Forensic testing has confirmed the human remains found on Macon County Road 2 in Shorter are that of Aniah Blanchard, according to a release from Auburn Police.
"It is with heavy hearts that we announce that the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences has positively identified the remains as those of Aniah Haley Blanchard," Auburn Police said in a statement. "At this point, the case will move forward as a homicide investigation, and additional charges are forthcoming."
After previous searches of dozens of areas, the Auburn police and fire divisions assisted by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s SBI Unit, a team of anthropologists from Florida Gulf Coast University, the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, the Macon County Sheriff’s Office as well as over 100 first responders from throughout the area have been examining a wooded area in the 38,000 block of County Road 2 in Shorter, where the remains were found on Monday.
“I am heartbroken for the family of Aniah Blanchard,” Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement. “Like Alabamians across our state, I was praying for a much different outcome. I will be keeping them in my prayers and ask the people of Alabama to continue to do so as well.
"During this holiday season, it is easy to get distracted in the hustle and bustle, but I urge us all to remember those that are hurting. I appreciate the diligence of the Auburn Police Division, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and the many volunteers who were searching for Aniah. She is indeed loved and will be remembered by us all.”
The remains were believed to be that of Blanchard who was reported missing on Oct. 24 but it was confirmed Wednesday.
Those working over a month and assisting the Auburn Police Division in the investigation include but are not limited to: Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes and staff, the U.S. Marshal Service who tracked and took suspects into custody to include the State of Florida, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s aircraft and personnel, Montgomery Police Department, Central Alabama Crime Stoppers, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, Opelika Police Department, Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Macon County Sheriff’s Office, Alabama Fusion Center, Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as well as the Florida Gulf Coast University Department of Justice Studies.