Children of religious sect leader put in protective custody

Child-welfare authorities have taken custody of two children belonging to the leader of a religious group that went missing over the weekend in Palmdale, authorities said.

Reyna Marisol Chicas, 32, was placed into an involuntary mental health evaluation after Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies found her group gathered in a park Sunday, ending a massive 22-hour search across desert terrain.

Chicas’ 15-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter were among the eight minors in the group, whose members sparked concern after leaving behind farewell letters to loved ones before a taking off on a mysterious religious trip.

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This post was last updated: Monday, September 20, 2010 at 11:22 PM, Central European Time (CET)