Scott Chandler is one of those men who appears bigger than he actually is. Maybe it’s the cowboy hat and the barrel-like chest of a former football player.
State Police wanted to talk with Chandler but didn’t get a chance until Wednesday.
A spokesman for his attorney, Pete Domenici Jr., said Chandler met with officers in Deming to clear up any questions about two 18-year-olds who were included in last weekend’s Amber Alert.
The two boys were never missing, according to the spokesman.
While State Police would like to find Chandler for a chat about his Tierra Blanca Ranch High Country Youth Program, his attorney says he’s under no obligation to do so.
The meeting was apparently limited to making sure the 18-year-olds were not missing.
Domenici said he has advised Chandler not to talk to state investigators or the media.
State Police Sgt. Emmanuel Gutierrez said, “Mr. Chandler is somebody we would like to talk to in the normal course of this investigation, just like any other witness or victim.”
Chandler remains at the 30,000-acre ranch working with 18-year-olds who remain in the ranch program for troubled teens.
While Chandler is not doing much talking now, he didn’t mind taking center stage at a news conference 10 days ago to deny allegations of abuse at Tierra Blanca.
The former University of Texas-El Paso football player stuck to the basics: the kids at the ranch were treated like family; there was no abuse; and he didn’t like government interference.
He dismissed the need for state licenses.
“Everybody wants to make it about credentials,” he said. “Compare our success to the credentialed people.”
On videos promoting the youth program, Chandler said he developed the program from values he learned from his parents, playing football and by his experience with teens at the ranch.
“It’s very important that we’re not looked at as an institution, but as a family ranch,” he said on one video.
His family came to New Mexico from Texas in 1976, and began buying and leasing ranch land in Sierra and Luna counties.
He and his wife, Colette, have five children – two sons and three daughters ranging from 6 years old to college age.
Chandler, who earned a degree in criminal justice from Western New Mexico University, also runs a hunting outfitter and guide company for hunting permits on the ranch.
He received a reserve commission with the Luna County Sheriff’s Department in 2002.
Court records show no criminal actions naming him. And until he filed a civil lawsuit against the Children, Youth and Families Department earlier this month, his name didn’t appear in any lawsuits in New Mexico in federal or state court.