Skip to content

Officials Searching Near Area Where Missing Girl Last Seen – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth


Wise County officials confirmed the body of missing 7-year-old Athena Strand was found deceased Friday evening.

On the third day of the search for 7-year-old Athena Strand a large police presence was seen Friday night seven miles from the property where Athena Strand disappeared on Wednesday.

NBC 5 has learned FBI is on the scene.

Sources tell NBC 5 this a “very active situation” but so far officers have not said exactly what’s happening on the remote stretch of road in Wise County.

Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said concern grows the longer the girl is missing and that detective work was a greater emphasis. On Thursday, hundreds of volunteers helped with a massive search of the area where the child disappeared but did not locate the girl.

“We’re deeply concerned about that because it’s been a long time. That first night it was 28, 29 degrees. And she wasn’t dressed real warmly. We originally thought she was in a jacket but in reality, she was in a t-shirt with jeans and boots. So, we have a lot of concern. The longer it goes the more we’re concerned. But I’m an optimistic guy,” Akin said.

Instead of asking volunteers to help search for the girl, Friday Akin asked anyone with information to come forward.

“It’s heavy on our minds. Many of us have gone without sleep, so we’re asking for the public’s help,” he said.

The sheriff said the girl was alone with her stepmother Wednesday after her father left to go on a hunting trip. He said the stepmother called 911 to report Athena missing after a quarrel.

Her aunt Keeland Kulbeth from Oklahoma who came to join the search said she can’t believe Athena would just walk away.

“She may have been upset at the dad’s leaving, and may have, I don’t know honestly, just from what I was told, she may have gotten upset,” Kulbeth said. “She loved people, loved animals, loved flowers. She’s a very girly girl. I just can’t see her running off and leaving.”

An Amber Alert was issued for the girl Thursday after she’d been missing for almost 24 hours.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean we expect foul play but we understand that could be a possibility,” Akin said.

Athena had been riding a bus to school in Wise County each day but several people said she was about to move to live with her birth mother in Oklahoma, Kulbeth’s sister.

“We have been told that,” Akin said.

The sheriff said investigators are talking with all the family members and the search for evidence in the case continues.

Sheriff Lane Akin is a retired Texas Ranger with many years of law enforcement experience.

Several other agencies are helping in the case.

TEXAS STATEWIDE ALERT PROGRAMS

There are seven kinds of alerts that can be issued for people in Texas. They are listed below with links to a page with more information.