The body of a seven-year-old girl has been found in Texas two days after she was allegedly abducted by a FedEx driver who was dropping off a package at her home.
Athena Strand was found dead on Friday night, police in Wise County, northwest of Dallas, confirmed.
Investigators revealed she likely died ‘within an hour’ of being kidnapped from where she lived in Paradise.
The suspect, 31-year-old Tanner Horner, of Lake Worth, confessed to Athena’s kidnap and killing, it is alleged.
Police revealed how digital evidence together with interviews suggest the little girl did not live more than an hour after being snatched.
The body of 7-year-old Athena Strand has been found some 10 miles from where she was taken
Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, confessed to police to abducting and killing Athena on Wednesday afternoon
The FedEx van Homer was said to have been driving was found several 10 miles away from where Athena was 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.
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.
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.
Athena Strand was said to have been outside of her home following an argument with her step-mom. When she could not be found shortly afterwards, the alarm was raised
Horner was working as a contract FedEx truck driver and had been delivering a package to Athena’s family home at the time the abduction allegedly occurred
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 only 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 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.
Athena Strand was found dead on Friday night, police in Wise County, northwest of Dallas confirmed but police revealed that she likely died ‘within an hour’ of her being kidnapped
‘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’, Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin, pictured, added
‘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.
‘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.’