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Teens from ranch are all accounted for

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The Amber Alert for the remaining five teens sought in the Tierra Blanca Ranch investigation was canceled Sunday, and all nine boys are with a parent, according to State Police.

“It’s been a long, arduous process, and it’s been very nail-biting, because we’ve had this Amber Alert that’s been active since Friday,” said Sgt. Emmanuel Gutierrez. “Our agents worked on this through the night, so these guys have been committing a lot to it because it’s been a high priority.”

Both local and out-of-state officers completed the visual confirmation.

State Police are continuing the investigation into allegations that the boys were shackled, hooded and handcuffed for months at a time, and suffered emotional and psychological abuse as well as inadequate medical care.

Pete Domenici Jr., lawyer for ranch owner Scott Chandler, said all the boys were accounted for Saturday, and the Amber Alert should never have been issued. He said the kids were on a pre-scheduled camping trip in eastern Arizona when State Police searched the ranch Friday.

“CYFD showed absolutely no regard to the children’s personal well-being or any sensitivity by storming the ranch,” wrote Chandler in a prepared statement Saturday. “We made the decision to immediately get the students to their parents.”

Gutierrez said the State Police’s reaction to the empty ranch was justified.

“We go to this location and come to find it empty, we have these allegations of abuse that we’re treating very seriously, so we acted on it and issued this Amber Alert,” Gutierrez said. “When you go take care of business like that, you think you’re going to make contact with someone, and when they’re not there … it makes you wonder what could have happened to these children.”

Gutierrez said he couldn’t speculate on whether any charges would be pressed against Chandler and said he could not comment on whether Chandler’s whereabouts are known.

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