Child's remains recovered in New Mexico compound where 11 children found

08 August, 2018, 16:13 | Author: Jason Torres
  • Siraj Wahhaj was jailed on a Georgia warrant alleging child abduction

Police were led to what they said was a "filthy" compound in New Mexico with two Muslim men, three women, and 11 children.

The Taos County Sheriff was emotional Tuesday as he told a room of reporters that his deputies found the body of a child on that compound Monday morning.

Authorities arrested Abdul-Ghani's father, Siraj Wahhaj, on Friday in a raid on the makeshift compound in Amalia, near the New Mexico-Colorado border.

The body of Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, four, was discovered days after investigators found his mother locked up with two other women and the emaciated children at a heavily guarded compound in the desert.

Abdul Wahhaj, who would have turned 4-years-old Monday, was reported missing in December from his Clayton County, Georgia home by his mother, Hakima Ramzi.

Even though his son Abdul-ghani, who was 3 when he disappeared last December, was not among the children found, Sheriff Hogrefe said authorities have reason to believe the boy was at the compound several weeks ago.

"Today we will be filing the petition with the court to maintain custody of those children", Monique Jacobson, cabinet secretary for the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department, said, as quoted by CNN. Wahhaj was booked with no bond because of a warrant related to his missing son, while Morten was charged with harboring a fugitive.

Mr Wahhaj told the trooper that he owned the guns legally and had a Georgia permit to carry concealed weapons.

The boy's mother told police her child suffered from seizures along with development and cognitive delays.

Tyler Anderson, who lived near the compound, said he believed the group had moved to the area to live off the grid, just as he had done. It was unclear how or why they ended up in New Mexico, Hogrefe said.

"I had no probable cause to go onto this property prior to the day I wrote the first warrant".

Each of the five adults were charged with 11 counts of felony child abuse, according to the local prosecutor, Donald Gallegos.

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"Yesterday, at 11:19 a.m. we did find remains of a young boy", said Taos County Sheriff Jerry L. Hogrefe said.

So while his father sits in custody accused of abusing 11 other children, the search for Abdul continues.

"We all gave the kids our water and what snacks we had - it was the saddest living conditions and poverty I have seen", Hogrefe said.

Morton was among the five adults arrested after the Taos County sheriff raided the compound.

The group appeared to have been living at the compound for a few months.

Upon a search of the New Mexico property, Hogrefe said investigators found Wahhaj armed with an "AR-15 rifle, five loaded 30-round magazines, and four loaded pistols, including one in his pocket".

Hogrefe described the children looking like "Third-World country refugees" with no food, fresh water or shoes and "basically dirty rags" for clothing.

Authorities in Georgia issued a warrant for Wahhaj's arrest in mid-May, but there was "no immediate information that he was in New Mexico", Hogrefe said.

Authorities returned to search the compound after interviews on Friday and Saturday led them to believe the boy might still be on the property.

"We are starving and need food and water", the message said, according to authorities, who said it was forwarded to them but did not provide details on its origin.

Other than a few potatoes and a box of rice, there was little food in the compound, which Hogrefe said consisted of a small travel trailer buried in the ground and covered by plastic with no water, plumbing and electricity. Three women believed to be their mothers were also found in the makeshift compound on Friday.

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