Athena Strand: FedEx driver was delivering 7-year-old’s Christmas present when he allegedly abducted and killed her

The FedEx driver who allegedly kidnapped and murdered 7-year-old Anthea Strand had just delivered her Christmas present when he abducted her, according to her mother.

Tanner Horner, 31, told officials that he grabbed the child after hitting her with his van outside her father’s home in Texas, according to a warrant.

He then admitted to strangling her with his bare hands in the back of the van so that she would not tell her father what had happened, the warrant states.

Athena’s grieving mother, Maitlyn Gandy, said that she had sent her daughter Barbie dolls from the “You Can Be Anything” collection as a gift, reported CBS-DFW.

“Athena was robbed of the opportunity to be anything she wanted to be. And this present, ordered out of innocence and love is one she will never receive,” Ms Gandy said outside the Wise County Courthouse in Decatur, Texas, on Thursday.

“In this present ordered out of innocence and love, my innocent, free-spirited 7-year-old daughter was murdered,” she added.

“I was supposed to bring Athena after Christmas break. Instead, she will be cremated and come home in an urn because I am not ready to let my baby go.

Missing Girl Found Dead Texas
Missing Girl Found Dead Texas

“I was robbed of watching her grow up by a man everyone was supposed to trust to just one simple task — deliver a Christmas present and leave.”

Mr Horner is accused of murdering the child on 30 November, while her body was recovered on 2 December from a location at the edge of the Trinity River in Wise County that he gave to police.

The arrest warrant states that video from inside the FedEx van the suspect was driving, confirmed that he had taken the child before her death.

The 31-year-old from Fort Worth, Texas, was arrested on 2 December and is being held on a $1.5m bond in the Wise County Jail. He faces charges of capital murder of a person under 10 years old and aggravated kidnapping.

Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin has said that he and prosecutors have discussed pursuing the death penalty punishment if Mr Horner is convicted at trial.