As Many as 10 Teen Boys Reported Missing at New Mexico Youth Ranch … Tierra Blanca High Country Youth Program for “Troubled or At-Risk Youths”
At least 10 teen boys have been reported missing from a New Mexico youth ranch. The Tierra Blanca ranch works with troubled and at rick youths. A search warrant was executed at the Tierra Blanca ranch on Friday amid an abuse investigation. Staff members have been accused of beating and shackling the students. An Amber Alert was issued on Friday evening for the missing boys, who were last seen at the ranch in Sierra County, N.M.
Federal investigators offered their help late on Friday night regarding the incident at the Tierra Blanca High Country Youth Program, but so far local and state authorities have not asked the FBI to participate, a law enforcement source in New Mexico told NBC News. A search warrant was executed at the Tierra Blanca ranch on Friday amid an abuse investigation, the Associated Press reported, and the boys aged 13 and 17 were found not to be on the property.
New Mexico State Police issued a statement Saturday morning that said they had received information that one or more of the teenage boys may have been returned to their parents.
“We have not been able to confirm officially on our end,” State Police spokesman Emmanuel Gutierrez told NBC News. “It’s a very active investigation we are treating it with the utmost urgency.”\
UPDATE I: An attorney for the ranch, Pete Domenici, Jr., claim the boys are safe; however, Amber Alert remains active …
Domenici issued a statement on Friday in which he said that the teenagers had been “on a previously scheduled activity away from the ranch for several days. They are safe and have already been picked up by their parents, or their parents are en route to pick them up,” according to the AP.
Police said that until they were in a position to physically confirm the well-being of the missing boys, the Amber Alert will remain active.
New Mexico’s child services department says at least one of the nine teenagers reported missing from a rural ranch for troubled youth has been returned to his parents.
Child, Youth and Families Department spokesman Harry Varela says that “one, possibly more, have been returned.” Varela added Saturday that they are working with the other families
“At this time, Scott Chandler is a person if interest in this case,” said Sgt. Emmanuel Gutierrez, a state police spokesman. “This is an active investigation and all leads are still being followed. At this point and time, State Police has not been able to confirm a location or the safety” of the teens.
Program operators had been ordered to send the kids back to their parents or surrender them to the state after staff members were accused of beating and shackling students.
New Mexico officials confirmed that two of the nine boys who were reported missing from a New Mexico ranch for troubled youth have been returned to their families, after the FBI volunteered their help in the search.
All nine teenagers who were sought in an Amber Alert are with their parents, according to the lawyer for a New Mexico youth ranch. But, authorities say, the Amber Alert will remain active until they can confirm the teens’ location and well-being.
On Saturday, police said they had confirmed that four of the nine were in their parent’s custody. They were still searching for the five other missing boys.
The nine teens were attending a facility for troubled youths called the Tierra Blanca Youth Ranch, and authorities began searching for them after receiving allegations of abuse, police say.
Pete Domenici, the attorney for the ranch, told CNN early Sunday morning that the teens were all with their parents and have been for “many, many hours.”