UPDATE: Authorities locate 2 missing girls in Southern Utah

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

ST. GEORGE — An Amber Alert has been canceled for two missing Utah girls after the girls were located Monday evening in Iron County.

Samuel Warren Shaffer, photo location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Facebook, St. George News

The Amber Alert was canceled at approximately 7 p.m. after the sisters, 8-year-old Elizabeth Dinah Coltharp and 4-year-old Hattie Briella Coltharp, were found near Lund, a town west of Cedar City, according to The Associated Press.

The two girls were believed to be with 34-year-old Samuel Warren Shaffer, a religious leader and associate of the girls’ father, according to the Amber Alert initiated by the Iron County Sheriff’s Office.

Police took Shaffer into custody Monday, but formal charges had not been filed as this report publishes.

According to a Facebook page dedicated to finding the Coltharp children, 33-year-old John Coltharp had split from his wife and ran off to join a religious/survivalist cult with the couple’s four children.

The following message was posted on the Facebook page Monday evening after the girls were located:

All children have been found and Sam has been arrested. Kids are going to be checked out by medical staff to make sure they are all right, but everyone has been found. We personally want to thank each and every one of you for your help and support!

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

Two of the four children – William Coltharp, 7, and Seth Coltharp, 6 – were found earlier in the day after the Sheriff’s Office raided a compound in Lund, a small unincorporated village located in the Escalante Valley of northwestern Iron County.

John Coltharp, booking photo posted Dec. 1, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Sanpete County Jail, St. George News

Spring City Police Chief Clarke Christensen said the sisters and two boys, their father and paternal grandparents disappeared in mid-September, The Associated Press reported.

The children’s mother, Micha Soble, filed for divorce Sept. 29 after her husband and children went missing Sept. 14, according to Utah court documents. Soble said her estranged husband was “a doomsday prepper who believes that the world will soon come to an end.”

“(John Coltharp) belongs to a religious group called The Knights of the Crystal Blade and is likely living in the Cedar City area with the sect’s prophet, Samuel Warren Schaffer,” Soble said in court records. “(John Coltharp) distrusts modern medicine, refusing to allow petitioner to use pain medication during childbirth.

This is a developing story.

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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5 Comments

  • Real Life December 4, 2017 at 9:48 pm

    Why are there so many cults here in Utah? And why do they always involve child abuse?

    • ladybugavenger December 5, 2017 at 5:44 am

      I believec its because one cult can’t tell the difference between another cult and they call themselves “religious” and therefore fall under the religious freedom act. Perhaps no one is brave enough to distinguish the difference. Too much troubles to do that in the law. People keep saying believing on Jesus is a religion. Jesus is not a religion and If that simple sentence cannot be comprehended then in no way would the law be able to separate a cult from a religion. And therefore, the flds remain a deceiving, child abusing, money laundering, living off of government (you the tax payers, money) to live on their compound and continue their ungodly ways.

      • theone December 5, 2017 at 9:37 am

        Belief in any Deity is a religion bug, doesn’t matter if you belong to a mainstream religion or follow your own personal one.
        All religions are cults and all religions and beliefs of supernatural nonsense are the leading cause of bad human behaviour.
        The sooner we shed humanity of this delusion the sooner we’ll see a society of rational behaviour instead of these disturbing headlines of abuse.

        • ladybugavenger December 5, 2017 at 8:08 pm

          No theone. Jesus is the truth, the life, and the way…..
          you better change your ways theone

        • mesaman December 5, 2017 at 8:18 pm

          From the mouth of an atheist. Merry Christmas to you theone.

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