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Police arrest suspect in Aniah Blanchard disappearance (updated)

An arrest warrant has been issued by Auburn Police for a suspect believed to be involved in the disappearance of 19-year-old Aniah Blanchard, who is the stepdaughter of UFC heavyweight Walt Harris.

Police released a photo along with information naming 30-year-old Montgomery, Ala. resident Ibraheem Yazeed as the key suspect in the case with an arrest warrant issued for first-degree kidnapping.

“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 said in a statement released on Thursday. “Currently, the US Marshal’s Fugitive Task force 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.

“The charge stems from the investigation of the disappearance of Aniah Haley Blanchard between Wednesday, October 23, 2019, and Thursday, October 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. Additional charges and/or arrests are anticipated.”

Blanchard, who is a student at nearby Southern Union community college, was first reported missing on Oct. 24 after she was last seen on Wednesday, Oct. 23 after visiting a local convenience store in the Auburn, Ala. area.

Two days later, Blanchard’s 2017 Honda CR-V was found at an apartment complex in Montgomery, Ala. with significant damage done to the right side of the vehicle. When Blanchard was last seen with the car there was no such damage.

Following a forensics investigation of the car, Auburn Police released a statement saying that they believed evidence showed Blanchard was a victim of foul play and may have been harmed by her assailants.

On Wednesday, police released a photo seeking to identify an individual who was seen in the convenience store around the same time that Blanchard went missing. Now Auburn Police have identified the suspect with an arrest warrant issued for his capture.

Yazeed is currently out on bond for attempted murder, two counts of first-degree kidnapping and two counts of first-degree robbery stemming from another case in Montgomery, Ala. from February.

Harris has put out several pleas asking for help in the search for his stepdaughter after she first went missing on Oct. 23.

The veteran heavyweight was originally scheduled to compete on Dec. 7 in the main event at UFC on ESPN 7 against Alistair Overeem but he droppd out of the fight to stay focused on his family as the search continues for his missing stepdaughter.

UFC president Dana White, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and prominent MMA manager Ali Abdelaziz helped fund a reward that now stands at $105,000 for information that would help find Blanchard.

Police are asking for anyone with information regarding Blanchard or Yazeed 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.

Update: Auburn Police have confirmed that Yazeed was taken into custody following the announcement that he had been charged in Blanchard’s disappearance.

“On Nov. 7, 2019, at approximately 11 p.m. Ibraheem Yazeed was taken into custody in Pensacola, Florida, by members of the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force, assisted by deputies with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Department,” Auburn Police said in a statement.

“Yazeed is being held in the Escambia County Jail pending extradition to Lee County, Alabama, where he will be charged with kidnapping first degree.”

At this time there’s been no further updates on Blanchard’s whereabouts following Yazeed’s capture and subsequent arrest.

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