LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — The man suspected of abducting and killing 19-year-old Aniah Blanchard is facing capital murder charges in her death, the Lee County district attorney confirmed in a press conference Monday afternoon.
Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes identified Yazeed as “the lone person responsible” in Blanchard’s death, saying his charges would be upgraded from first-degree kidnapping to capital murder.
“As a result of the determination by the medical examiner’s office, We are now upgrading the charges from kidnapping in the first degree to capital murder, and in this case, capital murder is the intentional murder during a kidnapping and We will also be seeking the penalty against Mr. Yazeed,” Hughes said during the press conference.
Hughes said that based on the subsequent autopsy and tests that were done after Blanchard’s remains were found, the medical examiner’s office concluded that she died from a gunshot wound.
Yazeed remains in the Lee County jail without bond.
“The process of seeing justice done for Aniah and her family will not be swift, but I can promise you it will be thorough,” Hughes said.
Hughes closed the press conference by saying that Blanchard’s kidnapping and murder should serve as a warning against anyone seeking to commit violent crimes in Lee County.
“You will certainly be dealt with and the consequences will be severe,” he said. “This case is going to be a testament to that.”
Timeline of Aniah Blanchard kidnapping case
Oct. 23- Aniah Blanchard, a 19-year-old student at Southern Union State Community College in Lee County, reportedly spoke to a friend on the phone, saying she was going to meet a man she met on a dating app.
Oct. 24- Aniah’s family reports the Homewood native missing to the Auburn Police Department.
Oct. 25- Aniah’s 2017 Honda CR-V is found damaged at an apartment complex off Atlanta Highway in Montgomery. Blanchard was not located.
Oct. 28- The Auburn Police Department releases video surveillance of Aniah Blanchard walking inside the Chevron gas station on South College Street in Auburn the night of Oct. 23. This remains the last known footage of her before she was reported missing.
Oct. 31- The reward for information on Aniah Blanchard’s whereabouts rises to over $105,000. Much of this came from the UFC and its supporters due to Aniah’s stepfather, Walt Harris, being a fighter in the UFC. The APD considers Blanchard a victim of “foul play.”
Nov. 2- Texas Equusearch joins the effort to locate Aniah Blanchard.
Nov. 6- The Auburn Police Department releases an image from surveillance video taken at the Chevron the same night Aniah was last seen. The department considers him a “person of interest.”
Nov. 7- The Auburn Police Department releases the name of the man from the previous day’s video. Ibraheem Yazeed, 29, of Montgomery, is considered a suspect in the case. A warrant is put out for Yazeed’s arrest. Yazeed, who has a lengthy criminal history, was previously out on bond in an unrelated kidnapping and attempted murder case in Montgomery.
U.S. Marshals located Yazeed in Escambia County, Florida and arrest him. Yazeed is subsequently charged with first-degree kidnapping and is extradited to Opelika.
Nov. 8- CBS 42 receives a copy of an affidavit in the Aniah Blanchard case. The court document states information from investigators, who said that Blanchard’s blood was found in her car from the time it was recovered in Montgomery on Oct. 25 that indicated “someone suffering a life-threatening injury.” The document also states a witness allegedly saw Yazeed forcing Blanchard in a car and leaving the scene with her inside.
No. 10- Yazeed has his first hearing in Lee County, where District Judge Russell Bush puts a gag order on the case, barring prosecutors, Yazeed’s attorneys and witnesses from speaking to the media on the case. No media were reportedly allowed at the hearing.
Nov. 12- Texas Equusearch suspends its search of Aniah Blanchard. The group had searched through many parts of Auburn and the surrounding area.
Nov. 14- Aniah’s mother, Angela Harris, goes on “Dr. Phil” with Walt Harris to talk about her disappearance. During the interview, the Harrises state their belief that Aniah’s kidnapping was planned ahead of time.
Nov. 14- Yazeed’s lawyer files court documents claiming that he had been receiving death threats from inmates at the Lee County Detention Facility. He is moved to solitary confinement. His lawyer Elijah Beaver also requests that Yazeed be moved to Montgomery.
Nov. 14- Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes objects to Yazeed’s motion to be moved to Montgomery, forcefully saying that it was the Montgomery criminal justice system that allowed Yazeed to bond out in an unrelated case where he is charged with kidnapping and attempted murder.
Nov. 15- Blanchard’s father, Elijah, and his wife, Yashiba, give an interview with CBS 42 where they maintained their belief that Aniah was the victim of a random carjacking, contradicting the Harrises’ earlier claims on “Dr. Phil.”
Nov. 18- Texas Equusearch resumes its search efforts for Aniah Blanchard.
Nov. 20- During his first preliminary hearing, District Judge Russell Bush rules there is enough probable cause in the case to have it moved to a grand jury. In addition, Bush upholds Yazeed’s bond revocation and orders that he submit to a DNA test for prosecutors.
During the hearing, Detective Josh Mixon with the Auburn Police Department testified that on surveillance video, Yazeed was seen buying alcohol and looking in Blanchard’s direction while they were both at the Chevron station, the last time she was seen.
Mixon added that the witness who claimed to have seen Yazeed push Blanchard into her care against her will told a female companion about it. He claimed she told him to mind his own business.
Nov. 22- Antwon “Squirmy” Fisher was arrested and charged with first-degree kidnapping. An affidavit filed that day stated that Fisher was allegedly provided “material” assistance to Yazeed by providing transportation for him, as well as disposing evidence.
Nov. 25- Fisher has his first hearing in court, where his bond is revoked. Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes brings up that Fisher has a violent history, having pleaded guilty to murder in 2006 for his part in a drug-deal-gone bad. Fisher received a split sentence where he only spent three years behind bars
Nov. 25- Human remains are found in the woods off Macon County Road 2, not far from New Hope Baptist Church. Hughes expresses his strong belief that the remains are Aniah Blanchard’s. Law enforcement spend the night processing the scene.
Nov. 25- David Johnson Jr. is arrested and charged with hindering prosecution.
An affidavit filed by police claimed that Johnson had lied about his son, David Lee Johnson III, and his alleged part in driving Yazeed out of Alabama as he was being sought by police.
Nov. 26- Bond is set at $50,000 for Antwon “Squirmy” Fisher.
Nov. 27- Law enforcement identify the remains found in Macon County as those of Aniah Blanchard.
Dec. 2- Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes announces that the charges against Yazeed would be upgraded from first-degree kidnapping to capital murder. In addition, Hughes said his office would be seeking the death penalty against Yazeed.