Five charged with child abuse at New Mexico compound due in court

08 August, 2018, 16:12 | Author: Charlene Valdez
  • Father who took missing Clayton County child found in New Mexico; Kid still missing

Law enforcement officers searching a rural northern New Mexico compound for a missing 3-year-old boy didn't locate him, but found 11 other children in filthy conditions and hardly any food.

The search of the compound came amid a two-month investigation in collaboration with Georgia authorities and the FBI, according to Taos, New Mexico Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe.

Hujrah Wahhaj along with Jany Leveille and Subhannah Wahhaj were arrested without incident in Taos believed to be mothers of eleven children that were rescued from filthy living conditions.

A New Mexico man says he and his wife pressed authorities to remove a group of people from a makeshift compound on his land where officials reported finding 11 hungry children living in filth.

The search warrant executed Friday followed a two-month investigation with Clayton County, Georgia, investigators and the FBI into the whereabouts of Wahhaj's son, Hogrefe said. The boy, whose fourth birthday was Monday, was reported missing by his mother from Clayton County, Georgia, in December.

Hogrefe, in an August 4 statement, said that officials found the "occupants were most likely heavily armed and considered extremist of the Muslim belief".

However, it took a plea for help and the search for a missing Georgia boy to finally draw sheriff's deputies to the desolate site that was walled off by stacks of old tires, wooden pallets and other debris.

The boy's mother told authorities that her son suffered from seizures, couldn't walk because of severe medical issues, and required constant attention.

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The defendants include the father of a missing boy whose disappearance led authorities to raid the compound last week. They were traveling with two other adults and five other children, and told police they were headed to New Mexico on a camping trip.

"I had no probable cause to go onto this property".

Georgia authorities said Mr Wahhaj was traveling through Alabama's Chilton County with seven children and another adult when their vehicle overturned.

The adults are facing child abuse charges.

The Taos County Sheriff's office said in a statement that they were alerted about the compound by Georgia police who had received a message from an inhabitant of the encampment.

A day later, the three women were also taken into custody and charged.

What authorities found Friday was what Hogrefe called "the saddest living conditions and poverty" he has seen in 30 years on the job.

In the affidavit for the warrant, the sheriff said that he reasonably believed Wahhaj and his son were inside the compound along with Morten.

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Wahhaj has been jailed on suspicion of child abduction and Morten was arrested on suspicion of harboring a fugitive.

He said the children looked like "Third-World country refugees" with no fresh water, no shoes, "and basically dirty rags" for clothing. Three women who are believed to be the children's mothers were detained and released.

Hogrefe said that although New Mexico authorities learned Wahhaj could be in New Mexico in May, local authorities couldn't confirm that he was at the Amalia compound and that's why they didn't move in sooner.

Siraj Wahhaj was found armed with an AR15 rifle, five loaded 30-round magazines, and four loaded pistols, including one in his pocket when he was taken down, police said.

The message, apparently sent from someone at the compound, contained a desperate plea: "We are starving and need food and water".

It's unclear whether Wahhaj did in fact do anything to his son, though authorities confirmed that they had reason to believe Abdul-Ghani had been at the compound in recent weeks.

Police described the compound as a small underground trailer covered by plastic, with no running water or electricity.

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