Adam Whittington Child Recovery Specialist, Adam Whittington Project Rescue Children, Child Trafficking and Exploitation

Texas girl Athena Strand found dead after alleged abduction by FedEx driver

December 2, 2022

A FedEx driver allegedly abducted a 7-year-old girl from her Texas home earlier this week before killing the child, police said.  

The chilling crime was revealed as police said Friday night they found the body of Athena Strand, who was reported missing after she vanished from her bedroom on Wednesday.

Police believe the FedEx driver, Tanner Lynn Horner, had delivered a package to her home around the time she disappeared.

Horner, 31, reportedly confessed to abducting the young girl from her home in Paradise, approximately 40 miles northwest of Fort Worth. He has been charged with capital murder and aggravated kidnapping.

“We knew early on in the investigation that there had been a FedEx driver, made a delivery in front of the house, about the same time that little Athena, 7-year-old Athena, came up missing,” Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said during a late Friday press conference.

Investigators have “digital evidence” that Horner committed the crime, but did not elaborate on what it consists of. The alleged killer is being held on $1.5 million bail.

Athena Strand went missing from her Paradise, Texas home Wednesday evening; her body was found Friday night.

Athena likely died “within the very hour or so after her departure from her home,” Akin said. Police would not disclose how Athena died, they said she was found southeast of Boyd, a town approximately 10 miles from her Paradise home.

Athena was reported missing at 5:45 p.m. Wednesday after her stepmother couldn’t find her in the home. 

“We know that there was a little bit of an argument between her and her step-mom last night but it isn’t anything unusual,” Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin told NBC 5. “There was that argument, then step-mom went to fix dinner, came back to get Athena, and Athena wasn’t in her room.”

The stepmother searched for Athena for about an hour before she reported the young girl missing, Akin said.

Police had theorized she left the home on her own but may have gotten lost. Officials waited to release an Amber Alert until Thursday morning because her family told police that Athena had done this before and officials hoped they would find her in the night.

Athena’s family, however, told police the girl is afraid of the dark and were unsure she would willingly leave the home alone.

“We definitely don’t believe Athena ran off,” Keeland Kulbeth, Athena’s aunt and sister to Athena’s mom, told NBC 5.

Police did not discredit criminality and kidnapping possibilities.

Athena’s disappearance sparked intense search efforts. About 200 citizens joined various Texas departments to comb an estimated 50 acres in Paradise. The response was so overwhelming that the Wise County Office of Emergency Management department asked volunteers to stop showing up to search parties.

The search continued through Friday. During the night searches, helicopters used thermal imaging to catch signs of Athena, Akin said.

Athena’s family describes her as a kind and sweet little girl.

“She’s a very loving, friendly kid, loves people, loves animals, loves flowers, she’s a very girly girl,”

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