A chilling story has emerged out of Utah, where two members of the Knights of the Crystal Blade, a religious doomsday cult, have been arrested after allegedly kidnapping four young girls who also happen to be their daughters.
Samuel Shaffer and John Coltharp, age 34 and 33 respectively, are alleged to have married each other’s 7 and 8-year-old daughters in either prior to or during the events that transpired. In addition to facing kidnapping charges, Coltharp is also facing charges of sodomy of a child for an incident that occurred in August of 2017.
The Knights of the Crystal Blade identifies as a sect of the LDS Church, of which Shaffer is the founder. The sect promotes polygamist ideologies and subscribes to doomsday prophecies. Shaffer allegedly recently handed down his title of “prophet” to Coltharp shortly before the kidnapping occurred.
It was September, 2017 when Micha Coltharp, then-wife of Jonathan Coltharp, reported that her four children aged 4, 6, 7, and 8 had been kidnapped by their father the day before she filed for divorce. She told authorities that Coltharp was part of the cult and believed that the world was coming to an end. She said that Coltharp and his parents had taken the kids to join up with Shaffer and the cult.
On December 4th, police raided a compound made up of shipping containers and found Coltharp, his parents, and Coltharp’s two sons, Seth and William, aged 6 and 7 respectively. Coltharp was promptly arrested but initially refused to disclose the location of the missing girls. Ultimately, after an Amber Alert had been issued, Coltharp admitted that Shaffer had taken the girls to sleep in a tent near the compound.
After launching a thorough search by both land and air, police discovered Shaffer two days later walking alone. He disclosed the location of his daughter Lily, 7, and Coltharp’s daughter Hattie, 4. They were rescued later that night from a 50 gallon blue water container in the area. At the time of the rescue, temperatures were below freezing and the girls had been in the barrel for at least 24 hours.
Shaffer refused to disclose the location of his other daughter Samantha, 5 and Coltharp’s other daughter Dinah, 8. They were found an hour later in an abandoned trailer in poor condition.
The Iron County Sheriff’s office released a statement that two of the children “were not dressed for the cold and were left without food or water in Lund, an unincorporated area 30 miles north of Cedar City,” and that the other two children “were also concealed.” Shaffer admitted to leaving a firearm outside of the blue water barrel.
All four children were taken to the hospital to be examined and have since been released, excepting Samantha, Shaffer’s 5-year-old daughter, whose condition is still unknown. Coltharp’s children have been returned to their mother’s care. Both boys were given medical checks and interviewed by police.
The men have both since been charged, Shaffer with two counts of kidnapping and four counts of child abuse, Coltharp with felony kidnapping as well as obstruction of justice. The aforementioned child sodomy charge arose after Coltharp’s arrest.
The Knights of the Crystal Blade have since released a statement on their website:
“In Response to the recent publicity from the media, we issue this statement: This Group and website in no way, shape or form, condone or tolerate child coupling, Child Marriages, Arranged Marriages, Neglect, Abductions or Abuse…”
The statement goes on to declare that “Anyone who is a member of this website or group who has been found in violating these standards, have been or will be removed.”
If only this message had been clear to the group’s own founder and prophet, perhaps these unfortunate and bizarre events could have been avoided.