FedEx driver Tanner Lynn Horner told Texas police he strangled 7-year-old Athena Strand out of fear she would tell her father he hit her with his delivery van, according to an arrest warrant.
Horner admitted to grabbing the young girl from her Paradise yard and tossing her in the truck in a moment of panic after accidentally backing the van into her last week, according to the warrant obtained by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Athena was not seriously injured in the Nov. 30 accident, but Horner, afraid of the consequences, allegedly decided to kill her, the report said.
He told police he tried unsuccessfully to break her neck before strangling her with his bare hands in the FedEx truck, according to the arrest warrant.
Horner disposed of her body in the water on the edge of the Trinity River near Boyd, approximately 10 miles from her Paradise home.
A video taken from a camera inside the van shows Athena inside, Horner talking with her and ultimately killing her, the Wise County Sheriff’s Office affidavit says.
The 31-year-old FedEx driver led police to Athena’s body two days after her stepmother reported her missing.
Police tracked down Horner after they discovered he had delivered a package to the house shortly before the girl’s disappearance.
The delivery turned out to be Athena’s Christmas present — a set of Barbie dolls called the “You Can Be Anything” collection — her mother, Maitlyn Gandy, revealed Thursday.
“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 said
“I was robbed of watching her grow up by a man everyone was supposed to be able to trust. To do just one simple task: deliver a Christmas present and leave.”
Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin told WFAA Wednesday that he is asking the district attorney to seek the death penalty for Horner.
Horner has been charged with capital murder and aggravated kidnapping and is being held on $1.5 million bail.
Autopsy results from the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office are pending.