Iron County Sheriff’s Office honors man who helped find missing children

Mar 27, 2018, 8:34 PM | Updated: 9:26 pm

IRON COUNTY – The Iron County Sheriff’s Office recognized a Washington County resident for his help while they were searching for missing children in December.

On March 16, 2018,Washington County resident Joseph Paul received an award for “Outstanding Citizenship.”

The award stems from an incident in 2017. In September, police said John Coltharp took his four children to the Cedar City area to join a religious sect. Coltharp’s wife divorced him after police said he disappeared with the four children.

In early December, police said they found Coltharp and two of the children, but two girls were still missing, along with the man who they said was the sect’s leader, Samuel Shaffer. Police issued an Amber Alert for the two girls.

“I called my wife and told her, ‘Hey, I got a gut feeling I’m going to catch this guy. I’m heading out,'” Paul said. “I tried to figure out where he might be, and I drove right to the guy. Couldn’t believe it. Like I was led to him.”

Paul said he started driving from his home near Lund and came across a man who he thought might be Shaffer walking along the road.

“I had a gut feeling as soon as I saw him,” Paul said.

Paul said he asked the man about the two missing girls.

“He said ‘I don’t know nothing about nothing. Can I get a ride?’ I said, ‘I don’t know if you’re armed or not, but I want you to know I am and no, I’m not going to give you a ride, and the cops are out here,'” Paul said.

Paul said the man tried a few times to run, but he was determined to keep the man there.

“I yelled at him and when he looked back, I chambered a round and showed him the gun and I said, ‘Get back over the fence, you ain’t going,'” Paul said.

Police arrived and arrested Shaffer. They said they found the two missing girls nearby.

On March 16, Deputy Jobe Peterson presented Paul with the award.

“Paul’s actions proved instrumental in the ensuing search by Iron County Sheriff’s Deputies which ultimately located the girls and led to the quick apprehension and arrest of the male, Samuel Shaffer. Paul’s quick-thinking and intuition that night ultimately saved the lives of the four girls who had been kidnapped by Shaffer,” a release from the Iron County Sheriff’s Office read.

Paul was thankful for the honor, but said his gratitude is for the officers.

“The police that find those kids and have to go through stuff like that, they’re the ones who need to get recognized more than me,” Paul said.

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Iron County Sheriff’s Office honors man who helped find missing children