Tanner Horner, Lake Worth, Texas FedEx driver confesses to kidnapping and murdering 7 year old missing girl, Athena Strand while delivering package at the family Paradise home. Social media posts reveal suspect previously accused of sexual assault.
It was not the end result so many across the nation were praying for …
The body of a missing seven-year-old girl has been found in Texas two days after she was allegedly abducted by a FedEx driver while they were dropping off a package at the girl’s home in Paradise (yes, the irony…).
Athena Strand was found dead on Friday night, police in Wise County, northwest of Dallas, confirmed.
Investigators said the child likely died ‘within an hour’ of being kidnapped from the family home.
The suspect, 31-year-old Tanner Lynn Horner, of Lake Worth, and contract driver for FedEx confessed to Athena’s kidnap and killing, it is alleged.
Athena Strand FedEx murderer was delivering her Xmas gift when he killed her as death penalty sought
‘Kidnapped and killed in a crime of opportunity’
Police revealed how digital evidence together with interviews suggest the little girl did not live more than an hour after being abducted.
Homer was charged with capital murder and aggravated kidnapping and is being held on $1.5million bond.
‘We’re just sad it didn’t end the way that we hoped that it would end,’ Sheriff Lane Akin said during a Friday night press conference.
Horner is the only suspect authorities believe is responsible in the case, Akin said. He did not have any relation or connection to the family.
‘The girl was kidnapped and killed in a crime of opportunity,’ Sheriff Akin said.
A regard of Tanner Horner’s Facebook page revealed the suspect describing himself as ‘aspie. non-neurotypical. musician. metalhead. love is stupid and not to mention completely asinine.’
He wrote that he was a ‘Former Drummer at Walmart’ who ‘Worked at Buried A Lie’ and was a ‘Former Drummer at Albertsons.’ He studied at Azle High School and wrote that he was in a relationship. He filled his Facebook and Instagram pages with pictures of him holding a small baby.
Allegations of previous sexual assault
In a 2019 post, a woman wrote on Horner’s Facebook, ‘friendly reminder that Tanner Horner is a rapist💕.’ In the comment thread, another woman said he drove for Uber. ‘a transphobic rapist in a pop punk band, what a shocker,’ added another.
The woman who wrote the post added in another, ‘Tanner Lynn Horner, the man who raped me at 16, 8 years ago, murdered Athena Strand, a 7 year old girl. I hope the family gets the justice they deserve. I hope he rots. And I hope that everyone who didn’t believe me, when I’ve talked about this for EIGHT F****** YEARS, does now. F*** ALL of you.’
On his Instagram page, Horner referred to himself as ‘Vocalist of commit and conquer. Autistic as ligma.’
‘Im sexy and i know it 🤘🤘🤘🤘🤘’ Horner wrote with one selfie he posted to Instagram using the name @cnc_twitch.
In one social media post, Horner shared the lyrics to a song, writing, ‘Sometimes I hear her cries. Silence is the dirtiest trick in life. If im so empty then why do I feel alive. Lets go back for the last time. When you breathe you lie. Pretty thing keep your mouth closed and those legs tangled close.’
According to the Wise County Sheriff’s Office, the child was dropped off at home from school at her home in Paradise at 4.30pm on Wednesday.
Was Athena sexually assaulted?
At some point afterwards, the youngster was outside her home after an argument with her step-mother. At the same time, Horner was delivering a FedEx package to her house.
When Athena didn’t come back inside and could not be found in her bedroom, her step-mom reported her missing to police around 6.40pm.
Police believe the girl was likely abducted from her driveway, just 200 yards away from the safety of her home.
Police were able to connect the dots between Athena’s disappearance and Horner’s delivery route following a tip off, with the FBI, Texas Rangers and Wise County Sheriff’s Offices working in tandem to bring the case to a speedy yet tragic end, although two false leads sent police looking in the wrong places for the girl.
The youngster’s body was eventually found 10 miles away from her home.
The manner and cause of her death was not revealed.
Officials declined to say whether Athena was sexually assaulted and that observation may come out during a scheduled autopsy of the child’s body.
The County Sheriff paid tribute to locals that had assisted with the investigation which saw hundreds of volunteers coming out to help with a massive search.
‘This community does not like losing our children and we could see it because of all the people who came out and helped us throughout this ordeal,’ Akin said.
Wise County Authorities acted in a tip which led to this search of a Fed Ex Truck driven by 31yo Tanner Lynn Horner now charged in abduction & murder of 7yo Athena Strand who went missing 2 days ago. (Video: Bobby Dean) @wfaa @HowertonNews @adealbaWFAA @WFAAJayWallis pic.twitter.com/IZD17NYcLA
— Scoop Jefferson (@scoopjefferson) December 3, 2022
‘Precious child taken from our lives…’
‘It’s one of the toughest investigations that I’ve been involved in because it’s a child, and anytime there’s a child dies, it hits you in your heart. You compare that child to your own children when they were at that age’, he added.
Asked about the family’s reaction to the girl’s death: ‘They’re devastated,’ Akin said.
‘They’re angry because of what happened — a precious child taken from their lives.’
FedEx released a statement on Friday night expressing their condolences to the family: ‘Words cannot describe our shock at the reports surrounding this tragic event. First and foremost, our thoughts are with the family during this most difficult time.’