Gov. Susana Martinez says evidence found at a New Mexico youth ranch for troubled kids corroborates allegations by current and former students of abuse. But the governor did not say why the agency that has licensing authority over juvenile justice facilities didn't take action sooner.
Martinez made the comments on Monday in defense of the state's handling of an investigation into the Tierra Blanca High Country Youth Program near Hillsboro ranch.
An Amber Alert and state police manhunt was launched Friday after officers found the ranch empty when they arrived to take custody of the children.
Pete Domenici Jr., the ranch's attorney, said the children were safe and being returned to their parents.
Martinez says officers issued the alert as they moved to verify that information. The alert was cancelled on Sunday.
Police continue to seek the operator of the ranch, Scott Chandler, for questioning. Chandler has denied any children have been harmed. New Mexico's Children, Youth and Families Department was the licensing and oversight agency for juvenile facilities since its formation in 1993, but a spokesman for the department told KUNM that "No one is responsible for oversight of Tierra Blanca."