SALT LAKE CITY — Two purported members of a doomsday sect in southern Utah have been charged with more crimes.
Amended charges were filed Tuesday against Samuel Warren Shaffer, 34, of Cedar City, and John Alvin Coltharp, 34, of Spring City. Both men now face child bigamy charges.
Shaffer was charged with conspiracy to commit child bigamy, a second-degree felony. He was previously 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 is also charged with two counts of child kidnapping, a first-degree felony, and four counts of intentional child abuse causing injury, a second-degree felony.
Colthrap is now charged with child bigamy, a second-degree felony, in addition to sodomy of a child, a first-degree felony, in one case; and child kidnapping, a first-degree felony; and obstructing justice by concealing a person, a class A misdemeanor, in another.
Court documents say Shaffer — the alleged leader of a religious group, the Knights of the Crystal Blade — and Coltharp, one of his followers, "married" each other's underage daughters.
According to the new amended charges, on or about July 1, 2017, Shaffer "knowing he had a wife, did knowingly and willingly purport to marry a person under 18 years of age," while Shaffer agreed "to engage in" child bigamy.
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.Comment on this story
Shaffer told police he was "betrothed" to Coltharp's 8-year-old daughter, according to a search warrant. Additionally, Shaffer allegedly said Coltharp was "betrothed" to Shaffer's 7-year-old daughter.
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.
A preliminary hearing for Coltharp is scheduled for Feb. 20, and Shaffer's is Feb. 21.