Boy found at New Mexico compound died in religious ritual, prosecutors say

AMALIA, N.M. — New details emerged Monday about the fate of one of the children found at a New Mexico desert compound raided by police 10 days ago. It came at a court hearing for five adults arrested on charges of abusing 11 other children at the compound.

At the bond hearing for Siraj Ibn Wahhaj and four others, prosecutors presented a disturbing update about his son, 3-year-old Abdul Ghani, whose body was found buried on an apocalyptic-looking compound authorities raided last week. Other children found there told investigators the boy died during a religious ritual.

"Some of the children have stated these ritual were intended to cast out demonic spirits from Abdul Ghani's body. All five defendants knew about these rituals," said Taos County Prosecutor John Lovelace.

The children also said they were instructed how to use firearms and how to clear rooms in case police came to the compound. One child was armed when police arrived.

Their ramshackle home was a trailer buried almost to the roof in the desert. In the filth, authorities found shell casings, gun manuals, broken childrens toys and books written in Arabic. They also found little food, and 11 malnourished children, along with the remains of a toddler.

New Mexico compound

Taos County Planning Department officials Rachel Romero, left, and Eric Montoya survey property conditions at a disheveled living compound at Amalia, N.M., on Tue., Aug. 7, 2018.

AP

Jason and Tanya Badger own the land where the home sat. Jason Badger says he told authorities back in April a missing boy was living on his property.

"What other probable cause could you possibly need," he said.

Authorities insist they investigated but lacked evidence, and public defenders say prosecutors are overhyping the case. Prosecutors said that police recovered not only weapons but a CD on how to build an untraceable and a manual on combat training. However authorities have yet to elaborate on reports that the adults were training kids to become school shooters.

  • Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001 and is based in the Atlanta bureau.