NEW YORK — Michael Louis-Jacques said he’s desperate to be reunited with his sons, ages 13 and 15, telling PIX11 they are the two oldest children of the 11, starving kids who were found on a New Mexico compound earlier this month.
“I’m trying to get there to see them,” Louis-Jacques told PIX11. “I spent everything I had looking for the kids.”
Louis-Jacques said he is still legally married to Jany Leveille, the woman who is accused in connection with the child abuse death of a 3-year-old disabled child, Abdul Ghani Wahhaj, whose remains were found on the compound on what would have been Abdul’s 4th birthday. Some of the children told authorities Abdul died in February, during a prayer ritual.
“Had it not been for that baby, I probably wouldn’t ever have heard from my kids,” Louis-Jacques noted.
All of the kids found on the compound, wearing rags and no shoes, are grandchildren of Brooklyn Imam, Siraj Wahhaj.
His son, Siraj Wahhaj, Jr. had a warrant out of his arrest since December 2017, after allegedly kidnapping his 3-year-old disabled son from his first wife in Clayton County, Georgia. The boy’s mother said Wahhaj stopped giving the child anti-seizure medicine and wanted to perform an exorcism to rid the child of “demons.”
Prosecutors in Taos County, New Mexico, said the oldest boys were being trained to use automatic weapons to someday be school shooters, learning extremist doctrine on the compound.
Michael Louis-Jacques said he was able to make phone contact with his sons for the first time in 10 years, through Child Protective Services in New Mexico. He said it was a supervised call. Louis-Jacques sent PIX11 a business card that he said came from one of the New Mexico caseworkers.
Louis-Jacques said his wife, Jany Leveille, disappeared with the boys 10 years ago from Brooklyn, where they were preparing to divorce and were engaged in a custody battle.
He said they had run into marital trouble when they were living in Marietta, Georgia.
He said Leveille started embracing a strict form of Islam.
“We couldn’t watch TV,” Louis-Jacques said, “We didn’t celebrate the kids’ birthdays.”
Louis-Jacques said he came to the U.S. from Haiti when he was 6.
He told us Jany Leveille was also from Haiti, here in the U.S. on a student visa, when they met.
He said they married in 2003 and their first son was born in Philadelphia. He said the child’s nickname was “Fufi” and he addressed him by that name during the phone conversation
“I said, ‘Wow, your voice sounds so deep,’” Louis-Jacques told PIX11.
Louis-Jacques said he’s been doing court hearings on the phone with a New Mexico Judge, who said he wanted parents and children to get psychological evaluations before any meeting could take place.
Louis-Jacques said Jany Leveille now has six children: his two sons and four girls she had after she left town.
He sent PIX11 a “Missing Poster” that was being circulated in the Wahhaj family after the 12 children went missing. The photos of eight children were featured on the poster, along with a picture of Siraj Wahhaj Jr. and his two adult sisters.
Louis-Jacques said the imam’s wife who’s based in Georgia emailed him the poster February 1, years after he had received any word about his children.
Louis-Jacques said he called the FBI in February “and I made a report.”
Ten years ago, he said, family court was aware that Jany Leveille stopped showing up for custody hearings.
“I have to come out and tell my story now,” Louis-Jacques said. “That’s the only way I can help my kids now.”
PIX11 called the Clayton County Sheriff’s Department in Georgia Wednesday night, and we were told a public information officer would not he available to help us until Thursday.
There was a development in the child abuse case Wednesday.
Three of the suspects had charges dropped and were freed, because the district attorney’s office did not move quickly enough with proceedings.
Siraj Wahhaj Jr. and his partner, Jany Leveille, remain in custody.