Investigators on Monday found human remains behind a church in Macon County believed to be those of 19-year-old Aniah Blanchard after she went missing more than one month ago.
“I can confirm that human remains have been found and we have good reason to suspect they are that of Aniah Blanchard,” Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes said.
Macon County Sheriff Andre Brunson confirmed that the remains were found behind a church on Macon County Road 2.
Blanchard’s family was notified of the discovery.
“Everyone that played a role in Aniah’s disappearance is now in custody,” Auburn police Capt. Lorenza Dorsey told the Opelika-Auburn News.
Blanchard was last seen Oct. 23 at the Chevron convenience store on South College Street in Auburn. She was reported missing the following day.
Blanchard’s 2017 black Honda CR-V was recovered at an apartment complex in Montgomery on Oct. 25. Blood evidence was found in the passenger side of her vehicle “that was indicative of someone suffering a life-threatening injury,” an arrest affidavit says.
Ibraheem Yazeed, 30, of Montgomery, was seen forcing Blanchard into her vehicle against her will, according to a witness statement. He was subsequently arrested and charged with first-degree kidnapping.
Antwon, also known as Antwain, “Squirmy” Shamar Fisher, 35, of Montgomery, was arrested Friday night and is also charged with first-degree kidnapping in connection to Blanchard’s disappearance.
Fisher is believed to have helped transport Yazeed and disposed of evidence, according to the arrest affidavit obtained Monday by the Opelika-Auburn News.
Yazeed and Fisher are both being held in the Lee County Jail without bond.
A third person, David Johnson Jr., was arrested Monday and charged with hindering prosecution in Montgomery for his role in Blanchard’s disappearance, Hughes said.
Johnson is suspected of having driven Yazeed to Florida, testimony during Yazeed’s preliminary hearing revealed.
Also revealed at Fisher’s first court appearance Monday is that he lives with Johnson.
U.S. Marshals arrested Yazeed earlier this month in Pensacola, Florida.
Auburn police, along with members of the Task Force, Lee County District Attorney’s Office, U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force, Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, responded to a wooded area in the 38,000 block of County Road 2 in Shorter, Auburn police said.
Investigators located the remains several feet into the wood line after a brief search, police added.
Brunson feels that the road is so rural that specific information was needed for the remains to be found.
“I think somebody had specific information because that’s a tough area,” he said.
County Road 2 is located just off of Highway 80, which is not far from Interstate 85.
Nothing was found around the body to help positively identify it; however, dental records are being sent to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences for identification, Brunson said.
Brunson feels whoever left the remains where they were located was not familiar with the area.
“I really don’t think that they’re familiar with the area,” he said. “It’s just a rural area, rural road here which Macon County has a lot of, miles and miles of rural roads and areas here.”
Brunson believes the investigation at the crime scene could stretch into Wednesday.
“It’s going to be a while,” he said. “I would expect even tomorrow or the next day.”
Fisher appeared in Lee County court Monday morning for his initial hearing and was denied bond by Judge Steven Speakman.
The state requested Fisher be held without bond because of his previous criminal history including a murder charge.
Andrew Stanley was appointed to be Fisher’s attorney, however, Fisher indicated he possibly may hire his own attorney.
Stanley stated during the hearing that Fisher will be filing a bond reconsideration motion in court.
Fisher’s case will be under Judge Russell Bush and a preliminary hearing is set for Dec. 18.
The gag order in place for Yazeed’s case was extended to Fisher’s case.
A hearing for a motion to lift the gag order filed by members of the media, including the Opelika-Auburn News, is set for Dec. 4.
Fisher’s criminal historyFisher has a criminal history of committing violent crimes, including a 2004 charge for capital murder.
Fisher was charged with capital murder during first-degree robbery in August 2004 in which he and a co-defendant were accused of robbing a victim at gunpoint and the victim was shot to death with a handgun, the affidavit reads.
Fisher ultimately pleaded guilty to a felony murder in November 2006.
He was sentenced to a 20 years in prison; however, 17 years were suspended, leaving him to serve three years. He also was sentenced to serve three years on probation, according to court records.
Lee County District Attorney Hughes stated during the appearance Monday that Fisher only served about five years on the murder charge.
Fisher’s murder conviction was one of several reasons Hughes asked Speakman to deny bond.
Hughes claims that Fisher assisted Yazzed and participated in covering up Yazeed’s actions and he actively helped Yazeed leave Alabama when there was an active arrest warrant.
Stanley, however, argued that Fisher has never fled and he was arrested at his home in Montgomery. He added that Fisher is not going anywhere but work due to having to support a wife and four children.
Fisher also previously was charged with several other crimes including public intoxication and numerous traffic violations, court records show.
Because of Fisher’s criminal history, bond was denied.
About BlanchardBlanchard was a Southern Union State Community College student at the time of her disappearance and is a native of Homewood.
Her mother, Angela Haley-Harris; father, Elijah Harris; stepfather, Walt Harris, and stepmother, Yashiba Blanchard, have been praying for her safe return since she was last heard from, family members said.
“We are trying to keep the hope that, even though she had an injury, that she is still alive,” Haley-Harris said in a network television interview.
The nationally known search organization Texas EquuSearch came to Alabama in an attempt to locate Blanchard.
The group returned last week before having to leave again because of the opening of deer-hunting season.
“I told the family, I told detectives I cannot promise you that we’re going to find her, but I can promise you we’re going to bring in the best resources and do the best job we can do,” Tim Miller, president of Texas EquuSearch, said when the group joined the search.
“The only results are up to God,” Miller said.
The reward for information regarding Blanchard’s disappearance also climbed to $105,000 with donations from the Alabama Governor’s Office, Chief Executive Officer of Dominance Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Ali Abdelaziz, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Dana White and two anonymous families.