Health Care

Father kidnapped his 4 children, joined polygamous doomsday cult

Father kidnapped his 4 children, joined polygamous doomsday cult

Dinah, 8, and Haddie, 4, were allegedly taken by their father, John Coltharp, to Utah back in September along with their two brothers.

Their father, John Coltharp, was arrested Saturday for investigation of kidnapping the children when authorities raided what is believed to be a religious compound.

John Coltharp [Photo: Sanpete County Sheriff's Office]Coltharp's sister, Cindi Ray, said her brother "fundamentally" supports polygamy and is associated with Mormon beliefs.

Shaffer is in custody at Iron County Jail and is facing two charges of child kidnapping and four charges of child abuse. He said Samuel Shaffer was not a polygamist or part of an established group and questioned the characterization of the area compound.

In November, Utah voters broke the stranglehold of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), which had controlled the town of Hildale since settling there more than 100 years ago. It was believed Samuel Shaffer was the Prophet of the Knights of the Crystal Blade.

Coltharp and his wife Micha had been married about 10 years and shared four children, but the marriage was breaking up.

In divorce papers filed after he and her children disappeared, she said he didn't trust modern medicine and wouldn't even allow her painkillers during child birth.

"I'm so unbelievably happy to talk to my boys and they are okay and so sorry for my girls and it's so sad they are suffering and they don't have each other or their parents", she told the station. Soble's attorney also told the Salt Lake Tribune her ex-husband "stated, according to [Soble's] understanding, that he would rather see the kids dead than with the police".

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Then, on December 1, her ex-husband turned up at his parents' home.

With Coltharp in custody but the children still missing, the search intensified and went public.

Self-proclaimed cult leader Samuel Shaffer, who was believed to have been given the children by their father, has been taken into custody by the sheriff's department in Iron County, Utah, in connection with the incident.

A tip was supplied that led to the raid.

Singular credits the police response and Amber Alert with potentially saving the girls' lives.

The two other girls remained missing until Shaffer eventually told deputies of their location, inside an abandoned mobile home. When they were found Monday, they'd been there for 24 hours in below-freezing temperatures they were not dressed for, police said.

"They were in good conditions", said Lt. Del Schlosser of the Iron County Sheriff's Office. They were then taken by ambulance to the Cedar City hospital, where emergency medical care was provided. All but one had been released by Tuesday. Her condition is unknown at this time.