TODAY   |  October 13, 2013

Amber alert continues for 5 boys in New Mexico

Investigators are trying to determine what happened to a group of nine boys who went missing from a ranch for at-risk youth. While several have been returned to their parents, investigators are still looking for others. NBC’s Kristen Dahlgren reports.

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>>> there are more questions surrounding the mysterious disappearance of a group of teenagers from a new mexico ranch for at-risk youth. some of the teens are back home with their parents, but not all. as investigators look for those other missing teens, there are troubling allegations of abuse at the ranch raising new questions. kristen dahlgren is live outside the ranch in new mexico with more this morning. good morning.

>> reporter: good morning, erica. it appears the teens are slowly being returned to their families. investigators are still very concerned. this is remote new mexico . we are about three hours south of albuquerque, not much out here. normally teens are living at this 30,000 acre ranch . on friday when authorities got here, it was completely abandoned. tierra blanca ranch , a sprawling home for troubled youth billed on its website as a haven for those at risk.

>> we'll work with you and make you a part of our family.

>> reporter: this morning, the focus of a search and investigation after nine boys were reported missing on friday.

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

>> reporter: authorities issued an amber alert for the teens, aged between 13 and 17, fearing they might be in danger. ranch owner scott chandler was also gone. at least four boys were returned to their families saturday. as search continued, more questions were surfacing about what took place here. authorities went to the ranch to execute a search warrant and court order to return the boys to their parents after years of abuse allegations. chandler was recently the focus of an investigation by kob reporter.

>> they were torchered, beat, threatened to be castrated if they didn't complete all the work.

>> reporter: ryan morgan was too emotional to tell the story of his alleged beating. his friend did.

>> knuckling him repetitively, started just -- over the forehood.

>> reporter: mark fleming lived at the ranch for two years and sat down with nbc news on saturday.

>> there were kids that had to be in handcuffs and shackles throughout the entire day and while they were sleeping.

>> reporter: barbara heller sent her son there for treatment, a decision she regrets.

>> you go out fas a parent to do the best thing for your kid and it blows up in your face.

>> reporter: chandler says he's suing to try to halt interference. before he disappeared, he wouldn't answer questions about alleged abuse. a lawyer for chandler says the teens are safe and insist they were on a regularly scheduled outing. former residents have come out in support saying this place changed their life, saying he would trust scott chandler to hold him off the empire state building .

>> quite a declaration there. let's