Stepdaughter of UFC Star Still Missing, But Blood Evidence Shows ‘Life-Threatening Injury’: Police
Aniah Haley Blanchard was reported missing on October 24
Blood evidence recovered in the car of Aniah Haley Blanchard shows she suffered a “life-threatening injury,” a police affidavit says.
Blanchard, the stepdaughter of UFC heavyweight fighter Walt Harris, was reported missing on October 24. She was last seen at a convenience store in Auburn, Alabama.
Two days after she was reported missing, police found Blanchard’s car nearly 60 miles away in Montgomery. Evidence recovered from the vehicle led Auburn police to believe Blanchard was harmed and a victim of foul play.
Last week, authorities arrested 29-year-old Ibraheem Yazeed and charged him with first-degree kidnapping. According to a charging affidavit obtained by CBS News, police believe the woman was seriously injured in the vehicle. The document alleges that a state lab determined the blood evidence matched Aniah Blanchard.
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.
Blanchard’s disappearance has devastated her family, who say they are doing everything in their power to find her.
“It’s hard, trying to stay strong,” Walt Harris told PEOPLE last 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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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.
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 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.
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.