UFC fighter Walt Harris, wife, believe missing daughter was set up to be kidnapped

Aniah Blanchard/Auburn Police
Aniah Blanchard/Auburn Police

Police arrested a suspect in the case of missing 19-year-old Alabama woman Aniah Blanchard last week.

Blanchard’s whereabouts remain unknown, and her stepfather — UFC fighter Walt Harris — and mother Angela Harris believe that she was set up by someone she knew.

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The couple appeared on daytime TV show “Dr. Phil” to discuss the case on an episode that aired Thursday.

“I totally believe that there were other people involved, multiple people involved,” Angela Harris said. “Personally, I feel like it was someone that, if it was a setup, that it was somebody who knew Aniah and that knew her well.”

Angela Harris clarified that she based her belief on knowledge that police are working on a lead that points to a friend or acquaintance connecting Blanchard with 30-year-old suspect Ibraheem Yazeed of Montgomery, Alabama.

Suspect was out on bond on attempted murder charge

Police arrested Yazeed last Thursday in Escambia County, Florida, near the Alabama border. Yazeed fled into the woods when law enforcement approached before he was apprehended. He’s being held without bond on a charge of first-degree kidnapping.

Yazeed was free on bond on charges of attempted murder, kidnapping and first-degree robbery when Blanchard disappeared.

Police arrested Yazeed last Thursday in Escambia County, Florida, near the Alabama border in connection with the disappearance of Aniah Blanchard.
Police arrested Yazeed last Thursday in Escambia County, Florida, near the Alabama border in connection with the disappearance of Aniah Blanchard.

Foul play suspected

According to an affidavit, a witness claims to have seen Yazeed “forcing Blanchard into a vehicle against her will and then leaving with her in the vehicle” from an Auburn convenience store where Blanchard was last seen on Oct. 23.

Blanchard’s car was recovered days later, 55 miles away at a Montgomery apartment complex. The affidavit states that blood “indicative of someone suffering a life-threatening injury” was found in her car.

Holding out hope

The Harrises remain hopeful that Blanchard is still alive.

“We're hoping that somebody has her and they’re just holding her,” Angela Harris told Dr. Phil. “That's just what we're holding onto. ... We're trying to keep the hope that even though she had an injury that she is still alive. We have got to keep believing that.”

Walt Harris had a message for Blanchard.

“I love you baby girl. We're looking for you. We're doing everything that we can. We're going to get you. I promise I won't stop until we do. We love you.”

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