PALMDALE, Calif. – The leader of a breakaway religious sect was hospitalized Sunday for a mental evaluation, after members of her group went missing and left behind evidence that they were awaiting an apocalyptic event.

Reyna Marisol Chicas was placed under a 72-hour mandatory hold after it was determined she was not able to care for herself or others, said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Thomas Kim.

Chicas gave investigators a false name and was rambling during questioning, Kim said. She told deputies she had no children, even though her two children were with her.

Ending a frantic search, deputies found Chicas and 12 others just before noon at Jackie Robinson Park near Palmdale after getting a tip from a local resident, said sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore. He said all members are safe.

Officers had been searching a wide swath of Southern California since Saturday after family members found letters saying the group was awaiting an apocalyptic event and would soon see Jesus and their dead relatives in heaven.

The group of El Salvadoran immigrants, described as “cult-like” by sheriff’s officials, was led by Chicas, a 32-year-old woman from Palmdale in northeast Los Angeles county, sheriff’s Capt. Mike Parker said.

Members left behind cell phones, identifications, deeds to property, and letters indicating they were awaiting the Rapture.

The items came from a purse that a member of the group had left with her husband Saturday and asked him to pray over. He eventually looked inside and he and another member’s husband called police, authorities said.

“These letters read like a will and testament. They read like goodbye letters,” Whitmore said.

“Coupled with the two husbands that come in and tell us ‘Our wives are missing, we believe they are under the spell of this lady,’ ” deputies had no choice but to treat the matter seriously, he said.

Whitmore said he didn’t know if the members had done anything like this before.

Sheriff’s officials said no criminal investigation was planned.

The men told investigators they believe group members had been “brainwashed” by Chicas, and one expressed worries that they might harm themselves, Parker said. One of the children is 3, and the others range from 12 to 17.

When deputies arrived at the park, they found the children playing on swings and the adults on a blanket praying out loud in Spanish.

The adults expressed shock at the notion that they might harm themselves, Parker said.