Girls Found Safe After Dad Kidnaps Them, Promises Them as Brides to Cult Leader: Cops

John Coltharp was arrested Friday
John Coltharp faces kidnapping and obstruction of justice charges, authorities said. Sanpete, Utah, County Jail

Two little girls were found safe after their doomsday cult member dad allegedly kidnapped them and promised them as wives to the sect's leader, authorities said.

A Utah Amber Alert was canceled Monday after law enforcement officers found Hattie Briella Coltharp, 4, and her 8-year-old sister, Dinah, at a compound outside the rural enclave of Lund in the state's southwest corner, according to officials.

One of the girls was locked inside a trailer and the other was hiding in a water barrel, according to the Iron County Sheriff's Office. 

The alert was issued after deputies received a tip about the location of Samuel Warren Shaffer, 34, the self-proclaimed "prophet" of a fundamentalist polygamous sect called the "Knights of the Crystal Blade," the department said. 

Shaffer was to be the girls' husband, according to relatives of the children.

The girls were found safe and sound.
Hattie, left, and Dinah, right, were found safe and sound. Iron County Sheriff's Office

Their mother, Micha Soble, said she had not seen her girls since September, when her now ex-husband, John Coltharp, disappeared with her daughters and the couple's two sons, William, 7, and Seth, 6. He told relatives he was joining a survivalist-doomsday cult headed by Shaffer, authorities said. 

The boys were found earlier Monday at a separate compound.

Coltharp was arrested Friday on kidnapping charges but refused to reveal the girls' location, even when offered release on his own recognizance, authorities said. 

He is now being held on $50,000 cash-only bail in the Sanpete County Jail. He faces kidnapping and obstruction of justice charges.

It was not clear whether he had entered pleas.

Shaffer, after being questioned by police, told authorities where to find the children, deputies said. He is being held at the Iron County Jail on four charges of child abuse and two counts of kidnapping. 

Soble filed for divorce after Coltharp disappeared with their children and was subsequently awarded sole custody. She said her ex had claimed he'd rather see his children dead than taken by authorities.


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