Officials in Texas have a man in custody after a child was abducted then killed once she vanished Wednesday and her body was found on Friday.
Officials arrested Tanner Horner, 31, a FedEx contract driver who made a delivery to seven-year-old Athena Strand’s home the day she disappeared, NBC DFW reported Friday.
BREAKING: Wise County officials announce they recovered the body of 7-year-old Athena Strand. A FedEx driver is in custody with a $1.5M bond related to her abduction and death. Sending my condolences to the north Texas family😢💔 pic.twitter.com/vaBsVAQBlU
— Tahlia (@TahliaSG) December 3, 2022
According to Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin, Horner confessed to killing the child, who reportedly died within an hour after she was taken.
“This community does not like losing our children,” Akin said during a press conference Friday. “And we can see it because of all the people who came out and helped us throughout this ordeal.”
Once authorities took him into custody, the suspect was charged with capital murder and aggravated kidnapping. He is being held on $1.5 million bonds.
Images showed the first grader and WFAA’s Matt Howerton reported hundreds of people helped in the search near her father’s home in Paradise:
JUST IN: these are new pics given to me by Athena Strand’s biological mother.
The 7-year-old is a 1st grader.
Sheriff says hundreds of volunteers have been assisting in search that covered 5 square miles near the home of Strand’s father who lives in rural Paradise, TX. pic.twitter.com/jATfIynM2a
— Matt Howerton (@HowertonNews) December 2, 2022
On Wednesday, an Amber Alert was issued for Strand after she was reported missing from her home. Her stepmother reported the child missing that afternoon once she vanished from her room.
The woman searched for an hour but eventually contacted authorities for help in locating her, the NBC report continued:
Hundreds of law enforcement and volunteers spent Thursday and Friday canvassing homes, hillsides and rugged terrain for any sign of the first grader, who relatives said was afraid of the dark and wouldn’t have wandered off alone.
Akin said Friday night that they learned early on about a FedEx delivery that had been to the Strand’s home at about the time Athena disappeared. Akin said that “thanks to good work by investigators” they believed the driver had taken Athena and worked with FedEx to identify and locate him.
After Horner confessed to abducting and killing the child, he showed officers where her body was located southeast of Boyd, approximately 10 miles from the place she disappeared.
— SF Investigates (@SF_investigates) December 3, 2022
The suspect was reportedly not known to the family.
According to Fox 4, the Wise County Sheriff’s Office initially said the suspect was a resident of Lake Worth, but Lake Worth police chief JT Manoushagin, stated he is not.
“Records show that Horner lives in Fort Worth,” the report said.