Warning: The following contains graphic details concerning the recent murder of 7-year-old Athena Strand.
Tanner Horner has reportedly admitted to strangling 7-year-old Athena Strand after accidentally hitting her when backing up his truck, according to NBC DFW.
The delivery driver accused of murdering Athena Strand allegedly told police that his truck hit Strand, but she was not seriously hurt, according to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by NBC DFW.
Horner said he panicked and took the girl into his delivery van, according to the affidavit. When Strand told Horner that she would tell her father about being hit by his truck, he reportedly tried to break her neck. When that didn’t work, he says he strangled her to death.
Last week, an Amber Alert was issued for Strand, leading to a search and rescue operation. Strand’s body was found last Friday, December 2, after Horner allegedly directed investigators to where he had dumped it.
Horner is charged with kidnapping and capital murder of a person under the age of 10. He is currently being held at Wise County Jail with a bond of $1.5 million.
FBI agents had learned that a package was delivered to Strand’s home around the time of her disappearance.
Investigators tracked down the delivery company, a subcontractor for FedEx called Big Topspin. The delivery truck was equipped with recording equipment. Big Topspin gave investigators a video showing a man, alleged to be Horner, putting a girl matching Strand’s description into the delivery truck.
The package delivered to Strand’s home was a Christmas present, according to her mother Maitlyn Gandy — a box of “You Can Be Anything” Barbie dolls.
“Athena was robbed of the opportunity to grow up to be anything she wanted. And this present ordered out of innocence and love is one she will never receive,” Gandy said. “I was robbed of watching her grow up by a man that everyone was supposed to be able to trust to do one simple task: deliver Christmas packages and leave.”
Thousands attended a vigil Tuesday in Paradise, Texas, to grieve for the loss of the seven-year-old, many wearing pink — Strand’s favorite color — in support, as reported by The Dallas Express. A private funeral is set to be held Friday.