On Friday, authorities were searching for nine teens, who were reported missing from a troubled youth ranch. This was despite the facility’s attorney making a statement earlier that the nine boys were all safe and being returned to their homes and parents.

A search warrant had been executed by the State Police in New Mexico to search the Tierra Blanca High Country Youth Ranch to investigate possible abuse.

However, teens aged 13 to 17 that were supposed to be present were not at the compound that is over 30,000 acres in size, nor was Scott Chandler the program operator.

Police said social services officials also were at the ranch to serve Chandler orders to hand the teens over.

A spokesperson for the police said Chandler was currently a person of interest. However, said the spokesperson, police have not confirmed a positive location of the teens or their safety.

The operators of the program were ordered to return the teens to their parents or give them over to state authorities, after members of the staff had been accused of shackling and beating the students.

One of the attorneys representing the ranch said through a prepared statement on Friday that all of the boys had been on an activity that was previously scheduled off ranch property for a number of days. The statement said the teens were safe and were with their parents or their parents were on their way to pick their children up.

The attorney has accused officials from the state of making the situation worse than it is by not agreeing to a hearing over the lawsuit that had been filed earlier over what the lawsuit was contending.

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