Father kidnapped his 4 children, joined polygamous doomsday cult, police say

Amber Alert issued for 2 Colorado girls possibly promised to polygamist man for marriage

Dinah 8 and Haddie 4

Salt Lake Tribune reports that Samuel Warren Shaffer, 34, a "doomsday prepper", is accused of hiding his friend's his two young daughters, 8-year-old Dinah Coltharp and 4-year-old Hattie Coltharp, along with his own two daughters, in an Iron County compound.

Their father, John Coltharp, was arrested Saturday for investigation of kidnapping the children when authorities raided what is believed to be a religious compound.

Shaffer and the two girls' father John Coltharp were said have been involved in "cult-like activities".

Family members who spoke to the Denver Post believed Coltharp gave his two daughters to Shaffer as brides, and feared for their safety given previous comments threatening to kill his children if the government tried to take them.

He was arrested last week but had refused to disclose the location of his children, even after prosecutors offered him a deal if he told them where they were. He did not yet have an attorney listed in the court documents. He said Samuel Shaffer was not a polygamist or part of an established group and questioned the characterization of the area compound.

Once he had been apprehended by deputies, Shaffer provided law enforcement with the general location of two girls, Lily Shaffer and Hattie Coltharp, who were inside two blue plastic 50-gallon water barrels.

Coltharp and his wife Micha had been married about 10 years and shared four children, but the marriage was breaking up.

"There's no doubt in my mind they have been going through complete indoctrination", Soble said before the children had been found.

It comes after an Amber Alert was issued when their mother, Micha Soble, said her four children had disappeared on 13 September.

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The couple divorced, and Soble eventually received full custody, reported CBS News.

Then, on December 1, her ex-husband turned up at his parents' home.

With Coltharp in custody but the children still missing, the search intensified and went public.

Self-proclaimed cult leader, Samuel Shaffer, who was believed to have been given the children by their father, has been taken into custody by the Sheriff's Department in Iron County Utah in connection with the incident.

An amber alert led to a tip.

The two other girls, Dinah and Shaffer's other biological daughter, were found in an abandoned single wide mobile home.

He told police two girls had been placed in the water barrels to hide them from police.

Court documents state the Iron County Sheriff's Office sent deputies to look for the children who were believed to be with their grandparents in Iron County near Beryl Junction, about 30 miles west of Cedar City. All but one had been released by Tuesday. As of this afternoon at 5 p.m., her condition is unknown.

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