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Aniah Blanchard, the stepdaughter of UFC heavyweight Walt Harris, was reported missing on Oct. 24.
Blanchard, a 19-year-old college student, is described as light in complexion, 5-foot-6, 125 pounds, with brown eyes and brown hair. She was last seen wearing a black dress, tan duck boots, and black stockings.
Here’s what we know based on a timeline of developments.
(Editor’s note: This will continue to be updated as events unfold.)
Oct. 23: Blanchard last seen and heard from
Blanchard is last seen in a convenience store at a Chevron gas station making a purchase and had communication with a friend just before midnight.
Auburn (Ala.) police later released surveillance video of Blanchard at the store.
Oct. 24: Harris pleads for help
Please help!!!! Any info message me on here or call the Auburn police (334) 501-3140 Please!!! BOLO: Black 2017 Honda CRV Tag: 49BS356 My daughters name is Aniah! https://t.co/cijO736cFH
— Walt Harris (@thebigticket205) October 24, 2019
Initially, police do not suspect foul play.
Oct. 25: Blanchard’s vehicle located
Investigators locate Blanchard’s black 2017 Honda CRV at an apartment complex in Montgomery, Ala. The vehicle sports damage not present at the time of her disappearance.
Oct. 26: Harris and his family issue video PSA on Instagram
View this post on Instagram
A post shared by Walt Harris (@thebigticket205) on
Oct. 30: Alabama governor, Dana White kick-start reward money
Alabama governor Kay Ivey issues a $ 5,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator(s) responsible for Blanchard’s disappearance. UFC president Dana White steps up with a $ 25,000 contribution. Others, including UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, also step up. In total, reward money eventually reaches more than $ 100,000.
Any donations towards efforts to locate Blanchard are encouraged to be made via PayPal to [email protected]
If anyone has any information on Aniah Blanchard, please call *HP or 911 immediately. Friends and fans please pass this video around. Thank you pic.twitter.com/4xDfcPMhGL
— Dana White (@danawhite) October 31, 2019
Oct. 31: Police suspect foul play
Police say evidence found inside Blanchard’s vehicle indicates she is a victim of foul play. A social media message sent by Blanchard to her roommate indicated she might have been with a male before she disappeared, according to her mother.
“There are just a lot of things that don’t add up for us as parents,” Harris said. “We just really, really want to know.”
The next day, MMA Junkie learns Harris has withdrawn from his scheduled Dec. 7 headline fight at UFC on ESPN 7 in Washington, D.C.
Nov. 6: Police seek person of interest
Police release footage from the same store around the time Blanchard was last seen of of a man they consider a person of interest. He is a black man in his 20s, believed to be between 5-foot-8 and 5-foot-10 and approximately 200 pounds. He was described as leaving the area in a Lincoln Town Car, which appeared silver or gray.
Blanchard’s father reacts to the news.
Nov. 7: Person of interest identified
Per the City of Auburn website:
The Auburn Police Division has identified the person of interest as Ibraheem Yazeed, 30 years of age from Montgomery, Alabama. A warrant has been obtained for his arrest for the charge of kidnapping in the first degree. Currently, the U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Taskforce along with other agencies assisting in this investigation are actively searching for Yazeed. Yazeed is currently out on bond for the charges of kidnapping and attempted murder from another jurisdiction. He should be considered dangerous and potentially armed.
According to the Montgomery Advertiser, Yazeed has a lengthy criminal history that dates back to April 2011.
Nov. 8: Yazeed captured in Florida
Yazeed, the man identified as the suspect in Blanchard’s disappearance Blanchard, is arrested in Florida at 2:32 a.m. ET and jailed in Escambia County. He is held without bond because he is an out-of-state fugitive.
Ibraheem Yazeed, 30, the suspect in the disappearance of Aniah Blanchard was arrested overnight in Escambia County, Florida.
— #WVTM13 (@WVTM13) November 8, 2019
Nov. 8: Warrant affidavit gives more details; DNA test matches Blanchard; Yazeed charged with kidnapping
According to a report from Pensacola News Journal, investigators have said in a warrant affidavit “blood evidence was discovered in the passenger’s compartment of (Blanchard’s) vehicle (was) indicative of someone suffering a life-threatening injury.”
The Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences ran tests on the blood and determined the sample positively matched Blanchard.
Additionally, the affidavit indicates there was an eye witness who saw Yazeed force Blanchard into her vehicle, get in the car, and drive off.
Friday afternoon, Yazeed was formally charged with kidnapping and will be extradited to Auburn.
Blanchard still has yet to be found.
Nov. 10: Holloway’s mother joins search
Beth Holloway, whose daughter Natalee Holloway went missing 14 years ago on a high school graduation trip to Aruba, joins the effort to find Blanchard by teaming up with non-profit Texas EquuSearch.
Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes confirms to AL.com that a gag order has been issued in the case against Yazeed
Nov. 11: Petition for legislative change reaches 25,000 signatures
A petition started Nov. 7 in Aniah Blanchard’s name has reached 25,000 signatures. The “Violent offenders are not let out on bond” petition was created to prevent just that. The signatures goal is currently set at 35,000.
The petition’s mission statement reads:
“(Yazeed) should of never been released on bond, or even walking the streets after he attempted to murder an officer in 2012, and continued his violent path after being released from those charges, went on to victimize more people, including but not limited to, Aniah Blanchard.
Something MUST be done!!! We need more stricter programs for violent offenders, we cannot allow this to happen!
A repeat violent offender should not have an option for bond, a first time violent offender must serve at least 85 percent of their sentence before giving a bond, or being released. and a repeat violent offender must serve 100 percent of their sentence!! And should not, and cannot be eligible for parole, or probation Until they have done so. The sentence served should be mandatory, and an offender with a violent offense should not be released on ‘good time’.”
Any law created as a result of the petition should be named “The Aniah Blanchard Law,” per the write-up by its creator, Amy Crum.
Nov. 12: Yazeed to be held without bond
A judge rules that Yazeed is to be held without bond. Details from the Montgomery Advertiser:
A Lee County judge has ruled Ibraheem Yazeed, charged in 19-year-old Aniah Blanchard’s disappearance, to be held without bond.
According to court records filed Tuesday morning, prosecutors argued that Yazeed’s “extensive history of violent criminal offenses,” the fact he was on bond at the time of Blanchard’s alleged kidnapping and that he fled to Escambia County, Fla., as evidence for the no bond.
District Judge Russell Bush agreed, according to the order.
In the same filing, Bush also ruled that “the parties and any potential witnesses” in the case are “prohibited from making any statements to members of the media, or directly discussing their involvement in this case or any current or future trial proceedings with members of the media.”
Nov. 14: Walt and Angela Harris appear on ‘The Dr. Phil Show’
Walt Harris breaks his silence when he and his wife, Angela, appear on the nationally syndicated television show “Dr. Phil.”
As would be expected, the Harrises are distraught over the loss of Blanchard but hold out hope that she will be found alive. They also believe Blanchard’s kidnapping was set up by someone she knows, not simply a random happening.
“There’s a lot of things that don’t make sense to us. It seems like it was actually set up, and it was something that was planned,’’ Walt Harris said.
Nov. 20: Yazeed denied bond; attorney upset
A Lee County (Ala.) judge denies Yazeed’s request for bond and orders him to take a DNA test after a prosecutor said a DNA profile was found in Blanchard’s car.
Yazeed’s attorney, Elijah Beaver, questions the credibility of the witness who claims to have seen Yazeed force Blanchard into a car on the night she went missing. Beaver also objects to the Harrises appearing on “Dr. Phil,” arguing that speaking out on a national TV show could hurt Yazeed’s chances at a fair trial.
“They went on ‘Dr. Phil’ talking to a nationwide audience, potentially tainting every juror in the state of Alabama,” he said.
Nov. 23: Second suspect arrested in Alabama
A second suspect has been arrested in the case and charged with first degree kidnapping in relation to Blanchard’s disappearance.
According to CBS affiliate WRBL-TV in Colubus, Ga., police in Auburn arrested Antwain Fisher, known as “Squirmy,” on Friday and booked him into the Lee County Detention Center in Opelika, Ala.
Brandon Hughes, a District Attorney in Lee County, confirmed Fisher’s arrest, the station reported.
There was no word on what led police to arrest Fisher in connection to the case.
Nov. 25: Blanchard’s body found in Macon County (Ala.)
The search for Blanchard has reached a tragic conclusion. Authorities say they have “strong reason to believe” human remains found in Macon County are those of the 19-year-old.
Nov. 25: Third person arrested in connection with case
A third person was arrested in the case of Blanchard’s disappearance, hours after a body believed to be Blanchard’s remains were found.
David Lee Johnson Jr., of Montgomery, has been charged with hindering prosecution for his alleged part in the disappearance of Blanchard, Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes confirmed to The Montgomery Advertiser. He’s being held on a $ 7,500 bond.
Nov. 26: $ 50,000 bond set for Antwain Fisher
Bond has been set for the second of three suspects arrested in connection with Blanchard’s kidnapping. Antwain Fisher appeared in court on Monday in Lee County. A district judge initially denied to set bond for Fisher based on his criminal history. But Tuesday, bond had been set at $ 50,000, according to CBS affiliate WIAT-TV in Birmingham.
The station also reported Fisher’s arrest affidavit says it is believed he “provided material assistance to Yazeed by providing transportation to Yazeed, and disposing of evidence.” District Attorney Brandon Hughes, the station reported, said Fisher was convicted of a murder charge in 2005 and served three years, plus probation.
Nov. 27: Remains confirmed to be Blanchard’s
In a news conference, Auburn police chief Paul Register announces the remains found indeed are Blanchard’s.
“It is with heavy hearts that we so confirm today that the remains are in fact of Aniah Blanchard,” Register said (via Montgomery Advertiser). “This case will move forward as a homicide investigation.”
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