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Utah Man in Doomsday Sect Had Plans to Kill His 'Possessed' Son: Investigators

Sanpete County Sheriff's Office

Posted on

According to newly unsealed affidavits, the two Utah men accused of marrying each other’s underage daughters allegedly believed that the end of the world was nigh, and hatched plans to kidnap more children before an “anticipated Muslim invasion of the United States.”

The affidavits, obtained by PEOPLE, further allege that one of the men — John Coltharp — was intending to kill his son, William, insisting the child was “possessed by an evil spirit.”

The court documents contend Coltharp thought that by killing him, “his son would then teach his mother the gospel in the spirit world.”

Coltharp, 33, and Samuel Shaffer, 34, have both been charged with kidnapping, sexual abuse, and child bigamy. In addition, Coltharp faces charges of sodomy of a child for a sexual assault stemming from an alleged incident on Aug. 1, 2017.

Police believe the two men were members of a doomsday cult, called the Knights of the Crystal Blade, which identifies as a fundamentalist offshoot of the Mormon church. Both also allegedly believed they were “prophets,” according to investigators.

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Shaffer allegedly told detectives he was married to Coltharp’s 8-year-old daughter, and that Coltharp was married to Shaffer’s 7-year-old daughter, the court records show.

Police began investigating on Dec. 1 after Coltharp’s ex-wife called police to report that Coltharp had allegedly kidnapped their four children. Coltharp was arrested at his home, but his children were not with him.

On Dec. 4, 2017, police raided a compound in a remote area about one mile west of Lund, where members of the sect were living inside shipping containers. There, they found Coltharp’s parents and his two sons. Police learned that Shaffer was allegedly last seen with his two daughters, ages seven and five, and Coltharp’s two daughters.

He had spent the previous night with the four girls in a tent near the compound, the release states.

Shortly after an AMBER Alert was issued for Coltharp’s two daughters, a tipster called police reporting they saw a white male later identified as Shaffer walking alone on a dirt road several miles west of the compound.

Shaffer, who investigators contend is the cult’s leader, was taken into custody and told police where they could find two of the girls. Deputies discovered one of Shaffer’s daughters and one of Coltharp’s daughters inside two blue plastic 50 gallon water barrels located approximately 1,000 yards south of the Coltharp property.

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Shaffer allegedly told police the two girls had been placed in the water barrels to hide them from law enforcement. Police alleged the two girls had spent approximately 24 hours inside the barrel in subfreezing temperatures.

Prosecutors tell PEOPLE Shaffer’s father, James, has agreed to cooperate with the prosecution, and will testify against Samuel at his upcoming trial.

James Shaffer was recently arrested and charged with obstructing justice for allegedly hiding Coltharp’s children in his home and lying to police about it. Coltharp’s parents are also expected to serve as state witnesses. He has yet to enter a plea and it was unclear who his lawyer might be.

The affidavit states that the FBI is still processing the suspect’s electronics, and that someone who associated with John Coltharp claims he keeps meticulous records on his computer.

According to the affidavits, Coltharp allegedly told the witness that if authorities ever found the files on his computer, he would be “fried.”

Neither suspect has entered not guilty pleas. Their lawyers could not be reached for comment.