Nationwide search for local boy intensifies after father arrested in New Mexico

CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. — Investigators said a Clayton County man accused of abducting his young son in December 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.

That information came from the arrest warrant for Siraj Wahhaj, which was included in a court filing Monday in New Mexico.

Authorities arrested Wahhaj, another man and three women at what they called a “filthy” compound in New Mexico over the weekend.

Authorities said 11 children found at the compound had probably not eaten for days. The adults were arrested on child abuse charges.

Wahhaj's son, Abdul-ghani, who was 3 when he disappeared last December, was not among the children found, but Hogrefe said authorities have reason to believe the boy was at the compound several weeks ago.


Hogrefe's deputies, along with the FBI and Georgia authorities in Clayton County, are searching for the child where officials say the boy was living before his father took him around Dec. 1, 2017.

Neighbors told Channel 2's Tom Jones that Wahhaj's behavior was unusual and weird.

"I'd ride by and wave, but he really wouldn't acknowledge me," said Marcia Watson.

The boy's mother told authorities the boy suffers from seizures, cannot walk due to severe medical issues and requires constant attention.

She told police in December that Wahhaj had taken the boy for a trip to a park and never returned.

"Who kidnaps their own kid?" Watson said.

Clayton County police said in a missing persons bulletin that Wahhaj and his son were last seen Dec. 13 in Alabama, traveling with five other children and two adults.

Georgia authorities said Wahhaj was traveling through Chilton County on Dec. 13 with seven children and another adult when their car overturned. Wahhaj told police the group was traveling from Georgia to New Mexico to go camping.

"My first reaction is that I hope the little boy is OK. I hope he's OK," Watson said.

The trooper who wrote the report said he found no camping equipment in or near the vehicle but that Wahhaj was in possession of three handguns, two rifles, a bag of ammunition and a bulletproof vest.

Wahhaj told the trooper that he owned the guns legally and had a Georgia permit to carry concealed weapons.

"Mr. Wahhaj seemed to be very concerned about his weapons and stated several times that they were his property and that he owned them legally," the report said.