FedEx driver accused of kidnapping, murdering 7-year-old Athena Strand in North Texas

North Texas authorities said the body of 7-year-old Athena Strand, who had been missing since Wednesday evening in Wise County, was found Friday. A FedEx driver has been arrested and faces charges of murder and kidnapping.

North Texas authorities mentioned the physique of 7-year-old Athena Strand, who had been lacking since Wednesday night in Smart County, was discovered Friday. A FedEx driver has been arrested and faces prices of homicide and kidnapping.



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A FedEx contract driver has been arrested and accused of kidnapping and killing 7-year-old Athena Strand, authorities introduced Friday evening. Click on on the arrow beneath to learn extra on this growing story.

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The physique of 7-year-old Athena Strand was discovered close to Boyd on Friday night, and a FedEx contract driver has been arrested and accused of kidnapping and killing her, authorities mentioned.

The suspect, Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, is from Fort Value, in accordance with public information. He’s within the Smart County Jail and faces prices of capital homicide and aggravated kidnapping. Authorities mentioned he has confessed to the crime and informed them the place Athena’s physique was. His bond is ready at $1.5 million.

Horner was making a supply on the gate exterior Athena’s home on the time she disappeared Wednesday, and legislation enforcement acquired a tip which led authorities to research him, Smart County Sheriff Lane Akin mentioned. FedEx has been cooperating with the investigation, which incorporates the FBI and Texas Rangers.

Akin described it as “a criminal offense of alternative.” Though Athena’s reason for loss of life hasn’t been decided, “we do imagine she died by his hand,” Akin mentioned in an unique interview Saturday with the Fort Value Star-Telegram. It doesn’t seem that the kid was hit by the FedEx truck, he mentioned.

Full post-mortem outcomes might take a few weeks, the sheriff mentioned. Investigators imagine Athena died inside about an hour of her abduction.

Athena had been lacking for about 48 hours when her physique was discovered alongside the water’s fringe of the Trinity River close to Boyd on Friday night.

Horner is predicted to be charged by the state of Texas with capital homicide of an individual underneath 10 years outdated and aggravated kidnapping. He isn’t anticipated to face federal prices, although the FBI offered priceless help to the investigation, Akin mentioned.

Investigators have spoken to prosecutors about looking for the loss of life penalty, the sheriff mentioned

“It hurts our hearts to know that that baby died, a lot in order that she is on her manner now to the health worker’s workplace and there’s a Texas Ranger in entrance of her and a Texas Ranger behind her,” the sheriff mentioned, getting emotional at instances throughout a information convention shortly after 10 p.m. Friday.

The sheriff mentioned investigators don’t imagine that Horner knew Athena or her household. They suppose he kidnapped her close to the gate on the finish of the driveway, about 200 yards from the home.

“I spent fairly a little bit of time with the household,” Akin mentioned. “They need you to know that … they appreciated the truth that we care a lot. They’re devastated. They’re offended due to what occurred — a treasured baby taken from their lives.”

Horner’s social media accounts say he has been an Uber driver, is a musician and graduated from Azle Excessive Faculty. He doesn’t seem to have a legal report in Tarrant and Smart counties.

Uber mentioned Saturday that Horner has not pushed on the app in months and that he has been banned from the platform.

FedEx Floor drivers are topic to legal historical past background checks in the course of the utility course of, the corporate mentioned Saturday. FedEx Floor is certainly one of many impartial working corporations within the FedEx Corp., which incorporates FedEx Specific, FedEx Freight and FedEx Workplace.

“FedEx Floor contracts with impartial companies that present package deal pickup and supply providers utilizing their very own workers, automobiles and gear,” FedEx Floor mentioned in an announcement. “The workers of those service supplier corporations are topic to legal historical past background checks as a part of the driving force eligibility course of.”

Tanner Horner_fitted.jpeg
Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, is accused of kidnapping and killing 7-year-old Athena Strand in Smart County, Texas, authorities mentioned. Horner was arrested Friday, Dec. 2, 2022, two days after the woman was reported lacking. Her physique was discovered Friday. Fb

Athena’s disappearance has rocked this rural group 40 miles northwest of Fort Value. A whole bunch of volunteers had assisted with the search over the previous two days, and the case has attracted nationwide consideration.

Earlier Friday, throughout a day information convention, the sheriff mentioned authorities had scaled again the seek for the kid and have been focusing extra on the investigation. The sheriff remained hopeful that Athena could be discovered, however the tone of the replace sounded grim.

Late within the day, a lot of legislation enforcement appeared to zero in on County Highway 4599 between Boyd and Cottondale, lower than 10 miles from Athena’s house on County Highway 3573. Officers seemed to be looking in a ditch however authorities cleared the scene and left about 7 p.m. with out saying whether or not they had discovered something, WFAA reported.

Athena’s physique was discovered a number of miles from that website, the sheriff mentioned. He mentioned that Horner talked about multiple location throughout his interview with investigators, and legislation enforcement searched these websites.

On the press convention at 2 p.m. Friday, Akin mentioned, “Hopefully, we are able to discover Athena and convey her house alive and properly, but it surely’s all concerning the prospects and we’ve to take a look at all the pieces.”

A radical search of a five-mile radius on Wednesday and Thursday discovered no hint of the lacking baby. The sheriff mentioned earlier Friday that the investigation had not but turned up proof of foul play or an abduction.

The woman’s stepmother reported Athena lacking to the Smart County Sheriff’s Workplace at 5:40 p.m. Wednesday, after the household had been on the lookout for her for about an hour, Akin mentioned.

Akin mentioned that Athena’s stepmother and father have been cooperative with the investigation, as has her mom, who lives in Oklahoma.

Akin mentioned at Friday’s information convention that Athena arrived house as traditional on the college bus about 4:15 p.m. Wednesday. The stepmother informed investigators that she and the kid “had a little bit little bit of an argument,” which was commonplace and that the woman walked away, the sheriff mentioned.

“Athena bought upset and she or he walked away, as she has executed prior to now” however her stepmother mentioned that she “anticipated she would come again,” Akin mentioned.

However Athena’s stepmother informed the sheriff’s workplace that after she fastened dinner, she went to her stepdaughter’s room and she or he wasn’t there.

The stepmother was the one grownup on the home when the woman disappeared, in accordance with the sheriff’s workplace. Her father was driving to south Texas to go deer looking and was someplace south of Fort Value when his spouse known as him to say Athena was gone, Akin mentioned.

Deputies and different first responders arrived on the rural property about 14 minutes after the 911 name and carried out an preliminary search inside and underneath the home and all around the six acres owned by the household, the sheriff’s workplace mentioned.

They searched till 4:30 Thursday morning after which returned at 7 a.m. for an expanded search, Akin mentioned.

The Texas Division of Public Security issued an Amber Alert for Athena on Thursday afternoon, describing her as endangered. The Amber Alert mentioned “legislation enforcement believes the kid’s security and well being are in peril.”

Authorities searched each outdoor and inside all buildings within the speedy space. Athena “wasn’t dressed actual warmly,” Akin mentioned Friday afternoon. “… The longer it goes, the extra concern we’ve.”

The Texas Division of Public Security, FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, and different space police and fireplace departments assisted within the search and investigation. A whole bunch of volunteers from the group have been concerned Thursday “strolling shoulder to shoulder by the comb” in coordinated patterns, Akin mentioned.

Authorities mentioned volunteers weren’t wanted Friday and that they need to not proceed to indicate up until they have been requested by the county’s emergency administration workplace.

The searchers used helicopters with thermal-imaging cameras, drones, horses, canines and ATVs.

“From the very starting, it was a search accompanied by an investigation,” Akin mentioned Friday afternoon. “It’s now transitioning to an investigation accompanied by a search.”

After the tragic conclusion of that search, Akin mentioned, “We’re simply unhappy it didn’t finish the way in which that we hoped that it might finish.”

“It’s one of many hardest investigations I’ve been concerned in as a result of it’s a baby,” the sheriff mentioned. “Any time there’s a baby that dies, it simply hits you in your coronary heart. You examine that baby to your individual kids once they have been that age and it simply takes the wind out your sails, however on the similar time it offers you objective” to unravel the case.

This story was initially printed December 2, 2022 1:49 PM.

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