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April 13, 2023
FedEx driver Tanner Horner has confessed to the murder of 7-year-old Athena Strand, telling authorities that he strangled because he was afraid she would tell her father that he hit her with his delivery van.
Horner told investigators that he grabbed Horner from her Paradise yard on Nov. 30 and threw her in the truck in a moment of panic after he inadvertently backed his van into her. While Athena was not seriously injured in the accident, Horner strangled her in his van.
Horner disposed of the girl’s body at the Trinity River, which is about 10 miles from her Paradise home, the New York Post reported.
The Wise County Sheriff’s Office said that a video taken from the van’s camera shows Athena inside, with Horner speaking with her and ultimately killing her.
Police tracked down Horner after they discovered he had delivered a package to the house at the time of her disappearance.
The delivery in question was Athena’s Christmas present, which was a set of Barbie dolls from her mother, Maitlyn Gandy, according to the Post.
“Athena was robbed of the opportunity to grow up to be anything she wanted to be. 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 everyone was supposed to be able to trust. To do just one simple task: deliver a Christmas present and leave.”
Prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty for Horner, who was charged with capital murder and aggravated kidnapping and is currently being held on $1.5 million bail.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: WFLA.COM