Three of the five people suspected in the death of a three-year-old boy at a makeshift compound in New Mexico were released on Wednesday after a state judge said that prosecutors had exceeded a 10-day limit for an evidentiary hearing to establish probable cause for the child neglect charges brought against Lucas Morton, Subhannah Wahhaj and Hujrah Wahha.
Eleven children were found living in a squalid compound in northern New Mexico along with the decomposed body of a little boy that forensic experts later determined as belonging to three-year-old Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj.
The principal suspect, Siraj Wahhaj, 39, has also been charged with abducting his severely disabled three-year-old son, Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, from the Atlanta home where the boy lived with his mother.
The boy died during a ritual to "cast out demonic spirits,” investigators said.
According to the other children found at the compound, Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, who suffered from seizures, had died during a "religious ritual… intended to cast out demonic spirits," where Siraj Wahhaj had put his hand to his son's forehead, and recited verses from the Koran.
His father believed the boy was possessed by the devil and needed to be exorcised, court papers said.
An FBI agent told the court that after the boy died, the children were told he would return "as Jesus" and tell them where to carry out attacks on schoolhouses.
Early this month, police in New Mexico rescued 11 malnourished children who were being kept in fetid conditions in a remote desert compound.
The children, ranging from one to 15 years old and described by authorities as starving and ragged when they were found, were being trained to carry out school shootings.
Five adults were found at the scene, including two heavily armed men.
Three women, believed to be the children's mothers, were also arrested.