a delivery driver is suspectedAccording to an arrest warrant, a 7-year-old girl in North Texas told investigators that he accidentally hit her with his van before strangling her.
The suspect, 31-year-old Tanner Lynn Horner, told Wise County sheriff’s detectives he was backing up a FedEx truck when it struck 7-year-old Athena Strand last Wednesday, according to an arrest warrant obtained Thursday.,
Horner told investigators that after hitting Strand, he panicked and placed her inside the truck, reads the arrest warrant. She also told police that after he killed her, Strand had not suffered serious injuries and was “alive” and “talking to her”, according to the warrant.
She told detectives she then killed Strand because “she was going to tell her father about being hit by a FedEx truck,” the warrant states.
According to the warrant, Horner said he initially tried to break Strand’s neck, but when that failed, he strangled her.
Strand was reported missing on November 30 from the home of her father and stepmother in Paradise, Texas, prompting a massive search. Two days later, Horner led investigators to the Wise County town of Boyd, located about 10 miles from Paradise, according to the warrant.
FedEx, a contract driver for HornerStrand went missing in the home around the same time, Wise County sheriff’s officials first reported.
At a news conference in Decatur, Texas, on Thursday, Strand’s mother, Maitlin Gandy, who lives in Oklahoma, said the delivery was a Christmas gift from Strand.
“In the package were ‘You Can Be Anything’ Barbies,” Gandy told reporters. “Athena was denied the opportunity to become anything she wanted to be. And this present, commanded by innocence and love, is one she will never attain.”
Gandy also said that she was going to bring Strand “back home to Oklahoma after the Christmas break.”
The warrant states that after Strand went missing, investigators worked with Big Topspin, the contracting company hired by FedEx to deliver the packages, to determine “which van and driver made the delivery. ”
The warrant read that the van was equipped with cameras, which captured footage of the suspect holding a girl who matched Strand’s description in the van.
The warrant stated that when investigators located and interviewed Horner, he confessed that Strand was dead.
Horner, of Lake Worth, Texas, is being held on felony charges of capital murder and kidnapping. His bail has been set at $1.5 million. He doesn’t have any criminal history.
Paradise is located in the Dallas-Forth Worth-Arlington metro area, about 40 miles northwest of Fort Worth.