Eleven children from ages 1-15 were taken into protective custody and later turned over to child services in New Mexico, although Wahhaj's son was not one of the kids found.
"While Hogrefe said in his press release the Federal Bureau of Investigation "didn't feel there was enough probable cause" to enter the property", the sheriff said "that all changed" for him when a Clayton County Police Detective relayed a distress message believed to have come from within the compound.
Two men were arrested in an operation that began a year ago to find an abducted child.
The missing 3-year-old boy from Georgia was not among the 11 children found at the compound. Police say five additional children and two adults were with the missing child and his dad during the accident, in a vehicle that was registered to Lucas Morton, of Atlanta.
"The only food I saw were a few potatoes and a box of rice in the filthy trailer", said Hogrefe.
Police had been looking for a toddler missing from the U.S. state of Georgia when they received a message through an investigator which warned that those in the compound were "starving and need food and water".
They were discovered during a search for a three-year-old who was abducted in New Mexico, but still remains missing.
The 11 children were so famished, the sheriff said, they "looked like third-world country refugees".
"I absolutely knew that we couldn't wait on another agency to step up and we had to go check this out as soon as possible", Hogrefe said. She told authorities that she hadn't seen her son since December 1 when her father, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, said he was taking him to the park.
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"That all changed for me when a message was forwarded to us from a Georgia Detective that we reasonably believed came from someone at the compound - the message sent to a third party simply said in part 'we are starving and need food and water, '" the sheriff said in a statement.
The response needed to be a quick and "tactical approach" for the deputies' safety because he had learned "the occupants were most likely heavily armed". After an extensive investigation, on Friday morning deputies and other agencies raided what the sheriff called a compound made of garbage and tires.
More rounds of ammo were found in a trailer buried in the ground. However, what they did find was even more hard for most people to fathom.
The toddler, who suffers from seizures, developmental delay, wears braces on his legs, can not walk, and requires daily medication, went to the park in Clayton County with his father in December and never returned.
None of the adults have provided information about the whereabouts of 3-year-old AG Wahhaj, police said. He was heavily armed with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, five 30-round magazines and four handguns, according to Hogrefe.
There were no injuries during the search, the sheriff said.
Two men were arrested during the search.
A message from someone inside a makeshift compound in rural northern New Mexico that people were starving is what led to the discovery of 11 children living in filthy conditions.