Boy's Remains Found At Raided New Mexico Compound


Investigators found the remains on Monday morning, Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said at a news conference.

The public defender's office in Taos County did not immediately return telephone message from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Authorities combing a compound in rural New Mexico found the remains of a young child on Monday, just days after 11 starving children were rescued from the same location, police said. He said the images were shared with the mother of Abdul-ghani but she did not spot her son, and that photographs also never indicated the boy's father was at the compound. However, the boy was not at the compound when police executed a search warrant there.

"He's sick. He needs his medications", she said.

Both the adults and the children looked like "refugees not only with no food or fresh water, but with no shoes, personal hygiene and basically dirty rags for clothing".

The 11 children have been taken into care by local social services.

Sheriff Hogrefe said they worked with other agencies and believed that the missing could still be on the compound.

Both Wahhaj and Morten initially refused to follow verbal commands when law enforcement arrived at the compound, and Wahhaj remained holed up inside a small, rickety trailer with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, five 30-round magazines and four handguns, Hogrefe said. The group had built the compound on their acreage instead of a neighbouring tract owned by Lucas Morton, one of the men arrested during the raid.

The second man has been alternatively identified by the sheriff as Lucas Morten and Lucan Morton.

A defense attorney said criminal complaints accusing five adults of child abuse are sparse in detail, leading to uncertainty about how much investigative work has been done. "Each count is a third-degree felony". They have not yet made their first appearances in court.

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The women, believed to be mothers of some of the children, have been identified as 35-year-old Jany Leveille, 38-year-old Hujrah Wahhaj, and 35-year-old Subhannah Wahhaj. "All were arrested without incident in Taos and were later booked in the Taos Adult Detention Center", it said.

"It's obvious to me that they were brainwashed and feel great intimidation from the men that were in control of this facility", Hogrefe said of the women and children.

Wahhaj was expected to appear in court Wednesday on a previous warrant from Georgia that seeks his extradition to face a charge of abducting his son, Abdul-ghani, from that state last December.

The Sheriff said the Federal Bureau of Investigation had "recently provided information and surveillance on this location, but they (FBI) didn't feel there was enough probable cause to get on the property".

It was not clear who sent the message or how it was communicated.

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

A toddler, Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, 4, who is thought to have been living at the compound, remains missing. Police later said that the missing child was not found at the scene.

Investigators said none of the adults would give statements to the current whereabouts of the little boy.

The authorities had their eye on the compound for two months, but they could not find probable cause to storm the place until they received the message that people were malnourished.

No criminal charges were filed as there was no custody issue, WGCL-TV said. But he says the courts and other authorities shot down his attempts to break up the encampment - described as a trailer buried in the ground in Amalia, just south of the New Mexico-Colorado line.