The body of Athena Strand, the seven-year-old girl from Texas who went missing Wednesday has been found 6 miles from her home, authorities said Friday.
Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said a FedEx truck driver abducted Athena and that she likely died within an hour based on digital evidence and a confession, CBS News reported.
The driver, 31-year-old Tanner Lynn Horner, was booked into the Wise County Jail on charges of first degree murder and aggravated kidnapping.
An Amber Alert was issued Thursday for the child who went missing the night before in Paradise.
According to the Wise County Sheriff’s Office, the child was dropped off from school at his home in Paradise at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Her stepmother reportedly called police to report her missing around 6:40 p.m. that day when she did not find Athena in her room after an argument.
After her death was confirmed, Athena’s mother posted a heartbreaking statement on Facebook, calling her a “princess” and calling her killer a “cruel, sick monster.”
The suspect was taken into custody on Friday
The Wise County Sheriff’s Office announced Friday that a FedEx driver has been taken into custody.
The driver, identified by police as 31-year-old Tanner Lynn Horner, is being held in the Wise County Jail on charges of capital murder and aggravated kidnapping.
Oliver O’ConnellDecember 5, 2022 09:15 am
The devastated community is mourning the loss
The First Baptist Church of Cottondale was a gathering place for volunteers and Athena’s family as the search for her took place this week. A vigil will be held at the church on Tuesday.
Pastor Charles Pugh talks to CBS News.
“Your heart goes out to your parents. It’s so fortuitous that it seems like it happened that way,” he said.
When the news broke that Athena was found dead, Pugh was with her parents.
“I think he’s just numb,” Pugh said of his father’s reaction. “Disappointing but he had a good spirit.”
Sheriff Lane Akin was visibly emotional at Friday night’s news conference.
“It hurts our hearts to know that this child has passed,” he said, “This community does not like to lose its children and we can see that because of all the people who have come forward and helped us during this ordeal.”
Oliver O’ConnellDecember 5, 2022 07:15 am
Devastating news announced on Friday evening
After two days of searching, Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin broke the devastating news that Athena’s body had been found at a news conference Friday night.
Oliver O’ConnellDecember 5, 2022 5:15 am
What happened the day Athena disappeared
The Wise County Sheriff’s Office says seven-year-old Athena Strand went to school and returned to her home in Paradise, Texas around 4:30 p.m. 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 got home from school.
“We know there was a little argument between her and her stepmom last night, but that’s not unusual,” Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said. “There was this argument, then the stepmom went to make dinner, came back to get Athena, and Athena wasn’t in her room.”
At approximately 6:40 p.m., Athena’s stepmother called 911 when she realized the little girl was not in her bedroom or anywhere else in the house after spending an hour looking for her.
Police issued an AMBER Alert and a search for Athena began. About 200 volunteers from the local community joined law enforcement officials in the search overnight, into Thursday and into Friday.
Athena’s body was found about 11 miles from her home.
“It hurts our hearts to know that this child has passed away,” Sheriff Akin said during a news conference Friday night. “This is one of the most difficult investigations I’ve ever been involved in because it’s a child. And every time a child dies, it just hits you in the heart.”
Oliver O’ConnellDecember 5, 2022 03:15 am
The suspect is expected in court on Monday
Tanner Horner is expected in court Monday for a detention hearing.
He was booked into the Wise County Jail at 2 a.m. Friday on charges of aggravated kidnapping and capital murder of a person under the age of 10.
His bail is set at $1.5 million.
Oliver O’ConnellDecember 5, 2022 1:15 am
Everything we know about Tanner Horner
According to Records from Wise County Jail, Tanner Horner was arrested at 2 a.m. Friday on one count each of capital murder of a person under 10 and aggravated kidnapping. His bond was set at $1.5 million.
Oliver O’ConnellDecember 5, 2022 12:15 a.m
Video shows investigators surrounding the FedEx truck
Oliver O’ConnellDecember 4, 2022 11:15 p.m
Mother says her ‘princess’ was kidnapped by ‘brutal monster’
The heartbroken mother of Texas schoolgirl Athena Strand described the suspect who allegedly confessed to her murder as a “sick, cruel monster” in a heartbreaking Facebook post.
Oliver O’ConnellDecember 4, 2022 10:15 p.m
Local school districts to wear pink in support
Area school districts will wear pink in support of Athena Strand, her family and the local community.
Oliver O’ConnellDecember 4, 2022 9:30 p.m
Summary: FedEx driver arrested for killing Athena Strand, 7, after delivering package to her home
Athena was believed to have been abducted from her driveway, about 200 yards from the house, around 6pm on Wednesday night.
Sravasti Dasgupta reports.
Oliver O’ConnellDecember 4, 2022 8:45 p.m
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