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Delivery man confessed to strangling a Texas girl after accidentally hitting her with a pickup truck, court order says


Suspect of a delivery man in the murder of a 7-year-old girl in north Texas told investigators that he accidentally hit her with his truck before strangling her, according to an arrest warrant.

The suspect, 31-year-old Tanner Lynn Horner, told Wise County Sheriff’s detectives she was backing up a FedEx truck when it struck 7-year-old Athena Strand last Wednesday, according to an arrest warrant. obtained on Thursday by CBS DFW.

Horner told investigators that after he punched Strand, he panicked and placed her inside the van, the arrest warrant says. She also told police that after hitting her, Strand was not seriously injured and she was “alive” and “talking to him,” according to the court order.

He told detectives that he then killed Strand because “she was going to tell her father that she was hit by the FedEx truck,” the warrant says.

athena beach
An undated photo of 7-year-old Athena Strand who disappeared from a home in Paradise, Texas on November 30, 2022. Her body was found two days later on December 2.

Maitlyn Gandy/Facebook


According to the warrant, Horner said he initially tried to snap Strand’s neck, but when that failed, he strangled her.

Strand was reported missing from her father and stepmother’s home in Paradise, Texas, on November 30, prompting a massive search. Two days later, according to the court order, Horner led investigators to her body in the Wise County town of Boyd, located about 10 miles from Paradise.

A contracted driver for FedEx, Horner had delivered a package to the home around the same time Strand went missing, Wise County sheriff’s officials previously reported.

At a news conference Thursday in Decatur, Texas, Strand’s mother, Maitlyn Gandy, who lives in Oklahoma, said the delivery was Strand’s Christmas present.

“The packages contained ‘You can be anything’ Barbies,” Gandy told reporters. “Athena was robbed of the chance to grow up to be everything she wanted to be. And this gift, commanded out of innocence and love, is one she will never receive.”

Gandy also said that he was supposed to bring Strand “back home to Oklahoma after Christmas vacation.”

The warrant states that after Strand’s disappearance, investigators worked with Big Topspin, the company contracted by FedEx to deliver packages, to determine “which van and driver made the delivery.”

The van was equipped with cameras that captured images of the suspect placing a girl fitting Strand’s description in the van, the warrant says.

When investigators located and interviewed Horner, he confessed to them that Strand was dead, the warrant said.

Horner, of Lake Worth, Texas, is being held on charges of capital murder and aggravated kidnapping. Bail for him has been set at $1.5 million. He has no criminal record.

Paradise is located in the Dallas-Forth Worth-Arlington metropolitan area, about 40 miles northwest of Fort Worth.



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