FedEx Driver Arrested After Kidnapping & Murdering 7-Year-Old Girl While Delivering Package To Her Home – Perez Hilton

A FedEx driver has been arrested and charged with kidnapping and murdering a 7-year-old girl who went missing earlier this week.

According to KDFW, Athena Strand got off of her school on Wednesday at around 4:15 p.m. to head to her home in Paradise, Texas. The young girl’s stepmother soon called 911 at 6:40 p.m. to report her missing when she noticed that she wasn’t in her room at the time and searched for her for about an hour. CBS News reported that she told investigators that the two argued while Athena’s father was not home, an initially, investigators believed that Athena just ran away. However, that turned out not to be the case.

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A massive search was launched across Wise County, and the Texas Department of Public Safety then issued an AMBER Alert on Thursday. But on Friday, Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin told reporters that Athena was found dead nearly 200 yards away from her house. He said:

“It hurts our hearts to know that that child died. So much so that she is on her way now to the medical examiner’s office and there’s a Texas ranger in front of her, and there’s a Texas ranger behind her. 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.”

CNN reported that authorities received a tip that led them to determine that a contract driver for FedEx named Tanner Lynn Horner had taken the kid from her driveway. Akin said the 31-year-old delivered a package to the Strand family’s home right around the time that Athena disappeared, and authorities believe she was killed within an hour after her abduction. KDFW noted that police said Tanner confessed to the murder and has since been charged with capital murder and aggravated kidnapping.

Following the news of Athena’s death, FedEx released a statement on Twitter offering its condolences to the family:

“Our thoughts are with the family of Athena Strand during this most difficult time. Words cannot describe our shock and sorrow surrounding this tragic event. We continue to cooperate fully with the investigating authorities.”

Her mother, Maitlyn Gandy, also launched a GoFundMe, saying:

“All donations are being allocated for justice for Athena. We are greatly moved by all of the support shown in the community. Please continue to pray for comfort for the families and first responders and that our goal forward will be to attempt to get justice for Athena and closure for her family.”

She later shared a message on Facebook, calling Athena “innocent, beautiful, kind, intelligent, and just the brightest, happiest soul you could ever meet.” Maitlyn then said her daughter was taken by a “sick, cruel monster for absolutely no reason,” adding:

“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.”

The mom thanked the “hundreds if not thousands of volunteers” and police who helped find her this week:

“It takes a special kind of person and whether a child is yours or not, working crime scenes involving children are hard. Thank you for finding my baby. I know everyone wishes this would have ended differently.”

At this time, Athena’s cause of death is currently under investigation. Our hearts go out to Athena’s loved ones after this unthinkable tragedy.

[Image via Texas Department Of Safety, Wise County Sheriff’s Office, ABC7 Chicago/YouTube]

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