MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Monday marked Day 11 in the search for missing Lee County college student Aniah Blanchard. A task force comprised of officers from Montgomery and Auburn, along with agents from the SBI, FBI, and U.S. Marshals Service, are leading the charge in this case.
Investigators are searching for Blanchard by land and by air. Air One, the state helicopter, could be seen across the Montgomery skyline throughout the day. Ground searches included multiple K-9 units.
Globally, authorities are focusing their efforts in Auburn, Montgomery, and the area in between. Officers are executing planned searches, along with walking down tips.
Since Friday, the reward money in this case increased beyond $100,000. That has prompted a significant boost in the call volume to the tip lines. Central Alabama CrimeStoppers Executive Director Tony Garrett confirmed they’ve received hundreds of calls since the payout hit six digits. Late last week, Crimestoppers merged the Auburn Police tip line with their current line to streamline the process of turning information over to investigators in the field.
Those with information can also submit tips through the Central Alabama CrimeStoppers app and their website. Through the app, investigators can chat with the informant in real-time, though the message remains encrypted to protect their identity.
CrimeStoppers asks anyone who has submitted a digital tip to please monitor their app as investigators may need to follow up on their information. Garrett confirms no tipster has been identified since the agency launched 22 years ago.
Blanchard was reported missing Thursday, Oct. 24. She last talked to a friend just before midnight on Wednesday, Oct. 23.
On Oct. 28, police released a short surveillance video that showed Blanchard at a convenience store on South College Street in Auburn late on the night of Oct. 23. It was recorded just before her SUV was seen traveling southbound on South College Street.
Her Honda CR-V was found Friday, Oct. 25 at a Montgomery apartment complex with damage to the passenger side. The apartment complex is on Boardwalk Boulevard, which is not far off Atlanta Highway.
Thursday, police said evidence found inside the vehicle indicated she had been harmed.
Auburn Police Chief Paul Register said investigators were keying in on the area between Auburn and Montgomery. The cities are about 50 miles apart.
Blanchard is a native of Homewood and a student at Southern Union State Community College in Lee County.
A reward of $105,000 from multiple sources had been pledged toward the effort to find her.
Her stepfather is UFC fighter Walt Harris. Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White, UFC fighter Jon Jones, Chief Executive Officer of Dominance MMA Ali Abdelaziz and an anonymous family in Homewood each donated $25,000. There’s also a $5,000 reward being offered by Gov. Kay Ivey.