Auburn Police Department

Aniah Blanchard died from gunshot wound, authorities say

December 03, 2019 - 4:44 am
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(NEW YORK) -- Investigators have determined that Aniah Blanchard, the 19-year-old stepdaughter of UFC heavyweight fighter Walt Harris who disappeared in October, died of a gunshot wound.

Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes did not elaborate on where Blanchard was shot but told reporters in a news conference Monday that her manner of death was ruled a homicide by the medical examiner.

Blanchard was last seen at a convenience store in Auburn, Alabama, on Oct. 23. Ibraheem Yazeed, 29, has been charged with capital murder in Blanchard's death, Hughes said, adding that the state plans to seek the death penalty.

Yazeed was seen on surveillance video inside the convenience store at the same time as Blanchard, and a witness outside the store saw him force Blanchard into her black 2017 Honda CRV, according to charging documents.

He was arrested on Nov. 7 in Escambia County, Florida, and was initially charged with kidnapping in the first degree, a designation that includes the intent to inflict physical injury.

Blanchard's remains were found in a wooded area in Macon County, Alabama, about 40 miles east of the convenience store, on Nov. 25. Her car, which had blood evidence "indicative of someone suffering a life-threatening injury," was found abandoned at an apartment complex in Montgomery, Alabama, about 50 miles away from the convenience store. The blood was later determined to be Blanchard's.

Two other people have been arrested in Blanchard's disappearance.

Antwain "Squirmy" Fisher, 35, was arrested on Nov. 22 and charged with first-degree kidnapping. He is accused of "providing transportation to Yazeed, and disposing of evidence," according to a charging affidavit.

David Johnson Jr. was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, on Nov. 25 and charged with hindering the prosecution in Blanchard's disappearance. Yazeed was allegedly at Johnson Jr.'s home Nov. 7 before he left for Florida, ABC Birmingham affiliate WBMA-TV reported, citing court documents. Authorities allege that Johnson Jr. knew that Yazeed was wanted by police at the time.

Yazeed is the "lone person" responsible in Blanchard's murder, Hughes said, promising that while justice for Blanchard would "not be swift," it would "be thorough."

"This case has absolutely shaken this community to its core, he said.

Harris took to Instagram last week to describe the "unbearable" pain he felt after losing his stepdaughter.

"Right now nothing makes sense and I’m so lost," Harris wrote. "I just want you back."

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