A suspect has been arrested in the disappearance of Alabama college student Aniah Blanchard, 19.
Ibraheem Yazeed was taken into custody by U.S. Marshals in Florida late Thursday, Nov. 7, according to published reports. Yazeed was booked into the Escambia County Jail at 2:32 a.m. on Friday, Nov 8. He was treated for injuries he sustained while resisting arrest.
Escambia County Jail
Yazeed, 30, was out on bond in a different kidnapping and attempted murder case. A judge revoked his bond on Thursday. He was arrested in 2012 for attempted murder and again in February 2019 for kidnapping and attempted murder.
Blanchard was last seen at a gas station convenience store in Auburn, Alabama, near her apartment on Oct. 23. The suspect, Yazeed, was also seen on surveillance video in the same convenience store at the same time.
Blanchard had communicated with her roommate just before midnight on Oct. 23. She said she was on her way home, but minutes later she sent another text telling her roommate she was with someone named "Eric".
When her roommate asked who Eric was, Blanchard texted back, "I just met him." Her family reported her missing on October 24.
Two days later, Blanchard's car, a black 2017 Honda CR-V, was found abandoned at an apartment complex in Montgomery, Alabama, nearly 60 miles away from where she was last seen alive.
There was extensive damage to the right bumper, right wheel well and right passenger side door. Her family said the car was not damaged when they last saw her on Oct. 23.
Evidence recovered from inside the car led investigators to believe Blanchard was harmed and a victim of foul play.
Blanchard is the stepdaughter of heavyweight UFC MMA fighter Walt "Big Ticket" Harris, 36. He used social media and his contacts in the UFC community to help get the word out about her disappearance.
Harris first met Blanchard when she was 3 years old in 2003, when he started dating her mother, registered nurse and entrepreneur Angela Haley-Harris.
He said Blanchard and her older brother, Elijah, felt like his biological children. "I knew I had to protect her and take care of her," Harris says.
Harris said Blanchard has a "heart of gold." Years ago, when his wife worked the night shift at a hospital, Blanchard helped out with her two younger siblings, his and Angela's biological children. She was very responsible and helped to change their diapers, he said.
"She's a selfless kid and she always put people before her," Harris says. "She has a huge heart. She's my everything."
"It's hard, trying to stay strong," Harris tells PEOPLE magazine. "[But] as the head of my house I have to say strong because I know she needs me to be strong to find her."
Blanchard's biological father, Elijah Blanchard, is hopeful she will be found alive. "We say a special prayer every night for our daughter's safety," he said.
Mr. Blanchard left his family when his children were very young. He is married to prominent Alabama attorney Yashiba Glenn-Blanchard. The Blanchards are pictured on the left with Aniah Blanchard's mother and stepfather, right.
"Her family loves her, and we want her home," Elijah Blanchard told The Montgomery Advertiser on Monday. "She's special to me. She's special to our family. She's special to her friends."
"It's heart-wrenching because Aniah is such a people person," Elijah Blanchard told The Advertiser. "For someone to try to take advantage of that, someone who was probably just trying to be nice and try to go home, it's heart-wrenching."
He denied social media reports that his daughter arranged to meet a man she met on a dating app. Mr. Blanchard said that's not in her character.
"I never thought twice that Aniah was meeting anyone at any time of night. I just know her personality and the type of girl she is. My daughter was at the wrong place at the wrong time," he said.
A task force of a dozen law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, the Auburn Police Department, and Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, are involved in the investigation.
Reward money for information in the case has grown to $105,000.
This post was edited to correct the date of Yazeed's arrest.