The search for Aniah Blanchard took a hit Tuesday, as the primary suspect in her disappearance sat in the Lee County Jail.
The volunteer group Texas EquuSearch announced Tuesday that it is suspending its efforts and headed home after a week-and-a-half of searching for the missing 19-year-old Southern Union student had no results.
The group could return should it obtain more information leading to a new area, Destinie Duvall, with Texas Equu-Search, told the Opelika-Auburn News on Tuesday.
“My heart hurts for everyone today,” Duvall said.
The organization looked in areas along Interstate 85, the Tuskegee National Forest and area waterways.
“We’ve used every resource available to use over the last nine days to locate Aniah,” Duvall said. “It’s always hard to leave folks without the answer we came here to find.”
Texas EquuSearch, however, is hopeful that law enforcement will be able to provide new leads, which will lead the group back to resume the search.
“We have faith in the Auburn Police Division, the public and other agencies involved in finding us a new lead,” Duvall said. “We’re prepared to come back immediately when the call comes.”
Held without bailLee County Judge Russell Bush ordered Ibraheem Yazeed, the primary suspect in the disappearance of Blanchard, to be held without bond during the weekend.
Bush approved a motion filed by Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes to hold Yazeed without bond, citing his history of violent criminal offenses, according to court documents.
Yazeed is charged with first- degree kidnapping in connection to the disappearance of Blanchard.
Bush’s motion also cited that Yazeed was out on bond for “multiple violent offenses at the time of the alleged offense in Lee County that is the basis for the above-referenced warrant.” It also notes that Yazeed fled the jurisdiction after the offense, according to court records.
Yazeed was returned to Lee County late Friday night after his arrest by the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force in Pensacola, Fla., on Thursday night.
The suspect waived extradition at a Friday court appearance in Escambia County, Fla., and he appeared in Lee County court during the holiday weekend, according to court records.
The gag orderThe judge also issued a gag order over the weekend “in the interests of justice,” the order reads.
The gag order details that the parties and any potential witnesses in the Yazeed case are not allowed to make statements to the media, “directly discussing their involvement in this case or any current or future trial proceeding with members of the media.”
Typically, a gag order restricts the attorneys working the case from talking to the media or the public about it. Hughes and Auburn police officials said they are unable to comment further on the case.
Blanchard was last seen Oct. 23 at an Auburn area convenience store and was reported missing Oct. 24.
Blanchard’s vehicle was found Oct. 25 at an apartment complex parking lot in Montgomery and had sustained damage since it was last seen.
Police obtained video evidence from an Auburn convenience store that Blanchard was spotted at. The video evidence places Blanchard and a black man, later identified as Yazeed, at the store during the same time.
A witness identified Yazeed “as the individual he observed forcing (Aniah) Blanchard into a vehicle against her will and then leave with her in the vehicle,” according to the affidavit charging crime obtained Friday by the Opelika-Auburn News.
Blood evidence was found in the passenger’s side of her vehicle “that was indicative of someone suffering a life-threatening injury,” the affidavit says.
Testing by the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences determined the blood to be Blanchard’s, according to the affidavit.
Police believe there are others involved in the disappearance of Blanchard and expect more arrests and/or charges to occur.
Texas EquuSearch and other searchers have been assisting in ongoing efforts to locate Blanchard.
Police ask anyone with information on this case to call the Auburn Police Division Detective Section at 334-501-3140; Central Alabama Crime Stoppers at 334-215-STOP; or the 24-hour, non-emergency number at 334-501-3100.