BREAKING NEWS: Amber Alert issued for 2 Southern Utah girls

Photos provided by Iron County Sheriff's Office, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — An Amber Alert has been issued Monday for two missing girls believed to have been abducted in Southern Utah.

Police are looking for 8-year-old Elizabeth Dinah Coltharp and 4-year-old Hattie Briella Coltharp.

Samuel Warren Shaffer

The two girls are believed to be with 34-year-old Samuel Warren Shaffer, according to the Amber Alert initiated by the Iron County Sheriff’s Office.

According to a Facebook page dedicated to finding the Coltharp children, Shaffer is a religious leader and associate of the girls’ father, 33-year-old John Coltharp, who reportedly split from his wife and ran off to join a religious cult with the couple’s four children.

John Coltharp was arrested Friday on suspicion of kidnapping and obstruction of justice. He is being held in the Sanpete County Jail on a $50,000 cash-only bond.

Two of the Coltharp children – two boys – were found after the Sheriff’s Office on Monday raided a compound in Lund, a small unincorporated village located in the Escalante Valley of northwestern Iron County.

The two girls are still missing as John Coltharp has reportedly refused to tell authorities where the girls are or who they’re with.

Elizabeth Dinah Coltharp

The two girls were last seen with Shaffer on foot near Lund, according to the alert. As this report publishes, it is unknown to authorities if there is a vehicle involved.

Elizabeth Dinah Cotharp

  • Age: 8 years old
  • Height: 4 feet, 9 inches
  • Weight: 45 pounds
  • Hair: Brown
  • Eyes: Brown
  • Description: The child was last seen wearing a blue dress, gray pants under the dress, a camouflage jacket and hiking boots. The hiking boots are possibly camouflage, as well.
Hattie Briella Coltharp

Hattie Briella Coltharp

  • Age: 4 years old
  • Height: 2 feet, 10 inches tall
  • Weight: 37 pounds
  • Hair: Brown
  • Eyes: Brown
  • Description: Last seen wearing blue spandex pants with purple polka dots and short sleeve shirt of an undetermined color.

Suspected abductor – Samual Warren Shaffer

  • Age: 34 years old
  • Height: 5 feet, 10 inches tall
  • Weight: 160 pounds
  • Hair: Brown
  • Eyes: Hazel
  • Description: Last seen wearing black pants, a black puffy coat, camouflaged beanie hat.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to immediately call 911, contact the Iron County Sheriff’s Office at 435-867-7550 or The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children Hotline at 1-800-843-5678.

An Amber Alert is a rapid notification system to alert the public and solicit their assistance when a child has been abducted and is facing grave danger.

The U.S. Department of Justice recommends the following criteria for issuing an Amber Alert:

  1. There is reasonable belief by law enforcement an abduction has occurred;
  2. The abduction is of a child age 17 years or younger;
  3. The law-enforcement agency believes the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death;
  4. There is enough descriptive information about the victim and abduction for law enforcement to issue an Amber Alert to assist in the recovery of the child.

This is a developing story. St. George News will update this story as more information is made available.

This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement and may not contain the full scope of findings.

Email: kscott@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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