clearn.png
Monday October 14th, 2019 7:34AM

Kids found in rags in New Mexico amid tale of guns, exorcism

By The Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A raid on a New Mexico desert compound turned up 11 children wearing rags and living in filth, and also broke open a bizarre tale of guns, exorcism, and a search for a missing young boy who suffers from seizures and is nowhere to be found.

The boy's father was among five people arrested after the raid near the border with Colorado. Documents made public in a court filing Monday said the father told the boy's mother before fleeing Georgia that he wanted to perform an exorcism on the child because he believed he was possessed by the devil.

Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said deputies arrested the father, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, and four other adults on child abuse charges after finding the 11 children Friday inside a makeshift compound in the tiny community of Amalia. It was littered with "odorous trash" and lacking clean water, authorities said.

Inside, Wahhaj, 39, was found heavily armed with multiple firearms, including a loaded AR-15, before he was taken into custody, the sheriff said.

His son, Abdul-ghani, who was 3 when he disappeared last December, was not among the children found. But Hogrefe said authorities have reason to believe the boy was at the compound several weeks ago.

Hogrefe's deputies are searching for the child, along with the FBI and Georgia authorities in Clayton County, where officials say the boy was living before his father took him around Dec. 1, 2017.

The boy's mother told authorities the boy suffers from seizures, cannot walk because of severe medical issues, and requires constant attention.

She told police in December that Wahhaj had taken the boy for a trip to a park and never returned.

Clayton County police said in a missing persons bulletin that Wahhaj and his son were last seen Dec. 13 in Alabama, traveling with five other children and two adults.

Georgia authorities said Wahhaj was traveling through Chilton County on Dec. 13 with seven children and another adult when their car overturned. Wahhaj told police the group was traveling from Georgia to New Mexico to go camping.

The trooper who wrote the report said he found no camping equipment in or near the vehicle but that Wahhaj was in possession of three handguns, two rifles, a bag of ammunition, and a bulletproof vest. Wahhaj told the trooper that he owned the guns legally and had a Georgia permit to carry concealed weapons.

"Mr. Wahhaj seemed to be very concerned about his weapons and stated several times that they were his property and that he owned them legally," the report said.

It was not immediately known Monday whether Wahhaj and the others charged in the child abuse case in New Mexico —another man and three women believed to be the mother of the 11 children — had retained attorneys. The public defender's office in Taos County did not immediately return telephone message from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The Taos County sheriff identified the women facing charges as 35-year-old Jany Leveille, 38-year-old Hujrah Wahhaj, and 35-year-old Subhannah Wahhaj. They were arrested in the town of Taos and booked into jail.

The search at the compound came amid a two-month investigation in collaboration with Clayton County authorities and the FBI, according to Hogrefe.

He said FBI agents surveilled the area a few weeks ago but did not find probable cause to search the property.

That changed when Georgia detectives forwarded a message to Hogrefe's office that initially had been sent to a third party, saying: "We are starving and need food and water."

What authorities found was what Hogrefe called "the saddest living conditions and poverty" he has seen in 30 years on the job.

Other than a few potatoes and a box of rice, there was little food in the compound, which Hogrefe said consisted of a small travel trailer buried in the ground and covered by plastic with no water, plumbing and electricity.

Hogrefe said the adults and children — ages 1 to 15 — had no shoes, wore dirty rags for clothing and "looked like Third World country refugees."

The grandfather of the missing boy, Imam Siraj Wahhaj of Brooklyn, New York, issued a plea on Facebook for helping finding his grandson.

In a federal court filing in 2006, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj claimed he was harassed on his way to and from Morocco by customs agents at JFK Airport in New York because he is "the son of the famous Muslim Imam Siraj Wahhaj."

___

Brumback reported from Jonesboro, Georgia.

__

This story includes the correct spelling of the name of Subhannah Wahhaj, which was misspelled in a previous version.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Online - Georgia News, AP Online Headlines - Georgia News
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Kids found in rags in New Mexico amid tale of guns, exorcism
A raid on a New Mexico desert compound has turned up 11 children wearing rags and living in filth
4:31PM ( 25 minutes ago )
Is justice blind at a courthouse with a Confederate statue?
An African-American man in Louisiana is asking for his case to be moved to another location because the courthouse where he's being tried has a Confederate monument out front
4:21PM ( 35 minutes ago )
4 dead, 1 missing in Alaska sightseeing plane crash
Searchers say they found four people dead in a sightseeing airplane carrying Polish tourists in Alaska's Denali National Park
3:23PM ( 1 hour ago )
U.S. News
PepsiCo's Indra Nooyi latest high-profile female CEO to exit
PepsiCo's longtime CEO Indra Nooyi will step down in October, Ramon Laguarta to take over
4:44PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Major tech companies remove Alex Jones for hate, bullying
Facebook takes down four Alex Jones pages for violating hate speech, bullying policies
4:43PM ( 13 minutes ago )
The Latest: Gates called to testify at Manafort trial
Paul Manafort's longtime deputy has been called to the witness stand to testify against the former Trump campaign chairman
4:27PM ( 30 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
AP Source: Demi Lovato released from hospital
Demi Lovato has checked out of the hospital she was rushed to two weeks ago for a reported overdose, a source close to the singer says
4:04PM ( 52 minutes ago )
UConn's mascot becomes part of wedding party
The Siberian Husky that serves as the mascot for the University of Connecticut has helped two alumni get married
4:01PM ( 55 minutes ago )
Saudi Arabia expels Canadian ambassador over criticism
Saudi Arabia orders Canadian ambassador to leave kingdom after criticism of its arrests of activists
3:57PM ( 59 minutes ago )
AP National News
11 killed and nearly 70 wounded in Chicago weekend shootings
Police say separate weekend shootings in Chicago left a total of at least 11 people dead and about 70 wounded
1:02PM ( 3 hours ago )
Moms of 11 children found at New Mexico compound arrested
Authorities say they've arrested three women believed to be the mothers of 11 children found living in filth in a makeshift compound in rural northern New Mexico
12:59PM ( 3 hours ago )
Candidates make final push in tight Ohio US House race
Candidates in a closer-than-expected race for an open U.S. House seat in Ohio are making their final push before a special election
12:35PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Pentagon restricts use of fitness trackers, other devices
A new Pentagon order says military troops and other defense personnel on certain sensitive bases and warzone areas won't be allowed to use fitness tracker or cellphone applications that can reveal their location
11:00AM ( 5 hours ago )
Twin California wildfires grow, threatening 9,000 buildings
Twin wildfires fueled by dry vegetation and hot, windy weather have continued to grow in Northern California, destroying dozens of homes and forcing thousands of residents to flee their neighborhoods
10:58AM ( 5 hours ago )
Russian immigrant seeks Democratic nod for Alaska House seat
A Russian immigrant, nudged into politics after President Trump's election, is seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. House in Alaska
9:54AM ( 7 hours ago )
Top U.S. News short headlines
Trump reimposes sanctions to levy economic pressure on Iran
Three months after he pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal calling it "horrible" and "one-sided," President Donald Trump is reimposing many sanctions on Tehran to exert "maximum economic pressure" on the country
11:34AM ( 5 hours ago )
Italian police: Highway explosion leaves at least 56 injured
Italian police say at least 56 people have been injured and a bridge has partially collapsed following a major explosion on a highway near the northern city of Bologna
10:13AM ( 6 hours ago )
Woman, minority, trailblazer; Indra Nooyi is leaving Pepsico
PepsiCo's longtime CEO Indra Nooyi will step down in October, Ramon Laguarta to take over
9:59AM ( 6 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
AP Online - Georgia News
AP Online Headlines - Georgia News
Is justice blind at a courthouse with a Confederate statue?
An African-American man in Louisiana is asking for his case to be moved to another location because the courthouse where he's being tried has a Confederate monument out front
4:21PM ( 36 minutes ago )
4 dead, 1 missing in Alaska sightseeing plane crash
Searchers say they found four people dead in a sightseeing airplane carrying Polish tourists in Alaska's Denali National Park
3:23PM ( 1 hour ago )
Boston's 1st black police commissioner sworn in
William Gross was sworn in Monday as Boston's first black police commissioner, pledging to create a more inclusive and diverse department and prioritize officer well-being
3:16PM ( 1 hour ago )
5 killed after plane nosedived in California parking lot
Witnesses watched in horror as a small plane banked low in sunny skies over a Southern California shopping center and then suddenly nosedived, crashing into a parking lot and killing all five people on board
3:03PM ( 1 hour ago )
Co-workers among 5 killed in Southern California plane crash
Witnesses watched in horror as a small plane banked low in sunny skies over a Southern California shopping center and then suddenly nosedived, crashing into a parking lot and killing all five people on board
2:54PM ( 2 hours ago )