OPELIKA, Ala. (WTVM) - As investigators and volunteers continue to search for Aniah Blanchard, the 19-year-old who went missing from Auburn October 23, the community continues to find ways to keep her at the forefront of their minds.
With heads bowed and hands folded, students and staff on the campus of Southern Union State Community College stood in somber silence, reflecting on one of their own.
Blanchard is a student at Southern Union in Opelika and was last seen in Auburn two weeks ago.
“We’ve lost one of our own," said Patrick McMenamin, a student at Southern Union.
Police found her car, dented and scratched, two days later in Montgomery. Evidence inside the black SUV leads investigators to believe Blanchard was a victim of foul play.
“It feels like there is a little empty spot,” said Clara Grace Jensen, a student at Southern Union.
As blue ribbons in honor of Blanchard fluttered in the wind, students, staff, and faculty joined together Wednesday at 10:23 a.m., some shedding tears, as one faculty member spoke to the crowd and read Bible verses.
The time 10:23 reflects the day Blanchard was last seen, October 23.
Students said joining together in prayer and taking a moment to reflect on Blanchard is a touching way to keep her at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
“Very powerful, very moving,” McMenamin said.
“It was very emotional,” she said. “I was in tears”
Peyton Oas, another student, was glad the school held the moment of silence and prayer.
“I think it’s good that we’re sharing that moment together,” he said.
Kallie Hester said she was thinking of Blanchard’s family during the moment of silence.
“I was just trying to feel how her family would feel," Hester said. "[I was trying to] emotionally understand.”
According to administration, this gathering and moment of silence was a way to powerfully pray for solace and strength for Blanchard’s family, resilience for investigators, and also a breakthrough in the case that leads to Aniah’s safe return home.
Students said this was just a good reminder.
“We just got to have faith,” said Jaxxson Scott, a Southern Union student.
If you have any information on Blanchard’s disappearance, you’re asked to call Auburn Police or Crime Stoppers.