HILLSBORO, N.M. (KRQE) - New Mexico’s Governor Susana Martinez addressed the ongoing investigation at the Tierra Blanca Youth Ranch Monday, revealing new details about what investigators uncovered at the ranch property and firing back at allegations from the ranch owner's attorney that the teens at the property were never in danger.
Defending the state’s use of the Amber Alert, Governor Martinez gave an emotional response to the media on Monday, underscoring the state's response in the search for the nine teens that went missing from the ranch in southwest New Mexico on Friday.
"Absolutely I stand behind this alert, I will never apologize,” said Governor Martinez. “We felt they were in imminent danger because of what was discovered within those buildings in Tierra Blanca.”
In her address, Governor Martinez said that evidence was collected Friday in relation to recent allegations
that kids may have been abused at the ranch over the past few years.
“The search warrant revealed evidence that I cannot tell you precisely what it was but did corroborate some of the allegations of some of those boys,” said Governor Martinez.
When that search happened, New Mexico State Police say none of the teens were on the property, something the Governor says was troubling.
“They (the ranch) had had contact with Children Youth and Families Department the day before and all of the sudden all of the boys are being returned home,” said Governor Martinez.
The attorney for ranch owner Scott Chandler, Pete Domenici Jr. insisted over the weekend that the boys were on a wilderness trip.
“They've been on many, many of these similar kinds of trips that have been safe productive, they've allowed continuity, so there's nothing unusual about this,” said Domenici Jr.
However, Martinez says the ranch owner Chandler drove the boys home across multiple states.
“When they're being delivered home, they're not on a pre-planned wilderness program,” said Martinez. “For him to have stayed put and let police and social workers do their job would have been much better than to go around amongst three states dropping off children.”
As the investigation continues, New Mexico State Police still haven't talked to Chandler.
“We're still looking for him, my understanding is that no one has spoken to him as yet, he's still a person of interest and they're still a lookout for him,” said Governor Martinez.
News 13 spoke to Chandler's attorney Pete Domenici Jr. today over the phone. He would not say anything about Chandler’s whereabouts or whether or not he’s even in New Mexico. He says Chandler will give a statement to authorities though.
New Mexico State Police say all of the teens involved in the Amber Alert are OK but according to the Governor, the teens will have to undergo in-depth interviews with specially trained child safety workers.
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