FedEx driver, Tanner Horner, 31, accused of killing 7-year-old Athena Strand could now face death penalty KossyDerrickBlog KossyDerrickEnt


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Saturday, February 18, 2023

FedEx driver, Tanner Horner, 31, accused of killing 7-year-old Athena Strand could now face death penalty

FedEx driver accused of killing 7-year-old Athena Strand could now face death penalty. 

The Texas FedEx driver accused of strangling 7-year-old Athena Strand and dumping her body in a nearby river has been formally charged with kidnapping and murder in the case. 

A Wise County grand jury indicted Tanner Horner, 31, Thursday on two charges of aggravated kidnapping and capital murder of a person under 10, NBC5 reported.

Horner allegedly told police he accidentally hit Athena with his delivery van on Nov. 30, at her father’s home in Paradise, Texas, roughly 40 miles northwest of Fort Worth.

Although she was not severely injured, Horner tossed the girl into his truck, for fear that she would tell her father about the accident. He then strangled her and dumped the body in the Trinity River, roughly 10 miles from her house, authorities contend.  

Horner, who had been dropping off a package that happened to be the girl’s Christmas present — a set of Barbie dolls — led police to the body two days after Athena’s stepmother reported her missing.

Strand's mother, Maitlyn Gandy, released a statement on the indictment. 

'I would like to thank the Wise County grand jury for their role in this process. Hearing the facts and circumstances of my 7-year-old daughter's kidnapping and murder was undoubtedly very difficult for them.'

'I want them to know that their work is deeply appreciated,' she added. 'Tanner Horner's indictment is the beginning of a long road through the justice system. I appreciate everyone's continued support and for keeping Athena's name and memory alive. Please take a moment to hug your children and loved ones. No one is promised another day.' 

Horner has been charged with sexually assaulting a child almost a decade ago and faces three additional counts of sexually abusing a child in 2013, in Fort Worth. He is being held in jail on a $1.5 million bail.

Athena's father, Jacob Strand, has launched legal action against FedEx, claiming they did not carry out sufficient background checks before hiring Horner.

'I support the death penalty. In any sentencing that may come,' Gandy told WFAA. 

'Every breath he takes is one my daughter doesn't.

Gandy says she wished he had simply driven away and let her daughter walk.

'We are very forgiving people,' she said. 

'If Athena was not injured or even if she had a few bumps and scrapes, he could have just driven away. We could have forgiven him. 

'Accidents do happen, but he chose to do more - and what he did was unforgivable. 

'I have a hard time believing Athena couldn't have walked away. Athena could have just walked away, and I wish he would have let her.'  

Gandy says she is still grieving for her daughter while still trying to care for her younger sister, Rilyn.

'I triple-check my doors every night, and I hold my three-year-old tighter. I'm scared to let her go. Everything is just very, very scary and very, very sad,' Gandy said through tears.

'It's been rough for our family. For my other three-year-old. She doesn't understand why she can't call 'sissy' or why she hasn't come home yet. It's a long time for her to go without seeing her sister', she explains. 

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