Published: Wed, August 08, 2018
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

Cops discover 11 starving kids at filthy compound in search for boy

Cops discover 11 starving kids at filthy compound in search for boy

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.

The children ranging in age from 1 to 15 were removed from the compound in the small community of Amalia near the Colorado border and turned over to state child-welfare workers.

Authorities say the search for Abdul-ghani, of Georgia, led them Friday to the squalid compound where they found his father, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, four other adults and 11 children living in filthy conditions.

The mother of Abdul-Ghani called Clayton County police on December 10 and told authorities that she hadn't seen her son since December, when Siraj said he was taking him to the park.

It's not clear whether the remains are those of Abdul-Ghani, a child with severe medical problems whose fourth birthday was Monday.

The other boys "are all safe and their needs are being met", Henry Varela, communications director of the New Mexico Department of Children, Youth and Families, told AFP. Lucas Morten was jailed on suspicion of harboring a fugitive, Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said.

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. "He can not walk and suffers seizures and requires constant medical attention", Ramzi said.

The defendants include the father of a missing boy whose disappearance led authorities to raid the compound last week.

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. According to an arrest warrant obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the boy and his dad left home after the father revealed his plan to perform an "exorcism" on the toddler since he was "possessed by the devil". The group told police they were headed to New Mexico to go camping, and continued on their way. He said he felt investigators had enough probable cause to put in an affidavit for a search warrant.

So far, all five adults have been charged with 11 counts of child abuse, according to the sheriff.

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Investigators confirm a child's body was found on the compound where 11 children were found living in squalor.

At a news conference in Taos, Hogrefe described Federal Bureau of Investigation surveillance efforts in recent months that included photographs of the compound and interviews.

The state agency said it planned to file a petition with the court to maintain custody of the children, according to Monique Jacobson, cabinet secretary for the department.

Sheriff Hogrefe described the compound as "the saddest living conditions and poverty" he has seen in 30 years on the job.

"When encountered both men initially refused to follow verbal direction and Wahhaj who was held up inside the compound was heavily armed with an AR15 rifle".

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

Police in Georgia say his mother contacted them after her husband, Siraj Wahhaj, told her he was taking the boy to the park.

Hogrefe said the "breaking point" in seeking a search warrant came when Georgia authorities received a message that may have originated within the compound that children were starving inside.

He had previously described deplorable conditions there: "Children that looked like third-world country refugees with no food or fresh water, no shoes, and basically dirty rags for clothing". The women are believed to be the mothers of the children. Wahhaj's relatives, including his -father, an imam at a mosque in Brooklyn, New York, launched a social media campaign to try to find the missing boy.

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