By Rick Sallinger
HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colorado (CBS4) – Micha Coltharp's four children, who grew up in Highlands Ranch, are safe after being rescued on Monday.
They disappeared with their father three months earlier and had not heard from him. The mother had obtained legal custody after a divorce.
Helicopters roamed the area in northern Iron County, Utah in search of the missing girls, Dinah eight years old and Hattie Coltharp four years old.
An amber alert led to a tip. Lieutenant Del Schlosser of the Iron County Sheriff credited the response to that alert.
"If we had not received that advice today, these girls probably would not be alive in the morning," said Lieutenant Schlosser.
The girls are believed to be with Samuel Shaffer, a self-proclaimed prophet who had two girls of his own. He was found along a path, alone, but he said where the girls could be found.
"An intense search took place trying to locate the two who had kept away from the other two, "Lieutenant Schlosser added.
Earlier in the day, the two Coltharp boys were spotted during a raid on a polygamic compound along with Shaffer's parents who were being interrogated. The father of the children, John Coltharp, had already been arrested. That compound seemed to consist of shipping containers.
Grandpa Steve Soble, who lives in Highlands Ranch, worries about what the children have gone through.
"I have no doubt that they have gone through a complete indoctrination." Soble said before the children had been found.
But three months after the last time they heard about them, they are now safe.
Shaffer was arrested on charges of kidnapping and child abuse.
Rick Sallinger of CBS4 is a Peabody Award-winning reporter who has been at the station for more than two decades making tough news and research reports. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger .