“Never Forget Our Baby”, Aniah Blanchard’s mother asks attendees of the vigil to remember her daughter on “Forever Aniah Day”

AUBURN, Alabama (WRBL) – Family, friends and the Auburn police have come together to commemorate the anniversary of a lost life.

Aniah Blanchard, 19, was last seen two years ago, on October 23, 2019, at a Chevron gas station on South College Street in Auburn, Alabama. His body was reportedly found just over a month later in Macon County, Alabama.

On Saturday evening, a vigil was held on Samford Lawn in memory of Blanchard. A participant, whose children were being looked after by Blanchard, sang two songs at the vigil before her family spoke.

Blanchard’s mother, Angela Harris, spoke to attendees, reflecting on the loss of her daughter.

“It still doesn’t seem real, it looks like a nightmare. What we’re trying to do is just go on living for her. Let her live through us and then with everyone’s support which is amazing and we need it and I don’t even know what we would do without you with all your love and support this is how we do it every day. This is how we live everyday, so I want to thank you for being there, thank you Auburn Police. I just want to say thank you and please never forget our baby, ”she said.

Blanchard’s stepfather, Walt “Big Ticket” Harris, also spoke to attendees of the vigil. He said it was the first time he had come back down to Auburn since Blanchard’s disappearance.

“To be honest, this is the first time I’ve really been back here since it all happened. It’s hard, I remember everything she said and I know how much she liked it here, but as a dad I’m still angry. Walt Harris said. “I try to stay positive, to be completely honest. But I really, sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, want to thank you all for being here. That’s really all I can say at the moment, Auburn Police thanks for being here, everyone thanks for coming tonight. She’s smiling right now, I know she’s in party heaven and that’s what she wants. She doesn’t want to see me torn, she doesn’t want to see us torn … I just want Aniah to know that we love her, and Forever Aniah, it’s her day.

Remembering October 23 as the last day she was seen alive brings hardship for the family.

“I’m going to get to a point where I won’t let these days or this day especially tear me apart as much as he does.” It’s hard, and I don’t know how to feel otherwise. But I’m going to get over it, our family is going to be okay because that’s what they want, that’s what we’re going to do. Walt Harris said.

Angela Harris spoke about the events that took place earlier on Saturday to remind people of Aniah and help teach others to protect themselves.

“I know it was a bit small, but for me, it’s big. For us, that’s great, just getting together for a few minutes to remember her. We had a great day here at Auburn at Max Fitness Walt did an amazing job teaching and Elijah taught amazing self defense classes and some sort of guns safety class how to use guns to protect yourself if you have one. So they did an amazing job with Walt. I’m so proud of them for doing this, and I hope Auburn appreciates us for it and I hope we will put knowledge to the people who were there and save lives.

Closing the vigil, Angela Harris thanked everyone in attendance, asking everyone to remember Aniah.

“Another thing to mention is that you are all here and you love Aniah, so thank you for just being there for those few minutes and moments to let us talk to you and just to think of Aniah and remember her. means everything to us. Once again, thank you guys for coming, and we’ll keep doing it. It’s not going to stop, every year we have to… I won’t let anyone forget Aniah, I don’t think so none of us do. But, I just want to say Forever Aniah.

Last year, a memorial was held in Homewood, Alabama, but Angela shared that her family thought she should have one this year in Auburn for Aniah.

About Aniah’s disappearance

Blanchard was reported missing on October 24, 2019, and her vehicle was found on October 25, 2019 in Montgomery, Alabama. His body was found in Shorter, Alabama on November 25, 2019, and his death was deemed a homicide.

Auburn Police identified Ibraheem Yazeed, 29, of Montgomery, as a suspect in the case after surveillance video revealed he was at the store at the same time as Blanchard. He has been charged with capital murder in this case but has yet to stand trial.

At the time of Blanchard’s disappearance, Yazeed was on bail at the time in a kidnapping and attempted murder case unrelated to Montgomery.

Following Blanchard’s kidnapping and death in 2019, his mother, Angela Harris, was instrumental in creating a bill named after the Homewood teenager called ‘Law of Aniah ”.

The bill would give prosecutors the ability to request a hearing before a judge and not ask for any bail for defendants with a history of violence, charges or convictions.

Aniah’s law passed 99-0 in the House and was signed on June 25, 2021 by Governor Kay Ivey.

Aniah’s law will go to a statewide ballot to be passed in 2022 as a constitutional amendment.

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