In Dec. 2017, Micha Soble, formerly Micha Coltharp, contacted Iron County Sheriff’s Department in Utah to report her four missing children.
Micha told authorities that her ex-husband John Coltharp and his parents took their two boys and two girls from her even though she was granted full custody of them in late November.
But when authorities tracked Coltharp down, he refused to tell them where the children were being hidden. He was then arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and obstruction of justice.
Authorities continued to look for another suspect, “cult prophet” Samuel Shaffer, 34, whose teachings Coltharp had been following when he was taken.
Law enforcement was led to a remote area where they discovered three trailers with the two Coltharp boys inside. But the Coltharp girls and Shaffer were still nowhere to be found.
Soble’s parents feared their granddaughters had been given away for marriage, potentially to self-proclaimed “seer” Shaffer.
Police then began searching the area with helicopters and sent out an Amber Alert for the two missing girls.
That’s when area resident Joseph Paul sprang into action. He immediately left his home on foot and began searching the area.
Eventually, Paul spotted Shaffer walking along a nearby dirt road and contacted police. He made contact and kept an eye on Shaffer until they arrived.
Shaffer was taken into custody and revealed the location of the Coltharp girls, as well as his own two daughters, hidden in plastic water barrels and a trailer.
Both Shaffer and John Coltharp face numerous charges, including sex abuse, child bigamy, and kidnapping. The children were immediately taken to the hospital.
Thanks to Paul, the four girls were saved from further harm and from enduring another night in inhumane, freezing conditions.
“Paul’s quick-thinking and intuition that night ultimately saved the lives of the four girls who had been kidnapped by Shaffer,” authorities said.
“The girls were being held captive in two separate locations, with neither location having any source of heat nor adequate clothing for the harsh elements. The weather [that night] was undoubtedly one of the coldest nights of the year with temperatures in the single digits and a bitterly cold wind chill.”
The four Coltharp children have since been reunited with their mother. Paul was also given an “Outstanding Citizenship” award for his brave actions leading to Shaffer’s capture and the rescue of his victims.
Soble has also shared an update on her children, reporting that they are improving as they recover from the incident, happy to be safe and sound at home.
“We are still treating scrapes, cuts, etc.,” she explained. “It took 3 baths to get their hair unmatted. They are happy to be clean and brushing their teeth again. They are also happy to have a warm place to sleep at night. They are in high spirits but will need some help.”
A GoFundMe has been created to help Micha and her four children get back on their feet and find a new home.
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