Aniah Blanchard cause of death revealed; suspect’s charge upgraded to capital murder

Third suspect arrested in death of Aniah Blanchard

The prosecutor handling the case of Aniah Blanchard revealed Monday that the man believed to have kidnapped the 19-year-old is now charged with murder.

Blanchard was abducted in late October near an Auburn, Alabama, convenience store, and last week her body was found in a wooded area in Macon County. The cause of death has now been determined as a gunshot wound, Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes announced in a news conference Monday.

Since her abduction, three suspects have been arrested. The primary suspect in the case Ibraheem Yazeed, 29, who was initially charged with first-degree kidnapping, is now charged with capital murder, according to a report by Hughes said his office will seek the death penalty.

“In the interests of public safety, I can say that the investigation has determined Ibraheem Yazeed to be the lone person responsible for Aniah’s abduction and her murder, and he remains in the Lee County Jail without bond,” Hughes said during the news conference. “Mr. Yazeed remains innocent of any charges against him until his guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Antwon “Squirmy” Fisher was charged with kidnapping in the case and was denied bond during his court appearance last week. A third suspect, David Johnson Jr., was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, on Monday, Hughes said. He is being charged with hindering prosecution. After Aniah’s abduction, authorities believe Johnson drove Yazeed to Florida, where he was eventually arrested.

Ibrahim Yazeed appears in court Nov. 20 in Opelika, Ala., for a hearing in the disappearance of Aniah Blanchard. Yazeed, 30, has now been charged with capital murder.
Ibrahim Yazeed appears in court Nov. 20 in Opelika, Ala., for a hearing in the disappearance of Aniah Blanchard. Yazeed, 30, has now been charged with capital murder.

Credit: Hannah Lester/Opelika-Auburn News via AP

Credit: Hannah Lester/Opelika-Auburn News via AP

Blanchard’s stepfather Walt Harris, a UFC heavyweight, put out public pleas on social media when she went missing. After the news broke that human remains were found, Harris shared a heartfelt message on his Instagram addressed to Blanchard, who was a community college student and avid softball player.

“My sweet baby girl... I just wanna thank you for helping me change my life for the better... For teaching me how to be a man and a better father,” Harris wrote. “For being my biggest fan win, lose , or draw!

“For always knowing what to say to put a smile on my face and lift me up when I was down and wanted to give up. You light up my world (in) so many ways. This pain is unbearable.”

Hughes declined to comment on when Blanchard was shot or the circumstances of the kidnapping and murder. There has been no information revealed about whether Blanchard knew Yazeed. Hughes shared that the abduction happened at a Chevron gas station on College Street in Auburn.

“This case has shaken our community to its core, and I cannot say enough about how the Auburn Police Division —and every other agency involved in this case — responded to the report of Aniah’s disappearance,” the district attorney said. “From its first moments, law enforcement moved swiftly and methodically to find Aniah’s abductor, her murderer, and her. The process of seeing justice done on behalf of Aniah and her family will not be swift, but it will be thorough.”