SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Forensic investigators said Thursday they identified the remains of a Georgia boy whose father is accused of abducting him and performing purification rituals on the child as he died at a remote New Mexico desert compound. The cause of the child’s death remained unknown.
The body of Abdul-ghani Wahhaj was found Aug. 6 in an underground tunnel. It was so severely decomposed that investigators could not determine how the severely disabled boy reported missing in December had died, New Mexico’s Office of the Medical Examiner said in a statement.
The office did not immediately respond to emailed questions on what else the office will do to try to determine the cause of death, but a prosecutor said no charges regarding the death are imminent because officials still don’t know how the boy died.
“All we have is a positive ID,” Donald Gallegos, the district attorney for Taos County in northern New Mexico, said in an interview. “We’ll need something else, actual cause of death, manner of death.”
Authorities have said they believe Abdul-ghani died in February, when he was 3.
The boy’s father, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, was among five people arrested on suspicion of child abuse at the compound near the Colorado state line, where authorities say 11 hungry children were found living in filth during a raid earlier this month. Subsequent interviews led sheriff’s deputies to the body in a tunnel.
Prosecutors seeking to keep Sarij Ibn Wahhaj and four members of his extended family behind bars said in court on Monday that Wahhaj had been training some children at the compound to use firearms and carry out attacks on an anti-government mission that might target schools.