LUND, Utah — A group of kidnapped children were rescued from the remote compound of a doomsday cult where two of the young girls were to be married to the so-called prophet of the extremist sect, police said.
Cops had been hunting for the children in Iron County, Utah after the mother of four of them reported that their “doomsday prepper” dad, John Coltharp, was holding them at the compound of the religious survivalist sect, the Knights of the Crystal Blade, of which he was a member.
The Knights of the Crystal Blade is believed to be a fundamentalist Mormon offshoot which believes in polygamy and that the world is going to end.
“They are with a man that calls himself Samuel ‘The Seer,’” their mother, Micha Soble told KSTU-TV. “He believes he holds the keys of this dispensation and he has been many people throughout the history of time and that he has been reincarnated. They are following his prophecies and I believe he is with them and helping hide the children.”
Cops located Coltharp on Friday but he refused to say where the kids were being held. Officers later found the couple’s two sons — Seth and William — inside a metal shipping container, where they were being held by Coltharp’s parents.
Investigators were told that the sect’s charismatic leader, Samuel Shaffer, 34, had taken Coltharp’s two daughters, Dinah, 8, and Hattie, 4, along with his own daughters Lily, 7, and Samantha, 5, to hide in the rugged landscape near the compound.
After a wide-ranging air and ground search, Shaffer was located but he refused to say where the girls were. He later directed cops to an area where his daughters were found hiding in a 50-gallon, rubber drum where they had been for 24 hours in subfreezing temperatures.
Dinah and Samantha were found an hour later in an abandoned trailer, suffering from severe dehydration and were airlifted to a nearby hospital, with the youngest later flown to a bigger hospital in Salt Lake City.
Samuel Shaffer has been charged with two counts of Kidnapping and four counts of Child abuse. John Coltharp is in custody, but has not yet been charged.