Human remains discovered in a wooded area have been confirmed as belonging to a missing college student who was the stepdaughter of a well-known UFC fighter, Alabama authorities announced Wednesday.
The Auburn Police Department said the Department of Forensic Sciences confirmed the remains belong to Aniah Blanchard, 19. She was the stepdaughter of UFC fighter Walt Harris.
Authorities found the remains a few feet inside a wooded area adjacent to County Road 2 near Highway 80 in Shorter, Alabama, WSFA-TV reported.
Police said they were making the announcement with ‘heavy hearts’ as the month-long search came to a close.
Blanchard´s disappearance is now a homicide investigation and additional charges will be filed, police said.
A body believed to be missing Aniah Blanchard (pictured) was found this morning in Macon County, Alabama
‘I am heartbroken for the family of Aniah Blanchard,’ Alabama Gov. Kay 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.
Blanchard was last seen on October 23 in Auburn, Alabama, at a Chevron gas station.
Her black Honda CRV was found abandoned days later more than 50 miles away at an apartment complex in Montgomery.
Police said her blood was found in the car.
Police announced Monday that human remains were found in a wooded area in neighboring Macon County.
They said that investigative leads led them to search that location.
Angela Harris delivered an emotional speech at a Tuesday vigil for her 19-year-old daughter, Aniah Blanchard, who is missing and presumed dead
Harris said she and Aniah shared a birthday and had a special bond that made the two of them feel as if they were the same person
Harris warned children to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings at all times
Blanchard was last seen at a gas station convenience store the night of October 23. She is seen here on the store’s surveillance video
Blanchard’s car was found two days later in Montgomery, Alabama. Authorities said Blanchard’s blood and male DNA was found in the car
Aniah’s mother said the 19-year-old wanted to become a teacher and a softball coach
TIMELINE OF EVENTS IN BLANCHARD CASE:
October 23: Aniah Blanchard, 19, is last seen on surveillance video at a convenience store on South College Street in Auburn, Alabama
October 24: Blanchard’s family file a missing person report
October 25: Blanchard’s black Honda CR-V is found abandoned and damaged at Park Place Apartments in Montgomery
October 31: Police confirm Blanchard’s blood was found inside her SUV and it appeared she had suffered a life-threatening injury
November 6: Police appeal to the public for help in identifying a person of interest seen on surveillance video inside the same Auburn convenience store on the night of October 23
November 7: Ibraheem Yazeed, 30, is arrested on kidnapping charges in Escambia County, Florida
November 22: Antwain ‘Squirmy’ Fisher, 35, is arrested on kidnapping charges for allegedly helping Yazeed by getting rid of evidence and driving him
November 25: Human remains believed to be those of Blanchard are found in Macon County, halfway between Auburn and Montgomery
So far, three men have been arrested and charged in connection to Blanchard’s disappearance.
After the disappearance, Blanchard’s black Honda CRV was found abandoned more than 50 miles away at an apartment complex in Montgomery. Police later said that the missing teen’s blood was found in the car and it appeared she had suffered a life-threatening injury.
Ibraheem Yazeed, 29, is charged with kidnapping in the teen´s disappearance.
Yazeed was seen at the gas station on the night of Blanchard’s disappearance.
He was arrested in the early morning hours of November 8 by the US Marshals Service in Escambia County, Florida.
Yazeed’s booking photo shows him with a massively swollen left eye. He was treated at a hospital after his arrest.
He is being held without bond.
Police also announced they arrested two other men they said say either assisted Yazeed or hindered law enforcement efforts.
Police arrested Antwain Shamar Fisher of Montgomery, on kidnapping charges. In an arrest warrant filed with the court Monday, police said Fisher helped Yazeed by disposing of evidence and driving him.
A third man, David Johnson, Jr., was arrested Monday in Montgomery and charged with hindering prosecution in the case.
Police wrote in a charging document that Johnson´s son had driven Yazeed to Florida, but Johnson initially told police Yazeed had left the residence with a woman.