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Children rescued in Iron County Amber Alert were living in storage containers, hidden in barrels

Posted at 3:46 PM, Dec 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-05 20:18:58-05

IRON COUNTY, Utah - The children rescued after the Iron County Amber Alert Monday were living in storage containers, two were found in water barrels, according to Iron County officials.

Samuel "The Seer" Shaffer

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.

Deputies found the grandparents about a mile west of Lund, Utah, at their "makeshift residence" constructed out of shipping containers.

There deputies found and rescued two of the four missing children.

A 4-year-old girl and an 8-year-old girl were still missing and thought to be with a man who calls himself Samuel "The Seer" Shaffer.

"They are with a man that calls himself Samuel 'The Seer,'" the children's mother said. "His name is Samuel Warren Shaffer and he believes he holds the keys of this dispensation and he has been many people throughout the history of time and that he has been reincarnated. They are following his prophecies and I believe he is with them and helping hide the children."

John Coltharp

Authorities originally started searching for the children after a raid at a religious compound when the father of two of the girls, Johnathan Coltharp, was arrested for kidnapping.

Officials said Coltharp and Shaffer are members of a religious sect called"Knights of the Crystal Blade."

Iron County deputies said Shaffer was the "prophet" but had turned over that position to Coltharp.

Authorities said Shaffer also had his two biological daughters with him, ages 5 and 7.

The grandparents said Shaffer had spent the night with the four young girls in a tent about 150 yards from the storage containers they were using as their primary residence.

Law enforcement searched the area for the children from the ground and the air with no luck.

Authorities later found Shaffer walking along a dirt road several miles west of the property.

Officials took him into custody and he told them where they could find the four young girls.

Iron County officials said Shaffer had hidden one of his daughters and the 4-year-old missing girl in blue plastic 50-gallon water barrels about a half-mile south of the property.

Shaffer told authorities he hid the girls in the barrels so law enforcement wouldn't find them.

The two children had been in the barrels in subfreezing temperatures for about 24 hours, were not dressed for the cold and had no food or water.

Shaffer also admitted he left a firearm on the ground next to the barrels.

Authorities said Shaffer took the two other girls, one of his daughters and the 8-year-old missing girl, with him to a different location.

Samuel Warren "The Seer" Shaffer

Law enforcement found the other two girls in an abandoned single-wide mobile home in "deplorable living conditions."

They said it appeared to be used for storage, not for a residence.

Court documents state those two girls were found "in poor health with signs of dehydration and acting lethargic."

All four young girls went to the hospital; three have since been released.

The youngest girl, one of Shaffer's daughters, was flown to Primary Children's Hospital in unknown condition.

Shaffer was booked on four counts of child abuse and two counts of child kidnapping, all felony charges.