Walt Harris’ stepdaughter Aniah Blanchard still missing following arrest of suspect in Florida
A suspect has been arrested and charged with first-degree kidnapping in the disappearance of 19-year-old Aniah Blanchard, who is the stepdaughter of UFC heavyweight Walt Harris.
30-year-old Ibraheem Yazeed was captured in Pensacola, Fla., late Thursday night in a joint operation by the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force along with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Department.
Yazeed later waived extradition, which allowed him to be taken back to Alabama after an arrest warrant was issued for first-degree kidnapping.
Blanchard went missing on Oct. 23 shortly after she was seen entering a convenience store in Auburn, Ala. Her family reported her missing on Oct. 24 and one day later her 2017 Honda CR-V was recovered at an apartment complex in Montgomery, Ala., with significant damage on the right side of the vehicle.
Following a forensics investigation, it was declared that the missing Blanchard was a possible victim of foul play and that she was likely harmed during the abduction.
A probable cause affidavit that was first reported by the Pensacola News Journal revealed that blood “indicative of someone suffering a life-threatening injury” was discovered in the passenger side of Blanchard’s vehicle, which led to the arrest warrant being issued for Yazeed’s capture.
According to the affidavit, this evidence along with an eyewitness account of the alleged kidnapping, is what led them to search for Yazeed in the first place.
“During the subsequent investigation a witness identified Yazeed as the individual he observed forcing Blanchard into [her] vehicle against her will and then leaving with her in the vehicle,” the affidavit stated.
The blood evidence in the vehicle was tested by the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences and later revealed to match Blanchard.
Blanchard’s whereabouts are still unknown at this time.
“We do anticipate other arrests, so we do think there’s a likelihood someone else is involved in this case and we hope to bring that person to justice as well,” Auburn Police chief Paul Register said in a statement following Yazeed’s arrest.
At the time of his capture and subsequent arrest, Yazeed was out on a $295,000 bond for a separate case where he had been charged with kidnapping, attempted murder and robbery. His bond was revoked after police charged Yazeed with first-degree kidnapping in Blanchard’s disappearance.
Immediately following Blanchard’s disappearance on Oct. 23, Harris put out a plea seeking help in finding his stepdaughter, who was last seen on surveillance footage in a local convenience store where she apparently crossed paths with Yazeed.
UFC president Dana White, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and MMA manager Ali Abdelaziz helped boost a $105,000 reward for information that would lead authorities to the individuals involved in Blanchard’s disappearance.
Police have not released any further updates on the search for Blanchard following Yazeed’s arrest.
Anyone with information regarding his whereabouts or having information on this case is asked to call the Auburn Police Division Detective Section at 334-501-3140, Central Alabama Crime Stoppers at 334-215-STOP (7867), or the 24-hour non-emergency number at 334-501-3100.