Heads up: This post contains mentions of sexual abuse. Reader discretion is advised.
On the 6th of December 2017 police raided a compound near the town of Lund, in southern Utah in the search of two missing children. The dramatic search was launched after local authorities received a tip regarding the whereabouts of a missing 4 year old Hattie Briella Coltharp and her older sister, 8 year old Dinah Elizabeth Coltharp.
Their brothers, Seth and William, had been rescued earlier that day and it was a race against time for police to find the Coltharp girls, who likely wouldn’t have survived the freezing temperature of the night concealed inside of the blue 50 gallon water tank they were being held in. They were found five miles away from their brothers and liberated from the compound in the cover of darkness. The girls were shivering in the cold with empty stomachs, but appeared to be seemingly unharmed.
Dinah and Hattie, along with their two brothers, were suspected to have been kidnapped three months earlier by their father, 33 year old John Coltharp, who was a doomsday prepper and member of a Polygamist cult called “the Knights of The Crystal Blade”. John kidnapped his own children from Provo, Utah, and drove them almost 200 miles to Lund, Utah with the intention of handing them over to the self-proclaimed prophet and leader of the KOTCB, 34 year old Samuel Shaffer.
Coltharp’s parents were also found staying at the compound.
The children’s mother, Micha Soble, who had legal custody of the kids, reported her 4 children missing from the family home on the 13th of September 2017. She instantly accused her ex-husband, John, of kidnapping them as they were going through a divorce at the time. When tracked down by the authorities, John claimed he and the youngsters were on a long holiday.
During their marriage both John and his wife were Mormons and members of the LDS church (now known as “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”). This online article from the IBT times describes how John was very strict, forcing his wife to give birth without pain relief and obsessively preparing for an impending apocalypse. He was so extreme in his ways that he was eventually expelled from the LDS church.
Online sources indicate that the girls were taken with the intention of being indoctrinated into the cult and prepared for marriage.
John Coltharp strongly believed that it was perfectly okay for girls to be married off at the age of 12. “Their bodies are ready” he allegedly said.
“The Knights of The Crystal Blade” was a small, polygamist fundamentalist Mormon offshoot founded by Samuel Shaffer. They believed that Doomsday would arrive in the form of a “Muslim invasion” and planned to kidnap many more children leading up to the end days.
Apparently there was a website and podcast outlining the beliefs of the cult on a (now defunct) domain called "thekingdomofgodornothing.com". The podcasts assured that marrying children was totally acceptable and even approved of by God himself.
Although the website is no longer up, an archiving site does have a few captures of several pages, including a page of revelations from “Samuel the Seer Also Known as Frederick Warren Schafer”. This page is basically a rundown of revelations, or partial revelations, that Samuel Shaffer claimed he received from God as well as various other spiritual messengers. He reveals to the reader that he would get messages, pray about them, and confirm their legitimacy when he felt warmth in his chest and a lift in mood.
Scan the massive amount of text and you’ll pick out paragraphs pertaining to what clothes the followers are suggested to wear (Tunics), how to perform marriages, the rejection of of same sex marriages and interracial marriages, encouragement from God to, ehem, “eject your seed in soberness before me” and dreams Shaffer had about meeting Jesus Christ.
The list is 365 revelations long. Peppered throughout the text are various male names, most of which belong to various latter-day saints leaders of times gone by. One name I searched, however, happened to be a living man by the name of Mark Lichtenwalter. When I searched his name a Facebook profile came up from a man living in Spencer, Idaho, revealing that he is a manager of “the church of the living messiah”. This led me to the Ex-Mormon subreddit where I found an interesting post by an ex-Mormon who claims to have known John Coltharp.
Reddit user iliveinablackhole posted: “John coltharp used to be my friend!! I discovered his creepy cult website a while ago (it's now been taken down). He convinced people to follow him because of what his patriarchal blessing said. The description of the crystal blades purpose was vague but seemed like they were planning to commit terrorism with words like "we are the lords Knights. We will rid the world of Satan's influence and destroy God's enemies". When I was 15 he would show me videos of people committing suicide and laugh at it while I sat there traumatized. He started believing absurd conspiracy theories like the existence of gargoyles and shit. He believed in the book of Mormon and Joseph Smith but thought current prophets were sacrificing and eating babies in temples. Stupid conspiracy theories are what led John to madness. His beliefs and philosophies got more and more crazy every year and I stopped talking to him once his beliefs became hateful.”
In the same post user quigonskeptic mentioned that they once met the Mark Lichtenwalter mentioned on Samuel Shaffer’s website. Apparently he was involved with the two men at one point when he baptized them into his group, but claimed to receive a message from God in august of 2017 warning him not to associate with either Coltharp or Shaffer.
Shaffer took off on foot when the police raided the makeshift "Knights of The Crystal Blade” compound that night in December 2017. He had attempted to flee the scene, leaving a tight lipped Coltharp behind to deal with the authorities. Police picked him up along a dirt track and he gave up information to them almost instantly.
After police recovered Dinah and Hattie Coltharp, they soon found Shaffer’s own children in a disgusting abandoned mobile unit.
Unlike the Coltharp girls, Lilly and Samantha Shaffer appeared to be much worse off. It was clear they hadn’t had access to water and food for an extended period of time and they were taken to hospital. They are now said to be doing okay.
Following the arrest of the men, investigators learned some disturbing information: Shaffer had “married” Coltharp’s 8 year old daughter, Dinah, and Coltharp had in turn married Shaffer’s 7 year old child. Both men had married their own youngest daughters. They later admitted in court that they had physically inspected the girls to validate their virginity.
This online post contains a sickening quote from John Coltharp: “I can only have sex with the 4 year old if she initiates it.”
This article in the Salt Lake city tribune reveals that the case affidavit states an investigating officer with a warrant paid a visit to the home of Shaffer’s father and was presented with two bags belonging to Shaffer and Coltharp. Apparently the contents of the bags were incredibly disturbing and contained a laptop with child pornography as well as a detailed plan to murder one of Coltharp’s sons whom they believed to be a demon.
Both men were charged with kidnapping, bigamy, child abuse, and child sexual abuse. Shaffer was charged with sexual abuse and the rape of a child.
John Coltharp recently pleaded guilty to marrying the 7 year old girl and sexually assaulting her.