It is with heavy hearts that we announce that the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences has positively identified the remains found in Macon County on Nov. 25 were those of Aniah Haley Blanchard: https://t.co/2Rh6Wx32BO— City of Auburn, AL (@CityofAuburnAL) November 27, 2019
The human remains found in Macon County, Ala.,, earlier this week have been confirmed as those of Aniah Blanchard, the missing stepdaughter of UFC heavyweight Walt Harris.
“It is with heavy hearts that we announce that the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences has positively identified the remains as those of Aniah Haley Blanchard,” read a statement from the Auburn Police Division. “At this point, the case will move forward as a homicide investigation, and additional charges are forthcoming.”
Blanchard, 19, had been missing since Oct. 24, and her vehicle was later recovered about an hour away from her home in Auburn. Three suspects have been arrested in connection with Blanchard’s disappearance. The first, Ibraheem Yazeed, was arrested on charges of first-degree kidnapping after surveillance video showed him inside a convenience store with Blanchard and a witness later identified Yazeed as the man who forced her into a vehicle against her will on Oct. 23.
A second suspect, Antwain Fisher was arrested and charged with first-degree kidnapping on Saturday, and a third, David Johnson Jr., was arrested and charged with hindering prosecution in the case.
Further charges are expected in the case, but the timeline for those is currently unknown until a manner and cause of death is determined by the medical examiner.
“I am heartbroken for the family of Aniah Blanchard,” said Alabama Governor Kay Ivey. “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. During this holiday season, it is easy to get distracted in the hustle and bustle, but I urge us all to remember those that are hurting. I appreciate the diligence of the Auburn Police Division, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and the many volunteers who were searching for Aniah. She is indeed loved and will be remembered by us all.”
Before Blanchard’s disappearance, Harris was scheduled to square off against Alistair Overeem in the UFC on ESPN 7 headliner in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 7. Harris withdrew from the bout to focus on the search for his stepdaughter.
“I’m devastated to hear this news,” UFC president Dana White wrote on Twitter. “I’m heartbroken for Walt and his family. Thank you everyone for the support including the local and state Alabama law enforcement, media, athletes, managers and fans. My condolences go out to everyone that was touched by Aniah’s story and tried to help bring her home.”