Witness saw Aniah Blanchard abducted from outside Auburn store, records state

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The abduction of Alabama college student Aniah Blanchard outside an Auburn convenience store was witnessed, according to new court records made public Friday.

Charging documents against 29-year-old Ibraheem Yazeed said he was witnessed “forcing Blanchard into a vehicle against her will and then leaving with her in the vehicle. Blanchard has not been located at this time.”

Yazeed, formally charged Thursday with first-degree kidnapping, was taken into custody late Thursday night by U.S. Marshals in Pensacola. It was through that arrest that the affidavit in the kidnapping case became available.

Florida State Attorney Bill Eddins told AL.com that Yazeed had a hearing Friday. “He indicated he wanted to waive extradition and go back to Alabama and he said he’d like to make a phone call,” Eddins said. He said the judge told Yazeed she had no objection to him making a phone call but it wasn’t immediately clear if he made that call and to whom it was made.

According to the affidavit by Auburn police Det. Josh Mixon, Blanchard was last seen by a family member the evening of Oct. 23 at a residence in the 1000 block of Alan Avenue in Auburn. The Southern Union College student from Homewood was officially reported missing Thursday, Oct. 24. She last communicated with a friend late on the night of Oct. 23. Police said her vehicle was seen in the early-morning hours of Oct. 24 along South College Street.

Police recovered the teen’s black 2017 Honda CRV from an apartment complex on the 6100 block of Boardwalk Boulevard in Montgomery around 6:15 p.m. the following evening, which was Friday. A citizen reported the vehicle to police.

Auburn police Capt. Lorenza Dorsey said Blanchard’s vehicle had been damaged sometime between the last time it was seen in Auburn and Friday night. The charging document obtained Friday said that blood evidence was discovered in the passenger’s compartment of the vehicle and was “indicative of someone suffering a life-threatening injury.”

The evidence was submitted to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences and confirmed to be that of Blanchard. Video evidence from the convenience store at 1599 South College Street placed both Blanchard and Yazeed at the store during the same time. “This was the last time she was seen,” Mixon wrote. A witness later identified Yazeed as the individual he saw forcing Blanchard into a vehicle against her will.

Police late Thursday publicly identified Yazeed as the suspect in Blanchard’s disappearance and announced the warrant against him. In less than eight hours, the U.S. Marshals had found and captured him.

The Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force in Alabama sent a lead to its counterparts in Pensacola – the Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force – which located the suspect near I-10’s Pine Forest Road exit. Yazeed spotted the lawmen and fled on foot.

“Upon encountering Yazeed, the Marshals issued multiple verbal commands to which Yazeed did not comply,” according to a Friday statement from the U.S. Marshals. “The Task Force members then had to physically remove him from his hiding spot.”

Yazeed, complaining of chest pains at the time of his arrest, was taken to a Pensacola hospital and then booked into the Escambia County Jail, where he remains held without bond pending extradition to Lee County. According to Florida court records, Yazeed will make a court appearance via video on Saturday morning.

“I am relieved that we can finally obtain some answers and locate our daughter,” said Blanchard’s stepmother, Yashiba Blanchard. “I am prayerful that the Lord touches this young man’s heart so he will be honest and truthful and tell the authorities where our daughter is located.

“These have been some long days and extremely sleepless nights,” she said. “I feel as if the Lord has heard our cries and the community’s cries for help with finding our daughter. We are continuing to put our trust in God and pray that Chief Register and the APD with other law enforcement bring us Aniah and justice.”

Yazeed was already awaiting trial in an unrelated kidnapping, robbery and attempted murder in Montgomery that left a 77-year-old man “near death.”

Auburn Police Chief Paul Register said there’s a strong possibility at least one other person was involved in Blanchard’s disappearance and more arrests are expected. He described public input as “critical” to the case.

“Obviously our focus is, and has been since the beginning, finding Aniah,” the chief said. “It’s about giving them (family) some peace of mind.”

“This is a family that’s hurting,” Register said. “Regardless of the outcome, they want to know where their daughter is.”



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