Mineral Wells Area News

FedEx Package Dropped at Young Girls House During Abduction Was Her Christmas Gift; Wise County to Seek Death Penalty

FedEx Package Dropped at Young Girls House During Abduction Was Her Christmas Gift; Wise County to Seek Death Penalty
December 08
12:11 2022

By Amy Bearden/Mineral Wells Area News

Attorneys for Athena Strand said today that the package left at her home by the accused delivery driver on the day she went missing included toys intended to be the little girl’s Christmas gifts.

On December 1, an Amber Alert was issued 20 hours after 7-year-old Athena Strand’s disappearance, but unfortunately her body was found two days later, about 10 miles from her home near the Trinity River. Authorities received a tip about a FedEx delivery truck stopping at the girl’s house about the same time she went missing.

31-year old Tanner Horner was arrested days later after confessing to the crime and charged with Aggravated Kidnapping and Capital Murder of the little girl while making a delivery stop at her home.

The package he delivered included Barbie Dolls that Athena was to receive for Christmas according to the family’s newly retained attorney.

A Barbie Doll Set intended as Christmas gift for Athena was inside the package delivered by FedEx employee Tanner Horner who has confessed to abducting and killing the 7-year-old

Maitlyn Gandy, mother of Athena, standing with attorneys spoke to a crowd outside the Wise County Courthouse on Thursday thanking everyone for their support.

“I see all of your pink,” she said. Pink was Athena’s favorite color and all across the state, communities have celebrated the little girl’s life by wearing pink.

Gandy told the crowd a funeral would happen on Friday and that’s the last time she will see her baby girl. Her body will be cremated after the memorial.

Gandy’s Attorney Benson Varghese says his firm is working thoroughly with investigators to make sure to hold anyone accountable who might be responsible for Athena’s death. He is also asking that anyone who has any information about the defendant, “even if it seems insignificant” to reach out to his office. His firm will also be focused on investigating FedEx’s driver hiring practices and wants to speak with anyone in the public who might have experienced something out of the ordinary with a contracted delivery driver.

Sheriff Lane Akin announced late yesterday that Wise County will seek the death penalty in the case against Horner. The family attorney says he is not shocked by the desired punishment prosecutors will seek.

“I’m not surprised at all. That is what the community wants,” said Varghese.

Akin says Horner remains under a watchful eye in the Wise County jail cell where he sits alone, away from other prisoners.

Investigators say they are working to build an airtight case against Horner to insure the maximum penalty.