“The true facts of this case will be forthcoming, and they will reveal that Mr. Shultis is a devoted, dedicated and loving father to his children.”
— Lawyer Ann Weaver,
speaking for her client,
Kirk Shultis, Jr.
All three defendants in the case of Paislee Shultis, the little girl found in Valentine’s Day hidden beneath the stairs of a Saugerties residence, have pleaded innocent and have hired lawyers.
Paislee’s father, Kirk Shultis, Jr. has retained the services of Dutchess County lawyer Ann Weaver. In a statement released on Friday, Weaver disputed the charge of custodial interference against her client. Shultis, Jr. has been “fighting for his children for the past two and a half years in Family Court,” she said, and “had never relinquished custody of his children” in the first place.
Paislee’s mother, Kimberly Cooper, and grandfather, Kirk Shultis, Sr., have also retained counsel.
Carole K. Morgan, an attorney practicing law in Kingston, represents Cooper. A comment released on her behalf refers to Kimberly as Mrs. Shultis. “The first thing you need to understand is that this a story about parents,” it reads in part. “A mommy who loves her child so fiercely and deeply that she would go to the ends of the earth to protect her. There were no dark places in this child’s life. Please understand that the system that we rely on simply got it wrong. There was no crime committed here.”
Paislee’s grandfather, Kirk Shultis, Sr., the man who owned the house in which his granddaughter was hidden, is a man with a poker face. Head shaven bald to the skin, thick of neck, sturdy of build, he wears a white mustache that cover his top lip. He apparently harbored the disappeared reappeared grandchild against repeated attempts by the law to discover her. At least that’s where they found her, hiding under his stairs.
So far Shultis, Sr. has not weighed in. His attorney, MariAnn Connolly, spoke for him.
“We believe there is much more to this story than is currently being reported,” she said. “We ask the public to reserve judgment until all the facts are in. This is a family. They love their children.”
If this be a story of stubborn family loyalty, it may find some connection to that hardy German stock of Shultises whose names are so prevalent in the Woodstock Cemetery. Family first before law.
That would at least lend the story the quality of fable. Without it, the story of a six-year-old who can’t read or write is the moral lesson of a desperate family unit that tried to do right, but did right wrong.
Saugerties police chief Joseph Sinagra offers a different perspective. “They lied to us for two years, including the father, stating that he had no idea where his daughter was,” Sinagra said.
The baysitter’s tale
News 12 in The Bronx claims to have interviewed an exclusive unnamed source who provided insight into the ever-evolving drama . A woman who claims to be a former babysitter has said that custody of both Paislee and her older sister was granted to a maternal grandmother in 2019 after she raised concerns about the Shultis’ late-night schedule and alleged drug use.
The babysitter said Shultis, Jr. owned his own paving company upstate and that his wife would often work with him. It was alleged that the parents would often take the children along with them to job sites until close to midnight, because they were unable to afford child care for Paislee and her older sister.
Troubles with the law
Shultis, Jr. allegedly experienced troubles with the law. In 2019, he was arrested while on vacation in North Carolina. Prosecutors there say that he was charged with possession of both methamphetamine and heroin. He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of drug paraphernalia and served eight days in county jail.
Prosecutors in Pennsylvania also have something to say about Shultis, Jr. In that state, he pleaded guilty to home-improvement fraud, serving two months in jail.
It is further alleged that Shultis, Jr. was not compliant with the terms of his release while out on parole. In a court of law, the arrests could have cast an unsympathetic light on him.
“I understand as a parent no one wants to lose custody of their children,” says chief Sinagra. “But sometimes the right thing for us to do for our children is the hardest thing to do for our children. What they should’ve done in 2019 when custody was granted to a third party, they should’ve relinquished the child rather than run and hide.”