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Boys' remains found at site where 11 other children were found malnourished

08 August 2018

Asked whether the two men and three women arrested at the compound offered any information regarding the whereabouts of the boy, Hogrefe said they provided some "limited" information that assisted in the discovery of the set of remains, which appeared to belong to a small child.

Siraj Wahhaj, Hujrah Wahhaj, Subhannah Wahhaj, Lucas Morton and Jany Leveille all face child abuse charges.

Authorities said the remains were found Monday, on Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj's birthday, after a search of a filthy makeshift residence near Amalia, N.M., and that they would need to wait until Monday for a positive identification of the remains.

The investigation started late last year in Jonesboro, Georgia, where 39-year-old Siraj Wahhaj was accused of kidnapping his own toddler - who was ultimately not found.

"The children are in our custody, and our No. 1 priority right now is their health and safety", New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department Secretary Monique Jacobson said in a statement. But Wahhaj and Morten initially refused to follow commands and Wahhaj was armed with a rifle and four handguns, 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. The boy's mother told 9NEWS' sister-station 11Alive in Atlanta that her son took medication for seizures and had developmental and cognitive delays.

Badger said he had concerns about the compound near the Colorado border.

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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.

Documents made public in a court filing on Monday said the father told the boy's mother before he left Georgia that he wanted to perform an exorcism on the child because he believed he was possessed by the devil. Authorities in New Mexico on Tuesday said they have found the remains of a young boy.

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

Georgia authorities said Wahhaj was traveling through Chilton County on December 13 with seven children and another adult when their vehicle overturned.

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

In an email responding to a Journal inquiry before Tuesday's news that a child's body had been found at the New Mexico compound, the imam said, "We are grateful for Law Enforcement for locating our family members".

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

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"I've been working this job for 30 years, and I've never seen anything like this", Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe told the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper.

"Last Thursday, when a message we reasonably believe came from a occupant of the compound or somebody with great knowledge of the compound sent a message saying said basically, we are starving and the children are staving, or something along those lines".

The Taos County Sheriff said the 3-year-old boy was not among the children which he described as being in heartbreaking condition, starving with no food or fresh water.

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

Two of the children and the other woman were found in a 2006 Ford moving van that deputies believe they were living in.

The Associated Press reports that Badger and his wife had pressed authorities to remove the group of people in the makeshift compound, which he says is on his land.

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Boys' remains found at site where 11 other children were found malnourished