FedEx driver rams girl, kills her after saying she'd tell her father
Athena's mother, Maitlyn Gandy, says the driver was delivering Athena's Christmas present, "You Can Be Anything" Barbie dolls, before he murdered her.
FedEx driver Tanner Horner was charged on Thursday with capital murder and aggravated kidnapping after he confessed to abducting Athena Strand by placing her in his work truck after he struck her with it.
Horner allegedly told authorities that he accidentally backed into her, and although she was not seriously injured she told him her name, but he "panicked" because "she was going to tell her father about being hit by the FedEx truck the Defendant was operating," according to an affidavit. After he was unable to break her neck, he strangled her with his bare hands.
Athena's mother, Maitlyn Gandy, said the driver was delivering Athena's Christmas present, "You Can Be Anything" Barbie dolls, before he murdered her.
"Athena was robbed of the opportunity to grow up to be anything she wanted to be," she said, adding: "I was supposed to bring Athena back home to Oklahoma after Christmas break. Now instead, Athena will be cremated and she will come home in an urn because I am not anywhere close to being ready to let my baby go."
Athena was reported missing by her stepmother from Paradise, in Wise County, on November 30 at about 6:41 p.m.
In the affidavit, investigators discovered initially that a FedEx package was delivered at the same time she went missing, in a truck they found equipped with cameras. Cooperating with the FBI, an employee analyzed video footage and "found the driver had taken a young girl who was visibly similar to Athena in his van. The driver was seen on video talking to her in the van,"
After Horner led police to a location, they found the dead child in the water. It was not clear if the perpetrator had an attorney, but the bond is currently set at $1.5 million.
On Friday, Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin told reporters: “We do have a confession,”
Commenting on the incident, FedEx released a statement saying that its thoughts are with the family, adding that they are fully cooperating and working with law enforcement officials.
“Words cannot describe our shock and sorrow at the reports surrounding this tragic event,” FedEx said.