Kidnapping of Aniah Blanchard, Home of Murder in CBS 48-Hour Episode “Fighting for Aniah”
The murder of a 19-year-old Ania Blanchard, who was shot after being kidnapped from an Auburn convenience store over a year ago, will be featured this weekend on CBS’s 48 Hours.
“Fighting for Aniah,” which airs Saturday at 9 p.m. CST, explores Blanchard’s disappearance and murder, as well as his family’s quest for justice and their efforts to obtain justice. Ania’s Law passed, a law that would give judges more leeway to deny bail to those accused of violent crimes.
The man accused of Blanchard’s murder – Ibraheem Yazeed – was out on bail for other violent crimes at the time Blanchard was kidnapped and killed.
Blanchard was abducted on October 23, 2019 when she traveled late one night to purchase salt and vinegar chips. His disappearance made national news as the search for the former college cheerleader and Homewood High School softball player dragged on for weeks. He ended on November 25, 2019 when authorities found his body in rural Macon County.
Aniah was last seen by her brother, Elijah, on the evening of her disappearance. She promised to let him know when she would be home safely, but that call never came.
Video evidence from the convenience store at 1599 South College Street places Blanchard and Yazeed there at the same time. A witness later told police he saw Yazeed interacting with Blanchard near his vehicle in front of the store and later forcing Blanchard into his vehicle against his will.
This witness told investigators he did not call the police because his partner – who police said was his wife or girlfriend – told him not to get involved.
Further video evidence from a separate gas station in Auburn showed Yazeed exiting the passenger side of Blanchard’s vehicle and later returning to the vehicle. His Honda CRV was last seen heading south on South College Street toward the freeway.
Police retrieved the teenager’s black SUV from an apartment complex in the 6100 block of Boardwalk Boulevard in Montgomery at around 6:15 p.m. the following evening, Friday. A citizen reported the vehicle to the police.
Traces of blood were found in the cabin of the vehicle and “indicated that someone was suffering from a life-threatening injury”. The evidence was submitted to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences and confirmed to be Blanchard’s.
A person was located who told them that Yazeed was later seen at a residence in Montgomery wearing only shorts, with a gun in the shorts.
This person said that Yazeed was in possession of Blanchard’s vehicle, however, he did not see Blanchard. The subject further advised in a subsequent conversation with Yazeed, Yazeed admitted to shooting a girl and said the girl “went to get the gun”,” Retail Josh Mixon wrote in an indictment document.
Saturday night’s show will feature talks with Blanchard’s brother, roommate Sarah O’Brien, as well as her mother, Angela Harris and her stepfather, UFC fighter Walt Harris.
The slain teenager had a deep fear of being kidnapped and injured. It was something that his mother discussed with AL.com last year.
From an early age, Harris said, her daughter was afraid someone would hurt her. “Since she was little, I taught her the world. I was a sexual assault nurse for 20 years and saw it all, ”Harris said. “Aniah was afraid someone would hurt her. She’s always been so paranoid that she even put things against her door at night because she didn’t want anyone to come and get her.
This is a fear that Blanchard’s roommate will also discuss with 48 Hours. “Ever since the day I met Aniah,” O’Brien told the show, she always told me that was her biggest fear… of being kidnapped or murdered.