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FedEx Driver Accused Of Murdering Athena Strand Charged With Sexual Assault Of A Child In Separate Case

Tarrant County, TX – The FedEx contract driver accused of kidnapping and murdering seven-year-old Athena Strand has been charged with three counts of sexual assault of a child in a separate case.

Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin confirmed on Thursday that the new charges against 31-year-old Tanner Lynn Horner are unrelated to the case involving Athena, the Wise County Messenger reported.

The new charges – all of which involve a victim under the age of 17 – were filed on Dec. 21, according to WFAA.

The Fort Worth Police Department (FWPD) handled the investigation, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

The charges stem from three incidents that investigators say took place in 2013.

It is unclear if all three charges involve a single victim or if there are multiple victims.

No other details regarding the new case were immediately released.

Horner’s bond was set at $15,000 for each of the new offenses, the Wise County Messenger reported.

He is also being held on a $1 million bond for capital murder of a child and a $500,000 bond for aggravated kidnapping in connection with Athena’s disappearance and death.

Horner’s initial court appearance in relation to the sexual assault case is scheduled for Jan. 5, 2023, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram 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,” Sheriff 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 beside a body of water located just off of CR 4668, according to CBS News.

Security footage from inside the FedEx delivery vehicle allegedly showed Horner forcing Athena into the vehicle, WFAA reported.

Detectives said he told them he accidentally 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.

Detectives said the delivery driver told them he kidnapped and murdered the little girl to prevent her from telling her father that he had hit her with his vehicle.

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.

Prosecutors said they plan to seek the death penalty if Horner is convicted of kidnapping and murdering Athena, 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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