Third man faces charges in doomsday cult investigation

Third man faces charges in doomsday cult investigation


By James Tilson

Staff writer



MANTI—The Sanpete County Attorney’s Office filed charges last week against a third man connected to the child abuse cases against the leaders of the Knights of the Crystal Blade cult.

Robert Shane Roe, 34, of Castro, Calif., is wanted on an arrest warrant for one count of sodomy of a child, a first-degree felony, alleged to have happened Aug. 28, 2017 in Spring City.

According to Sanpete County Attorney Kevin Daniels, Roe was recruited to join John Coltharp’s and Samuel Shaffer’s cult through a Facebook group called “the 1890,” which espoused ancient Israelite traditions mixed with old Mormon theology.

Coltharp was the first leader of the group, and Shaffer later joined the group as its “prophet.” The duo then set about recruiting new members through social media. Daniels said this a very unusual feature of their cult. Most Mormon fundamentalist off-shoots tend to eschew modern technology, and want to return to the “old ways.” Coltharp and Shaffer embraced social media, and used it to find new followers.

Daniels said Roe was invited to Sanpete County to meet Coltharp and Shaffer, and to be baptized in their church. Roe was enticed with the offer of a child bride, which would be the child of one of the leaders. Daniels declined to identify to whom the child was related, in order to protect the victim.

Roe met with Coltharp and Shaffer in Mt. Pleasant, and spent the night there in a hotel with the child, at which time the crime allegedly occurred. The next day, Roe apparently became disillusioned with Coltharp and Shaffer, and went back to California.

Daniels said he has been in contact with Roe, through an attorney, and that Roe plans to turn himself into authorities and fight the charges.  However, Daniels does not know the timeframe in which Roe plans to do that.  Daniels said the arrest warrant will stay outstanding until Roe comes back to Utah, or is arrested.

Shaffer pleaded guilty to charges in Iron County for child rape and child abuse, and was sentenced in May to 25 years to life for the child rape charge, and one to 15 years for child abuse, to run consecutively. Shaffer still has pending charges in Sanpete County.

Coltharp pleaded not guilty to charges of sodomy and child bigamy, and appeared in court on June 13. At time of press, Coltharp was still scheduled for trial the first week of July.