Sheriff believes they found missing Georgia boy's remains

Larry Hoffman
August 8, 2018

The remains of a young boy have been found on a filthy New Mexico compound where authorities rescued 11 children last week, according to police.

Amalia is 233 kilometres northeast of Albuquerque and in an isolated high-desert area near the New Mexico-Colorado border.

Medical examiners still must confirm whether the body found at the property in a second search Monday is that of Abdul-ghani Wahhaj, who was three years old in December when police say his father took him from his mother in Jonesboro, Georgia.

The couple said they saw a child they believed to be Abdul-Ghani in January and February, and realized he may be the missing child in late April or early May after they searched Siraj Wahhaj's name and saw a warrant out for his arrest.

On Monday, the boy's fourth birthday, investigators were scrambling to find him - and to understand what happened at the New Mexico compound.

The 11 children are now in the custody of child protective services, said Secretary of New Mexico Children, Youth & Families Department Monique Jacobson.

Morten was additionally charged with harbouring a fugitive, and Wahhaj was held, without bail, over the Georgia arrest warrant for child abduction. Wahhaj told the trooper that he owned the guns legally and had a Georgia permit to carry concealed weapons.

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

At that time, Siraj Wahhaj said he was taking the little boy to the park, but they never returned.

It's not clear how long the 11 children and five adults were living in these squalid conditions.

The body of a four-year-old boy has been found in a dilapidated camp in the USA state of New Mexico where 11 children were rescued in appalling conditions, police said.

But Hogrefe reiterated at the conference Tuesday that he didn't have sufficient probable cause to raid the property until a distress message - "reasonably believed" to have come from within the compound - was relayed to his office by a detective in Clayon County Georgia last week.

Badger said the children "clearly were not taken care of", and believes the sheriff should have - and could have - acted sooner.

The boy's father, Siraj Wahhaj, was arrested Friday along with his sisters Hujrah Wahhaj and Subhannah Wahhaj after authorities raided the compound.

Hogrefe, describing the scene, said the adults and children had no shoes, wore dirty rags for clothing and "looked like Third World country refugees".

Sheriff Hogrefe's deputies are searching for the child, along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and authorities in Georgia's Clayton County, where officials say the boy was living before his father took him around December 1, 2017. He said the younger Wahhaj and two of the women arrested - Hujrah and Subhannah Wahhaj - are his children. The station said the vehicle was registered to Morten and that according to policed five additional children and two adults were traveling with Wahhaj and his son.

The search for Abdul-ghani led authorities to the compound shielded by old tyres, wooden pallets and an earthen wall studded with broken glass.

Police received a search warrant last week after seeing a third-party message from someone on the compound that said, "We are starving and need food and water".

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".

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

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