Suspect Arrested on Kidnapping Charges in Case of Still-Missing Stepdaughter of UFC Fighter
Aniah Haley Blanchard vanished on October 23 after being seen at a convenience store in Auburn, Alabama
PEOPLE confirms that Pensacola authorities arrested 29-year-old Ibraheem Yazeed late Thursday night — just hours after a first-degree kidnapping warrant was issued. He complained of chest pains during his arrest and was taken to the hospital before later being booked into the Escambia County jail.
Yazeed was identified as a person of interest after video surveillance showed him inside the Auburn, Alabama, convenience store where Blanchard was last seen on Oct. 23.
Friday marks the sixteenth day of Blanchard’s disappearance. On Oct. 24, she was reported missing by her family after she didn’t come home the previous night.
Two days after Blanchard was reported missing, police found her car nearly 60 miles away in Montgomery. Undisclosed evidence recovered from the vehicle led Auburn police to believe Blanchard was harmed and a victim of foul play.
Blanchard’s disappearance has devastated her family, who say that are doing everything in their power to find her.
“It’s hard, trying to stay strong,” Walt Harris told PEOPLE on Wednesday. “[But] as the head of my house I have to say strong because I know she needs me to be strong to find her.”
Blanchard’s last known whereabouts are difficult to pinpoint, Harris says. She last communicated with her roommate through Snapchat on Wednesday night, just before midnight, saying she would be home soon. But then minutes later she sent a message saying she was with someone named “Eric,” Harris says. When her roommate asked who he was, Blanchard wrote back, “I just met him,” according to Harris.
She was never heard from again.
Harris says it’s unlike his stepdaughter to fail to return home, especially when she had work the next morning. She is always in contact with her family, he says, so when her brother couldn’t reach her the next day, the family called police.
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The UFC community has pledged their support to the family. The reward for finding Blanchard is $80,000, with $25,000 being offered by UFC President Dana White, as well as $5,000 from Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and another $5,000 from an anonymous source. The reward is offered for information that leading to an arrest and conviction.
Harris says if anyone would like to donate to the search, they should send donations to FindAniahBlanchard@gmail.com via PayPal, not GoFundMe.
Blanchard is described as a light-complexioned black female. She is 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs about 125 lbs. She has brown eyes and brown hair.
Yazeed is being held without bond as he awaits a hearing to be extradited back to Alabama. He has not yet entered a plea, and police records do not reflect an attorney authorized to speak on his behalf.
Anyone with information regarding Blanchard’s whereabouts or other knowledge about the case is asked to call the Auburn Police Division Detective Section at 334-501-3140, the anonymous tip line at 334-246-1391 or the 24-hour non-emergency number at 334-501-3100.