Officials have confirmed that human remains found in Macon County, Alabama, earlier this week are those of 19-year-old Aniah Blanchard, the stepdaughter of UFC heavyweight fighter Walt Harris.
The body was found in a wooded area off County Road 2 Monday morning, according to the Auburn Police Department. Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes confirmed to ABC News that day that investigators had “good reason to believe” the remains belonged to Blanchard.
Blanchard was last seen at a convenience store in Auburn on Oct. 23. Her black 2017 Honda CRV was found Oct. 25 near an apartment complex in Montgomery, about 50 miles away from the convenience store.
Macon County, where her remains were discovered, is about 40 miles east of Montgomery. Up to 100 law enforcement officers continued to investigate the scene on Wednesday afternoon.
Blanchard’s family has been informed, Auburn Police Chief Paul Register told reporters Wednesday.
“Obviously, they are heartbroken, but at least they can now begin to deal with this and move forward,” he said.
Three people have been charged in her disappearance, which will now continue as a homicide investigation, Register said.
Ibraheem Yazeed, 29, was arrested on Nov. 7 in Escambia County, Florida, and is charged with kidnapping in the first degree, a designation that includes the intent to inflict physical injury.
Surveillance video from inside the Auburn convenience store showed both Yazeed and Blanchard inside at the same time, and a witness outside the store said he saw Yazeed force her into her car, according to an arrest affidavit.
The footage showed Yazeed looking over at Blanchard in the store as he bought a beverage, Auburn Police Detective Josh Mixon testified at Yazeed’s preliminary hearing last week. It was also revealed in Yazeed’s preliminary hearing that a man had driven him from Montgomery to Pensacola, ABC Birmingham affiliate WBMA reported.
Antwain “Squirmy” Fisher, 35, was arrested Friday and charged with first-degree kidnapping. He is accused of “providing transportation to Yazeed, and disposing of evidence,” according to a charging affidavit.
On Monday, David Johnson Jr. was charged in Montgomery, Alabama, and charged with hindering the prosecution in Blanchard’s disappearance. Yazeed was allegedly at Johnson Jr.’s home Nov. 7 before he left for Florida, WBMA reported, citing court documents. Authorities allege that Johnson Jr. knew that Yazeed was wanted by police at the time.
Upgraded charges are expected after the medical examiner determines the cause and manner of death, Hughes told reporters.