Remains of boy found at New Mexico compound

A New Mexico sheriff says searchers have found the remains of a boy on property where authorities raided a makeshift compound last week in search of a missing Georgia child.


Officials have not confirmed if the remains found Monday are those of a missing Georgia boy, Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, who was nowhere to be found after authorities stormed the complex on Friday. The boy's father was suspected of abducting him eight months ago from Clayton County, Georgia.
Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said the positive identification of the remains is pending an autopsy.

"We discovered the remains yesterday," the sheriff said, getting choked up, "on Abdul's fourth birthday."

The boy's father, Siraj Wahhaj, was arrested Friday along with his sisters Hujrah Wahhaj and Subhannah Wahhaj after authorities raided the compound. The three and two other adults also arrested -- Lucas Morten and Jany Leveille -- are accused of keeping the children in an underground trailer with virtually no food or water.

New Mexico authorities learned in May about the abduction, the sheriff said. But surveillance of the property didn't identify Wahhaj or his son there, the sheriff said.

The "breaking point for us" in the search for Abdul-Ghani came last Thursday, when New Mexico authorities received a tip about possible starving children living on the compound, the sheriff said. He said he felt investigators had enough probable cause to put in an affidavit for a search warrant.

Authorities were searching for the father and son, and anyone else "whose welfare may be compromised," according to the affidavit.
The sheriff said interviews after the raid led authorities to return to the property on Monday with a good idea of where to search for Abdul-Ghani.
Abdul-Ghani's mother, Hakima Ramzi, could not be reached after authorities announced the discovery of the remains.

The boy's grandfather, Imam Siraj Wahhaj is "devastated that those remains could possibly be those of Abdul-Ghani," according to a spokesman.

"We don't know whether those remains are those of his grandson," said the Imam Al-Hajj Talib 'Abdur-Rashid, head of the Muslim Alliance in North America.

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