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Athena Strand updates: Texas town pays tribute after FedEx driver Turner Horner’s kidnap and murder arrest


The grieving community of Wise County has paid several tributes to Athena Strand, a seven-year-old girl abducted and killed last week.

Bikers dressed in the brightest shade of pink and blaring Frozen’s Let It Go rode their motorcycles for twenty minutes on Monday in honour of Athena.

Her classmates, also dressed in pink, waved their little hands at the bikers, who raised nearly $9,000 for the grieving family.

The abduction and murder of Athena on 30 November allegedly by 31-year-old FedEx driver Tanner Horner rocked the local community since the early stages of the investigation, with hundreds of people helping police canvass the area near Athena’s home shortly after she disappeared.

The little girl’s body was found six miles away from her Paradise home on Friday, after Horner led authorities to the location.

Police said that Horner confessed to snatching the little girl before killing her within an hour of her abduction. He faces charges of capital murder and aggravated kidnapping.

No motive has been given and Mr Horner is not believed to have any connection to the little girl.

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Athena Strand’s mother makes heartbreaking post

Athena’s mother Maitlyn Presley Gandy posted the video to Facebook on Monday, three days after her child was found dead in Paradise, Texas.

The little girl was reported missing on Wednesday (30 November) and suspect Tanner Lynn Horner is now charged with her abduction and murder.

Ms Gandy explained that the video of her other daughter sobbing uncontrollably for her “sissy” was taken days before Athena went missing, as the seven-year-old was visiting her father in Texas.

At the time, Ms Gandy said she assured the unconsolable girl that her sister would be back with them in Oklahoma soon.

The Independent’s Andrea Blanco has the story:

Andrea Blanco6 December 2022 20:45

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Tanner Horner’s neighbours react to his arrest

Speaking to the Forth Worth Star-Telegram, neighbours of Mr Horner said that he lived with his grandmother and mother in the west Fort Worth neighbourhood and that he would leave for weeks at a time before returning home.

“I find it just shocking it was him,” a woman who asked not to be named told the outlet.

Athena’s body was found on Friday about six miles from her home. Wise County authorities said they were led to the exact location by Mr Horner.

The Independent has the story:

Andrea Blanco6 December 2022 20:15

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Chilling Instagram posts by FedEx driver accused of Athena Strand’s murder

Following 31-year-old Tanner Horner’s arrest, the aspiring musician’s interest in dark song lyrics and disturbing social media posts have emerged.

In several social media posts, seen by The Independent, the suspect repeatedly uses a racial slur and in one he boasts about a dagger he says he received as a present.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has the story:

Andrea Blanco6 December 2022 19:42

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When did seven-year-old Athena Strand go missing?

Athena vanished without a trace from her home in Paradise on Wednesday (30 November).

The little girl had been dropped off from school at around 4.30pm and was last seen alive at about 5.40pm after she had a quarrel with her stepmother.

Around an hour later, her stepmother went to find the seven-year-old in her room to have dinner but she was nowhere to be found.

Athena was reported missing and, the next day, an Amber Alert was issued.

For the next two days, hundreds of law enforcement officers, family members and local volunteers combed the area desperately trying to find her as her family insisted she wouldn’t have gone off on her own.

Hopes of her safe return were then destroyed on Friday when police confirmed that her body had been discovered in a ditch around six miles from her home.

Andrea Blanco6 December 2022 18:34

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ICYMI: Everything we know about the FedEx driver accused of abducting and murdering Athena

Wise County sheriff Lane Akin told reporters that the driver, 31-year-old Tanner Lynn Horner, had allegedly confessed to her abduction and murder.

Here’s everything we know about the suspect and the case:

Andrea Blanco6 December 2022 17:45

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Bikers raise thousands for Athena’s family

A group of motorcyclists have raised thousands of dollars to help support the family of Athena Strand.

On Monday, hundreds of motorcyclists took part in a ride from Azel to Paradise, Texas, in memory of the slain seven-year-old.

Many wore pin – the little girl’s favourite colour.

Organiser Francis Chamberlin said the event raised $8,775 and that he had received an outpouring of support from people all across the country.

“She didn’t deserve this,” he told WFAA. “She was young. She still had her life ahead of her. And now she’s gone.”

Andrea Blanco6 December 2022 17:14

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Candlelight vigil scheduled for Tuesday

The First Baptist Church Cottondale has arranged a Candlelight Memorial Service to allow the community to come together to celebrate the life of Athena Strand.

It will be held on Tuesday 6 December at 6pm at First Baptist Church of Cottondale in Paradise, Texas, on the front lawn. There will be a lighted angel set up for those that would like to bring flowers, a Facebook page reads.

Andrea Blanco6 December 2022 16:07

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Tanner Horner’s neighbours react as he’s accused of murdering Athena Strand

Authorities announced on Friday that FedEx delivery driver Tanner Lynn Horner, 31, was taken into custody for the murder of Athena, who went missing from her home in Paradise, Texas, on 30 November. Wise County sheriff Lane Akin told reporters that Mr Horner confessed to killing Athena within an hour of her abduction.

Speaking to the Forth Worth Star-Telegram, neighbours of Mr Horner said that he lived with his grandmother and mother in the west Fort Worth neighbourhood and that he would leave for weeks at a time before returning home.

Andrea Blanco6 December 2022 15:26

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Athena’s mom thanks community’s support: ‘I see Athena in all of you’

The mother of Athena Strand, a seven-year-old girl abducted and killed by a FedEx driver out of her home in Paradise, Texas, has expressed gratitude for the unwavering outpouring of support from the community.

Maitlyn Presley Gandy addressed the hundreds of pictures of children and adults wearing pink in honour of Athena, saying she saw her little girl in all of them.

“I love seeing all of the pictures of everyone in pink from pinned on ribbons and hearts, tshirts, and full pink outfits (I see the scrubs ladies and gents!),” she wrote.

“I drove around a bit today, everywhere I looked, I saw shades of pink. I’ve had tears, it’s a bittersweet feeling seeing all of the support for Athena’s legacy.”

She continued: “I cannot thank everyone enough, but I hope y’all know, I see you and so does my Athena. I have to believe that or I will break. Athena sees us. And I see Athena in all of you.”

(Facebook / Maitlyn Gandy)

Andrea Blanco6 December 2022 14:39

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Motorcycle group raises thousands for family

A group of motorcyclists have raised thousands of dollars to help support the family of Athena Strand.

On Monday, hundreds of motorcyclists took part in a ride from Azel to Paradise, Texas, in memory of the slain seven-year-old.

Many wore pin – the little girl’s favourite colour.

Organiser Francis Chamberlin said the event raised $8,775 and that he had received an outpouring of support from people all across the country.

“She didn’t deserve this,” he told WFAA. “She was young. She still had her life ahead of her. And now she’s gone.”

Rachel Sharp6 December 2022 14:00