Athena Strand - updates: Texas town pays tribute after FedEx driver’s kidnap and murder arrest

The grieving community of Wise County has paid several tributes to Athena Strand, a seven-year-old girl abducted and killed last week.

Bikers dressed in the brightest shade of pink and blaring Frozen’s Let It Go rode their motorcycles for twenty minutes on Monday in honour of Athena.

Her classmates, also dressed in pink, waved their little hands at the bikers, who raised nearly $9,000 for the grieving family.

The abduction and murder of Athena on 30 November allegedly by 31-year-old FedEx driver Tanner Horner rocked the local community since the early stages of the investigation, with hundreds of people helping police canvass the area near Athena’s home shortly after she disappeared.

The little girl’s body was found six miles away from her Paradise home on Friday, after Horner led authorities to the location.

Police said that Horner confessed to snatching the little girl before killing her within an hour of her abduction. He faces charges of capital murder and aggravated kidnapping.

No motive has been given and Mr Horner is not believed to have any connection to the little girl.

Key Points

  • Grandfather says he ‘forgives’ killer

  • Missing 7-year-old Texas girl's body found

  • FedEx truck driver Tanner Lynn Horner arrested

  • Mother says her ‘princess’ taken by ‘cruel monster'

  • Athena Strand went missing on Wednesday

ICYMI: Everything we know about the FedEx driver accused of abducting and murdering Athena

17:45 , Andrea Blanco

On Friday, authorities announced they had taken a FedEx delivery driver into custody who had been at Athena’s home at the time of her disappearance.

Wise County sheriff Lane Akin told reporters that the driver, 31-year-old Tanner Lynn Horner, had allegedly confessed to her abduction and murder.

Here’s everything we know about the suspect and the case:

Everything we know about FedEx driver accused of murdering Athena Strand

Bikers raise thousands for Athena’s family

17:14 , Andrea Blanco

A group of motorcyclists have raised thousands of dollars to help support the family of Athena Strand.

On Monday, hundreds of motorcyclists took part in a ride from Azel to Paradise, Texas, in memory of the slain seven-year-old.

Many wore pin – the little girl’s favourite colour.

Organiser Francis Chamberlin said the event raised $8,775 and that he had received an outpouring of support from people all across the country.

“She didn’t deserve this,” he told WFAA. “She was young. She still had her life ahead of her. And now she’s gone.”

Candlelight vigil scheduled for Tuesday

16:07 , Andrea Blanco

The First Baptist Church Cottondale has arranged a Candlelight Memorial Service to allow the community to come together to celebrate the life of Athena Strand.

It will be held on Tuesday 6 December at 6pm at First Baptist Church of Cottondale in Paradise, Texas, on the front lawn. There will be a lighted angel set up for those that would like to bring flowers, a Facebook page reads.

Details here.

Tanner Horner’s neighbours react as he’s accused of murdering Athena Strand

15:26 , Andrea Blanco

Authorities announced on Friday that FedEx delivery driver Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, was taken into custody for the murder of Athena, who went missing from her home in Paradise, Texas, on 30 November. Wise County sheriff Lane Akin told reporters that Mr Horner confessed to killing Athena within an hour of her abduction.

Speaking to the Forth Worth Star-Telegram, neighbours of Mr Horner said that he lived with his grandmother and mother in the west Fort Worth neighbourhood and that he would leave for weeks at a time before returning home.

Read the full story:

Tanner Horner’s neighbours react as he’s accused of murdering Athena Strand

Athena’s mom thanks community’s support: ‘I see Athena in all of you’

14:39 , Andrea Blanco

The mother of Athena Strand, a seven-year-old girl abducted and killed by a FedEx driver out of her home in Paradise, Texas, has expressed gratitude for the unwavering outpouring of support from the community.

Maitlyn Presley Gandy addressed the hundreds of pictures of children and adults wearing pink in honour of Athena, saying she saw her little girl in all of them.

“I love seeing all of the pictures of everyone in pink from pinned on ribbons and hearts, tshirts, and full pink outfits (I see the scrubs ladies and gents!),” she wrote.

“I drove around a bit today, everywhere I looked, I saw shades of pink. I’ve had tears, it’s a bittersweet feeling seeing all of the support for Athena’s legacy.”

She continued: “I cannot thank everyone enough, but I hope y’all know, I see you and so does my Athena. I have to believe that or I will break. Athena sees us. And I see Athena in all of you.”

Athena Strand, seven (Facebook / Maitlyn Gandy)
Athena Strand, seven (Facebook / Maitlyn Gandy)

Motorcycle group raises thousands for family

14:00 , Rachel Sharp

A group of motorcyclists have raised thousands of dollars to help support the family of Athena Strand.

On Monday, hundreds of motorcyclists took part in a ride from Azel to Paradise, Texas, in memory of the slain seven-year-old.

Many wore pin – the little girl’s favourite colour.

Organiser Francis Chamberlin said the event raised $8,775 and that he had received an outpouring of support from people all across the country.

“She didn’t deserve this,” he told WFAA. “She was young. She still had her life ahead of her. And now she’s gone.”

Grandfather says he ‘forgives’ suspect

13:30 , Rachel Sharp

The devastated grandfather of murdered seven-year-old Athena Strand has said that he forgives the “psycho” FedEx driver accused of abducting and killing her – but also wishes he could have “five minutes alone in a cell” with the suspect.

Mark Strand broke his silence in a heartbreaking Facebook post on Sunday after his granddaughter’s body was discovered around six miles from her home in Paradise, Texas, and 31-year-old Tanner Lynn Horner was arrested on charges of murder and kidnapping.

In the gut-wrenching social media post, Mr Strand spoke of his turmoil as he said he wants Mr Horner “to burn in hell for all eternity” but that his faith is pushing him to want to forgive.

“This flesh, this man that I am, is angry and I want 5 minutes alone in a cell with the psycho that took our Athena away from us, but there’s a soft gentle voice in the back of my head telling me I need to forgive him,” he wrote.

“This flesh man, wants that psycho to burn in hell for all eternity, yet that gentle voice continues to tell me, I need to forgive him. This flesh man hopes he remains blind and deaf to the message of salvation and never sets foot in the same heaven that I know in my heart my darling Athena resides in now and yet, that gentle voice persists. Why you ask?”

Mr Strand said that he would “probably kill” Mr Horner if he saw him in person now but that he must “choose love” for the sake of his grieving family.

FedEx releases statement about arrest of employee

13:00 , Rachel Sharp

FedEx released a statement expressing its thoughts for Athena Strand’s family following the arrest of one of its employees on charges of murder.

“Words cannot describe our shock and sorrow at the reports surrounding this tragic event,” the company said.

“First and foremost, our thoughts are with the family during this most difficult time, and we continue to cooperate fully with the investigating authorities.

“At this time, any further questions should be directed to law enforcement.”

Suspect boasted about dagger in social media post

12:30 , Rachel Sharp

Following his arrest, Tanner Lynn Horner’s social media posts have come to light.

In one post, seen by The Independent, the suspect boasts about a dagger he says he received as a present.

“Dagger my older brother gave me YEARS ago!,” he captioned an image of the gold blade in December 2014.

That same month, he posted a photo of himself in bed with the caption including a racial slur.

“Layin in bed just thinking f*** you lol n***a im the shit! Haters gonna hate ^-^” he wrote.

Tanner Lynn Horner boasted about getting this dagger in one online post (Instagram)
Tanner Lynn Horner boasted about getting this dagger in one online post (Instagram)

What happened to Athena Strand?

12:00 , Rachel Sharp

Athena vanished without a trace from her home in Paradise on Wednesday (30 November).

The little girl had been dropped off from school at around 4.30pm and was last seen alive at about 5.40pm after she had a quarrel with her stepmother.

Around an hour later, her stepmother went to find the seven-year-old in her room to have dinner but she was nowhere to be found.

Athena was reported missing and, the next day, an Amber Alert was issued.

For the next two days, hundreds of law enforcement officers, family members and local volunteers combed the area desperately trying to find her as her family insisted she wouldn’t have gone off on her own.

Hopes of her safe return were then destroyed on Friday when police confirmed that her body had been discovered in a ditch around six miles from her home.

School districts wear pink in honour of Athena Strand

11:30 , Rachel Sharp

Students and staff across several school districts in Texas wore pink on Monday in honour of murdered seven-year-old Athena Strand.

Athena who was snatched from her father’s home and killed last week with a FedEx driver now in police custody.

Her mother said that her favourite colour was pink.

On Monday, local officials and schools urged people to wear pink in her memory.

At least 20 school districts joined in with the touching tribute.

Tanner Horner’s neighbours react as he’s accused of murdering Athena Strand

11:00 , Rachel Sharp

Authorities announced on Friday that FedEx delivery driver Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, was taken into custody for the murder of Athena, who went missing from her home in Paradise, Texas, on 30 November. Wise County sheriff Lane Akin told reporters that Mr Horner confessed to killing Athena within an hour of her abduction.

Speaking to the Forth Worth Star-Telegram, neighbours of Mr Horner said that he lived with his grandmother and mother in the west Fort Worth neighbourhood and that he would leave for weeks at a time before returning home.

Read the full story:

Tanner Horner’s neighbours react as he’s accused of murdering Athena Strand

Grandfather says he forgives FedEx driver accused of murdering Athena

10:40 , Rachel Sharp

The devastated grandfather of murdered seven-year-old Athena Strand has said that he forgives the “psycho” FedEx driver accused of abducting and killing her – but also wishes he could have “five minutes alone in a cell” with the suspect.

Mark Strand broke his silence in a heartbreaking Facebook post on Sunday after his granddaughter’s body was discovered around six miles from her home in Paradise, Texas, and 31-year-old Tanner Lynn Horner was arrested on charges of murder and kidnapping.

“This flesh, this man that I am, is angry and I want 5 minutes alone in a cell with the psycho that took our Athena away from us, but there’s a soft gentle voice in the back of my head telling me I need to forgive him,” he wrote.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has the story:

Athena Strand’s grandfather says he forgives ‘psycho’ FedEx driver accused of murder

Mother shares heartbreaking video of Athena's sister

10:20 , Rachel Sharp

Athena’s mother Maitlyn Presley Gandy posted the video to Facebook on Monday, three days after her child was found dead in Paradise, Texas. The little girl was reported missing on Wednesday (30 November) and suspect Tanner Lynn Horner is now charged with her abduction and murder.

Ms Gandy explained that the video of her other daughter sobbing uncontrollably for her “sissy” was taken days before Athena went missing, as the seven-year-old was visiting her father in Texas. At the time, Ms Gandy said she assured the unconsolable girl that her sister would be back with them in Oklahoma soon.

“That video of [redacted] begging for her sissy was Sunday 11/27 when we thought sissy would only be gone a few days. I kept telling her, ‘it’s okay, we will see sissy soon,’ not knowing how twisted our lives would become,” Ms Gandy wrote.

The Independent has the story:

Athena Strand’s mother shares heartbreaking video of 7-year-old’s sister sobbing

Superintendet of school district Athena attended calls for prayers

08:00 , Andrea Blanco

Rod Townsend, superintendent of Paradise Independent School District, called for the school community to pray for the child and her family.

“It is with a sad and heavy heart that I address you. We lost a precious member of our student body. Athena Strand was tragically lost this past week,” Mr Townsend wrote in a post addressed to the school district’s community of students, staff and parents.

“This world will forever be different because she wasn’t allowed to grow and develop into the precious young lady she was meant to be.”

 (Miatlyn Presley Godny)
(Miatlyn Presley Godny)

Texans asked to wear pink to honour 7-year-old Athena Strand

06:20 , Andrea Blanco

Wise County Judge J D Clark said in a statement that pink was Athena’s favourite colour and urged everyone to wear pink on Monday.

“My heart is so heavy about Athena,” the judge added. “Additionally, I encourage everyone to join me at 6.30pm on Monday on the Courthouse steps to pray for Athena, her family, our first responders and our community.”

Athena’s mother also appealed on social media for parents to dress their children in pink as a tribute to her little girl.

“I put my little girl in pink today for Athena. She said “my favorite color is pink too, we could have been friends” I’m praying so hard for you. And I’m so so sorry,” a mother wrote on Facebook.

FedEx puts out statement after driver is arrested in connection to Athena Strand’s murder

04:40 , Andrea Blanco

In a statement to Fox4, FedEx said: “Words cannot describe our shock and sorrow at the reports surrounding this tragic event.

“First and foremost, our thoughts are with the family during this most difficult time, and we continue to cooperate fully with the investigating authorities. At this time, any further questions should be directed to law enforcement.”

Authorities initially said Mr Horner was from the Lake Worth area. The Lake Worth City police chief said in a tweet that he lived near the lake itself.

A Facebook account that appears to belong to the suspect suggested he was a father of one, engaged to be married, and was a vocalist in a local band.

Everything we know about FedEx driver accused of murdering Athena Strand

03:10 , Andrea Blanco

According to Wise County Jail records, 31-year-old Tanner Horner was booked at 2am on Friday on one count of capital murder of a person under 10 and aggravated kidnapping.

His bond was set at $1.5m.

Mr Horner has worked as an Uber driver, according to reports, and posted on social media about being a musician.

Here’s everything we know about the case:

Everything we know about FedEx driver accused of murdering Athena Strand

ICYMI: A timeline of Athena’s Strand disappearance and murder investigation

01:40 , Andrea Blanco

Athena was last seen alive at her home on the 200 Block of County Rd 3573 in Paradise, at about 5.40pm on Wednesday.

Her stepmother reported her missing around an hour later, sparking a massive search involving multiple local, state and federal law enforcement agencies who used canine units and helicopters with thermal imaging.

Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin announced at a late night press conference on Friday that Athena’s body had been found and a FedEx driver Tanner Horner had been arrested.

The suspect allegedly confessed to abducting Athena and murdering her about an hour later before disposing of her body, Mr Akin told reporters.

Tanner Horner’s neighbours ‘shocked’ by accusations

00:07 , Io Dodds

Tanner Lynn Horner’s neighbours have shared their shock and horror at the news that he is suspected of killing Athena Strand.

“I find it just shocking it was him,” said one woman who asked not to be named in an interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The neighbours said that Mr Horner lived with his grandmother and mother in the west Fort Worth neighbourhood and that he would leave for weeks at a time before returning home.

My colleague Andrea Blanco has the full story here.

Mother of Athena Strand says her ‘princess’ was taken by a ‘cruel monster’

00:05 , Andrea Blanco

The heartbroken mother of Texas schoolgirl Athena Strand has described the suspect who allegedly confessed to her murder as a “sick, cruel monster”.

In a Facebook post on Saturday, Athena’s mother Maitlyn Gandy wrote that she was struggling to describe “the pain and absolute anger” that she felt towards the alleged killer.

“My princess was taken from me from a sick, cruel monster for absolutely no reason,” she wrote along with a home video taken of Athena aged three.

“Athena is innocent, beautiful, kind, intelligent, and just the brightest, happiest soul you could ever meet. I don’t want her to be the girl known as the one murdered and discarded by a monster.

“I want everyone to know, every single person in this world, that this is my baby and my baby was taken from me.”

The Independent’s Bevan Hurley has the story:

Mother of Athena Strand says her ‘princess’ was taken by a ‘cruel monster’

Sheriff describes investigation as “one of the toughest”

Monday 5 December 2022 22:40 , Andrea Blanco

In a late night press conference on Friday, Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin announced that authorities had taken a FedEx contract driver into custody.

Investigators had determined that Tanner Horner, 31, had made a drop-off near the family home around the time Athena went missing.

Mr Akin said the driver had allegedly confessed to taking Athena and shown them where her body could be found, in a ditch around six miles out of Paradise.

They believed she had died within an hour of her abduction, but did not provide further details on how she was killed.

“It’s one of the toughest investigations I have been involved in because it’s a child,” Mr Akin said at the press conference, according to Fox4.

“Any time there’s a child that dies it just hits you in your heart.”

Chilling song lyrics written by suspect accused of Athena’s murder

Monday 5 December 2022 21:14 , Andrea Blanco

Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, is accused of snatching little Athena from her home in Paradise, Texas, before killing her and dumping her body in a ditch about six miles away. Police said that he confessed to the heinous crime and is being held on charges of capital murder and kidnapping.

Following his arrest, the aspiring musician’s dark song lyrics and disturbing social media posts have emerged.

In one Instagram post from December 2014, he wrote: “Sometimes I hear her cries. Silence is the dirtiest trick in life. If im so empty then why do I feel alive.”

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has the full story:

Chilling song lyrics penned by FedEx driver accused of Athena Strand’s murder

Everything we know about Tanner Horner, the FedEx driver accused of abducting and murdering Athena

Monday 5 December 2022 20:09 , Andrea Blanco

On Friday, authorities announced they had taken a FedEx delivery driver into custody who had been at Athena’s home at the time of her disappearance.

Wise County sheriff Lane Akin told reporters that the driver, 31-year-old Tanner Lynn Horner, had allegedly confessed to her abduction and murder.

Here’s everything we know about the suspect and the case:

Everything we know about FedEx driver accused of murdering Athena Strand

Grieving mother shares heartbreaking video of murdered 7-year-old’s sister sobbing

Monday 5 December 2022 19:05 , Andrea Blanco

Athena’s mother Maitlyn Presley Gandy posted the video to Facebook on Monday, three days after her child was found dead in Paradise, Texas. The little girl was reported missing on Wednesday (30 November) and suspect Tanner Lynn Horner is now charged with her abduction and murder.

Ms Gandy explained that the video of her other daughter sobbing uncontrollably for her “sissy” was taken days before Athena went missing, as the seven-year-old was visiting her father in Texas. At the time, Ms Gandy said she assured the unconsolable girl that her sister would be back with them in Oklahoma soon.

“That video of [redacted] begging for her sissy was Sunday 11/27 when we thought sissy would only be gone a few days. I kept telling her, ‘it’s okay, we will see sissy soon,’ not knowing how twisted our lives would become,” Ms Gandy wrote.

The Independent has the story:

Athena Strand’s mother shares heartbreaking video of 7-year-old’s sister sobbing

Athena Strand’s grandfather says he forgives ‘psycho’ FedEx driver accused of abducting and murdering her

Monday 5 December 2022 18:23 , Andrea Blanco

The devastated grandfather of murdered seven-year-old Athena Strand has said that he forgives the “psycho” FedEx driver accused of abducting and killing her – but also wishes he could have “five minutes alone in a cell” with the suspect.

Mark Strand broke his silence in a heartbreaking Facebook post on Sunday after his granddaughter’s body was discovered around six miles from her home in Paradise, Texas, and 31-year-old Tanner Lynn Horner was arrested on charges of murder and kidnapping.

“This flesh, this man that I am, is angry and I want 5 minutes alone in a cell with the psycho that took our Athena away from us, but there’s a soft gentle voice in the back of my head telling me I need to forgive him,” he wrote.

Read the full story:

Athena Strand’s grandfather says he forgives ‘psycho’ FedEx driver accused of murder

Community wears pink in support of Athena

Monday 5 December 2022 16:51 , Andrea Blanco

Area school districts will wear pink in support of Athena Strand, her family and the local community.

Athena’s mother’s Facebook page has also been flooded with comments and pictures of mothers and kids across Texas and the country wearing pink in tribute of the seven-year-old girl killed on Wednesday.

“I put my little girl in pink today for Athena. She said “my favorite color is pink too, we could have been friends” I’m praying so hard for you. And I’m so so sorry,” a mother wrote.

 (Miatlyn Presley Godny)
(Miatlyn Presley Godny)

Who is the FedEx driver accused of murdering Athena Strand?

Monday 5 December 2022 15:43 , Andrea Blanco

Athena disappeared from her home in Paradise, north Texas, on Wednesday, 30 November.

Hundreds of law enforcement officers, family and volunteers spent two days canvassing homes and searching rugged terrain in the area for the missing first grader.

On Friday, authorities announced they had taken a FedEx delivery driver into custody who had been at Athena’s home at the time of her disappearance.

Wise County sheriff Lane Akin told reporters that the driver, 31-year-old Tanner Lynn Horner, had allegedly confessed to her abduction and murder.

The Independent’s Bevan Hurley has the story:

Everything we know about FedEx driver accused of murdering Athena Strand

Grieving mother shares heartbreaking post

Monday 5 December 2022 15:09 , Andrea Blanco

In the aftermath of Athena’s death, her mother, Maitlyn Presley Gandy, has shared her gratitude for the outpouring of support from the community and law enforcement.

In a heartbreaking post on Monday, Ms Presley shared a video of her youngest daughter crying for her “sissy’s” returns, before it was revealed that Athena had been killed.

“That video of [redacted] begging for her sissy was Sunday 11/27 when we thought sissy would only be gone a few days,” Ms Gandy wrote. “I kept telling her, ‘it’s okay, we will see sissy soon,’ not knowing how twisted our lives would become.”

It continued: “I took it because she does this anytime she thinks sissy is going somewhere without her. She cried for thirty minutes straight in the car until she cried herself to sleep. This monster has now extended those feelings for my youngest daughter indefinitely.”

Ms Gandy also said that Athena’s cousins had been informed that she would never be coming home again.

Chilling song lyrics penned by FedEx driver accused of Athena Strand’s murder

Monday 5 December 2022 14:30 , Rachel Sharp

Chilling song lyrics penned by the FedEx driver and aspiring musician accused of murdering seven-year-old Athena Strand have come to light, including the foreboding line “sometimes I hear her cries”.

Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, is accused of snatching little Athena from her home in Paradise, Texas, before killing her and dumping her body in a ditch about six miles away. Police said that he confessed to the heinous crime and is being held on charges of capital murder and kidnapping.

Following his arrest, the aspiring musician’s dark song lyrics and disturbing social media posts have emerged.

In one Instagram post from December 2014, he wrote: “Sometimes I hear her cries. Silence is the dirtiest trick in life. If im so empty then why do I feel alive.”

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has the full story:

Chilling song lyrics penned by FedEx driver accused of Athena Strand’s murder

Suspect boasted about dagger in social media post

Monday 5 December 2022 14:11 , Rachel Sharp

Following his arrest, Tanner Lynn Horner’s social media posts have come to light.

In one post, seen by The Independent, the suspect boasts about a dagger he says he received as a present.

“Dagger my older brother gave me YEARS ago!,” he captioned an image of the gold blade in December 2014.

That same month, he posted a photo of himself in bed with the caption including a racial slur.

“Layin in bed just thinking f*** you lol n***a im the shit! Haters gonna hate ^-^” he wrote.

Tanner Lynn Horner boasted about getting this dagger in one online post (Instagram)
Tanner Lynn Horner boasted about getting this dagger in one online post (Instagram)

Candlelight vigil scheduled for Tuesday

Monday 5 December 2022 13:45 , Rachel Sharp

The First Baptist Church Cottondale has arranged a Candlelight Memorial Service to allow the community to come together to celebrate the life of Athena Strand.

It will be held on Tuesday 6 December at 6pm at First Baptist Church of Cottondale in Paradise, Texas, on the front lawn. There will be a lighted angel set up for those that would like to bring flowers, a Facebook page reads.

Details here.

Everything we know about FedEx driver accused of murdering Athena Strand

Monday 5 December 2022 13:15 , Oliver O'Connell

A FedEx contract driver has allegedly confessed to the abduction and murder of missing 7-year-old Athena Strand, authorities in Texas say.

Here is everything we know so far about Tanner Lynn Horner.

Everything we know about FedEx driver accused of murdering Athena Strand

Athena Strand’s grandfather says he forgives ‘psycho’ FedEx driver

Monday 5 December 2022 12:42 , Rachel Sharp

The devastated grandfather of murdered seven-year-old Athena Strand has said that he forgives the “psycho” FedEx driver accused of abducting and killing her – but also wishes he could have “5 minutes alone in a cell” with the suspect.

Mark Strand broke his silence in a heartbreaking Facebook post on Sunday after his granddaughter’s body was discovered around six miles from her home in Paradise, Texas, and 31-year-old Tanner Lynn Horner was arrested on charges of murder and kidnapping.

In the gut-wrenching social media post, Mr Strand spoke of his turmoil as he said he wants Mr Horner “to burn in hell for all eternity” but that his faith is pushing him to want to forgive.

“This flesh, this man that I am, is angry and I want 5 minutes alone in a cell with the psycho that took our Athena away from us, but there’s a soft gentle voice in the back of my head telling me I need to forgive him,” he wrote.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has the full story:

Athena Strand’s grandfather says he forgives ‘psycho’ FedEx driver accused of murder

Texas school districts to wear pink for Athena

Monday 5 December 2022 12:15 , Oliver O'Connell

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Mother says her ‘princess’ was taken by a ‘cruel monster’

Monday 5 December 2022 11:15 , Oliver O'Connell

The heartbroken mother of Texas schoolgirl Athena Strand has described the suspect who allegedly confessed to her murder as a “sick, cruel monster” in a heartbreaking Facebook post.

Bevan Hurley reports.

Mother of Athena Strand says her ‘princess’ was taken by a ‘cruel monster’

Suspect taken into custody on Friday

Monday 5 December 2022 09:15 , Oliver O'Connell

The Wise County sheriff announced on Friday that a FedEx driver had been taken into custody.

The driver, identified by police as 31-year-old Tanner Lynn Horner is being held at the Wise County Jail on charges of capital murder and aggravated kidnapping.

FedEx driver arrested for murder and kidnap of missing 7-year-old Athena Strand

Heartbroken community mourns loss

Monday 5 December 2022 07:15 , Oliver O'Connell

The First Baptist Church of Cottondale was a gathering place for volunteers and Athena’s family while the search for her was carried out this week. A vigil will be held at the church on Tuesday.

Pastor Charles Pugh spoke with CBS News.

“Your heart goes out to the parents. It’s just so random it seems like, that it happened that way,” he said.

When the news broke that Athena had been found dead, Pugh was with her parents.

“He’s just kind of numb I think,” said Pugh of her dad’s reaction. “Frustration, but he had a good spirit.”

At Friday night’s press conference, Sheriff Lane Akin was visibly emotional.

“It hurts our hearts to know that child died,” he said, “This community does not like losing our children and we can see it because of all the people who came out and helped us throughout this ordeal.”

Devastating news announced on Friday evening

Monday 5 December 2022 05:15 , Oliver O'Connell

After two days of searching, Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin delivered the devastating news that Athena’s body had been found at a Friday evening news conference.

FedEx driver arrested for murder and kidnap of missing 7-year-old Athena Strand

What happened on the day Athena disappeared

Monday 5 December 2022 03:15 , Oliver O'Connell

The Wise County Sheriff’s Office says that seven-year-old Athena Strand went to school and returned to her home in Paradise, Texas at approximately 4.30pm on Wednesday.

Her father had left his wife and daughter at home to go hunting, and Athena and her stepmother allegedly got into an argument after she arrived home from school.

“We know that there was a little bit of an argument between her and her step-mom last night but it isn’t anything unusual,” Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said. “There was that argument, then step-mom went to fix dinner, came back to get Athena, and Athena wasn’t in her room.”

At approximately 6.40pm Athena’s stepmother called 911 when she realised that the little girl was not in her bedroom nor anywhere else in the house after spending an hour looking for her.

Police issued an AMBER Alert and the search for Athena began. Some 200 volunteers from the local community joined law enforcement officers in the search overnight, through Thursday, and into Friday.

Athena’s body was found approximately 11 miles away from her home.

“It hurts our hearts to know that child died,” Sheriff Akin said during a press conference on Friday evening. “It’s one of the toughest investigations that I’ve been involved in because it’s a child. And anytime there’s a child that dies, it just hits you in your heart.”

Suspect expected in court on Monday

Monday 5 December 2022 01:15 , Oliver O'Connell

Tanner Horner is expected in court on Monday for a detention hearing.

He was booked into Wise County Jail at 2am on Friday on counts of aggravated kidnapping and capital murder of a person under the age of 10.

His bond is set at $1.5m.

Everything we know about Tanner Horner

Monday 5 December 2022 00:15 , Oliver O'Connell

According to Wise County Jail records, Tanner Horner was booked at 2am on Friday on one count of capital murder of a person under 10 and aggravated kidnapping. His bond was set at $1.5m.

Everything we know about FedEx driver accused of murdering Athena Strand

Video shows investigators surrounding FedEx truck

Sunday 4 December 2022 23:15 , Oliver O'Connell

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Mother says her ‘princess’ was taken by a ‘cruel monster’

Sunday 4 December 2022 22:15 , Oliver O'Connell

The heartbroken mother of Texas schoolgirl Athena Strand has described the suspect who allegedly confessed to her murder as a “sick, cruel monster” in a heartbreaking Facebook post.

Bevan Hurley reports.

Mother of Athena Strand says her ‘princess’ was taken by a ‘cruel monster’

Local school districts to wear pink in show of support

Sunday 4 December 2022 21:30 , Oliver O'Connell

Area school districts will wear pink in support of Athena Strand, her family and the local community.

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Recap: FedEx driver arrested for murder of Athena Strand, 7, after delivering package to her home

Sunday 4 December 2022 20:45 , Oliver O'Connell

Athena was likely abducted from her driveway, about 200 yards away from the house, around 6pm on Wednesday evening.

Sravasti Dasgupta reports.

FedEx driver arrested for murder and kidnap of missing 7-year-old Athena Strand

Sunday 4 December 2022 20:00 , Oliver O'Connell

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