Warrant: FedEx Driver Panicked After Hitting Girl

The delivery was a Christmas gift for Athena Strand, mother says
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 8, 2022 6:20 PM CST
Updated Dec 8, 2022 9:00 PM CST
Driver Was Delivering Gift, Slain Girl's Mother Says
Attendees visit a makeshift memorial to Athena Strand on Tuesday at First Baptist Church of Cottondale in Paradise, Texas.   (Shafkat Anowar/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

A delivery driver charged in the slaying of a 7-year-old Texas girl told investigators that she wasn't seriously hurt when he struck her accidentally with his van, but that he panicked and killed her, according to an arrest warrant. Tanner Lynn Horner said that he put Athena Strand in his van, and that she continued to talk, telling him her name. The warrant says Horner told officials he strangled the girl, then led them to her body on Dec. 2, two days after she was reported missing, the AP reports. He was making a FedEx delivery to her house—a Christmas gift her mother displayed Thursday during a news conference.

The package held six Barbie dolls, per Fox News, with the slogan, "You can be anything" printed on the box. "Athena was robbed of the opportunity to grow up to be anything she wanted to be," Maitlyn Gandy said. "And this present ordered out of innocence and love is one she will never receive." Athena was staying with her father and stepmother at the time in Paradise, a small town about 60 miles northwest of Dallas. Horner is jailed in Wise County, charged with capital murder and aggravated kidnapping. Her mother said that like many children, Athena's favorite holiday was Christmas. "The joy Athena gave her family, and the joy she felt on Christmas is something we will never feel with here again," Gandy said. (More child murder stories.)

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