Eleven children rescued from New Mexico compound after 'we're starving' note

Eleven children rescued from New Mexico compound after 'we're starving' note

A warrant for a Georgia man arrested August 3 at a remote Northern New Mexico compound for allegedly abducting his disabled 3-year-old son indicates the father believed the child was "possessed by the devil" and "wanted to perform an exorcism on him". Armed with a search warrant, the officers found five adults, including Wahhaj, and 11 children at the compound.

The sheriff's office says suspects Siraj Wahhaj and Lucas Morten initially refused to cooperate with deputies, with Wahhaj heavily armed.

But the missing boy from Georgia, Abdul Ghani Wahhaj, was nowhere to be found. Authorities said there was reason to believe he was at the compound a "few weeks ago".

From left: This Aug. 3, 2018, photo released by Taos County Sheriff's Office shows Lucas Morten.|A handout photo made available by Taos County Sheriff's Office shows the booking photo of Siraj Wahhaj issued on Aug. 05 2018.

Hogrefe said in the statement that Siraj Wahhaj, 39, was taken into custody on a warrant accusing him of abducting his 3-year-old son.

The Badgers noticed the compound had gone up on their property in January and said that's when they encountered Wahhaj and a little boy. Police in Alabama found out the group was traveling to New Mexico for a camping trip.

Friday's raid came after a two-month collaborative investigation between Clayton County, Georgia police and FBI investigators.

"Today we will be filing the petition with the court to maintain custody of those children", said Monique Jacobson, cabinet secretary for the department.

Morton was arrested on the charge of suspicion of harboring a fugitive.

Tyler Anderson of Amalia said Tuesday he had helped the newcomers install solar panels after they arrived in December.

Two men were arrested after police found them and the children in what one officer called "the saddest living conditions and poverty I have seen".

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He said Federal Bureau of Investigation agents had surveilled the area a few weeks ago but didn't find probable cause to search the property.

The women - Jany Leveille, believed to be Morten's wife, Hujrah Wahhaj, and Subhannah Wahhaj, an author of Muslim self-help books - eventually gave themselves up.

Morton was among the five adults arrested, including three women believed to be the mothers of the 11 children.

Police in New Mexico were contacted by a Georgia detective who told them that someone at the compound reached out stating they were starving and needed food and water.

That all changed last week, according to Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe, who received a tip from a Georgia investigator the children's welfare was in danger. That child was not among the children found.

The sheriff said authorities returned to the compound after interviews Friday and Saturday.

Three women, believed to be the children's mothers, were detained but later released.

A look at the living conditions at the compound.

The 11 other children, ranging in age from 1 to 15-years-old, are now in the custody of the New Mexico Children Youth and Families Division.

"I wish, in hindsight, there was, but we would not have been there lawfully", Sheriff Hogrefe said.

The mother said the child suffers from seizures, developmental and cognitive delays and is unable to walk due to suffering hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy - a lack of oxygen - at birth, according to information in a missing person report filed in Georgia in December and also in the arrest warrant for the father.

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