Alabama Police Say Missing Teen Aniah Blanchard Was Likely Harmed, Reward Increased to $80K

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New evidence suggests Aniah Blanchard, the 19-year-old college girl gone missing from Auburn, Alabama, was likely harmed, police said Thursday.

Blanchard hasn’t been seen or heard from since last last week, and was officially reported missing Oct. 24. A friend said she’d last spoken to the teen late Wednesday, just before midnight.

Aniah Blanchard
Aniah Blanchard, 19, was last seen Oct. 23 near Auburn, Alabama. (Photo: Facebook / Aniah Blanchard)

Authorities recovered her vehicle, a black 2017 Honda CR-V, two days later at an apartment complex in Montgomery — nearly 50 miles from Auburn. On Thursday, Auburn police said evidence collected from the car had been examined by the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, which later “determined that she (Aniah) was harmed and is considered to be a victim of foul play.”

The department, along with nine other police agencies, are still “diligently” investigating the disappearance” of the young woman and are entreating the public for any information on her whereabouts.

Blanchard, a student at Southern Union College in Wadley, was last seen in the early hours of Oct. 24. Police released a clip of surveillance video earlier this week of the teen making a purchase at a convenience store just before her car was spotted driving southbound on South College Street, according to AL.com.

That’s the last time she was seen.

Police said Blanchard’s car had noticeable damage to the front left tire, which officials said likely occurred between the last time it was seen in Auburn and Friday night when it was recovered.

The reward for information on the young woman’s whereabouts has now grown to $80,000, with Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey donating $5,000 to the fund.

“We are following this case closely, and I am remaining engaged with law enforcement on the state and local levels,” Ivey said Wednesday. “I’m issuing this reward to help encourage those with information to come forward. We continue to pray for Aniah and her family as law enforcement officials work to bring her home.”

Blanchard is the stepdaughter of of UFC heavyweight Walt Harris, who has taken to social media in recent days to plead for Aniah’s safe return.

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Elijah Blanchard, Aniah’s biological father, said the teen’s disappearance is totally out of character and that she wouldn’t leave without telling anyone where she was headed. He said he’s been “devastated” since she vanished.

“She’s my baby,” Blanchard told local station WVTM 13. “She brings sunshine to everybody, she’s a bundle of joy.”

The distraught father said he talked to his daughter three days before she disappeared, and called reports that Aniah was possibly meeting up with a guy as odd.

“I just hope no one took advantage of her being nice,” Blanchard said.

The young woman is described as a light-complexioned African-American female, standing 5 feet 6 and about weighing 125 pounds. She has black eyes and black hair, and was last seen wearing a Black dress with tan duck boots and black stockings.

Anyone with information on Blanchard’s disappearance is asked to contact Auburn Police at 334-501-3140 or the anonymous tip line at 334-246-1391.