Newly released video footage shows the harrowing moment police found two young girls hidden inside barrels by a Doomsday cult leader in Utah.
The video, uploaded by the YouTube channel ‘Explore With Us,’ showed the disturbing moment that police discovered the two youngsters inside the barrels back in 2017.
The Iron County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement at the timethat on 1 December 2017, they had received court documents from Micha Coltharp that she believed her four biological children were in their county. She told authorities that they had been taken by their father, John Coltharp.
Two children on the court order, Seth and William Coltharp, were found on 4 December 2017 at a remote compound made up of shipping containers with a woman called Catherine Coltharp.
These children were taken into police custody, medically checked and interviewed.
Two other children, Dinah and Hattie, were thought to be with Samuel Shaffer, who police say referred to himself as the Prophet of the religious sect Knights of the Crystal Blade.
Police said that Shaffer had turned over the position of Prophet to John Coltharp and left the compound with the girls and his own two biological children, Lily and Samantha Shaffer, on 3 December 2017.
“It was reported Samuel had spent the previous night with all four girls in a tent on or near the property,” the press release said.
An Amber Alert was issued for Dinah and Hattie, which prompted a person to report a white man walking alone on the dirt road several miles west of the compound.
Shaffer was located and arrested before telling police the general location of the two girls, reported KUTV.
There the new video shows they found Lily and Hattie inside two blue plastic 50-gallon water barrels around 1000 yards from the Coltharp property.
“At that time, Shaffer stated the children had been placed in the water barrels to conceal or hide them from being found by searching law enforcement,” the police statement read.
At this point, police believed the girls had spent around 24 hours in the barrels in subfreezing temperatures, were not properly dressed and did not have food or water with them.
Shaffer also said that he left a firearm next to the barrels on the ground.
At first, Shaffer did not say where the other two girls, Dinah and Samantha, and 20 law enforcement agents searched for them.
After an hour, Shaffer provided their location and they were found in an abandoned single-wide mobile home in poor health, showing signs of dehydration and acting lethargic.
All four girls were taken to hospital, but Samantha had to be flown to a children’s hospital due to her condition.
Investigators stated that Shaffer and Coltharp were “married” to each other’s daughters, who were minors, according to reports.
Shaffer was sentenced to a minimum of 26 years in prison in 2018 for first-degree felony rape of a child and one second-degree felony count of child abuse and was later sentenced to 15 years to life for sodomy, KUTV reported.
Coltharp pled guilty to child sodomy and child bigamy and was also sentenced to at least 26 years in prison, The Deseret News said in 2018.
The Independent has contacted the Iron County Sheriff’s Office for comment.