February 8, 2023

According to an arrest warrant, the FedEx driver who was accused of strangling and killing a 7 year-old girl in Texas last week told authorities that he accidentally hit her with his van while making a delivery to her home.

Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, said that Athena Strand wasn’t hurt when he hit her while backing up. However, he panicked, and put her in his van. He She said that she was talking with him and gave him her name.

According to the affidavit, Horner tried to silence Athena by breaking her neck to kill her.  

Horner claimed he couldn’t break her neck so he strangled it ‘with his naked hands’ in his FedEx truck. 

Investigators identified Horner a suspect after learning that FedEx had sent a package just before Athena disappeared. Horner was questioned and told authorities about the incident. He also said he would take them to the corpse. 

He Athena’s body was discovered and identified by police when they were led by officers to a body in the water.

Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, said that Athena Strand wasn’t hurt when he hit her while backing up. However, he panicked, and put her in his van. He She said that she was talking with him and gave him her name.

The young girl's body was found just six miles from where she was taken

The body of the young girl was found six miles away from where she was taken. 

At a news conference Thursday, Maitlyn Gandy — the mother of Athena — told how Horner, was delivering a You Can Be Anything Barbie to Strand’s father and stepmother’s house in Paradise, Texas, last Wednesday when he allegedly snatched the young girl and killed her.

Gandy stated that this was the first time she’d seen the package from Walmart. She explained that the Barbie dolls were meant to be a Christmas gift for her daughter.

‘Athena was robbed of the opportunity to grow up to be anything she wanted to be — and this present, ordered out of innocence and love, is one she will never receive.’

Horner is being held at the Wise County Law Enforcement Center in Texas on a $1.5million bond, as prosecutors work to seek the death penalty. He Capital murder and aggravated kidnapping are the charges against him.

1670543094 775 FedEx driver who killed Athena Strand 7 hit her with

1670543095 859 FedEx driver who killed Athena Strand 7 hit her with

1670543095 209 FedEx driver who killed Athena Strand 7 hit her with

Horner, 31, confessed to police to abducting and killing Athena Strand, 7, Wednesday afternoon. Authorities are now seeking the death penalty in his case

Horner, 31, admitted to police that he abducted and killed Athena Strand (7 years old) Wednesday afternoon. In his case, authorities are seeking the death penalty

According to Texas authorities, Horner’s case will be handed over to the district attorney next Wednesday.

The Wise County Sheriff’s Office will continue to investigate tips from the public in order to build a strong case against him.

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‘Because of the age of the child, and because it was an abduction, we are going to pursue the death penalty,’ Sheriff Lane Atkin told WFAA.

Gandy’s family and the attorneys representing her are currently conducting their own investigation to determine if FedEx could do more to prevent the tragedy. 

Benson Varghese would not go as far as to announce a lawsuit against the shipping company, but asked community members to contact them with any information — even if they, too, had just received a package from Horner that day.

He stated that he wants a thorough investigation. He also told reporters that there are a number people he would love to talk with.

He He also stated that he agrees with the sheriff’s decision to seek death penalty.

Gandy said she will continue to seek justice on behalf of her daughter.

She said, “I will spend the rest my life fighting for her so no other family will suffer such unbearable pains and grief.”

‘A monster attempted to take Athena’s voice — but we are her voice,’ Gandy told reporters Thursday, adding: ‘Screening and hiring policies must be put into place so that monsters wearing delivery uniforms don’t show up on our children’s footsteps.’ 

The box Horner was delivering included You Can Be Anything Barbie dolls meant for Strand

Horner was delivering You Can Be Anything Barbie dolls for Strand

Gandy said she will continue to seek justice for her daughter, saying 'screening and hiring policies must be put into place so that monsters wearing delivery uniforms don't show up on our children's footsteps'

Gandy stated that she will continue to fight for justice for her daughter and said that screening and hiring policies must be in place so that monsters in delivery uniforms don’t follow our children’s steps.

1670543096 834 FedEx driver who killed Athena Strand 7 hit her with

Maitlyn Gandy — the mother of Athena Strand — told how Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, was delivering a Christmas present for her daughter when he allegedly kidnapped and killed her

The FedEx van Homer was said to have been driving was found several miles away from where Athena was abducted

According to reports, the FedEx van Homer that Athena was abducted in was found driving several miles from the location.

FedEx issued a statement Friday night, expressing condolences to the family. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time.

FedEx spokesperson said that FedEx’s hiring practices were discussed when they were asked. FOX News Digital says it contracts for transportation, pickup and delivery services with over 6,000 independent businesses that are committed providing exceptional package pickup and delivery services using their employees. 

A spokesperson stated that every employee is subject to a criminal history check. If we become aware of any criminal activity in our network, we work quickly to investigate and address the incidents, including cooperating law enforcement.

Wise County Sheriff  Lane Akin says he is seeking the death penalty for the man accused of kidnapping and murdering the seven-year-old girl

Wise County Sheriff  Lane Akin says he is seeking the death penalty for the man accused of kidnapping and murdering the seven-year-old girl

Police claim they linked Horner to the murder based on a tip received and his FedEx delivery route on Wednesday

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They claim he robbed Athena Strand of her Paradise, Texas family home that afternoon, after she had walked out following an argument with her stepmother. Horner was also delivering a package.

Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, confessed to police to abducting and killing Athena Wednesday

Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, confessed that he kidnapped and killed Athena Wednesday

Athena did not return to her bedroom and was not found there, so her stepmother reported her missing at 6.40pm. 

Local police then worked in tandem with the FBI, Texas Rangers and Wise County Sheriff’s Offices to bring the case to a speedy yet tragic end — although two false leads sent police looking in the wrong places for the girl.

The youngster’s body was eventually found in Boyd, about six miles from the home.

Horner confessed to the crime shortly after his arrest and is now facing capital murder and aggravated child abduction charges. 

He Sheriff Akin said that the only suspect authorities believe responsible in the case is Sheriff Akin. He The family did not know him.

Gandy described her daughter as a 'free-spirited and innocent' little girl 'who loved dancing, singing and all animals'

Gandy described her daughter as a ‘free-spirited and innocent’ little girl ‘who loved dancing, singing and all animals’

The grieving mother died her hair pink in her daughter's memory, as she spoke about how she will have to celebrate Christmas without Athena for the first time in seven years

As she spoke of how she will be celebrating Christmas without Athena, the grieving mother dyed her hair pink in memory of her daughter, she also talked about how her daughter was a terrible mother.

At the news conference on Thursday, Gandy — who died her hair pink in her daughter’s memory — spoke about the loss.

She said it would be the first Christmas — Athena’s favorite holiday — in seven years where she will not be able to hear or see ‘the excitement of Athena opening gifts from Santa.

Gandy stated that Athena’s family was blessed with joy and that she felt Christmas joy on Christmas. She added, “I will never hear her say, “I love you mommy.”

She continued, “I will never be in a position to do her hair again” or watch her sleep. ‘I was robbed of watching her grow up — by a man that everyone was supposed to be able to trust to do one simple task: Deliver a Christmas present and leave.’ 

Gandy described her daughter as an innocent, free-spirited little girl who loved singing, dancing and all animals. She also said that she was not afraid to play with the boys. 

She Everyone was asked to “hold you little sis a bit tighter for me.” 

Athena with her younger sister, Rye. According to the pair's mother, they hated to be apart

Rye, Athena’s younger sibling. According to Rye, the mother of the pair, they hated each other.

Gandy previously posted a heartbreaking Facebook video showing how Rye, her younger sister, kept crying after Athena left for her father and stepmother.

She Was set to return to Oklahoma with her mother and sister for Christmas. 

The video was captured on November 27, the day before Athena disappeared for the first time on November 30. She December 2, 2012, he was declared dead. 

Gandy said that Rye was ‘begging for her sissy. 

She She said, “I kept telling my daughter, “It’s okay, we will soon see sissy.” We didn’t realize how complicated our lives would become. It was because she does it whenever she thinks that sissy is going to go somewhere without her.

Gandy said that Rye eventually cried herself to sleep. The grieving mother continued, “This monster extended those feelings to my youngest daughter indefinitely.” 

Gandy wrote in another post: “Daddy and mommy were afraid of how beautiful she’s always been and we feel like they failed you. Nobody deserves what has happened, but you are the one that deserves it. You are my love and I can’t even love it. Without you, Mommy would be broken.

She She described her angel as “innocent, beautiful and kind” and called her the “brightest, most happy soul you could ever meet.”  

Gandy added: “I don’t want her to become the girl known as the one killed and discarded by an evil monster.” I want everyone to understand, every single person in the world, that this was my baby and that my baby has been taken from me. 

Athena's grandfather Mark Strand wrote that, despite part of him wanting 'five minutes alone in a cell' with Horner, he decided to listen to another part that told him forgiveness was the only way for him and his family to recover

Mark Strand, Athena’s grandfather, wrote that despite a part of him wanting to spend ‘five minutes alone’ in a cell with Horner, he decided that he would listen to another part that said forgiveness was the only way for him to recover and his family.

Meanwhile, Athena’s grandfather, Mark Strand shared on Facebook that despite wanting to spend five minutes alone with Horner, he decided that he would listen to another part of his brain that said forgiveness was the only path to recovery for him and his family. 

In an emotional Facebook post, he wrote, “This man is angry, and i want five minutes alone with the psycho that took our Athena from us, but there is a soft, gentle voice inside my head telling m I need to forgive him.”

“If I allow this hatred to consume me, that voice is likely to fade and be silenced.” That ugly spirit of hatred will then triumph and that’s why this gentle voice continues to tell me that I must forgive him.