Reward jumps to $80,000 for missing Aniah Blanchard

Aniah Blanchard was reported missing to Auburn police on Thursday, Oct. 24.
Aniah Blanchard was reported missing to Auburn police on Thursday, Oct. 24.(Source: Central Alabama CrimeStoppers)
Updated: Oct. 31, 2019 at 7:39 PM EDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The reward being offered for information in the disappearance of 19-year-old Aniah Blanchard has jumped to $80,000, according to Central Alabama CrimeStoppers.

CrimeStoppers is trying to help Auburn and Montgomery police find Blanchard, who has been missing from Auburn for more than a week.

“We’re collecting any information that someone is holding on to. We’re hoping that they can call us so we can pass it to the Auburn police department,” said Tony Garrett, executive director of Central Alabama CrimeStoppers.

The reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction includes $25,000 donations from Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White, UFC fighter Jon Jones and an anonymous family in Homewood. It also includes $5,000 from Gov. Kay Ivey.

“We’ve seen a 10-second conversation solve a murder, so any information that you’re holding on to may lead to the location of her,” Garrett said.

The UFC connection to the case is through Blanchard’s stepfather, Walt Harris, who is a UFC fighter.

The new reward amount comes the same day Auburn police said evidence found inside Blanchard’s vehicle indicates she was harmed.

The SUV, a 2017 Honda CR-V, was found at a Montgomery apartment complex off Atlanta Highway Friday night. It had sustained heavy damage that wasn’t present when Blanchard was last seen two nights prior.

She was reported missing to Auburn police on Thursday, Oct. 24. She last communicated with a friend just before midnight on Wednesday, Oct. 23.

Monday, police released a short surveillance video that shows Blanchard at a convenience store on South College Street in Auburn late on the night of Oct. 23. It was recorded just before her vehicle was seen traveling southbound on South College Street.

Wednesday, Auburn Police Chief Paul Register was in Montgomery meeting with the 11 other agencies involved in this investigation. He said they are very concerned for Blanchard’s safety.

Blanchard is a native of Homewood and a student at Southern Union State Community College.

Police are asking anyone with information to contact Auburn police at 334-501-3140 or the anonymous tip line at 334-246-1391. You can also report tips directly to Central Alabama CrimeStoppers.

Central Alabama CrimeStoppers has never had a tipster identified since the program started in 1997, according to the program’s executive director.

They have a system in place to keep people who give tips anonymous. This is how it works:

You can submit a tip by calling 334-215-STOP, downloading the CrimeStoppers app or going to the Central Alabama CrimeStoppers website.

The CrimeStoppers phone tip line doesn’t have caller identification and conversations aren’t recorded. When you call and give your tip, you will be given a unique code. You can then use this same code when you call back and give updates to CrimeStoppers.

The process for submitting tips online and through the app is also secure and anonymous, according to CrimeStoppers. They use an encrypted interface that allows the tipster to submit a tip and then come back and provide additional information to their tip at any time.

The software also provides a secure way for CrimeStoppers to ask the tipster questions and provide reward information to the tipster.

The CrimeStoppers coordinator gives the information from the anonymous tipsters to investigators.

CrimeStoppers says numerous groups have offered donations to be added to the reward amount.

“We ask that if you would like to donate to the reward fund call CrimeStoppers during work hours at 334-215-7867 for instructions,” Garrett said.

All funds above $1,000 can be designated to be returned or to a specific allocation, upon request, if a reward is not offered.

All funds donated below $1,000 will automatically be placed in CrimeStoppers’ reward fund in the event a reward is not offered.

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