Posted at: 10/14/2013 10:28 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4
Tierra Blanca Ranch director Scott Chandler is still nowhere to be found.
Our 4 On Your Side team is getting to know the man everyone wants to know more about.
Friends and neighbors tell KOB Eyewitness News 4 that Scott Chandler is a good man operating a ranch his father once owned.
But his answers to our questions reveal other sides of man at the center of a major child abuse investigation.
"We don't operate at the ranch and live in fear," said Chandler. "You can't operate in fear."
Chandler spoke those words during an impromptu press conference last Thursday.
Chandler is 42 years old and has no New Mexico criminal record, or any significant financial troubles according to an in-depth background check.
"We've been here all along," he said of his ranch on Thursday. "We've been practicing the way we've been practicing for 17 years."
Records for Scott Chandler's connection to a Hillsboro-area ranch go back to 1990.
By phone, 17-year friend Loni Rubio called Chandler a hard-working man who often brought Tierra Blanca boys around to help.
The director of Hillsboro's Community Center says the Chandlers don't usually participate in local area events.
"Nobody wants to think the worst about their kid, I don't even want to do that," said Chandler in an online video posted to the Tierra Blanca Ranch web site.
According to another video on the Tierra Blanca Ranch website, Chandler says his connection to troubled teens goes back to the 1970s when his family moved from Texas, and his parents purchased the ranch.
"My family took in many, many kids," Chandler said in the video. "I grew up with our spare bedroom constantly being used as a safe haven for these kids."
In the video, Chandler reveals he began a formal structure at the ranch in 1996.
That structure is now the center of an investigation into allegations of abuse.
Chandler has dismissed the need for credentials or licensing.
"Everybody wants to make it about credentials," he said on Thursday. "Compare our success to the supposed credentialed people."
During the Thursday interview with 4 On Your Side's Chris Ramirez, Chandler talked about his distrust of government agencies.
"They've even invaded the schools where the schools can't discipline the kids," he said.
Chandler was listed as a person of interest in a Friday Amber Alert for 9 boys who went missing from the Tierra Blanca Ranch.
Scott Chandler's whereabouts are still unknown to law enforcement.