11 children found on the ‘filthy’ New Mexico compound during the search for missing 3-year-old boy, sheriff says

An unsuccessful search for a missing 3-year-old boy led the police to another discovery — 11 children who are malnourished and living in filth, police said.

(AP/Clayton County Police Department)

The authorities in the hope to end a monthslong search for a missing 3-year-old boy raided a New Mexico compound Friday in search of the toddler — but instead found 11 other children, who are malnourished and living in filthy conditions, authorities said.

Taos County Sheriff’s deputies stormed a makeshift compound in Amalia and away from the children, ranging in age from 1 to 15, and transferred to the state child-welfare workers. The police was initially on the compound to look for Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj and a 39-year-old man, Siraj Wahhaj, has been accused of the kidnap of the boy in last December. Wahhaj was located on the property and arrested. The child that led to the first study was not found.

Wahhaj was jailed on a Georgia warrant alleged child abduction after police searching a rural northern New Mexico compound for a missing 3-year-old boy found 11 children in the squalid conditions and barely eat.

(Taos County Sheriff’s Office)

“We have an extensive search for the missing child, our primary target audience,” Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said, according to the Albuquerque Journal. “We certainly don’t want to leave that place and leave a child behind and I am convinced that we did not.”

Another man, who like Lucas, Morten, was taken into custody on suspicion of harboring a fugitive.

Luke Morten was arrested on suspicion of harboring a fugitive.

(Taos County Sheriff’s Office)

Three other women in the compound were also detained, but later released.

Hogrefe said authorities had carried out monitoring of the connection, while looking for the missing boy, before he decided on Thursday to a search warrant immediately after a Georgia researcher sent a message that someone on the compound allegedly told another person that people in the compound were starving and needed water.

Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj was missing last December.

(Clayton County Police Department)

“The message is sent to a third party simply said in part,” We are hungry and need food and water,’ ” Hogrefe said. “I’m sure knew that we could not wait for another agency to step up and we had to go check this as soon as possible.”

When police arrived at the place, Wahhaj was armed with an AR-15 rifle, five loaded 30-round magazines, four loaded handguns, including one in his pocket,” according to Hogrefe. Wahhaj and Morton refused to cooperate with the authorities.

The sheriff described the conditions as “the ugliest looking, filthiest he has ever seen.

The children, ranging in age from 1 to 15 were removed from the compound and transferred to the state child-welfare workers.


“The only thing we saw were a couple of potatoes and a box of rice in the filthy trailer,” Hogrefe said in a press release. “But what was the most surprising and heart-rending was when the team signed a total of five adults and 11 children, that looked like a third world country refugees not only with no food or water, but with no shoes, personal hygiene and, in principle, filthy rags for clothes.”

Abdul-Ghani’s mother reported that in December, her son disappeared after Wahhaj took the boy to the park in Clayton County, Ga., and not for nine days, The Albuquerque Jounral reported. The mother said that the 3-year-old suffers from a medical condition.

The police are looking for the connection for the missing child does not find him but found 11 other children in the squalid conditions and barely food to eat, a sheriff said Saturday.


Wahhaj and the boy were last seen approximately two weeks after the child disappeared. The pair were involved in a car accident on I-65 in Alabama. The other five children and two adults were also with Wahhaj and the boy in a car that was registered to Morton, CBS46 reported.

Authorities said on Saturday they believe the boy was in the compound in recent weeks, but could not get information from any of the five adults found on the site.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Katherine Lam is a breaking and trending news digital producer for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter via @bykatherinelam

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