AUBURN, Ala. (WRBL) – As the search for missing Auburn teen, Aniah Blanchard stretches into day 28, the suspect accused of kidnapping her went before a Lee County Judge Wednesday morning for his probable cause hearing.
Judge Russell Bush decided there is enough evidence to send the case to a Lee County Grand Jury for them to consider indictment. Judge Bush also denied 30-year-old Ibraheem Yazeed’s motion for bond reconsideration, meaning Yazeed will remain behind bars in Lee County.
During Wednesday morning’s court proceeding, we learned more about the key witness in the kidnapping case who allegedly saw Yazeed abduct Blanchard but didn’t come forward until investigators tracked him down.
As 30-year old Ibraheem Yazeed was escorted into the courtroom, he glanced back where the parents of 19-year-old Aniah Blanchard sat looking at the man accused of abducting their daughter.
As the search continues for the missing teen, Auburn Investigator Josh Mixon testified surveillance video from October 23rd shows Blanchard walking into the South College Chevron and apparently catching the eye of Yazeed.
” Mr. Yazeed purchased an alcoholic beverage, where he took to the counter and while he was getting change, he had his hand out for his change, he looks over his shoulder at her (Blanchard) and watches her walking past and then gets his change and walks out of the store and walks out,” testified Auburn investigator Josh Mixon.
Investigator Mixon testified there is no video showing Blanchard’s alleged abduction. Apparently, the Chevron has video surveillance inside the store and a camera looking down at the entrance, but the camera does not show the gas pumps and parking lot.
However, Mixon testified a witness investigators tracked down after he was seen in the same surveillance video claims he did see the kidnapping but did not report it to police.
“He said he observed Blanchard and a black male later positively identified as Ibraheem Yazeed at the store at the same time, and he observed Yazeed forcing Blanchard into her vehicle against her will and leaving with her in that vehicle,” testified Mixon.
The witness says he didn’t know Yazeed’s name but had seen him around the area. Mixon testified Yazeed, who’s from Montgomery is known to frequent the Clarion Inn in Auburn, near the Chevron gas station where Aniah was last seen. Mixon also testified as to why the witness said he didn’t report the alleged abduction until investigators located him and the regret the witness is now feeling.
“He told his girlfriend, or it may have been his wife what he saw, and she told him it was none of his business and to stay out of it. He started breaking down crying, and I think he was remorseful he didn’t come forward sooner,” testified Mixon.
During Mixon’s testimony that focused on this crucial witness, Yazeed’s defense attorney objected to the witness not being named at this point in the case.
“I think it’s important the witness needs to be identified because if Mr. Yazeed knows who they are that could certainly have a major impact on this case,” stated Elijah Beaver, Yazeed’s Defense Attorney.
The Lee County District Attorney stated in court the witness would be named later and called to testify if the case goes to trial. However, with the ongoing search for Aniah Blanchard and more potential suspects, the district attorney stressed the importance of the name of the witness being withheld at this point.
“The identity of this witness is a safety issue. Ibraheem Yazeed is getting into trouble and getting arrested on violent felonies, but for some reason, he keeps getting away and keeps getting not indicted. Maybe its because Mr. Yazeed’s associates handle his witnesses,” stated District Attorney Brandon Hughes.
Beaver objected to the allegations Yazeed was somehow involved in witness tampering. Judge Bush decided not to compel prosecutors to name the witness at this point in the judicial process.
As for Yazeed, he remains behind bars in Lee County as a Lee County Grand Jury will soon decide if he will be indicted or not. Based on Investigator Mixon’s testimony Wednesday, it appears Yazeed doesn’t have much to say to investigators as they continue searching for Aniah Blanchard.
“He confirmed he was in the store and then requested council,” testified Mixon.
After Judge Bush sent the Kidnapping case to a Lee County Grand Jury, he also approved a DNA swab from Yazeed. This is important to note because during testimony Wednesday, we learned DNA belonging to a man was discovered in Blanchard’s recovered vehicle, where a life-threatening amount of her blood was also found a few days after she vanished.
TIMELINE OF EVENTS IN ANIAH BLANCHARD CASE
Wednesday Night- October 23: Blanchard is seen on video at the Chevron Gas Station along South College Street in Auburn, Alabama. The video is the last known image of Blanchard.
Thursday – October 24: Blanchard is reporting missing to the police by her family. Investigators say Blanchard’s SUV is seen traveling in the early morning hours along South College Street in Auburn, Alabama.
Friday Night – October 25: Blanchard’s black Honda CR-V SUV is recovered at Park Place Apartments in Montgomery, Alabama. The vehicle has been damaged. Evidence is recovered from inside the vehicle.
Thursday – October 31: Police confirm first time publicly evidence taken from inside the SUV tested by the Department of Forensic Sciences indicates Aniah Blanchard has been harmed and is a victim of foul play.
Monday – November 6: Police ask public assistance in identifying a person of interest seen on surveillance video inside Auburn Chevron gas station along South College Street at the same time as Blanchard.
Tuesday – November 7: 30-year-old Ibraheem Yazeed of Montgomery named as the wanted suspect in the Kidnapping of Aniah Blanchard. Yazeed is taken into custody in Pensacola, Florida at 11 p.m.
The reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of person or persons responsible stands at $105,000. Tony Garett with CrimeStoppers says tipsters can remain anonymous and still receive the reward, and for 22 years, tipsters’ identities have been protected, so there is absolutely no reason for you not to call. If you have any information regarding the location Aniah Blanchard, you may use their 24-hour tip line at 334-215-STOP (7867) or download the P3-tips app, or give information through the web at www.215STOP.com or Facebook page at Central Alabama CrimeStoppers. You may also use CrimeStoppers new 800 number, 1-833-AL1-STOP.