A young girl that went missing in 2019 has been found alive, hidden away in a secret room, with authorities believing that she was abducted by her parents.
Paislee Shultis, now six-years-old, was found hidden in a secret room under the stairs in the New York town of Saugerties after a search was conducted by authorities on Monday, according to the BBC.
Shultis is reportedly in good health, and has been reunited with her legal guardian and older sister.
Her non-custodial parents, 33-year-old Kimberly Cooper, and 32-year-old Kirk Shultis Jr., have been charged with custodial interference and endangering the welfare of a child.
Shultis was reported missing from Tioga County, New York in July of 2019, when she was just four-years-old.
After receiving information that the girl was being hidden in a location in Saugerties, police obtained a search warrant for the non-custodial parents’ house. According to the BBC, police have previously searched this house.
57-year-old Kirk Shultis Sr., who owned the house, was present when police conducted the search and told authorities that he did not know where the young girl was.
After around an hour of searching the home, a detective noticed that the stairs leading into the basement has been oddly constructed. Police discovered the young girl and Cooper hiding in what the police described as a “small, cold, and wet” enclosure after removing some of the boards on the stairs.
Shultis was examined by paramedics at the scene, and was reported to be in good health.
According to the BBC, “Paislee’s biological parents had lost custody of her and her older sister prior to her disappearance, and police believe that this was the motive behind abducting Paislee.”
“We believe… somebody informed the parents that the older child had been picked up by the legal guardian and by county officials at the time and that caused the parents then to take Paislee and flee,” Saugerties Police Chief Joseph Sinagra told WNYT.
Cooper, Shultis Jr., and Shultis Sr. were all arrested and charged with the disappearance of the girl. The father and son have been released pending trial, while Cooper remained in Ulster County jail due to an outstanding warrant.
An investigation is ongoing and more arrests are pending, the police statement says.
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