Aniah Blanchard, a college student and the missing stepdaughter of UFC star Walt Harris, was last seen on October 23
The desperate search for Alabama college student Aniah Haley Blanchard took a dark turn Thursday when authorities announced they now believe she was harmed and is the victim of foul play.
Blanchard, a 19-year-old college student at Southern Union State Community College — and stepdaughter of Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight competitor Walt Harris — was last heard from on Oct. 23, the Auburn Police Department says in a statement on its website.
Reported missing on Oct. 24, she last communicated with a friend on Wednesday night, just before midnight, say police.
She was last seen on surveillance video inside a convenience store on South College St. on the night of Oct. 23 before getting back into her black 2017 Honda CR-V and driving southbound, say police, who released a portion of the video on Monday.
With Blanchard still missing, at about 6:15 p.m. on Friday, her CR-V was found at an apartment complex on Boardwalk Boulevard in Montgomery, which is about an hour from Auburn, where she was last seen, say authorities.
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“Upon the vehicle’s recovery, damage had occurred from the time it was last seen on Wednesday, Oct. 23, just before midnight in Auburn and its recovery in Montgomery on Oct. 25,” police say in an updated statement.
The CR-V had visible dents and scratches to the right bumper that it didn’t have when she went missing, say police.
“Evidence from within Aniah Blanchard’s vehicle, recovered in Montgomery, was examined by the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences and has now determined that she was harmed and is considered to be a victim of foul play,” Auburn Police announced in a statement Thursday.
More than 60 investigators from the Auburn Police Division, Montgomery Police Department and other agencies including the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Department of Homeland Security, “are still requesting assistance from the public regarding any information on the location of Aniah and her vehicle between Wednesday, Oct. 23, and today,” the statement says.
Walt Harris has also been asking for help in finding his stepdaughter.
On Oct. 25, Harris, 36, shared several photos of the missing teen on Instagram Friday, asking his followers to share the message he wrote.
Her father, Elijah Blanchard, a minister in Birmingham, told ABC News she is close to her family and that she is “organized” and disciplined.
Auburn Police Chief Paul Register told local station WFSA that the 19-year-old always kept in close contact with her family and friends.
“She had been with her family earlier that day,” Register told WFSA, adding that she is “very close with people here in Auburn,” including her roommates.
Her mother, Angela Haley-Harris, told WBRC that her daughter had apparently met a young man on Wednesday night, when her debit card was last used.
The teen was last seen wearing a black dress and tan duck boots with black stockings.
As of Friday, the reward for finding her has increased to $80,000.
The Police Division was notified yesterday that Governor Kay Ivey has authorized a $5,000 reward for information leading to the apprehension of any suspects in this case, the statement says.
An additional $25,000 reward is being offered by UFC President Dana White as well as another $5,000 from an anonymous source for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of an offender in this case.
Blanchard is described as a light-complexioned black female. She is 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighs about 125 pounds.
She has brown eyes and brown hair.
The investigation is ongoing and anyone with information regarding Aniah’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.