Aniah Blanchard billboards

Billboards with information about Aniah Blanchard popped up throughout the community in order to help investigative efforts, thanks to a donor from New York who was concerned about the family.

Aniah Blanchard’s face is a fixture in many store windows, and now it appears on billboards, all in hopes that someone will recognize her and have information about her disappearance.

Blanchard’s story reached Buckley Michel, who lives in New York City, and he decided to take action. The billboards about Blanchard’s case cycle around Lee County every few minutes now.

“This is the first that I’ve done something like that,” Michel said.

Blanchard, a 19-year-old Southern Union student, was last seen two weeks ago in Auburn, and investigators are still asking for information regarding her disappearance.

‘Somebody saw something’

Michel, who said he has worked with the New York Police Department, feels his billboards may inspire people to provide information they previously may have thought was not important.

“Somebody saw something,” he said. “Somebody may have saw something and maybe said it’s not important and maybe seeing that billboard, they can say ‘Oh, yeah, I did see her.’”

Michel designed the billboard himself and reached out to local billboard companies, including Effective Signs and Advertising.

John Persons, CEO of Effective Signs and Advertising, decided to donate the space and tried to get other billboard companies involved.

He said that if he was in the same position as Blanchard’s parents, he would be exhausting all options to find his child.

“I thought of it from the perspective as if what if one of my daughters was missing,” Persons said. “I would be begging and pleading, doing whatever I could for everybody to help me.”

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