In New Mexico, nine teenagers have been reported missing from the Tierra Blanca High Country Youth Program. It is set inside a compound that is located in the desert around seven miles from Hillsboro, NM that is supposed to offer a structured program set to help uncontrollable kids which states it offers a mix of love, discipline and structure.
The New Mexico state police just released a statement informing the public they had information in which at least one of the missing children had returned home to their families and now that it may be down to eight that are instead missing instead of the original nine. A Child, Youth and Families Department spokesman said one of boys was safe, although authorities have not verified this as of yet.
The search for the missing boys began after reports surfaced last week in a local newspaper that state authorities were investigating accusations in which the teenagers were being beaten and made to wear hand cuffs and leg shackles for insignificant violations at the unlicensed program.
A search was implemented on Friday as a warrant was issued as part of the abuse investigation at the youth program which is located on 30,000 acres. Officials noticed that the teens whose ages were between 13 and 17, were not at the property which is located in the NM county of Sierra. Also missing was the leader of the program, Scott Chandler, who is being looked at as someone of interest in the case.
The attorney for the ranch, Pete Domenici Jr., explained in a statement on Friday that the boys were on a previously planned activity that had them scheduled to be away for several days. He also said the boys were safe and had been either already picked up by parents, or the parents were on the way to get them.
He claimed the state of accelerating the state of affairs by not agreeing to an emergency hearing in a litigation charge that the ranch had filed this week over what the suit says was an inadequately handled search.
Nevertheless, police officials went ahead and issued Amber Alerts for the teenagers minutes after the lawyer’s statement was released.
Program workers had been told to send the teenagers back to their parents or release them to the state after staff associates were blamed for shackling and beating the kids in their care.
Operators of the ranch, Scott and Collette Chandler, state that none of the children at the ranch have been harmed and they filed a complaint this week blaming investigators of wanting the ranch closed after a fatal car accident happened which involved teenagers from the ranch.
The workers also added investigators have been unlawfully questioning students and explaining to parents to get their children out of the program or possibly face abuse charges. Their grievance said that at least one family was directly contacted directly by NM Gov. Susana Martinez but this is something that her office is denying.
Chandler held a press conference this week and stated Tierra Blanca had been open almost two decades. The ranch website explains a about the program. How it is set up to help uncontrollable kids and that it offers love, discipline and structure all in balance. Regardless of that, there are still teenagers are missing in the state of New Mexico and they need to be found as soon as possible.
Written by: Kimberly Ruble