Law enforcement officers have discovered the remains of a young boy at a compound in Amalia, New Mexico, that was raided over the weekend, the county sheriff’s office confirmed Tuesday.
The Taos County Sheriff’s Office went to the makeshift compound on Friday to search for a missing 3-year-old boy, AG Wahhaj. They discovered 11 children and five adults living in a small trailer buried underground and covered in plastic and tires.
A representative of the sheriff’s office confirmed to HuffPost on Tuesday that a boy’s remains had also been recovered during the search but that the child’s identity was not yet determined.
Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said in a statement on Monday that two men, Siraj Wahhaj and Lucan Morton, and three women believed to be the children’s mothers, were arrested and charged with 11 counts of child abuse.
The children, ages 1 to 15, were taken into protective custody.
“The only food we saw were a few potatoes and a box of rice in the filthy trailer,” the sheriff said at a news conference. Both the adults and the children looked like “refugees not only with no food or fresh water, but with no shoes, personal hygiene and basically dirty rags for clothing. We all gave the kids our water and what snacks we had ― it was the saddest living conditions and poverty I have seen.”
The search for the missing boy began in January, when Wahhaj’s estranged wife in Atlanta, Hakima Ramzi, reportedly recorded a video on Facebook pleading for help finding her son.
“He’s sick. He needs his medications,” she said. “He needs everything. I don’t know if he’s alive, or he is, well, I don’t know his condition now. So please, please, I need your help to find my husband and my son.”
The FBI had placed the compound under surveillance two months ago, Hogrefe said, but didn’t have enough evidence to conduct a raid. Police received a search warrant last week after seeing a third-party message from someone on the compound that said, “We are starving and need food and water.”