1 of 2
Iron County Sheriff's Office
Samuel Warren Shaffer

SALT LAKE CITY — The purported leader of a doomsday sect was charged Wednesday with multiple sex crimes against a child.

Samuel Warren Shaffer, 34, of Cedar City, was charged in 6th District Court with two counts of sodomy on a child, a first-degree felony; obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony; and lewdness involving a child, a class A misdemeanor. He previously was charged with two counts of child kidnapping, a first-degree felony, and four counts of intentional child abuse causing injury, a second-degree felony.

Shaffer — the alleged leader of a religious group, the Knights of the Crystal Blade — and one of his followers, John Alvin Coltharp, 34, "married" each other's underage daughters, according to a recently unsealed search warrant affidavit.

Both men were arrested in December after Coltharp's ex-wife hadn't heard from him or her children for weeks, prompting a search by authorities. They were found in a remote area of northern Iron County living in a "compound," that consisted mainly of storage units, according to police. Coltharp's two girls were found hidden in a plastic 50-gallon water barrel that Shaffer had made them stay in for at least 24 hours in subfreezing temperatures, charging documents state.

Shaffer's two daughters were also found "in poor health" in an abandoned mobile home "in deplorable living conditions," charges state.

Shaffer told police he was "betrothed" to Coltharp's 8-year-old daughter, according to the search warrant. Additionally, Shaffer allegedly said Coltharp was "betrothed" to Shaffer's 7-year-old daughter.

1 comment on this story

Police also received information from a man in another state who came to Utah and was "forcefully baptized by Samuel into their religion and promised a child bride," the affidavit states.

Coltharp's ex-wife described Shaffer as a "doomsday prepper who believes that the world will soon come to an end." She said he is the "prophet" of the church Coltharp had joined.

Colthrap is charged with with sodomy, a first-degree felony; child kidnapping, a first-degree felony; and obstructing justice by concealing a person, a class A misdemeanor.