Nightly News   |  October 12, 2013

Several missing from ranch for troubled youth

It’s supposed to be a ranch geared toward helping at-risk kids. Now New Mexico investigators are trying figure out what happened to a group of boys who went missing.

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>>> to new mexico now where investigators issued an amber alert as they try to figure out what happened to nine boys who went missing from a ranch for at-risk youth. some of the boys are back with their parents but investigators are looking for others. a long history of abuse allegations now has a lot of people asking questions about just what happened at the ranch located in southwestern new mexico . nbc 's kristen dahlgren has our oh report.

>> reporter: in the remote scrub of new mexico 's wilderness, investigators found tierra blanca ranch totally i vacant friday.

>> when you show up to the place and everybody's gone it is of huge concern to us.

>> reporter: authorities issued an amber alert for nine boys between 13 and 17 who were residents at the ranch , fearing they might be in danger. an air and ground search of the 30,000 acre ranch began. the last person seen with the boys, the owner scott chandler , was also missing. on friday authorities were attempt ing to serve a search warrant and court order to send the boys back to their parents after dozens of police reports detailing years of abuse accusations by boys at the ranch . like ryan morgan who was too emotional to tell the story of his alleged beating so his friend did.

>> knuckling him in the forehead. it went on for like, gosh, a couple of hours.

>> reporter: barbara holler who sent her son there for treatment.

>> the concept of counseling at the ranch is to make them work. that was it.

>> reporter: chandler was the focus of an extensive investigation by nbc affiliate kob.

>> they were tortured, beat, shackled, deprived of food, threatened that they would be castrated if they didn't complete the work they were assigned to do.

>> reporter: chandler denied the charges.

>> this all being very exaggerated and blown out of proportion.

>> reporter: at least two of the missing boys have been returned to their families. chandler's lawyer said it was a regularly scheduled outing that left the ranch emp the ti. this week, chandler announced he was suinging new mexico 's child services department to try to halt its interference. the investigation continues. authorities face now with the most immediate question. where are the missing youth and are they okay? kristen dahlgren, nbc news, los angeles .