Father of missing boy arrested at makeshift compound in northern NM

  • Father of missing boy arrested at makeshift compound in northern NM

Father of missing boy arrested at makeshift compound in northern NM

Image: The children were found at a compound in Amalia, New Mexico.

Authorities are still looking for a 3-year-old child from Georgia who was not there.

One of the men has been identified as Siraj Wahhaj, 39, who was reportedly wanted on a Georgia warrant for alleged child abduction.

Wahhaj and Morten initially did not follow police commands, and Wahhaj had a rifle and multiple handguns, but there were no injuries during the search.

Lucas Morten and Siraj Wahhaj were both arrested after eight members of the Taos County Sheriff's Office converged on the home, described by police as a compound "surrounded by tires and an earthen berm" after securing a warrant to investigate the location of a missing 3-year-old kidnapped from Georgia.

Police arrested Morten on suspicion he was harboring a fugitive, officials said. "Three women believed to be the children's mothers were also detained yesterday while investigators continue to sort out details of the case", the office added.

According to Clayton County police, the toddler and his father had last been seen December 13 traveling with two adults and five children in Alabama when they were involved in a single-vehicle accident on Interstate 65.

"The group was picked up in a 2006 Ford Box-truck with DE tag number "CL085217". "We gave them our water, our snacks, everything that we had".

The scene at the compound was described as something reminiscent of a horror film and included a trailer that had been completely buried underground covered up with tarps.

According to Hogrefe, the Federal Bureau of Investigation had been casing the compound, which is in a remote area of northern New Mexico but didn't think there was enough probable cause to get onto the property.

But reports from law enforcement hint at something amiss at the compound where Wahhaj and the others lived. Clayton County Police and FBI investigators are continuing their search for the child.

Authorities in New Mexico say they served the search warrant after receiving a message from a Georgia detective that they believed came from the compound saying "we are starving and need food and water". She said she didn't know if the boy and his father had his medication.

"I absolutely knew that we couldn't wait on another agency to step up and we had to go check this out as soon as possible", Hogrefe said in the statement.

It's unclear exactly when the toddler vanished.

'But what was most surprising, and heartbreaking, was when the team located a total of five adults and 11 children, that looked like third-world country refugees, not only with no food or fresh water, but with no shoes, personal hygiene and basically dirty rags for clothing'. Authorities knew from the layout of the secluded property, which had a short-distance shooting range, that its occupants were likely armed and would have an advantage on anyone that came across it, including law enforcement, according to Hogrefe. Warrants for Siraj Wahhaj's arrest claim he took his son to perform an exorcism on the child, and was denying Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj's medications.

There they found a heavily armed Morton and Wahhaj, as well as the 11 children in deplorable, poverty stricken conditions. "We certainly didn't want to leave that place and leave a child behind and I'm confident we did not". The three women were also briefly detained for questioning, but not criminally charged.

Two men were arrested during the search.