doctor because she was a reported missing person. The other concern is you have a child that doesn't write or read because they didn't have the opportunity to go to school. They will now.”
Police had always suspected that Cooper and Shultis had kidnapped the girl and believed she was being kept at the Saugerties house which belonged to her grandfather but had failed to find her despite searching the property numerous times.
However, after a tip claiming the girl was being kept in the home, officers moved in after obtaining a warrant.
During the search, Saugerties Detective Erik Thiele noticed something about the staircase leading from the back of the residence into the basement of the house that caught his attention
“He took a flashlight and looked between the cracks between the steps,” Sinagra told a TV interviewer.
“He saw what he thought it was a blanket, and at that point they used a halogen 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.”
Paislee and her mother were discovered hiding in the makeshift room shortly after.
“It was pretty dingy. It was cold,” Sinagra added. “There was blankets that were laying on the ground, on the concrete floor. They were completely soaked, extremely heavy.
“Now it is our belief that each and every time in the past two years that we went to the residence with new leads, that this is where the child and mother would hide."
Shultis and his father, Kirk Shultis Sr, were arrested and each charged with one count each of felony of custodial interference in the first degree and misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child.
Cooper was charged with custodial interference in the second degree and misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child.
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