(UnitedVoice.com) – Not being able to find their child is most parents’ worst nightmare. Those who have kids often describe the heart-stopping, abject terror of not being able to locate their babies after they’ve wandered out of their sight for a few moments. Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of parents experience that every year.
A family in Texas recently went through that paralyzing fear when 7-year-old Athena Strand vanished. Sadly, the story does not have a happy ending.
On Wednesday, November 30, Strand disappeared from her home in Wise County. NBC DFW reported Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said the little girl and her stepmother had a minor disagreement. He explained the stepmom went back to get her after she cooked dinner, but the child wasn’t in her room.
The stepmother searched for her for a short time, but at 6:40 p.m., she reported Strand missing. Hundreds of law enforcement officials began to search for the child, an endeavor that lasted two days. They finally found her on Friday, but it wasn’t how they hoped it would end.
On Friday, December 2, Sheriff Lane Akin held a press conference to announce law enforcement agents found the child’s body. He said 31-year-old Tanner Lynn Horner abducted Strand after delivering a package to her home. The suspect was a contract driver for FedEx and driving one of the company’s trucks.
Akin said video and digital evidence helped law enforcement find Horner. During the press conference, the sheriff said officers believed Horner killed the child within an hour after her abduction. He also told reporters that law enforcement had a confession from the suspect. The alleged killer told officers where to find the little girl’s body.
Crime of Opportunity
In an interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Sheriff Akin said that he believes Strand’s abduction was “a crime of opportunity.” He said he doesn’t think the FedEx truck hit her but thinks “she died by [Horner’s] hand.” The medical examiner’s autopsy results could take weeks to come back.
Law enforcement is working on wrapping up the investigation and then sending it over to the prosecutor’s office. Horner is facing capital murder charges of a person under the age of 10. The crime carries a death sentence. He’s also facing aggravated kidnapping charges.
Strand’s mother, Maitlyn Presley Gandy, posted a message of thanks on social media to the community for coming together to help find her baby. In another post, she asked everyone to remember her daughter’s face so that if the case “against the absolute monster” who allegedly killed her child moves to another county, residents there will know her story, too.
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