The self-proclaimed prophet of a new fundamentalist Mormon group, whose alleged kidnapping of his two young girls triggered an Amber Alert on Monday, was appointed an attorney Wednesday in his first court appearance since his arrest.
Samuel Warren Shaffer, who is being held without bond in the Iron County jail, appeared in 5th District courtroom via video call for his initial court appearance. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 20.
Court video shows Shaffer, wearing a dark jail jumpsuit, look directly into the camera as he interacts with Judge Keith Barnes.
During the appearance, Shaffer requested that the judge appoint him an attorney, Troy Sundquist, and Barnes obliged.
Shaffer and his alleged accomplice, John Coltharp, 33, were arrested Monday after an Amber Alert set off a search for Coltharp’s 4- and 8-year-old daughters.
Coltharp was also scheduled for his initial appearance Wednesday, but in 6th District Court. He is charged with child kidnapping, a first-degree felony, and obstruction of justice, a class A misdemeanor.
Deputies found one of Shaffer’s girls and one of Coltharp’s daughters Monday evening, hidden inside plastic 50-gallon water barrels in the Lund area, which is west of Cedar City.
A witnesses saw Shaffer walking alone in Lund and called 911. He was arrested soon after. That arrest led deputies to the girls, who were hidden nearby.
The two girls had been hiding from law enforcement in the barrels for the past 24 hours, enduring subzero temperatures. Police found the men’s other daughters in an abandoned mobile home about 5 miles away from where the other girls were found.
Iron County deputies also raided a compound of shipping containers that day and found Coltharp’s two boys who’d been reported missing.
Shaffer, who is the self-proclaimed prophet of a religious group he and Coltharp created, called the Knights of the Crystal Blade, is charged with two first-degree-felony counts of kidnapping and four second-degree-felony counts of child abuse.
Correction: Dec. 7, 9:15 p.m. • An earlier version of this story misstated the girls whose alleged kidnapping triggered an Amber Alert. John Coltharp's girls were they.