SLEEPY EYE, Minn. (AP) - The search for a Minnesota mother who fled with her 13-year-old cancer-stricken son to escape court-ordered chemotherapy has turned to Southern California after authorities received a tip.

Brown County Sheriff Rich Hoffmann says authorities think the pair is somewhere between Los Angeles and the Mexican border, but he says law enforcement have not had contact with them. Hoffman says it's believed the pair is heading to an area just south of San Diego.

Officials leading the search that continued Thursday acknowledged that Colleen Hauser and her son, Daniel, could already be in Mexico, possibly to seek treatment for his Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Authorities believe the mother and son fled Monday after a court-ordered X-ray showed the tumor in Daniel's chest was growing. Doctors have said the tumor will likely kill Daniel without conventional treatment, but Colleen Hauser favors the natural healing methods of an American Indian religious group known as the Nemenhah Band.

Colleen Hauser's husband, the local sheriff and the Nemenhah Band's founder hoped the mother would return home with Daniel. But the pair proved they wouldn't be traced easily.

"I just wish we could get to Colleen and tell her to come in," Brown County Sheriff Rich Hoffmann said. "This is not going to go away. It's a court order." He said Hauser's husband was cooperating with investigators.

Colleen and Daniel Hauser were seen as recently as Tuesday morning in Southern California, and authorities said they believed the two were headed to Mexico. They would only say the pair's location was based on "reliable information."

Hodgkin's lymphoma is a highly curable form of cancer when treated with chemo and radiation. But the teen and his parents rejected chemo after a single treatment, with the boy's mother saying that putting toxic substances in the body violates the family's religious convictions.

Hauser said she had been treating the boy's cancer instead with herbal supplements, vitamins, ionized water and other natural alternatives - a regimen based mostly on information she found on the Internet.

The Hauser family had been ordered to appear before a judge Tuesday for a hearing to consider chemo. But mother and son failed to show and a warrant was issued for the mother's arrest.

Daniel's father, Anthony Hauser, said in an interview Wednesday at the family's farm near Sleepy Eye, a town of 3,500 people about 80 miles from Minneapolis, that his wife and son left without telling him their plans, and that he hadn't heard from them.

He said he hopes his wife is either getting their son treatment for his illness or will bring him home. "If he's being cared for, and it's going to help him, I think it's going to be a good thing," Anthony Hauser said.

James Olson, the attorney representing social service authorities in Minnesota, originally asked the judge to cite the father for contempt of court, but later backed off and said he believed Hauser didn't know the whereabouts of his wife and son.

An alert issued to police departments around the country said mother and son might be traveling with a California lawyer named Susan Daya. Daya didn't return telephone messages Wednesday.

The alert said they might also be with a Massachusetts man named Billy Best, who as a teenager in 1994 ran away from home to escape chemotherapy for cancer similar to Daniel's. Best, who says he was cured by natural remedies, had appeared at a news conference in Minnesota recently to support the Hausers.

Best, in a phone interview, said he was in Boston and hadn't talked to the Hausers since they fled. He said he last saw the family May 9 when he was in Minnesota for court hearings.

"I just want to help this kid. I just feel like people are ganging up on him and it's not fair," Best said. "He's a nice kid, the family's nice, and they love him, and they want him to live."

The Nemenhah Band, based in Weaubleau, Mo., advocates healing methods tied to American Indian practices. The Hausers are not American Indian.

Phillip Cloudpiler Landis founded Nemenhah about a decade ago and calls himself its principal medicine chief. He said it was prompted by his own bout with cancer, which he claims to have cured through diet, visits to a sweat lodge and other natural remedies.

Landis served several months in prison in Idaho for fraud tied to the sale of natural remedies. Nemenhah members are asked to pay $250 to join and an annual $100 fee.

On Wednesday, Landis renewed his hope that Colleen Hauser return to Minnesota with her son. "Running away when there is a court order is not the way to handle it. Go home. That's the official position of the church. Go home Colleen," he said.


Condon reported from Minneapolis. Associated Press writers Steve Karnowski in Minneapolis, Melissa Trujillo in Boston and Heather Hollingsworth in Kansas City, Mo., contributed to this report.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.