Ibraheem Yazeed, the suspect charged with kidnapping UFC heavyweight Walt Harris’ stepdaughter Aniah Blanchard, appeared in an Alabama courtroom on Wednesday for a preliminary hearing on the case.
Yazeed was arrested and charged with first-degree kidnapping after witnesses identified him as the man who was allegedly seen forcing Blanchard into her vehicle against her will. Blanchard has been missing for four weeks with her last known whereabouts at a convenience store in Auburn, Ala. where she was seen on surveillance footage.
Yazeed was also identified on the footage, which eventually led police to issue a warrant for his arrest.
At the hearing, Judge Russell Bush ordered that Yazeed submit to DNA testing after forensic evidence found that a man was in Blanchard’s recovered 2017 Honda CR-V. The forensic team also discovered blood in the vehicle “indicative of someone suffering a life-threatening injury.”
The judge also denied a bond request, which means Yazeed will remain in jail.
Yazeed was already out on bond in a separate case where he was charged with kidnapping, robbery and attempted murder. That bond was also revoked.
According to a report from WVTM in Alabama, a witness testified in court claiming he saw Yazeed taking Blanchard against her will but he didn’t report the crime sooner because his wife told him to “stay out of it.”
The report also states that when Yazeed was brought into the courtroom he looked at Blanchard’s family, who was in attendance, and shook his head as the hearing got started.
Because of a gag order issued in the case, Blanchard’s family is unable to speak about the hearing. Requests have been made for the gag order to be lifted but a hearing on that matter won’t happen until Dec. 4.
Blanchard was first reported missing on Oct. 24 after she didn’t return home after speaking to a friend around 11 p.m. the previous night. Blanchard’s vehicle was recovered at an apartment complex in Montgomery, Ala. two days later.
As of now, Blanchard is still missing and police are asking for any information on her whereabouts to be reported to police at 334-501-3140, the anonymous tip line at 334-246-1391 or the 24-hour non-emergency number at 334-501-3100.
A reward totaling $105,000 with funds donated by UFC president Dana White, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and prominent MMA manager Ali Abdelaziz has been offered for any information regarding Blanchard’s disappearance.
For his part, Harris has stayed focused on his family in this time of need after he was originally scheduled to compete at UFC on ESPN 7 on Dec. 7. Harris eventually dropped out of the fight as the search for his missing stepdaughter continues.