August 17, 2018
Link to story on KOB.com: https://www.kob.com/new-mexico-news/gunfire-heard-from-property-where-kids-child-abductor-found-on-a-regular-basis/5018597/
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Documents obtained by KOB indicate that law enforcement in northern New Mexico knew that several adults and children were living at a makeshift compound just a few miles south of the Colorado-New Mexico border.
For exactly how long authorities knew about the compound’s occupants is unknown, but gunfire could be heard “from the property on a regular basis,” according to a search warrant sworn out by Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe and executed this week. In Hogrefe’s account of the site, he describes “what appears to be a shooting range” along one side.
In a release by the Taos County Sheriff’s Office on Friday, Hogrefe said they had reason to believe a 3-year-old Georgia boy and his father, Siraj Wahhaj, were on the compound after Wahhaj allegedly abducted the child in December.
In mid-May Hogrefe was made aware the missing child and Wahhaj could be in New Mexico, the search warrant states. Further, aerial surveillance of the compound – comprised partially of a buried trailer, haphazardly created shacks and walls of tires – showed a child that could be seen walking with a limp.
The child’s mother told authorities in Clayton County, Georgia, that he had a limp, and also required medication for a condition that causes seizures.
Georgia investigators said Wahhaj “was to perform an exorcism on the child and deny him his prescribed medications,” the warrant states.
A TCSO response team raided the compound on Friday after detectives provided photos of text messages from an unidentified female at the compound pleading for help, money and food. Two men were arrested – including Wahhaj – and 11 children ranging in age from 1 to 15 were passed on to state welfare workers within the Children, Youth and Families Department. Several guns and ammunition were also discovered, along with little in the way of food and personal hygiene.
The missing Georgia boy was not at the compound, however, and it’s unknown if the raid unearthed new leads about where he might be.
Three unidentified women – possibly the mothers of the children – were detained for questioning before being released.
Documents also state the property’s owner attempted to evict the compound’s occupants, but that noticed was dismissed in court. That owner, Jason Badger, told KOB on Saturday that he informed police children were on the property as far back as May.