Homewood residents hold prayer vigil for Aniah Blanchard’s return

Remembering Aniah

OPELIKA, Ala. (WIAT) — This is the latest in the disappearance of 19-year-old Aniah Blanchard who was last seen Oct. 23. All times are local (CT).

6 p.m.
Prayer vigil held in Homewood for Aniah Blanchard’s return

Aniah Blanchard’s hometown of Homewood has not stopped in their efforts to raise awareness for Aniah. 

The senior pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church said right now, Aniah Blanchard’s mother and stepfather need prayers as their strength is being challenged.

This is the second week the church has opened its doors for a prayer vigil. They plan to continue the vigils each Wednesday until Aniah is found.

Dozens gathered in the chapel to pray, lean on each other for comfort, and show their support for Aniah and her family. Trinity united methodist church opened its doors so people could turn their feelings of helplessness into prayers.

“Our hope tonight has been, of course, to pray for Aniah, that’s first and foremost in everyone’s heart,” said Brian Erickson, the senior pastor at Trinity United Methodist. “But also to think about the toll this is taking every single day on her parent, her sister, her brothers, and to name them, especially before God.”

It’s been three weeks and there is still no sign of 19-year old Aniah Blanchard. The college student was last seen on Oct. 23 inside a gas station in Auburn. While the search continues for Aniah, the man being held responsible for her disappearance has a preliminary hearing scheduled for next week.

Ibraheem Yazeed has been charged with kidnapping Blanchard. Surveillance video shows him at the same convenience store where Blanchard was last seen. A witness told police he saw Yazeed force Aniah into a vehicle against her will and leave with her in that vehicle.

State forensic scientists determined the blood found in the passenger side of Blanchard’s vehicle was “indicative of someone suffering a life-threatening injury.”

Anyone with information about on Aniah Blanchard’s whereabouts should call the Auburn Police Division Detective Section at 334-501-3140, the anonymous tip line at 334-246-1391, or the 24-hour non-emergency number at 334-501-3100.

4:44 p.m.
Preliminary hearing for Ibraheem Yazeed set for Nov. 20

Lee County Judge Russell K. Bush has scheduled a preliminary hearing for Ibraheem Yazeed, 30, who is charged with kidnapping 19-year-old Aniah Blanchard.

According to court documents, the hearing is set for Nov. 20 at 9 a.m.

This comes after Yazeed’s lawyers requested a court hearing Wednesday.

Anyone with information about on Aniah Blanchard’s whereabouts should call the Auburn Police Division Detective Section at 334-501-3140, the anonymous tip line at 334-246-1391, or the 24-hour non-emergency number at 334-501-3100.

12:02 p.m.
Lawyer for Ibraheem Yazeed requests court hearing

The man charged with allegedly kidnapping Aniah Blanchard from an Auburn gas station is seeking to have his day in court.

In a motion filed Wednesday morning, attorney Elijah Beaver requested that his client, Ibraheem Yazeed, have a preliminary hearing in district court. Yazeed is charged with first-degree kidnapping.

“The Defendant is entitled to a preliminary hearing on these charges,” Beaver wrote in the motion.

During a typical preliminary hearing, a judge will hear the charges in the case, as well as arguments from prosecutors and the defense on whether or not the case moved to a grand jury. At times, certain evidence and witness testimony is used by the state to support their case for a grand jury.

The judge will then decide if there is enough evidence to have the case moved to a grand jury. From there, the grand jury will decide whether or not to indict Yazeed on kidnapping charges.

Yazeed, 29, was arrested Nov. 8 in Escambia County, Florida after being listed as a suspect in the disappearance of Aniah Blanchard, a 19-year-old Homewood native who was attending school at Southern Union State Community College. Blanchard has been missing since Oct. 24.

On Nov. 6, the Auburn Police Department released a video still of Yazeed that was taken in the same convenience store at the same time where Blanchard was last seen Oct. 23.

According to an affidavit, a witness identified Yazeed as the individual he observed forcing Blanchard into a car against her will and then driving off.


Anyone with information about on Aniah Blanchard’s whereabouts should call the Auburn Police Division Detective Section at 334-501-3140, the anonymous tip line at 334-246-1391, or the 24-hour non-emergency number at 334-501-3100.


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