Warrant: Texas FedEx driver says he strangled girl in van

Dec 7, 2022, 11:04 PM | Updated: Dec 8, 2022, 4:50 pm
Maitlyn Gandy, mother of 7-year-old Athena Strand, looks at the package that was delivered by a Fed...

Maitlyn Gandy, mother of 7-year-old Athena Strand, looks at the package that was delivered by a FedEx delivery man authorities say allegedly abducted her daughter last week during a press conference on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022, outside of the Wise County Courthouse in Decatur, Texas. The package, a You Can be Anything Barbie set, was supposed to be Athena's Christmas present, Gandy said. (Juan Figueroa/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

(Juan Figueroa/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

              Maitlyn Gandy, mother of 7-year-old Athena Strand, walks away after speaking to the media on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022, outside of the Wise County Courthouse in Decatur, Texas. Athena's body was recovered Friday night after authorities say a FedEx driver allegedly abducted her last week. (Juan Figueroa/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
            
              Maitlyn Gandy, mother of Athena Strand, wipes a tear while giving a press conference with attorney Benson Varghese, right, on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022, at the Wise County Courthouse in Decatur, Texas. Gandy presented the box that was delivered on the day Strand, 7, was abducted, on left. Inside was a Christmas present for Strand. (Amanda McCoy/Star-Telegram via AP)
            
              Maitlyn Gandy, right, and attorney Benson Varghese arrive at Wise County Courthouse in Decatur, Texas, to give a statement about the death of Gandy's daughter, Athena Strand, 7, on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022. Strand was was kidnapped and killed late last week allegedly by a FedEx delivery driver. (Amanda McCoy/Fort Worth Star-Telegram)/Star-Telegram via AP)
            
              During a press conference at the Wise County Courthouse in Decatur, Texas, on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022, Maitlyn Gandy presented the box that was delivered on the day Athena Strand, 7, was abducted in rural Paradise, Texas. Inside was a Christmas present for Strand. (Amanda McCoy/Star-Telegram via AP)
            
              Maitlyn Gandy gives a statement about the death of her daughter, Athena Strand, 7, at the Wise County Courthouse in Decatur, Texas, on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022. Strand was was kidnapped and killed late last week allegedly by a FedEx Ground driver. (Amanda McCoy/Star-Telegram via AP)
            
              Maitlyn Gandy, mother of 7-year-old Athena Strand, looks at the package that was delivered by a FedEx delivery man authorities say allegedly abducted her daughter last week during a press conference on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022, outside of the Wise County Courthouse in Decatur, Texas. The package, a You Can be Anything Barbie set, was supposed to be Athena's Christmas present, Gandy said. (Juan Figueroa/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
            
              Maitlyn Presley Gandy, mother of late Athena Strand embraces other kids during a memorial service at First Baptist Church of Cottondale in Paradise, Texas, on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022. Athena went missing from her home in Wise County last week and her body was found Friday evening. (Shafkat Anowar/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

The FedEx driver accused of abducting and killing a 7-year-old girl last week in Texas told authorities that he strangled her after accidentally hitting her with his van while making a delivery at her home, according to an arrest warrant obtained Thursday.

Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, told investigators that Athena Strand wasn’t seriously hurt after he hit her while backing up, but he panicked and put her in his van. He said she was talking to him and told him her name, according the warrant.

But Horner said he didn’t want her to tell her father what happened, so he first tried to break the girl’s neck and when that didn’t work, he strangled her with his hands in the back of the van, the warrant said. The warrant said Horner took investigators to where he’d left Athena’s body.

Athena was found dead on Dec. 2, two days after she was reported missing from the home of her father and stepmother in Paradise, a town of fewer than 500 people about 60 miles (100 kilometers) northwest of Dallas.

Horner was arrested last week on charges of capital murder and aggravated kidnapping and remained jailed Thursday with his bond set at $1.5 million. Jail records did not list an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

Athena’s mother, Maitlyn Gandy, spoke at a news conference Thursday outside Wise County courthouse in Decatur, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) northeast of Paradise. She said said that the package that Horner dropped off that day was a Christmas present for the “amazing little girl” she wanted everyone to know about.

“I was robbed of watching her grow up,” Gandy said as she stood beside the present, a box of “You Can Be Anything” Barbies.

Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin has said that they knew early on that a delivery had been made at the girl’s home at about the same time that she disappeared. Akin has said she was killed about an “hour or so” after being kidnapped.

Working with employees from the contracting company that was delivering packages for FedEx, investigators determined which van and driver made the delivery, the warrant said. Investigators also learned that the van that delivered the package was equipped with video, the warrant said.

An FBI employee who then watched video from the van could see that the driver had taken a young girl who looked like Athena in the van and had talked to her. The warrant said that when investigators located Horner, he told them Athena was dead and confessed.

Gandy said that Athena had been set to return home to her in Oklahoma after Christmas break.

“Now, instead, Athena will be cremated and she will come home in an urn because I’m not even, I’m not anywhere close to being ready to let my baby go,” she said.

Gandy said her daughter, who loved school and her friends in the first grade, also “loved dancing, singing and all animals: dogs, cats, horses, lizards and chinchillas.”

She said Athena loved flowers, and also wasn’t afraid to get “down in the mud with the boys.” “She was her father’s daughter,” Gandy said.

“I will never see her bright blue eyes or her ornery smile again,” Gandy said. “I will never be able to hear her say, ‘I love you, Mommy.’ I will never be able to do her hair again or to hold her while she sleeps.”

She thanked the community, saying they “flew into action” from the moment Athena went missing and she’s been seeing people everywhere wearing pink in her daughter’s honor. At a vigil Tuesday night in Paradise, many of the mourners gathered to remember Athena wore pink.

“I ask everyone to hold your littles just a little tighter for me,” Gandy said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Bryan Kohberger, who is accused of killing four University of Idaho students in Nov. 2022, a...
Associated Press

News groups ask Idaho Supreme Court to reject University slayer gag order

Thirty news organizations have asked the Idaho Supreme Court to overturn a gag order in a case against a man accused of stabbing four students to death.
16 hours ago
Nathan Chasing Horse stands in court. Monday, Feb. 6, 2023, in North Las Vegas, Nev. Nathan Chasing...
Associated Press

‘Dances With Wolves’ actor charged in 2018 rape in PNW

Canadian police confirmed Tuesday they are pursuing a criminal case against a former "Dances With Wolves" actor who was arrested last week and charged in Nevada with sexually abusing and trafficking Indigenous women and girls.
16 hours ago
Associated Press

Lawmakers in GOP states target medical care for trans kids

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Republican attacks on gender affirming medical care for young people continued Wednesday in several conservative states that are among more than two dozen considering similar bans nationwide. Lawmakers in Nebraska, Oklahoma and South Dakota considered bills Wednesday that would prohibit gender affirming treatments, like the use of puberty-blocking drugs and hormones, […]
16 hours ago
FILE - This combination of images provided by the Memphis Police Department shows, from top row fro...
Associated Press

Jury may not hear cops’ admissions in Tyre Nichols’ beating

It was a stunning revelation: One of the officers involved in the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols took a cellphone photo of the bloodied and handcuffed man and shared it with five other people. The disclosure was part of the Memphis Police Department’s request to the state that the five former officers charged with murder […]
16 hours ago
A man takes photos as a black plume rises over East Palestine, Ohio, as a result of a controlled de...
Associated Press

Residents can return after air deemed safe from derailment

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (AP) — Evacuated residents can safely return to the Ohio village where crews burned toxic chemicals after a train derailed five days ago near the Pennsylvania state line, East Palestine Fire Chief Keith Drabick said Wednesday. Authorities in East Palestine had warned that burning vinyl chloride that was in five of the […]
16 hours ago
FILE - The Netflix logo is shown in this photo from the company's website on Feb. 2, 2023, in New Y...
Associated Press

Netflix steps up its effort to get paid for account sharing

Netflix has a plan to deal with rampant account sharing: a program that lets subscribers pay extra to share their account with people outside their household. The streaming giant introduced paid sharing in Canada, New Zealand, Portugal and Spain on Wednesday. It was previously rolled out in multiple markets in Latin America. While Netflix won’t […]
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Warrant: Texas FedEx driver says he strangled girl in van