FedEx driver abducted 7-year-old Texas girl who was found dead Friday, officials say

    A FedEx driver in Texas was arrested Friday and charged with kidnapping and murdering a 7-year-old girl who had gone missing two days earlier, officials said.

    The disappearance of Athena Strand, who vanished from her home in Wise County’s Paradise on Wednesday, sparked a major search involving about 200 community volunteers.

    Athens Beach.KXAS

    On Friday, authorities found her body southeast of the town of Boyd, a town about 11 miles away, Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin told reporters.

    “We have a confession,” Akin said at a news conference Friday night.

    The driver, Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, has been arrested on murder and aggravated kidnapping charges, Akin said.

    He was held Friday night in lieu of $1.5 million bail. It was not immediately clear on Friday evening whether Horner had a lawyer who could speak on his behalf.

    Athena came home from school on Wednesday afternoon as she normally does, and around 6:40 p.m. her stepmother reported the child missing, Akin said.

    Horner delivered a package to the house around the time she was discovered missing, Akin said Friday night. Investigators believe the girl died within about an hour of the abduction, he said.

    Officials at a press conference did not reveal a motive and did not say how the child died.

    FedEx said in a statement that their thoughts are with the family and that the company is fully cooperating with law enforcement.

    “Words cannot describe our shock and sadness at the news of this tragic event,” FedEx said.

    It directed other questions to law enforcement. It was not clear how long Horner had been a contract driver with the company.

    Athena’s disappearance sparked a search that included helicopters with thermal imaging cameras, assistance from the Texas Rangers and neighboring police departments and the FBI, officials said. The Texas Department of Public Safety has issued an Amber Alert.

    Police are investigating the disappearance of 7-year-old Athena Strand in Paradise, Texas, on Thursday.
    Police are investigating the disappearance of 7-year-old Athena Strand in Paradise, Texas, on Thursday.KXAS

    James Dwyer, FBI special agent in charge of the Dallas field office, said investigators could sift through digital evidence and cooperate with FedEx in the investigation. He did not say what the digital evidence was.

    Dwyer said he hopes the Strand family has some closure. “We know they are in pain, but we offer our deepest condolences,” he said.

    Akin said when the child’s body was brought to the medical examiner’s office Friday, a Texas Ranger drove in front and one behind the vehicle.

    “This community does not like losing our children,” he said. “And you can see it because of all the people who came out and helped us through this ordeal.”

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