LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WRBL) — A Lee County judge has issued a gag order in the case of a Montgomery man accused of kidnapping of 19-year-old Aniah Blanchard.
WRBL confirmed a Sunday afternoon initial court appearance was held for 30-year-old Ibraheem Yazeed at the Lee Co. Justice Center. Yazeed is being held without bond.
A Montgomery TV station reported they were denied access to the Sunday proceeding.
Despite gag orders, court proceedings are public unless they involve juveniles. Sometimes video and still cameras can be banned from a courtroom. However, journalists and the public are allowed in and can typically take a pen and paper for notes.
A gag order can be used in an effort to control pretrial publicity during a highly publicized case in an effort to make sure a fair and impartial jury can be seated if the case goes to a jury trial.
WRBL reached out to District Attorney Brandon Hughes who declined to comment because of the gag order.
Yazeed was captured in Escambia County, Florida, late Thursday night, nearly 144 miles south of Montgomery. He was extradited back to Lee County on Friday night and had his first court appearance on Sunday.
Thursday afternoon, investigators released Yazeed was a suspect in Blanchard’s disappearance after he was seen on October 23 surveillance video from inside the Chevron at the same time Blanchard was in the store.
Thursday night, Yazeed was carried out on a stretcher allegedly complaining of chest pains after he became the captured target of a massive manhunt and taken into custody by U.S. Marshalls in Escambia County, Florida.
Blood belonging to the Auburn woman was discovered in her abandoned SUV, and a witness has come forward saying they saw the suspect force Blanchard into her SUV at the gas station where she was last seen the night of Oct. 23.
The affidavit states:
“The victim’s vehicle, a black 2017 Honda CRV, was later located abandoned in Montgomery, Alabama. Blood evidence was discovered in the passenger’s compartment of the vehicle that was indicative of someone suffering a life-threatening injury. The evidence was submitted to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences and confirmed to be that of Aniah Blanchard. Video evidence from a convenience store located at South College St. in Auburn placed both Blanchard and a black male later positively identified as Ibraheem Yazeed at the store during the same time, this was the last time she was seen. During the subsequent investigation, a witness identified Yazeed as the individual, he observed, forcing Blanchard into a vehicle against her will and then leaving with her in the vehicle. Blanchard has not been located at this time.”
Meanwhile, the search continues for Aniah Blanchard since she was last seen on Wednesday, October 23. Her SUV was located in Montgomery on Friday, October 25.
Anyone with information on this case is asked to call the Auburn Police Division Detective Section at 334-501-3140, Central Alabama Crime Stoppers at 334-215-STOP, or the 24-hour non-emergency number at 334-501-3100.
The reward stands at $105,000 for information leading to the conviction of the person or persons responsible for Aniah’s disappearance. The Auburn Police Department says the public has been invaluable in providing information.