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Athena Strand: Missing girl’s body found, suspect in custody

Authorities say Tanner Lynn Horner, a 31-year-old contract FedEx driver, confessed to abducting and killing the missing girl Wednesday afternoon.

PARADISE, Texas — The body of 7-year-old Athena Strand has been found, Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said at a press conference on Friday night, and a suspect is in custody. 

Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, confessed to police to abducting and killing Athena Wednesday afternoon, Akin said. 

Akin said Horner, who was working as a contract FedEx truck driver, had been delivering a package to Athena’s family home when she was allegedly abducted. 

Akin said Horner is being charged with capital murder and aggravated kidnapping. He is booked into the Wise County Jail and his bond at this time is $1.5 million.

“It’s one of the toughest investigations I’ve ever been involved in because it’s a child,” Akin said. “Any time there’s a child that dies, it just hits you in your heart. You compare that child to your own children, when they were at that age.” 

An AMBER Alert for Athena was issued Thursday, a day after she first went missing.

Her body was found southeast of Boyd. A large police presence was seen at a stretch of County Road 4599 Friday evening, one of three locations Horner had sent police to before Athena was found. 

Wise made the announcement during a 10 p.m. press conference, and said the investigation had only closed a few hours beforehand. 

Watch the press conference in full below: 

FBI Acting Agent in Charge Jim Dwyer said authorities believe Athena only died about an hour after being abducted based off of digital evidence and statements gathered while interviewing Horner. 

Horner is the lone suspect authorities believe responsible in the case, Akin said. 

He did not have any relation or connection to the family. 

“They’re devastated,” Akin said about the family’s reaction to Athena’s death. “They’re angry because of what happened — a precious child taken from their lives.”