By Melissa Garcia

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. (CBS4) – Family members are asking for help to rebuild the lives of four kidnapped children.

john coltharp Kidnapped Kids Need Help Recovering From Polygamist Abuse

John Coltharp (credit: Sanpete County)

Authorities rescued the Coltharp children in December after their father, John Coltharp, allegedly hid them on a compound in the Utah desert.

The young children, whose parents grew up in Highlands Ranch, are now living in Colorado with a biological family member. They are in safe hands, but caretakers say they face a long road to return to normal lives.

“We had no clue that it was going to be as horrifying as it would,” said Steve Soble, the maternal grandfather of kids who are now 9, 7, 6, and 4 years of age.

coltharp Kidnapped Kids Need Help Recovering From Polygamist Abuse

(credit: CBS)

Soble said his daughter’s four children are doing their best to heal after months of abuse at the hands of their father.

According to law enforcement officials in Utah, John Coltharp took his children from their mother, who had full custody, and brought them to a remote compound without power, heat or running water.

“(They were) recovered from the desert with the clothes on their back,” Soble told CBS4’s Melissa Garcia. “So they basically lost everything.”

children Kidnapped Kids Need Help Recovering From Polygamist Abuse

(credit: CBS)

The missing children, found about three months later and close to death, now need all the help they can get to recover.

Their mother, asking for help in an online fundraiser, said that her two young girls were married off as child brides.

The girls and their two brothers have physically recovered, she said, but their emotional trauma is deep.

Family members are working to get them the help need to create new memories that will outweigh the bad ones.

Soble said money collected in the fundraiser would go towards basic needs as well as extra-curricular activities.

“The biggest thing is to help them understand that they’re loved and that they’re cared for,” he said.

The kids’ mom said getting them to and from their therapy appointments has been a struggle without a vehicle, having filed for bankruptcy, and the loss of her job.

Melissa Garcia has been reporting for CBS4 News since March 2014. Find her bio here, follow her on Twitter @MelissaGarciaTV, or send your story idea to mkgarcia@cbs.com.

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