TODAY   |  October 14, 2013

Amber alert called off for 9 missing teens

New Mexico officials canceled an Amber Alert issued for nine teen boys who were reported missing from a rural New Mexico ranch for at-risk youth after police said the boys had been accounted for. NBC’s Kristen Dahlgren reports.

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>> to a mystery in new mexico where a amber alert has been cancelled for a group of teenagers from a ranch for at risk youth. the boys are safe and with their families but the program they were attending is at the center of a troubling investigation. kristen dahlgren has the story this morning. good morning to you.

>> reporter: good morning, savannah. authorities this morning are seeking ranch owner scott chandler . there's no charges. he is just wanted for questioning at this point. at least one of the families of the boys that returned is angry that an amber alert was issued at all.

>> for two days authorities combed through miles and miles of desert scrub before calling off the search last night.

>> it's been checked and they're with the guardian.

>> reporter: the nine boys are now home with their families. something the attorney for the ranch says he told authorities days ago.

>> there's no mechanism to quickly verify they are with the parents. this is not an amber alert situation.

>> reporter: it came friday after they tried to serve a search warrant and they found it empty and scott chandler gone. dozens of police reports allege abuse at the ranch, handcuffs, shackles, teens forced to run for long periods of time and threats of castration. steven sent his son jonathan to the program.

>> they wake them up in the middle of the night . they're forced to do things.

>> reporter: he says his son is now standing by scott chandler like other teens in the program that have come forward in support.

>> i was thinking about trying to imagine a situation where scott would kidnap anybody. nothing would come to mind.

>> reporter: but they wonder why the program isn't credentialed or regulated. mark lived there for two years.

>> there were no therapists or counselors or drug addiction specialists.

>> reporter: scott chandler denies any abuse took place and defended his program.

>> there's proof in the pudding. everybody wants to make it about credentials. compare our success to the credential people.

>> reporter: chandler will likely face a lot more questions as may the state. new mexico department of child and family services wasn't aware of the abuse allegations until just last year and the complaints were made by former residents here at the ranch so it was out of it's jurisdiction. so still a lot of things that need to be tied up here, savannah.

>> that's for sure. kristen, thank you very much.