Self-styled prophet charged with kidnapping 2 girls

Iron County Sheriff's Office        Samuel Warren Shaffer

Shaffer has two daughters, and they were also found.

- Two Utah girls were found safe Monday three months after they were allegedly kidnapped by their "doomsday prepper" dad - who reportedly betrothed his daughters to a cult leader.

Deputies found one of Shaffer's girls and one of Coltharp's daughters Monday evening, hidden inside plastic 50-gallon water barrels in the Lund area, which is west of Cedar City.

Shaffer is believed to be the "prophet" of the group, according to sheriff officials.

Deputies arrested Shaffer and booked him into the Iron County Jail for investigation of four counts of reckless child abuse and two counts of kidnapping, Schlosser said. The children's father, John Coltharp, is a member of the sect.

According to the Iron County Sheriff's Office, a woman contacted the Iron County Sheriff's Office on Friday to ask for help in locating her four missing children, whom she believed were in the custody of the children's grandparents.

Authorities sent Samantha Shaffer by helicopter to Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City, where she remained on Wednesday, he said.

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The girls had apparently spent roughly 24 hours inside the barrels in "subfreezing temperatures" without food or water, according to the sheriff's department. They were found dehydrated and in poor health inside an abandoned single-wide mobile home nearby. The youngest of the four was later flown to Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City for further treatment. Three of the girls were treated and released.

His family believed he and 34-year-old Samuel Shafer had formed a religious cult called Knights of the Crystal Blade on the website 'The Kingdom of God or Nothing!', outlining a religious doctrine which supported polygamy and marrying children.

Iron County deputies also raided a compound of shipping containers that day and found Coltharp's two boys who'd been reported missing. Soble then sought a temporary restraining order and custody of the children due to fears they would "suffer immediate and irreparable harm" under his supervision.

Coltharp, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church because of his extreme beliefs, is a survivalist and "doomsday prepper" who doesn't believe in modern medicine. He had fled to an unknown location with the children, as well as his parents.

Monday an Amber Alert was issued for Dinah and Hattie Coltharp.

Their disappearance sparked a desperate search by Coltharp's ex-wife, and an Amber Alert followed.

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