Delivery driver confessed to strangling Texas girl after accidentally hitting her with van, warrant says

A supply driver suspected within the homicide of a 7-year-old girl in North Texas informed investigators that he accidentally struck her with his van prior to strangling her, in accordance to an arrest warrant.

The suspect, 31-year-old Tanner Lynn Horner, informed Wise County Sheriff’s detectives that he was backing up a FedEx truck when he struck 7-year-old Athena Strand final Wednesday, per an arrest warrant obtained Thursday by CBS DFW.

Horner informed investigators that, after hitting Strand, he panicked and positioned her contained in the truck, the arrest warrant reads. He additionally informed police that, after hitting her, Strand was not critically harm and was “alive” and “talking to him,” in accordance to the warrant.

He informed detectives he then killed Strand as a result of “she was going to tell her father about being hit by the FedEx truck,” the warrant states.

An undated photograph of 7-year-old Athena Strand, who went lacking from a house in Paradise, Texas, on Nov. 30, 2022. Her physique was discovered two days later, on Dec. 2. 

Maitlyn Gandy/Facebook

According to the warrant, Horner stated that he initially tried to break Strand’s neck, however when that failed, he strangled her.

Strand was reported lacking from her father and stepmother’s dwelling in Paradise, Texas, on Nov. 30 prompting an enormous search. Two days later, in accordance to the warrant, Horner led investigators to her physique within the Wise County city of Boyd, situated about 10 miles from Paradise.

A contract driver for FedEx, Horner had delivered a bundle to the home at about the identical time Strand disappeared, Wise County Sheriff’s officers had beforehand reported.

In a information convention Thursday in Decatur, Texas, Strand’s mom, Maitlyn Gandy, who resides in Oklahoma, stated that the supply was Strand’s Christmas current.

“The packages contained, ‘You Can Be Anything’ Barbies,” Gandy informed reporters. “Athena was robbed of the opportunity to grow up to be anything she wanted to be. And this present, ordered out of innocence and love, is one she will never receive.”

Gandy additionally stated that she was supposed to deliver Strand “back home to Oklahoma after Christmas break.”

The warrant states that after Strand’s disappearance, investigators labored with Big Topspin, the contracting company employed by FedEx to ship packages, to decide “which van and driver had made the delivery.”

The van was geared up with cameras that captured footage of the suspect putting a girl who match Strand’s description within the van, the warrant reads.

When investigators situated and interviewed Horner, he confessed to them that Strand was useless, the warrant stated.

Horner, of Lake Worth, Texas, is being held on capital homicide and aggravated kidnapping expenses. His bail has been set at $1.5 million. He has no prison historical past. 

Paradise is situated within the Dallas-Forth Worth-Arlington metro space, about 40 miles northwest of Fort Worth.

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