Remains positively identified as Aniah Blanchard, upgraded charges expected, authorities say


Aniah Haley Blanchard, 19, of Auburn has been missing since last week, police say.

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ALABAMA — The remains found in the woods in Alabama have been positively identified as Aniah Blanchard, a college student who disappeared last month, authorities said Wednesday.

Auburn Police Chief Paul Register and Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes told reporters the case is now a homicide investigation. Hughes said that upgraded charges are expected after authorities get cause and manner of death confirmed from the medical examiner.

Three suspects have been arrested in connection with Blanchard’s disappearance.

Blanchard is the stepdaughter of UFC heavyweight Walt Harris. She was a student at Southern Union State Community College, which has several campuses in East Alabama.

Blanchard was last heard from on Oct. 23 in Auburn. Her vehicle was found damaged two days later over an hour away.

Her body was found Monday in a wooded area of Macon County, Alabama.

District Court Judge Russell Bush issued a gag order that bars those involved with the case from discussing it with media, Auburn police Capt. Lorenza Dorsey told CNN earlier this month.

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