Suspect Arrested In Connection With Disappearance Of UFC Fighter's Stepdaughter
The reward for information connected to her disappearance is now $105,000.
Like what you're reading?
Get more in your inbox.
Ibraheem Yazeed, 30, was arrested in Florida late Thursday night and has been charged with first-degree kidnapping.
A warrant for his arrest was issued on Thursday by Auburn police, and he was deemed dangerous and possibly armed. U.S. Marshals in Montgomery received a tip that Yazeed was in Pine Forest and Interstate 10. They then notified marshals in Florida.
He was startled by all the police and attempted to run at around 11 p.m. Thursday, reports the New York Post.
“When we arrived, the suspect fled the area, but he was located by Escambia sheriff’s officers and marshals in a wooded area near the exit,” Escambia Sheriff’s Major Andrew Hobbs said.Yazeed was complaining about chest pains and was taken to a local hospital. His booking photo shows a swollen eye. He is now booked in Escambia County Jail.
The suspect had been out of jail on bond for attempted murder, two counts of first-degree kidnapping and two counts of first-degree robbery in connection to a case in Montgomery that occurred in February. Montgomery District Court Judge Pamela Higgins revoked his $280,000 bond on Thursday, reports WSFA 12.
UFC fighter and Blanchard’s stepfather, Walt Harris, was disturbed when he was informed Yazeed was a person of interest.
“To say the least, it’s upsetting,” he told NBC News. “That you have a rap sheet as long as what I’ve been told and you’re walking around free. It’s confusing how a person that bad and that evil can be amongst us.”Earlier this week, Auburn police released photos of Yazeed at the gas station Blanchard was last seen, at the same time as the college student. She was reported missing on October 24. At first, authorities believed there was no foul play in connection to her missing. Her car was then found, and a few days later police confirmed, after searching the vehicle for evidence, they believed she had been harmed.
A reward of $105,000 from multiple contributors has been promised for her return.
Original story (November 1, 2019) : The disappearance of 19-year-old college student Aniah Blanchard is now being pursued as a criminal investigation.
Forensic evidence found in her vehicle suggests she was harmed, reports CNN.
"We fear for her safety and do not believe she has gone missing on her own accord," Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes said.
The last time anyone heard from Blanchard, a student at Southern Union State Community College, was just before midnight on Wednesday, October 23 when she texted a friend. Her car was seen in the early hours of the next day on South College Street.
Two days later, her 2017 black Honda CRV was located by police, from a tip, at an apartment complex in Montgomery. The car was discovered with new damage to the front fender and scrapes on the passenger-side door.
After looking at the evidence, the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences has “determined that she was harmed and is considered to be a victim of foul play," officials said.
Blanchard, the stepdaughter of UFC heavyweight champion Walt Harris, was last seen wearing a black dress, tan duck boots and black stockings. A task force of 60 investigators was formed Wednesday.
Authorities released a video on Monday showing her purchasing something at a convenience store on South College Street that Wednesday night, just before her car was seen driving southbound, reports AL.com.
Her father, Elijah Blanchard, said the video upset him because he believes she looks troubled.
"She's my baby. She knows if she needs something, when everybody else says no, she knows she can call her father and I'll give it to her," he said.
Auburn Police Chief Paul Register told WSFA Blanchard is close to her family and was with them just hours before she disappeared, saying it was unusual for her to not be in contact with them.
"She had been with her family earlier that day. Very close with people here in Auburn, roommates," he said.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey authorized a $5,000 reward on Wednesday for information connected to Blanchard’s disappearance.
I encourage anyone with information about the whereabouts of 19-year-old Aniah Blanchard, who was last seen Oct. 23, to please call *HP or 9-1-1. We continue to pray for Aniah & her family as law enforcement officials work to bring her home. @ALEAprotects @CityofAuburnAL pic.twitter.com/YT8683L9B9— Governor Kay Ivey (@GovernorKayIvey) October 30, 2019
UFC President Dana White also announced Wednesday he would donate additional money to the reward for anyone able to locate Blanchard. UFC athlete Jon Jones as well as an anonymous donor from Homewood have also donated to the reward, which now totals $80,000.
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
Harris posted to Instagram and Twitter, asking the public to help find his stepdaughter.
Crime Stoppers of Central Alabama is also aiding in finding Blanchard.