A FedEx driver has been charged with murder after police say he kidnapped a 7-year-old girl in northern Texas while making a delivery to her home.
Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, was arrested Friday on charges of capital murder and aggravated kidnapping in the death of Athena Strand, Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said at a news conference Friday.
Her family reported her missing Wednesday after she disappeared from her home’s driveway. Her body was recovered Friday evening in the town of Boyd, about 50 miles northwest of Fort Worth, after a massive, multi-agency search. Investigators believe Athena died within “an hour or so of her departure from home,” Akin said.
“It hurts our hearts to know that child died,” Akin said.
“It’s one of the toughest investigations that I’ve been involved in because it’s a child,” he added.
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Horner is a contract driver for FedEx and is being held at Wise County Jail on a $1.5 million bond, Akin said.
When asked to confirm Horner’s employment, FedEx spokesperson Meredith Miller said, “FedEx Ground contracts with independent businesses that provide package pickup and delivery services using their own employees, vehicles and equipment. The employees of these service provider companies are subject to criminal history background checks as part of the driver eligibility process.”
“Our thoughts are with the family of Athena Strand during this most difficult time,” the statement added. “Words cannot describe our shock and sorrow surrounding this tragic event. We continue to cooperate fully with the investigating authorities.”
Akin said a tip early Friday helped investigators identify a suspect in the kidnapping. Horner did not appear to know Athena or her family and seemed to be making a delivery to the home at the time the child disappeared, Akin added.
The cause of Athena’s death remains under investigation, and her body was taken to the medical examiner’s office Friday, Akin said.
The discovery of her body brought an end to a dayslong search involving multiple law enforcement agencies and rescue teams, helicopters and search dogs, Akin said. More than 300 volunteers also joined the search effort, and community members donated food, flashlights and water, according to the Wise County Office of Emergency Management.
“This community does not like losing our children, and we can see it because of all the people who came out and helped us throughout this ordeal,” Akin said.
“We’re just sad this didn’t end the way we hoped.”
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