Cult leader sentenced to 26 years in child rape case

Stock image | Photo by YakobchukOlena, iStock/Getty Images Plus; St. George News

ST. GEORGE – A Southern Utah man in a doomsday cult who married a young girl was sentenced to 26 years to life in prison for child rape and abuse.

Samuel Warren Shaffer, 34, was sentenced Tuesday in 5th District Court in Cedar City on first-degree felony rape of a child and second-degree felony child abuse. The first-degree felony carries a prison term of 25 years to life, while the second-degree felony carries a prison term of one to 15 years.

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

Judge Matthew Bell ordered the prison terms be served consecutively.

Shaffer pleaded guilty to the charges Feb. 21.

The charges stem from the arrests of Shaffer and another man, John Coltharp, 33, in December after an AMBER alert was issued for Coltharp’s children – two girls and two boys, who ranged in age from 4 to 8.

Coltharp’s children, along with Shaffer’s daughters, ages 5 and 7, were located by law enforcement in a remote corner of Iron County.

The two men were self-professed leaders of a fundamental Mormon offshoot called the “Knights of the Crystal Blade,” which promoted polygamy and child marriage. Shaffer believed himself married to Coltharp’s 8-year-old daughter while Coltharp was married to Shaffer’s 7-year-old daughter.

The cult also believed the end of the world was nearing while also anticipating a Muslim invasion of the United States, according to court records.

Their crimes came to light following a September missing person report filed by the Coltharp childrens’ mother, who told police that her children had disappeared from their home. She said she believed their father, John Coltharp, who did not have custody of the children, had taken them to raise as part the cult, according to court documents.

When Coltharp was arrested Dec. 1 at his Spring City home and refused to tell authorities where the children were, their mother told police they could potentially be in Iron County with their grandparents and the religious sect’s prophet, Shaffer.

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

On Dec. 3, Iron County Sheriff’s deputies located vehicles registered to the grandparents at a compound made up of shipping containers in a remote area of northern Iron County, approximately 1 mile west of Lund.

The next day, authorities located the two Coltharp boys at the compound with their grandparents and took them into custody. Police learned that the two Coltharp girls were last seen with Shaffer who also had his two biological daughters with him, officials said.

The grandparents told police Shaffer had spent the last few nights with the four girls in a tent located approximately 150 yards from the shipping containers, according to a search warrant affidavit, and that he had left the compound on foot the night before.

Law enforcement conducted an extensive ground and air search for the girls and Shaffer.

The four girls were found Dec. 5 after Shaffer was discovered walking a few miles from the compound. Two girls were in a “deplorable” single-wide trailer, and the other two in an empty 50-gallon water drum, where they had been housed for 24 hours in subfreezing temperatures, officials said. They were shivering and hungry.

The children were treated for the effects of the cold and dehydration, police said.

Shaffer’s additional criminal charges out of Sanpete County related to sodomy of child and child bigamy, among other offenses.

Coltharp has pleaded not guilty to felony charges of sodomy and child bigamy and is slated for an appearance in 6th District Court on May 30.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • Utahguns May 22, 2018 at 7:42 pm

    I think a firing squad would be more appropriate.

  • comments May 22, 2018 at 7:56 pm

    Are these creatures looking for cover for their pedophilia and to rape children and is this why they concoct these mormon-based lunatic sex cults? Or are they legitimately insane and believe in this nuttery mormon-based stuff that they concoct? I really don’t understand it.

  • jaybird May 22, 2018 at 8:12 pm

    Justice was served. Maybe these guys will get the FULL force of abuse karma in prison.

  • Real Life May 22, 2018 at 8:55 pm

    Yet another Mormon “offshoot” cult that’s into molesting children. Where you at Mesaman? Why does Mormonism spark these groups?

  • utahdiablo May 22, 2018 at 9:01 pm

    So we the taxpayers get raped again to house, feed, etc for these two POS until they serve their sentence, a couple pieces of lead would be much cheaper

    • Utahguns May 23, 2018 at 3:08 pm

      Long before there was ever a “Utahguns”…I was a proponent of reinstating firing squads when I lived in California.
      As of 2018, there are 2,714 death row inmates in the United States awaiting execution. Maintaining each death row prisoner costs taxpayers $140,000 per year. That’s $379M per year.
      Some inmates have been on death row for twenty years, (that’s $28M each so far…) and many will continue to be so for the next twenty years as well (if we don’t change our priorities).

      A cache of about 250 rifles (five for each state) and $1000 worth of ammo (.308, 30-06, etc) would save the U.S. over $378,850,000.

      “But, we don’t believe in the death penalty…” as echoed by the bleeding hearts.
      OK, then YOU write the checks.
      But, heck, we all are now anyway, right?….

  • PlanetU May 22, 2018 at 9:01 pm

    Scum. By the looks of their photos they probably couldn’t get a woman so they preyed on helpless little girls. How about those grandparents living there also? Real gems…….

  • Carpe Diem May 22, 2018 at 9:29 pm

    Just imagine, there are quite a few more just like these two out there… Ask around…

  • ladybugavenger May 23, 2018 at 6:01 am

    Why does st george newa call this a cult, but when it comes to an article about FLDS they say “FLDS church”

  • LunchboxHero May 23, 2018 at 10:33 am

    Maybe they can start a new cult in prison, where Shaffer gets to be the role of the “Little Girl”. Sicko.

  • RadRabbit May 23, 2018 at 2:32 pm

    Capital punishment should be implemented in cases like this at the very least castration.

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