Authorities believe the missing stepdaughter of UFC fighter Walt Harris likely suffered a “life-threatening injury” based on blood evidence investigators found in Aniah Blanchard’s abandoned SUV.
The evidence was discovered on the passenger’s side of the vehicle and “was indicative of someone suffering a life-threatening injury,” according to court documents obtained by local station WALA-TV.
Analysis by the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences confirmed the blood was a match to the 19-year-old college student who disappeared Oct. 23 after visiting an Auburn convenience store around 11:30 p.m.
Authorities have arrested 30-year-old Ibraheem Yazeed in connection with the kidnapping after he was captured on surveillance footage at the store around the same time Blanchard was seen.
A witness at the gas station also positively identified Yazeed as the man he saw forcing Blanchard into a vehicle against her will, according to an affidavit obtained by WHNT.
It’s not clear whether that vehicle was her SUV or another vehicle; however, two days after she disappeared her SUV was found abandoned in an apartment complex about 50 miles away, with fresh damage to the passenger side of the car.
Blanchard has still not been found and her family is hopeful she may be alive.
“That is what is keeping us going,” her mother Angela Harris told WBRC-TV.
Yazeed—who had been free on bond related to an earlier kidnapping case when Blanchard disappeared—was arrested Friday and charged with Blanchard’s kidnapping.
He had his first appearance in court Sunday as Blanchard’s family looked on.
“You could see the evil on this guy,” Walt Harris told the station of his stepdaughter’s accused kidnapper. “It’s hard to put into words what you’re feeling in that moment other than rage. You just want to make him feel our pain and understand how hard this has been—what you’re doing to a family.”
So far, Yazeed has not been talking about where Blanchard may be but her family is hopeful that he will have a change of heart.
“God can change peoples’ hearts, and that’s what I’m praying for. That he’ll have a change of heart and, you know, he’ll understand what he’s doing is wrong and what he’s been doing in his life is wrong. And he has a child, so I hope he’ll start feeling some remorse and change his mind,” Angela Harris said.
Authorities have said they don’t believe Yazeed is the only person involved in the crime.
“We do think there’s a likelihood someone else is involved in this case and we hope to bring that person to justice as well,” Auburn Police Chief Paul Register said, according to The Associated Press.
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