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FedEx Contract Driver Confessed To Random Kidnapping, Murder Of 7-Year-Old Athena Strand

Paradise, TX – A FedEx contract driver allegedly kidnapped and murdered a seven-year-old girl and dumped her body next to the bank of the Trinity River during an incident investigators described as a “crime of opportunity.”

“We do have a confession,” Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said during a press conference on Friday night, according to TODAY.

The victim, seven-year-old Athena Strand, disappeared from her father and stepmother’s home in Paradise at approximately 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 30.

Investigators said a FedEx contract driver, 31-year-old Tanner Lynn Horner, delivered a package at the residence shortly before Athena’s stepmother realized the little girl was missing, TODAY reported.

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.

A helicopter equipped with thermal imaging assisted from overhead and K9s joined search parties on the ground.

Investigators found Athena’s body southeast of Boyd on Dec. 2, TODAY reported.

The area where here body was discovered is approximately 10 miles from her father’s home.

No details regarding her cause of death were immediately released.

“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,” Sheriff Akin said on Friday, according to The New York Times. “And continued good work by this investigative team, they were able to determine that the driver abducted Athena.”

The sheriff said a tip helped identify Horner.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas office, James Dwyer, added that “digital evidence and partnerships with FedEx” also steered them towards Horner, The New York Times reported.

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.

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

Horner allegedly confessed to kidnapping and killing Athena, and investigators said they believed the little girl died within an hour of her abduction, according to The New York Times.

The motive is unknown.

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

“It’s been a really, really tough few days and I’m really proud of the people here who helped us get some resolution, to get some understanding to provide answers for the families,” Sheriff Akin told reporters on Friday.

FedEx released a statement saying it has been cooperating with investigators since Athena’s abduction, The New York Times reported.

“Our thoughts are with the family of Athena Strand during this most difficult time,” the statement said. “Words cannot describe our shock and sorrow surrounding this tragic event.”

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.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin

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