This is a developing story. More details will be added when they are provided to The Ithaca Voice.
Update/Correction (3:10 p.m.): Paislee Shultis was from Tioga County, not Tompkins County. Initial reports, citing the Saugerties Police Department, stated that Shultis was last seen in Cayuga Heights in Tompkins County, or was taken from a location there. A source said that the case does not involve Tompkins County. Shultis was taken from Spencer, in Tioga County.
Shultis was indeed found safe yesterday in Saugerties, but does not have a connection to Tompkins County, despite the widely reported location of her disappearance, according to a source. This could explain the confusion surrounding why the disappearance was not publicized locally—since it did not happen here.
A statement from the Tompkins County Sheriffs Office was posted to Facebook:
“The girl was not missing from Cayuga Heights or Tompkins County, but rather Spencer in Tioga County, hence the reason it was not reported by TC law enforcement in 2019. There was apparently an error in the media release by the agency involved which has led to confusion.”
The original story appears below, without the false information that was previously relayed. The Ithaca Voice apologizes for the mistake and the confusion, and is still awaiting more information from various law enforcement agencies.
TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—Reports from several news outlets including Spectrum News 1 and the New York Post have stated that Paislee Shultis, the then 4-year-old from Cayuga Heights who was reported missing on July 13, 2019, was found in the basement of a residence in Saugerties, New York.
Paislee was found with Kirk Shultis, Jr., 32, and Kimberly Cooper, 33, her non-custodial parents, a “little over an hour into the search of the residence,” in a secretive “makeshift room” under a closed staircase that led to the basement, police said.
Officials removed step boards, and the child was found with abductor Cooper hiding in the wet enclosure according to the report from Spectrum News 1.
There was, apparently, no announcement made when the child went missing in 2019. Update, 2:55 p.m.: There is a post from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services from June 2020, about a year after Paislee Shultis was last reported seen, though it states that she was missing from Tioga County.
CNY Central reports that Kirk Shultis, Jr. and his father, Kirk Sr., had been interviewed about the child’s disappearance previously but had denied knowing her whereabouts. Both Shultises were charged with felony custodial interference and endangering the welfare of a child, while Cooper was charged with custodial interference and endangering the welfare of a child (it is unclear if Cooper’s charge is a felony or not).
Paislee was reunited with her legal guardian, according to Saugerties Police, though it did not state who exactly that is. They added that she was in “good health” when she was given to the guardian. The Ithaca Voice is awaiting charging documents from the case, as well as more information from Tompkins County Sheriff Derek Osborne, Ulster County Sheriff Juan Figueroa, the Village of Saugerties Court and Saugerties Police Chief Joe Sinagra.
No information has been reported yet regarding potential charges in Tompkins County related to the case. Additional arrests (and possibly charges) could be pending, according to Spectrum 1’s reporting.