Ibraheem Yazeed, the lead suspect in the disappearance and death of UFC fighter Walt Harris' stepdaughter Aniah Blanchard, is now facing murder charges. Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes held a press conference on Monday, and he told reporters that he is seeking the death penalty for Yazeed. Hughes wants this done to give justice to Blanchard's family.
"The process of seeing justice done for Aniah and her family will not be swift, but I can promise it will be thorough," he said per the Montgomery Adviser.
It was determined that Blanchard died of a gunshot wound and Yazeed, who was arrested in Florida for the disappearance of Blanchard, was being investigated for murder after being charged with kidnapping. Two other suspects were taken into custody - Antwain "Squirmy" Fisher and David Lee Johnson Jr. - and investigators believe both are also responsible for Blanchard's disappearance.
"There was an autopsy done," Hughes said. "The medical examiner ruled that Aniah Blanchard was killed in the manner of homicide. The cause of death was a gunshot wound."
Blanchard was last seen on Oct. 23, and she was at a gas station in Auburn, Alabama. A witness said she saw Blanchard being forced into a car by Yazeed at the gas station.
"This case has absolutely shaken our community to its core," Hughes said.
"It is my intention that the response to this horrific crime be a warning to anyone, anyone who believes they want to come to Lee County and engage in violent criminal behavior," he said. "They will certainly be dealt with, and the consequences will be severe."
The skeletal remains of Blanchard were found last week and the family held a vigil for her. As soon as Blanchard was reported missing, Harris asked fans for their help to locate here. UFC president Dana White offered $30,000 to anyone who had information on Blanchard.0comments
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey sent a message to Blanchard's family as soon as she heard the news of investigators finding her remains.
"I am heartbroken for the family of Aniah Blanchard," Ivey said in a statement. "Like Alabamians across our state, I was praying for a much different outcome. I will be keeping them in my prayers and ask the people of Alabama to continue to do so as well. During this holiday season, it is easy to get distracted in the hustle and bustle, but I urge us all to remember those that are hurting. I appreciate the diligence of the Auburn Police Division, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and the many volunteers who were searching for Aniah. She is indeed loved and will be remembered by us all."