Two Utah men, a self-proclaimed prophet, were arrested Tuesday after a search near a makeshift compound discovered four girls whose parents were in an upstart group with beliefs in polygamy and apocalypse, police and family members said.
Police said two of the girls were considered victims of kidnapping after their father left the network with them and their two brothers in mid-September.
The four girls from 4 to 8 were found cold and dehydrated but unharmed, two in 50 gallon water barrels and two others in an abandoned mobile home, after agents combed the desert on Monday, the official said. Lieutenant Schiff of the Iron County Sheriff. The boys were found in the complex early Monday.
John Coltharp, 33, disappeared with his two daughters and two children in mid-September after meeting Samuel Shaffer, 34, who also had two daughters, police said. They called themselves the Knights of The Crystal Blade.
The disappearance triggered a desperate search for Coltharp's ex-wife that culminated in an Amber Alert for the two girls and the arrest of both men on suspicion of kidnapping and other charges. Coltharp had not been formally charged on Tuesday, and there were no lawyers or telephone numbers listed publicly available to him.
Shaffer, described as a self-proclaimed prophet, was charged on Tuesday with kidnapping children and other charges. I still did not have a lawyer on the list in the court documents.
His brother, Benjamin Shaffer, said his family has been traumatized by the revelations. He said that Samuel Shaffer was not a polygamist or part of an established group and questioned the characterization of the area compound.
Coltharp had always been interested in arcane Mormon teachings, but his interest in polygamy and "preparation" for the end of the world had intensified in recent years, said his brother-in-law Michael Lee. The mainstream of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has renounced polygamy more than a century ago.
He and Shaffer met online and became intimate, eventually forming the Knights of the Crystal Blade as a fraternal order, Lee said.
Coltharp and his wife Micha had been married for about 10 years and shared four children, but the marriage was breaking down. They considered themselves separated, but still lived together when he quit his job and moved with the children to his parents' house in May, Lee said.
They shared an informal custody agreement until mid-September, when Coltharp told her she should "give up being a mother," then cut off all communication, "Lee said.
The family believed that the two men had left 200 miles south to a remote area near Cedar City where they could meet other people with similar beliefs or convince others to join them as Coltharp's parents had, Lee said.
Micha Coltharp started the divorce and exclusive custody of the children, but as the weeks passed there were few clues as to exactly where the children were.
Then, on December 1, her ex-husband appeared in his parents' house.
He was confronted by The police, but refused to say where the children were, even after he was arrested Shaffer was with him, but the police had nothing to accuse him and let him go.
With Coltharp under cust Hates but the children disappeared, the search intensified and it became public.
On Monday, the police received an Incline and looted improvised compound made from storage containers. They found the two boys, ages 5 and 6, but Shaffer had already run off with the two Coltharp girls and their own daughters, according to the prison detention documents.
Shaffer was found that afternoon, walking alone on a road, but the four girls were still missing.
He told the police that two girls had been placed in the barrels of water to hide them from the police. When they were found on Monday, they had been there for 24 hours with sub-zero temperatures to which they were not dressed, police said.
The other two girls were found in a motor home with signs of dehydration.
four were taken to a local hospital for treatment. All but one had been released on Tuesday. His condition was not available immediately.