Suspect in Custody in Athena Strand Killing


7-year-old Athena Strand. | Image by Fox 4 News Dallas-Fort Worth

The search for a little girl who went missing two days ago is over, according to Wise County officials speaking to reporters late Friday night.

A tragic end for 7-year-old Athena Strand as her body was found, Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said, speaking at a press conference.

Akin told reporters that the little girl’s body was found just six miles from the press conference.

Fox 4 News Dallas reported that officers found Athena’s body in Boyd, Texas, about six miles from the Cottondale Fire Department.

Athena likely died an hour after she was abducted, according to Akin.

A tip led officers to a driver contracted by FedEx, alleged to have abducted Athena from her home Wednesday night, Akin said at the press conference.

The driver, identified as 31-year-old Tanner Lynn Horner of Lake Worth, confessed to kidnapping Athena.

Horner is an independent contract driver for FedEx, who authorities said was making a delivery to the home of Athena.

Athena’s mother showed up to Friday’s news conference and did not want to talk on camera but said she was desperate to have her daughter home.

Maitlyn Gandy, Athena’s mother, lives in southern Oklahoma.

She told FOX 4 that she has sole custody of her daughter but allowed her to spend the fall semester in Texas with her father and stepmother.

Gandy drove down from Oklahoma and was seen talking to investigators at the search site.

What helped lead to the capture of the suspect was digital evidence, according to acting FBI agent in charge Jim Dwyer.

FedEx released a statement on Saturday.

“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. At this time, any further questions should be directed to law enforcement,” the statement read.

Athena was first reported missing from her father’s home around 6:40 p.m. on November 30. An Amber Alert was issued.

Her stepmother told police she had been looking for her for more than an hour before she contacted the Wise County sheriff’s office.

Athena got off her school bus on Wednesday at 4:15 p.m.

Her stepmother called 911 at 6:40 p.m. to report her missing from her home in Paradise.

She told investigators there was an argument and that Athena was not in her room later.

More than 300 volunteers, dog teams, helicopters, and thermal imaging technology assisted law enforcement agencies in the search.

Horner is being held on a $1.5 million bond in Wise County Jail and charged with capital murder and aggravated kidnapping.

Athena Strand’s cause of death is not yet known; an autopsy is to be conducted by a medical examiner.

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Donald N Wright
Donald N Wright
1 month ago

Oh, the horror of it all.

Robert Weir
Robert Weir
1 month ago

Justice for Athena must be swift and sure! This monster should have a quick trial and be executed immediately after the guilty verdict.

Reply to  Robert Weir
1 month ago

Of course they should. Good thing it’s not in Dallas county. Creuzot would refuse to apply the death penalty. Would probably take the murderer a batch of cookies.

Senior Pastor
Senior Pastor
1 month ago

It is sorrowful there is not more love for one another in this world.

April Edelmayer
April Edelmayer
Reply to  Senior Pastor
1 month ago


April Edelmayer
April Edelmayer
1 month ago

Sick, sick people out there. A 7 year old,come on.death to all involved