“It hurts our hearts”: Rural Texas community mourns death of 7-year-old allegedly kidnapped by delivery driver

The rural community of Paradise, Texas, came together Monday night to mourn the loss of Athena Strand, a 7-year-old whose body was found He was reported missing two days later. Police said a 31-year-old delivery driver was arrested in connection with her death.

On Monday, neighbors tied bows and balloons to their homes in memory of Strand, who loved the color pink.

A Wise County sheriff’s representative said Strand was taken on her way home last Wednesday. His body was found on Friday after a long search.

“It breaks our hearts to know that that child has passed away,” said Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin.

Investigators said Tanner Lynn Horner, a FedEx contract employee, delivered a package to the home at the same time Strand disappeared and took her into custody. Officials said Horner allegedly confessed to abducting and killing the girl.

Over the weekend, FedEx released a statement saying, “Our thoughts are with the family of Athena Strand during this most difficult time.”

Strand’s grandfather posted a statement on Facebook, saying, “I want 5 minutes alone in the cell that took our Athena away from us, but there’s a soft gentle voice in the back of my head telling me is that I need to forgive.” Him.”

Phil Erickson, associate pastor at First Baptist Church of Cottondale in Paradise, whose son was in Strand’s class at school, said the tragedy was “a good wake up call for parents to be more aware of everything in general.” -up call… and so, you know, just keep loving them. Hug them tight.”

Horner had no criminal history. He is being held on charges of capital murder and kidnapping with a $1.5 million bond.

FBI statistics show that stranger kidnappings are rare and accounted for less than 1% of all kidnappings in 2021.

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