House Bill Proposes Update to Amber Alert

Amber Alert
Athena Strand was allegedly murdered by a FedEx contract driver | Image by Strand Family

A Texas House bill making its way through the legislature could lower the threshold necessary to trigger an Amber Alert in the Lone Star State if enacted.

Dubbed the “Athena Strand Bill,” HB 3556 would allow an Amber Alert activation “[o]n the request of a local law enforcement agency that knows a child is missing but has not verified” whether that child has been kidnapped. The alert would be in effect within a 100-mile radius from where the child went missing.

As previously reported in The Dallas Express, Athena Strand was a 7-year-old girl from Wise County who was allegedly murdered by a FedEx contract driver last year after he hit her with his delivery vehicle at her home.

The suspect, Tanner Horner, reportedly strangled her in a panic and absconded with her body following the incident. Horner is currently facing capital murder and aggravated kidnapping charges.

When Strand’s mother reported her missing, local authorities did not immediately issue an Amber Alert.

“Unfortunately, I kept getting met with the same response that she, in her case, did not meet the criteria for an Amber Alert to be issued,” said Strand’s mother, Maitlyn Gandy, who testified before the House Committee on Homeland Security & Public Safety last Tuesday.

“I don’t want someone to feel how I feel. I don’t want a mother to have to carry home an urn with her children’s ashes. I don’t want to watch another grandparent mourn the way my dad did,” Gandy said.

Benson Varghese, Gandy’s lawyer, told WFAA, “This bill came from Maitlyn’s pain, loss, and hope that no one else would feel that loss. The ability to send out an alert immediately is so valuable. The sooner we can get the word out, the more likely the child can be found.”

HB 3556 made it out of committee last week, with seven House representatives voting in favor and none against. The bill now has a chance at getting a hearing before the full body.

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