AMALIA, N.M. — Searchers found the remains of a boy on property where authorities raided a makeshift compound last week in search of a missing Georgia child, authorities said Tuesday.
The remains were found Monday during a search in Amalia, Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said. Authorities were awaiting a positive identification of the remains.
The search for Abdul-ghani of Georgia led authorities Friday to the squalid compound where they found the father of the missing boy, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, four other adults and 11 children living in filthy conditions.
"We discovered the remains yesterday on Abdul's fourth birthday," Hogrefe said, appearing to fight back tears.
The sheriff said authorities returned to the compound after interviews Friday and Saturday. He said information he and other law enforcement agencies obtained led them to believe the boy might still be on the property.
"We had a good idea of a target location to look for the child." he said
The father of the boy has been accused of leaving Georgia in December with his then 3-year-old son.
Wahhaj was expected to appear in court Wednesday on a previous warrant from Georgia that seeks his extradition to face a charge of abducting his son, Abdul-ghani, from that state last December.
According to the extradition warrant, Wahhaj told the boy's mother that he wanted to perform an exorcism on the child, who suffered from seizures, because he believed the boy, who turned 4 on Monday, was possessed by the devil. The mother told police that Wahhaj took the boy for a trip to a park and never returned.
Abdul-ghani was believed to have been at the Amalia compound as recently as several weeks ago, Hogrefe said.
The warrant said the boy suffered from severe medical issues including hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, a defect caused by lack of oxygen and blood flow around the time of birth.
The boy's mother said the boy can't walk and requires constant attention.
Property owner Jason Badger said he and his wife had pressed authorities to remove the group from the makeshift compound on his land.
However, it took a plea for help and the search for the missing boy to finally draw sheriff's deputies to the desolate site that was walled off by stacks of old tires, wooden pallets and other debris.