Ibraheem Yazeed, wanted in disappearance of Walt Harris' stepdaughter, arrested in Florida

(Editor’s note: This story first published at the Montgomery Advertiser, part of the USA TODAY Network.)

Ibraheem Yazeed, sought in connection to the disappearance of 19-year-old Aniah Blanchard, has been captured, according to online records and police.

Yazeed was in Escambia County, Florida, jail on Friday morning. He was booked into the jail at 2:32 a.m. and being held without bond because he is an out-of-state fugitive.

About 11 p.m., Escambia County sheriff’s deputies assisted U.S. Marshals in apprehending a wanted man near Pine Forest Road and Interstate 10, Escambia County Sheriff’s Maj. Andrew Hobbs said. The Pine Forest exit is the second exit east of the Alabama-Florida line. The suspect fled and was captured a short time later and taken into custody by marshals. Hobbs could not identify the suspect as Yazeed.

Escambia County in the Florida Panhandle is about 144 miles south of Montgomery where Yazeed is from.

Yazeed, 29, was named a suspect in the case Thursday, about two weeks after the teen was last seen at a convenience store in Auburn.

A warrant on a charge of first-degree kidnapping was issued against Yazeed shortly after Auburn police released photographs of a person of interest in the case.

Days after Blanchard was last seen, her black, Honda CR-V was recovered at a Montgomery apartment complex, about 55 miles west of where the teen was last seen. There was damage to the passenger side that her family said was not present prior to that day. Police confirmed they suspect foul play based on evidence recovered inside the vehicle.

There may be more people involved in Blanchard’s disappearance, Auburn police Chief Paul Register said Thursday.

“We do anticipate other arrests, so we do thing there’s a likelihood someone else is involved in this case and we hope to bring that person to justice as well,” he said.

Yazeed’s criminal background

Yazeed has a lengthy criminal history dating back to 2011 when he was charged with two counts of first-degree robbery, according to court records. Those charges were ultimately dismissed by a grand jury, as were two attempted murder charges levied against Yazeed the next year after he allegedly tried to hit two police officers with a vehicle.

In 2013, Yazeed was charged with possession of marijuana, crack cocaine, a pistol without a permit, drug paraphernalia and attempting to elude law enforcement during two separate incidents. He was indicted on those charges in 2015, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced in two separate hearings. The same judge, former Circuit Judge Williams Shashy, sentenced him to serve 13 months in prison during each hearing. Those sentences were suspended, and he never stepped foot in a prison.

In 2017, Yazeed was charged with aggravated assault, battery of a police officer, possession of marijuana and fleeing police in Johnson County, Kansas. He was found not guilty of the battery and assault charges. A Judge in 2018 sentenced him to serve 16 months in prison, but he was released shortly after his sentencing being credited with 8 months while he awaited trial.

Less than a year later, back in Montgomery, Yazeed was then charged with two counts of kidnapping, two counts of robbery, attempted murder and possession of marijuana after two men were beaten inside a hotel room in January. One victim was nearly beaten to death, according to court records.

Yazeed was released on a $295,000 bond the day after his arrest in connection to the January incident and has been free since. A judge Thursday revoked his bond in the cases once a warrant was issued against Yazeed in connection to Blanchard’s disappearance.

Blanchard, a student at a Lee County community college, was a native of Homewood, Ala., a suburb of Birmingham.

More: ‘A heart of gold’: Aniah Blanchard’s father pleads ‘we want her home’

She loved playing softball in high school, Elijah Blanchard said, so much so that he once asked if she might consider walking on to a college team. But Aniah wanted to concentrate on getting her general education classes out of the way, her father said, as she decided what she might want to concentrate on for her studies. Like so many early college students, she wanted to consider several paths open at her feet: art, education, maybe business.

“I want everybody to know that my daughter is a good person, all the way around. I’m not just saying that because she’s my daughter,” Elijah Blanchard said. “It’s evident she was special to so many people.”

Anyone with any information concerning the whereabouts of Blanchard is asked to contact 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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