TAOS, N.M. (CBS4)– The women believed to be the mothers of 11 children found hungry and living in a filthy compound near the New Mexico-Colorado border have been arrested.
Two men were arrested over the weekend in connection with the child abuse case.
A message that people were starving that was believed to be sent by someone inside the compound, led police to the children.
A boy last seen traveling in Alabama last year with one of the men arrested remains missing.
The Taos County Sheriff said the women and two men, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj and Lucas Morten, face charges of child abuse. The women have been identified as Jany Leveille, Hujrah Wahhaj, 38, and Subhannah Wahha, 35. They were arrested in Taos and booked into jail.
The children, ages 1 to 15 years old, have been removed from the compound and turned over to state child welfare workers. Authorities said it appears the children had not eaten in days.
Police are still are looking for AG Wahhaj, reported missing from Georgia’s Clayton County.
The boy’s mother told police the 3-year-old left with his father, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, for a trip to a park and never returned.
Authorities say he made it known to the boy’s mother that he wanted to perform an exorcism on him because he believed the child was possessed by the devil.
The search at the compound came amid a two-month investigation in collaboration with the FBI. FBI agents had surveilled the area a few weeks ago but did not find probable cause to search the property.
That changed when the message, “We are starving and need food and water” was received by authorities.
Other than a few potatoes and a box of rice, there was little food in the compound, which consisted of a small travel trailer buried in the ground and covered by plastic with no water, plumbing and electricity.
The adults and children had no shoes, wore dirty rags for clothing and “looked like Third World country refugees.”
The group appeared to have been living at the compound for a few months. It was unclear how or why they ended up in New Mexico.