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Walt Harris’s Daughter Aniah Blanchard: Latest Case Update

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Walt Harris daughter Aniah Blanchard.

Walt Harris’s daughter Aniah Blanchard remains missing even as authorities have arrested a man they say abducted her, Ibraheem Yazeed. Harris is a UFC fighter; Aniah is his stepdaughter, and the UFC world has united in support of Harris and his family.

Aniah, 19, attends Southern Union College. Her family reported the college student missing on October 24, 2019. Her father, Elijah Blanchard, mother Angela Harris, and stepmother Yashiba Blanchard have joined forces to try to find her.

Eleven law enforcement agencies are also trying to find Aniah. Unfortunately, even though authorities have now arrested a 30-year-old Montgomery, Alabama man, Ibraheem Yazeed, for allegedly abducting Blanchard, there was no sign of the teen.

Here’s what you need to know:


1. Aniah’s Alleged Abductor Was Taken Into Custody After a Foot Pursuit Near Pensacola

ibraheem yazeed

Florida mugshotIbraheem Yazeed

Yazeed, who has a violent criminal history that includes allegedly beating a man almost to death, was taken into custody on the evening of November 8, 2019 in a brushy area off a Florida interstate. Jail booking records show that Yazeed is being held without bond in the Escambria County Jail.

According to AL.com, the arrest came off the I-10 Pine Forest Road exit in Escambia County. There was a short foot pursuit, and tracking dogs were used to apprehend Yazeed, the newspaper reported. The mugshot released by the Escambia County jail showed Yazeed with a bruised, swollen eye. However, there was, so far, no sign of Aniah.

Authorities think Yazeed may have spotted Blanchard in a Chevron gas station convenience store in Auburn, Alabama. They later found her damaged car, which led them to suspect foul play. She hasn’t been seen since, but authorities put out photos of a person of interest seen in the store at the same time; they later revealed that the man was Yazeed.

Auburn, Alabama Police Chief Paul Register said in a news conference that authorities’ focus has been on “locating Aniah.” Aniah Haley Blanchard “last communicated with a friend on Wednesday night, Oct. 23, just before midnight,” police say.


2. Walt Harris, a Top Ranked UFC Heavyweight, Has Received Support from the MMA Community

According to ESPN, the MMA community has “rallied around Harris,” including contributing money to reward funds, which now exceed $100,000.

“I just pray that everybody keeps the hope alive,” Harris said to ESPN, which reported that he withdrew from a fight after Aniah vanished. “We’re staying hopeful.” Harris, a UFC heavyweight contender, backed out of an upcoming fight against Alistair Overeem. It was scheduled for December 7 in Washington.

“Our thoughts go out to Walt and his family,” Overeem said in response to Harris withdrawing from the bout. “As a father I can only imagine how devastating this must be. I would have made the same decision. Family is the most important thing in life.”

UFC President Dana White is among those who donated money to the reward fund. He recorded a video about Aniah’s disappearance. “To help find Aniah, I’m contributing an additional $25,000 to Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s $5,000 reward” for information leading to the arrest and conviction of suspects in Aniah’s disappearance, White said. In addition, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones contributed money to the growing reward fund. Reward money from those and other sources now exceeds $100,000. A Texas non-profit group named EquuSearch is also helping look for Aniah, AL.com reports.

walt harris family

Walt and Angela Harris with Aniah Blanchard and their other children.

UFC describes Harris, who is known as the “Big Ticket” as the #9 ranked heavyweight. He has 13 wins by knockout. He last fought on July 20, 2019. He was born in Birmingham, Alabama and trains in Florida. The 36-year-old debuted in 2013.

On Facebook, Walt Harris says he is an “UFC Heavyweight training out of American Top Team.” On November 4, 2019, he shared word of a prayer vigil for Aniah on his Instagram page, writing, “God said when two or more gather in his name he is present… Tonight we gather with faith and hope for a safe return of our daughter and all missing children. Join us in prayer in person or in your own quiet time. Thank you! Everyone is welcomed!”

His Instagram profile now reads: “I will search until we find my daughter Aniah! [email protected]l.com.” He has shared numerous photos of Blanchard, writing, “I won’t rest until I find you baby girl! I love you! #FindAniah.”

“I appreciate the outpouring of love and concern for my family in our time of need,” Harris wrote on Instagram.


3. Blanchard’s Father, Mother & Stepmother Have Been Very Public in the Search for the Missing College Student

Aniah’s mom, Angela Haley-Harris, is an RN and “Hydrocare provider at Holistic Hydration.” From Alabama, her Facebook page says she “Manages Fearless Mommy, PixieLane Angela Harris and Fearless Fitness and Lifestyle Clothing.”

After police revealed that they were seeking Yazeed, Angela Harris gave an interview with Walt. In the emotional interview, she said, “As a mother and as a Christian, you know, we’re all sinners and even though this man has done some evil things and possibly evil things to our daughter, you know God can change everybody’s heart.. If he sees this, whoever it is who has done harm to our child…it can be OK. You can stop now. You can change this. You can let her go. God forgive you, we can forgive you. We just want our child home and safe.”


Aniah’s father Elijah Blanchard is married to a prominent lawyer named Yashiba Blanchard. Both have attended prayer vigils for the missing teenager and have also spoken out publicly about her disappearance. “I’m holding up because the God I serve will not allow me to fold,” Elijah Blanchard said at a prayer vigil for Aniah at a Baptist Church.

Elijah told the Montgomery Advertiser that Aniah is “a nurturing person. She likes to make sure everybody is OK. That’s what my concern is, that somebody has taken advantage of her kindness.”

Yashiba Glenn-Blanchard is a prominent Alabama attorney. Her website says she practices in multiple areas including bankruptcy Law, Family Law, Domestic Relations, Criminal Law and more.


3. Police Say That Yazeed Should Be Considered Dangerous & They Believe He took Aniah ‘Against Her Will’

Ibraheem Yazeed

Ibraheem Yazeed

Police previously released photos of a person of interest they now say was Ibraheem Yazeed. “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,” Auburn police reported in a news release.

Auburn police revealed that 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.”

Police added that the charge “stems from the investigation of the disappearance of Aniah Haley Blanchard between Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, and Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. Further investigation and analysis of evidence has determined that Yazeed was at the same location Blanchard was last seen and is involved in taking Aniah against her will.”

They added: “Additional charges and/or arrests are anticipated. Anyone with information regarding his whereabouts or having information on this case is asked to call the Auburn Police Division Detective Section at 334-501-3140, Central Alabama Crime Stoppers at 334-215-STOP, or the 24-hour non-emergency number at 334-501-3100.”

In a news conference, the police chief indicated that Yazeed was the same person previously called a person of interest in photos released by authorities. “A warrant was obtained for his arrest in a charge of kidnapping in the first degree,” the chief said.

Yazeed has associates throughout the area, but the chief said that “nothing is out of play” as to where authorities are looking at this point. He said a person “did the right thing” that led to Yazeed’s identification and the warrant after authorities highlighted the person of interest photos.

Yazeed has a violent criminal history. According to a February 2019 WFSA-TV article, Ibraheem Yazeed and a woman named Jessie Ford were accused of attempted murder after a man was found “badly beaten and near death inside a car.”

Police in Alabama had discovered a beaten man after stopping a car someone reported for erratic driving. Ford and Yazeed were accused of beaitng the victim at gunpoint until he was “unconscious, unresponsive, severely injured and near death” at a hotel. They then are accused of stealing items from him, including a Rolex watch.

They were also accused of holding a second person against his will, “beating him and stealing money from him,” WFSA reported, adding that he was out on bond in that case.

Aniah Blanchard

Aniah Blanchard

According to Al.com, Yazeed has a violent criminal history, including a 2017 Missouri arrest for aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer; a felony drug possession conviction in 2015; and a 2012 accusation of attempted murder after “authorities said he rammed his car into a Montgomery police vehicle.” In the latter case, he was not indicted by a grand jury, though. In 2011, he was accused of robbery but also was not indicted by a grand jury, the newspaper reported.


4. Police Released Video & Photos Showing Both Blanchard & Yazeed in the Same Convenience Store

VideoVideo related to walt harris’s daughter aniah blanchard: latest case update2019-11-08T09:09:26-05:00

Before they named Yazeed as the suspect, the Auburn Police Division asked for the public’s assistance “in identifying a person captured on video surveillance inside the convenience store at the time Aniah Haley Blanchard was last seen and disappeared on Oct. 23.” They later stated that this person was Yazeed.

The person of interest photo police now think was Yazeed.

At that time they identified the individual in the video (whom they now say is Yazeed) as a “black male, early-mid 20’s, approximately 200 lbs., and is between 5’-8” and 5’-10”. He is wearing dark-colored pants, dark-colored shoes and a camouflage colored hooded jacket with ‘Vans’ in white writing across the back. Additionally, the individual in the video was observed leaving the area in what is described as a late 2000’s model Lincoln Town Car, silver or grey in color.”

The person of interest photo.

In addition, authorities previously released “a snippet of a video capturing Aniah Haley Blanchard making a purchase at a convenience store located on South College Street, on Wednesday, Oct. 23, just prior to her vehicle being observed traveling southbound on South College Street.”


5. Aniah’s Vehicle Showed Signs of Damage & Police Think She Met With Foul Play

The vehicle recovered by police

The Auburn police chief has described the clues in the case.

“We think this individual is someone who should be in custody,” he said. “We don’t have any reason to know that she was familiar with him, but we can’t rule out completely that there was some knowledge.”

Authorities previously found Blanchard’s vehicle. “On Friday, Oct. 25, at 6:15 p.m., Aniah Haley Blanchard’s vehicle was located at an apartment complex in the 6100 block of Boardwalk Boulevard in Montgomery, Alabama,” police revealed. “Members of the Auburn Police Division, as well as the Montgomery Police Department, responded after receiving notification from a citizen. While the vehicle has been recovered, Blanchard has not been located. The investigation continues regarding her disappearance.” The vehicle bore obvious signs of external damage.

Damage to Aniah’s car.

Police described Aniah as “a light-complexioned black female, 5’-6” , 125 lbs., brown eyes and brown hair and was last seen wearing a black dress, tan duck boots with black stockings. She drives a 2017 Honda CR-V, black in color with Alabama tag #49BS356.”

Auburn police say that “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.”

READ NEXT: Man Shot to Death in Waffle House Fight After Police Say He Used Racial Slurs.


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