Athena Strand: Search for missing 7 year old Paradise, Texas girl advances to Amber Alert as authorities don’t rule out foul play as girl runs away after fight with stepmom.
Is she still alive? Texas authorities have issued an Amber Alert amid their second day in search of a 7 year old girl who ran away from a Wise County residence following an altercation with her stepmother amid frigid temperatures.
Athena Strand was last seen on Wednesday evening in the 200 block of County Road 3573, at her father’s home in Paradise. Police told reporters that Athena who was last seen some 44 hours ago may have run away after an argument with her stepmother.
Amber’s stepmother reported her missing at around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and said she’d been looking for her daughter but couldn’t find her. Police say the child’s father was not home when she disappeared, while the stepmother said she had an argument with Athena before the disappearance, which may have prompted her to run off.
Nevertheless, police have not yet ruled anything out, including abduction.
‘It could be any number of things,’ Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin told media.
Athena Strand found dead after abducted & killed by FedEx driver with previous sexual assault history
‘We definitely don’t believe Athena ran off,’
‘We’re looking at everything from the criminal standpoint or just a missing child so we’re not going to leave anything unturned,’ the sheriff added.
Strand and her stepmother allegedly got into ‘a little bit of an argument’ shortly before the child went missing, Akin said, according to KXAS. The disagreement, he added, wasn’t ‘anything unusual.’
‘Then step-mom went to fix dinner, came back to get Athena, and Athena wasn’t in her room,’ the sheriff added.
The stepmother contacted authorities after searching for the child for an hour, Akin added.
‘We definitely don’t believe Athena ran off,’ Athena’s aunt Keeland Kulbeth told KXAS.
Neighbor Melina Owens reportedly said that Athena never walks anywhere alone unless it’s next door, where her grandmother lives.
‘The only time she left was to go to her grandmother’s house next door— and that’s family,’ Owens said, according to CBS DFW. ‘She’s not OK with being in the dark. She doesn’t like the cold.’
Supposed to be re-united with her mother day before disappearance
Another neighbor, Chasity Allerkamp, said they searched all around the areas near Athena’s home, including abandoned sheds and barns.
Athena’s mother, Maitlyn Gandy, who lives in Oklahoma, told FOX 4 that she has sole custody but allowed Athena to spend the fall semester with her stepmother and father. It is thought that Athena went missing the day before she was suppose to be re-united with her mother.
Police said the child’s parents are being cooperative.
Athena stands 4 feet tall and weighs about 65 pounds. She has blue eyes and dirty blond hair. She was last seen wearing blue jeans with white flowers on the front pockets, a gray and black long-sleeve shirt, light brown boots, and could possibly have on a flannel overskirt.
The AMBER Alert was not issued until Thursday because Strand’s family told the sheriff that she had wandered off before, WFAA reported, and officials had hoped to find the child overnight but were unsuccessful.
With temperatures having dipped down to 28 Fahrenheit and seven girl not adequately dressed to be outdoors, Sheriff Akin conceded being ‘deeply concerned’.
Some things are not adding up with the disappearance of Athena Strand. We are on day 3 of this search. She was staying with her father and step mom for a few months because mom has been in the hospital. All of the sudden she vanishes the day before she was supposed to return. pic.twitter.com/RY6y6yscQg
— Rose (@901Lulu) December 2, 2022
Victim of foul play?
Wise County Office of Emergency Management said donations of food, flashlights, and water “have poured in” since the AMBER Alert went out Thursday. The Amber Alert indicates that ‘law enforcement believes the child’s safety and health are in danger.’
‘The outpouring of support from this community has been overwhelming today,’ the agency said in a late-night post on Facebook.
Kulbeth described Strand as ‘a very loving, friendly kid’ who loves people, animals, and flowers.
‘I’m scared,’ Kulbeth told KXAS, ‘and I’m hoping that we find her ’cause I wouldn’t want anyone to be in this right now.’
Officials say they are determined to find the girl, no matter what. ‘We’re not going to give up,’ Akin said, KXAS reported. ‘We’re going to keep working.’
Anyone with information about Strand’s whereabouts is asked to call the Wise County Sheriff’s Office at 940-627-5971.