Athena Strand update: Paradise, Texas community joins parents in grief over murder of 7-year-old ‘princess’

Athena Strand update: Paradise, Texas community joins parents in grief over murder of 7-year-old ‘princess’

The body of Athena Strand, the seven-year-old girl from Texas who went missing on Wednesday has been found 6 miles away from her home, authorities said on Friday.

Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said that a FedEx truck driver abducted Athena and that she likely died within an hour based on digital evidence and on a confession, CBS News reported.

The driver, Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, is being held at the Wise County Jail on charges of capital murder and aggravated kidnapping.

An Amber Alert was issued on Thursday for the child, who vanished the night before in Paradise.

According to the Wise County Sheriff’s Office, the child was dropped off from school at her home in Paradise at 4.30pm on Wednesday.

Her stepmother reportedly called police to report her missing around 6.40pm that day when she didn’t find Athena in her room after an argument.

After confirmation of her death, Athena’s mother posted a heartbreaking statement on Facebook calling her a “princess” and calling her murderer a “cruel, sick monster”.

Key Points

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

  • FedEx truck driver likely abducted Athena Strand

  • FedEx truck driver Tanner Lynn Horner in custody

  • Athena Strand went missing on Wednesday

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

Devastating news announced on Friday evening

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

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

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

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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What happened on the day Athena disappeared

Sunday 4 December 2022 19:30 , 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.”

Candlelight vigil scheduled for Tuesday

Sunday 4 December 2022 18:45 , Oliver O'Connell

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.

Heartbroken community mourns loss

Sunday 4 December 2022 18:00 , 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.”

FedEx driver who abducted Athena did not know her family

Sunday 4 December 2022 17:18 , Oliver O'Connell

Authorities have said that the 31-year-old FedEx truck driver, Tanner Lynn Horner, who is being held for abducting and murdering Athena Strand did not know the missing seven-year-old or her family.

Sheriff Lane Akin said at a press conference on Friday: “He was not related and did not know the family.”

The seven-year-old had gone missing from her home on Wednesday.

FedEx released a statement.

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Watch: Shaken community joins family in grief

Sunday 4 December 2022 16:45 , Oliver O'Connell

Athena’s mother posts heartbreaking tribute to ‘princess’ daughter

Sunday 4 December 2022 15:44 , Oliver O'Connell

Maitlyn Presley Gandy, Athena Strand’s mother, has posted a heartbreaking tribute to her daughter.

She wrote on Facebook: “I want the world to know my baby, my first baby, my first true love, the reason I breathe. This is Athena, in our home in Oklahoma when she was three. I’m not sure why it popped up on my Facebook now.. but I love my daughter beyond words and I will always love her.”

“I cannot describe the pain and absolute anger I feel. Missing her doesn’t cover how I feel. My daughter’s name is Athena Presley Monroe Strand, which she would happily announce to anyone listening, and anyone not listening she would make listen,” Ms Gandy continued. “My princess was taken from me from a sick, cruel monster for absolutely no reason. Athena is innocent, beautiful, kind, intelligent, and just the brightest, happiest soul you could ever meet.”

She added: “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. I want everyone to know her face and her voice and just how wonderful of a person she is.”

What we know about Tanner Horner

Sunday 4 December 2022 14:53 , Oliver O'Connell

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

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

Here’s everything we know so far.

Everything we know about FedEx driver accused of murdering Athena Strand

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

Sunday 4 December 2022 13:45 , 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”.

Athena, 7, disappeared from her home in Paradise, Texas, on Wednesday after having a disagreement with her stepmother.

Bevan Hurley reports.

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

Candlelight vigil scheduled for Tuesday

Sunday 4 December 2022 13:15 , Oliver O'Connell

The local 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.

Everything we know about FedEx driver accused of murdering Athena Strand

Sunday 4 December 2022 12:30 , 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.

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Please click here to do so.

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

Here’s what we know so far.

Everything we know about FedEx driver accused of murdering Athena Strand

Watch in full: Wise County Sheriff’s Department gives press conference

Sunday 4 December 2022 11:30 , Oliver O'Connell

Who is Tanner Horner?

Sunday 4 December 2022 10:00 , Oliver O'Connell

WFAA reports that Tanner Horner was working as a contract FedEx truck driver, and was delivering a package to Athena Strand’s family home when she was allegedly abducted.

He is from Lake Worth, approximately 30 miles south of where Athena’s body was found.

FBI Acting Agent in Charge Jim Dwyer said authorities believe the seven-year-old died only about an hour after being abducted based on digital evidence and statements gathered while interviewing Horner.

Authorities had known that a FedEx driver visited the house the day Athena went missing. The investigation pointed to Horner after a tip and good police work.

Horner is the lone suspect authorities believe responsible in the case, Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said.

He is not a relation and has no connection to the Strand family.

Horner is charged with capital murder and aggravated kidnapping. He is booked into the Wise County Jail and his bond at this time is $1.5m.

Who is Athena Strand?

Sunday 4 December 2022 08:00 , Oliver O'Connell

Seven-year-old Athena Strand went missing since around 6pm on Wednesday evening.

She was last seen at her father’s home on County Road 3573 in Paradise, Texas, dressed in a grey long-sleeve shirt with white flowers, blue jeans with white flowers on the pockets and brown boots

Athena reportedly left the home after an argument with her stepmother.

Police said the woman spent “about an hour” searching for the youngster before calling the sheriff’s office.

The child’s father was reportedly on a deer hunting trip in south Texas at the time of the disappearance.

On Friday evening, Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin announced that a FedEx truck driver identified as Tanner Lynn Horner was arrested in connection with the abduction and murder of the missing child.

Mr Horner has been held in jail on charges of capital murder and aggravated kidnapping.

Mr Akin said that at about the time that the child went missing on Wednesday, the suspect dropped off a package at the home.

She was likely abducted from her driveway, about 200 yards away from the house.

She likely died within an hour based on digital evidence and on a confession.

Recap: Body of missing 7-year-old girl found in Wise County, Texas

Sunday 4 December 2022 06:00 , Oliver O'Connell

The body of missing seven-year-old Athena Strand has been found in Wise county, Texas sheriff Lane Akin said at a press conference on Friday evening.

Read the full story here:

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

Family ‘devastated’ after missing child’s body is found

Sunday 4 December 2022 04:00 , Oliver O'Connell

Authorities said that seven-year-old Athena Strand’s family is “devastated” after her body was found on Friday.

Wise County sheriff Lane Akin said: “They’re angry because of what happened-a precious child taken from their lives.”

Authorities believe that the child was abducted from her driveway by and died within an hour based on digital evidence and statements gathered while interviewing Tanner Lynn Horner.

Horner, a FedEx truck driver is being held in Wise County jail.

FedEx driver who abducted Athena did not know her family

Sunday 4 December 2022 02:30 , Oliver O'Connell

Authorities have said that the 31-year-old FedEx truck driver, Tanner Lynn Horner, who was held for abducting and murdering Athena Strand did not know the missing seven-year-old or her family.

Sheriff Lane Akin said at a press conference on Friday: “He was not related and did not know the family.”

The seven-year-old had gone missing from her home on Wednesday.

FedEx driver likely abducted and murdered Athena Strand, sheriff says

Sunday 4 December 2022 01:00 , Oliver O'Connell

Wise County sheriff Lane Akin announced on Friday that a FedEx truck driver identified as Tanner Lynn Horner was arrested in connection with the abduction and murder of missing seven-year-old Athena Strand.

Horner has been held in jail on charges of capital murder and aggravated kidnapping.

Mr Akin said that at about the time that the child went missing on Wednesday, Horner dropped off a package at the home.

She was likely abducted from her driveway, about 200 yards away from the house.

She likely died within an hour based on digital evidence and on a confession.

Mr Akin said the suspect gave officials at least two false locations - including an area of CR 4599 that was taped off by police on Friday afternoon - before leading them to Athena’s body.

Recap: Missing 7-year-old Texas girl’s body found

Saturday 3 December 2022 23:30 , Oliver O'Connell

The body of Athena Strand, the seven-year-old girl from Texas who went missing two days ago has been found 6 miles away from her home, authorities said.

Wise County sheriff Lane Akin said that a FedEx truck driver abducted Athena and that she likely died within an hour based on digital evidence and on a confession, reported CBS News.

The driver, Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, is being held at the Wise County Jail on charges of capital murder and aggravated kidnapping.

Mr Akin said that at about the time Athena went missing, Horner dropped off a package at the child’s home. She was probably abducted from her driveway, about 200 yards away from the house, he said.

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

Saturday 3 December 2022 22:30 , 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”.

Athena, 7, disappeared from her home in Paradise, Texas, on Wednesday after having a disagreement with her stepmother.

Bevan Hurley reports.

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

FedEx statement

Saturday 3 December 2022 22:15 , Oliver O'Connell

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Rep Ronny Jackson praying for family

Saturday 3 December 2022 21:30 , Oliver O'Connell

Republican Rep Ronny Jackson of Texas 13th District is praying for the family of Athena Strand.

He tweeted: “Jane and I are praying for the family of Athena Strand. This kind of evil is unthinkable in a place like Wise County. Absolutely heartbreaking news. Athena was a beautiful little girl who was taken from this world way too soon.”

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