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Affidavits Reveal New Details Of FedEx Driver Kidnapping, Killing Athena Strand

Paradise, TX – The FedEx contract driver who confessed to killing seven-year-old Athena Strand claimed he kidnapped her in a panic after accidentally hitting her with his delivery van, then strangled her to death so she wouldn’t tell her father what happened, according to police.

New details about the abduction and murder of Athena and the arrest of 31-year-old Tanner Lynn Horner were contained in arrest affidavits made public on Thursday, WFAA reported.

Athena disappeared from her father and stepmother’s home in Paradise at approximately 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 30, according to TODAY.

Numerous law enforcement agencies and approximately 200 volunteers participated in the massive search for Athena in the days that followed, according to The New York Times.

“We knew early on in the investigation that a FedEx driver made a delivery in front of the house about the same time that little Athena, 7-year-old Athena, came up missing,” Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said on Dec. 2, according to The New York Times. “And continued good work by this investigative team, they were able to determine that the driver abducted Athena.”

Horner was taken into custody and allegedly confessed to kidnapping and killing Athena.

Sheriff Akin said Horner also told police where to find the little girl’s body, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

According to the arrest affidavit, surveillance footage from Athena’s body was found southeast of Boyd on Dec. 2, approximately 10 miles from her father’s home, TODAY reported.

Horner had allegedly dumped her into a body of water located just off of CR 4668, according to CBS News.

inside the FedEx delivery vehicle showed Horner forcing Athena into the vehicle, WFAA reported.

Horner allegedly told detectives he accidently hit Athena with the vehicle while he was backing up.

He said that even though she wasn’t seriously injured, he panicked and put her into the truck, according to court documents.

Horner allegedly told police he unsuccessfully tried to break Athena’s neck once they were inside the van before he ultimately resorted to strangling her to death with his bare hands, WFAA reported.

Sheriff Akin said the alleged killer did not know Athena or her family and described the horrific murder as a “crime of opportunity,” according to FOX News.

FedEx released an updated statement on Thursday night in light of the new information, WFAA reported.

“We share in the collective grief surrounding this heartbreaking tragedy, and our thoughts remain with the family of Athena Strand,” the company said. “There is no higher priority for us – and our network of 6,000 service provider companies – than ensuring the safety of our operations within the communities we serve.”

Horner has been arrested on charges of capital murder of a person under 10 years old and aggravated kidnapping, The New York Times reported.

His bond was set at $1.5 million, according to TODAY.

Prosecutors said they plan to seek the death penalty if Horner is convicted, WFAA reported.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin

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