Witness tells police he saw abduction of missing Alabama college student
AUBURN, Ala. - A witness has come forward saying they saw the kidnapping of a 19-year-old Alabama college student.
According to new court records, a person says they witnessed Ibraheem Yazeed forcing Aniah Blanchard into a vehicle at a gas station in Auburn Alabama.
Police say Yazeed was inside of the convenience store where Blanchard was last seen on Oct. 23.
Blanchard, a student at Southern Union State Community College, was reported missing the next day. Her car was later found abandoned in Montgomery, more than 50 miles away. Police said the car was damaged and contained evidence that Blanchard had been harmed.
Yazeed was already facing kidnapping and attempted murder charges in a separate case in which Alabama prosecutors say he almost beat a man to death. He was free on bond at the time of Blanchard's disappearance. Blanchard has still not been found.
"I am prayerful that the Lord touches this young man's heart so he will be honest and truthful and tell the authorities where our daughter is located," Blanchard's stepmother, Yashiba Blanchard, told Al.com. "I feel as if the Lord has heard our cries and the community's cries for help with finding our daughter."
(Auburn Police Department / Supplied)
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Yazeed, 29, had been freed from an Alabama jail in February after prosecutors said he beat a man unconscious and "near death" in a vicious robbery, court records show. He faces attempted murder, first-degree kidnapping and first-degree robbery charges in that earlier case.
Prosecutors say Yazeed was armed with a handgun in January when he pummeled William Joseph Fuller, Alabama court records state. He and two other people also stole Fuller's Rolex watch, rifle, handgun, wallet, bank card, and cash, authorities said.
"It's very concerning to know that someone who has committed that sort of crime was out and in our community," Auburn Police Chief Paul Register told reporters at a news conference. "We think this is someone who should be in custody."
U.S. marshals were in the Pensacola area late Thursday when they called the Escambia Sheriff's Office for assistance, Sheriff's Maj. Andrew Hobbs said.
Blanchard's black Honda CR-V was found damaged more than 55 miles from where she was last seen. (Auburn Police Department)
"I don't know how they knew he was in the area - they got the tip and called us," Hobbs said Friday.
Yazeed was taken into custody around 11 p.m. Thursday near an exit from Interstate 10, Hobbs said.
"When we arrived, the suspect fled the area, but he was located by Escambia sheriff's officers and marshals in a wooded area near the exit," Hobbs said.
Yazeed was wheeled from the scene on a stretcher and loaded into an ambulance. Video of the arrest from WEAR-TV shows Yazeed yelling as he's being taken away.
His jail booking photo shows him with a swollen left eye.
"Upon encountering Yazeed, the Marshals issued multiple verbal commands to which Yazeed did not comply," Inspector Dominic Guadagnoli, of the Florida/Caribbean Regional Fugitive Task Force, said in a statement Friday.
"The task force members then had to physically remove him from his hiding spot," he said.
Yazeed has had a previous violent run-in with Alabama law enforcers.
In 2012, he was accused of ramming his vehicle into a Montgomery police car at a Chevron station and charged with two counts of attempted murder of a police officer. He was fleeing from the two Montgomery officers at the time and plowed into the squad car "as the officers exited their vehicle in an attempt to kill the officers," a court affidavit states.
Yazeed's mother wrote the judge handling that case, saying "he felt afraid and didn't know how to handle or control the vehicle due to so many fired gunshots towards the vehicle."
Yazeed spent months in the county jail before a grand jury determined there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.
"I believe he is suffering some type of mental disorder," his mother also wrote in the letter. She said her son suffered a head injury as a child and didn't always use good judgment.
Yazeed also wrote the court, pleading for his release. He said it would alleviate jail overcrowding and "and save taxpayers a lot of money."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.