Athena Strand: Texas missing girl found dead, delivery driver in custody on multiple charges
A 7-year-old girl, who had been missing for several days in Wise County in Texas ,, was found dead, officials announced.
Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin announced late Friday night that authorities found the body of 7 year-old Athena Strand after following a tip which led them to a driver.
The sheriff stated that investigators believe the suspect kidnapped the girl and killed her.
The suspect, a 31-year-old FedEx driver named Tanner Lynn Horner, later confessed to abducting the girl, Akin said. Horner was a contract driver.
“It’s one of the toughest investigations I have been involved in because it’s a child,” Akin said at a press conference late Friday night alongside Athena’s biological mother and other emergency response officials. He said: “Anytime a child dies, it just hits you in the heart. “
Watch: Delivery driver suspect Tanner Lynn Horner has been charged with murder, kidnappings, Wise County sheriff says
Akin also said they believe the girl was killed “within an hour or so” after she was taken from her home. Akin stated Friday night that “this community doesn’t like losing its children.”
Athena went missing Wednesday afternoon after she left home following an argument with her stepmother, according to Fox 4. Athena got off the bus around 4: 15 p.m. and left the home sometime before 5: 15 p.m., when the stepmother noticed she was missing.
Friday night’s press conference was held by Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin. It stated that authorities had found Athena Strand, 7 years old, and that she is now in good health.
The stepmother searched for an hour and then phoned the police, Fox 4 reported. According to the report, her biological father was on a hunting trip. Her biological mother lives in Oklahoma.
Finding the body brings a heartbreaking end to more than two days of searching, which involved dozens of law enforcement officials, helicopters and dog rescue teams. More than 300 volunteers also joined in to help, the Wise County Office of Emergency Management said. Acting FBI Agent in Charge Jim Dwyer stated to Fox 4 that digital evidence led investigators to the FedEx driver. However, he did not go into detail.
“Words cannot describe our shock and sorrow at the reports surrounding this tragic event,” a FedEx spokesperson told Fox News Digital. “First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time. We continue to cooperate fully and fully with the investigating authorities. Any further questions should be directed at law enforcement.
Horner, who is from Lake Worth, is in the Wise County Jail on capital murder and aggravated kidnappings charges, Fox 4 Dallas reported. He is being held on $1.5 million bond.
Authorities did not comment on whether the girl had been sexually assaulted. The cause of death has not yet been determined.
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