The leaders of a fundamentalist Mormon cult called Knights of the Crystal Blade, who married each others’ young daughters, were preparing for a Muslim invasion of the United States.
‘Prophets’ John Coltharp, 33, and Samuel Shaffer, 34, of the tiny town of Lund, in Utah, were also planning to kidnap children as they braced for the end of the world, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
They were arrested in December during a raid on their remote compound, and now face multiple charges including sodomy of a child, child bigamy, kidnapping and sexual abuse.
Police were first alerted to the men after Coltharp’s ex-wife reported that she hadn’t heard from her former husband or kids, and was concerned for her children’s safety.
Fathers: Samuel Shaffer, 34, (left) and John Coltharp (right), 33, are now both in custody on kidnapping charges. Shaffer is also facing child abuse charges
Video footage captured the moment Coltharp’s two daughters, aged eight and four were rescued in the dead of night by police, after being kidnapped by their father.
John Coltharp had reportedly told his friend, and fellow ‘prophet’ Shaffer to hide the sisters on his compound after an amber alert was issued last month.
When police raided the site, they also discovered Shaffer’s two young daughters, aged seven, and five, who had not been reported missing.
The two youngest of the four, were being kept in a 50lb blue water barrel where they had been for more than 24 hours.
Dramatic images obtained by CBS shows two of the girls being rescued. They were barefoot and wearing what looked like thin leggings. The two older girls were found in an abandoned trailer. All were dehydrated and taken to hospital.
Shaffer told police the men had ‘married’ each other’s daughters.
One of the four girls who was being held on a polygamous compound in Utah is rescued in December
He said that he ‘wed’ Coltharp’s eight-year-old daughter, and that Coltharp married his seven-year-old.
Police say Shaffer was also married to his own 4-year-old daughter, while Coltharp married his own 4-year-old daughter too.
The child marriages took place in summer 2017, before they decamped to the desert in mid-September in preparation for an apocalypse or in hopes of gaining followers, said Daniels, deputy attorney in Sanpete County.
Shaffer, 34, is believed to have ‘married’ his four-year-old daughter
‘They were actively recruiting; they wanted to build this group up,’ a prosecutor said.
A man in California found their writings online and traveled to Utah to join them and was promised a child bride, according to search warrants made public this week.
Police also found weapons in their compound, Daniels said.
‘These are extreme individuals with extreme beliefs that believe the end of the world is coming,’ he said. Police ‘prevented those little girls from dying … or repeating a Waco-style shootout.’
Cops also recovered a notebook titled ‘Coltharp Family History,’ which is beleieved to document the marriages.
Both men, believed God was speaking to them and police have found evidence of one of the ‘revelations’ to Coltharp which said he had permission to marry his 4-year-old but could only have sex with her if she initiated it, police affidavits state.
Cops also found evidence that Coltharp was planning to kill his young son, because he thought he was an ‘evil spirit.’
Another of the young girls is pictured being rescued. Two were found in a 50lb water container and the other two were found in an empty trailer
He was then planning to teach his ex-wife, Micha Coltharp, ‘the gospel in the spirit world’, despite telling others she had died of cancer which god gave her as punishment, affidavits state. Micha, is in fact, alive.
Both Coltharp and Shaffer were members of the Knights of the Crystal Blade Mormon sect. Coltharp took over from Schaffer as leader in July when he began hearing God speak to him, police say.
Shaffer (above) is a key figure in the Knights of the Crystal Blade polygamous cult. Police say he’d been priming the young girls to marry them
They were also convinced the end was nigh, and that a Muslim invasion of the United States was imminent, according to police.
They were arrested in December after police found their daughters hidden away on Shaffer’s compound, following a highly publicized amber alert search.
Sheriff’s deputies descended on the area with helicopters and dogs but there was still no sign of the four Coltharp children.
The boys were found in the makeshift compound, but it took police another day to find the girls because Shaffer had hidden them in the barrels and trailer, authorities said.
Authorities say they are still investigating the case and the full extent of the abuse.
Attorneys for the two men didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment.
The two fathers’ religious obsession has been a growing concern for their families.
Coltharp’s sister Cindi Ray said she feared he was grooming his daughters for child marriage.
She said her brother was a ‘doomsday prepper’. On the cult’s website, Shaffer describes in length his ‘revelations’ about marriage and adulter
The compound was made up of disused freight cars and trailers. Police are seen searching it in a helicopter last year
Two of the girls were found in an empty trailer on the compound, like the one shown above
Police were led to the site in Lund, Utah, after arresting John Calthorp. They found Shaffer walking on a dirt road nearby
They include multiple men being able to have sex with one woman if permitted by her husband and women or ‘wives’ being used to ‘raise up’ men in the religion through sex.
‘A man to whom a woman is sealed need merely place his wife’s hand in the hand of another and she shall be submissive to him to whom she has been given.
‘Whether it is to be temporary permission or eternal union according to the order, she may have intercourse with him and he with she,’ is one of his remarks.
Shaffer refers to himself in the religion as Samuel The Seer and Frederick Warren Schafer.
No one else from the religion has yet commented on the two fathers’ arrests.
It is not clear how many people were living on the compound when police found the girls.
The Coltharp girls’ mother Micha Soble (right) first reported them missing. She said she pleaded with authorities not to allow their father John (left) to have access to them because she was worried about his intensifying religion
Polygamy and bigamy are illegal in the United States, although Utah, a state that is home to a large Mormon community, does not prosecute polygamists who are law-abiding, giving way to the ‘Sister Wives’ phenomenon which is seen in some parts of the state.
Police say Shaffer was grooming Coltharp to take over as the cult’s ‘prophet’.
‘It was believed Samuel Shaffer was the Prophet of the Knights of the Crystal Blade. During an interview with Shaffer he stated he had turned over the position of Prophet to Johnathan Coltharp,’ Iron County Sheriff’s Officer Lt. Del Schlosser said.
Coltharp’s wife pleaded with a judge not to allow him access to the children but she was turned down.
She said she feared his strict religious beliefs were harmful to the children.
Among his previous remarks was that he would rather shoot the girls than have them taken away from him.
Shaffer has been arrested on two counts of kidnapping and four counts of child abuse. It is not clear how much his bond is but he remains behind bars.
Coltharp faces kidnapping and obstruction of justice charges. He is being held in county jail on a $50,000 bond.