January 27, 2023 10:12 pm

Body of 7-year-old abducted by FedEx driver found, suspect charged with murder

A FedEx driver confessed to abducting and killing 7-year-old Athena Strand after he delivered a package to her family’s home, Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said at a press conference Friday night.

Police found Strand’s body southeast of Boyd, Texas. Digital evidence and interviews lead investigators to believe that Strand died within an hour of her abduction, according to Akin.

PHOTO: Tanner Lynn Horner is shown in this booking photo.
Tanner Lynn Horner is shown in this booking photo.
Wise County Sheriff’s Office

The driver, 31-year-old Taner Lynn Horner, is in jail and is being charged with capital murder and aggravated kidnapping. Horner, who is a resident of Lake Worth, is being held on a $1.5 million bond, according to Akin.

PHOTO: In this screen grab from a video, caution tape is shown during the search for Athena Strand in Wise County, Texas, Dec. 3, 2022.
In this screen grab from a video, caution tape is shown during the search for Athena Strand in Wise County, Texas, Dec. 3, 2022.
WFAA

“The answers were not the answers that we would have hoped that we would have gotten. And we want to send our condolences out to the family of Athena Strand,” Akin said.

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Early on in their investigation, law enforcement officers knew that there was a FedEx delivery made at the same time Strand went missing, Akin said.

Horner, who was working as a contract FedEx driver, was not related to the family and did not know the family, Akin said.

PHOTO: In this screen grab from a video, Wise County, Texas, authorities give a press conference update on the case of Athena Strand, Dec. 3, 2022.
In this screen grab from a video, Wise County, Texas, authorities give a press conference update on the case of Athena Strand, Dec. 3, 2022.
WFAA

Akin said law enforcement were able to get a confession from Horner, saying this has been one of the “toughest” investigations he has ever been involved in.

“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.”

MORE: Video Fed-Ex driver arrested in killing of 7-year-old Athena Strand

Law enforcement officials said they were able to locate and find Horner through digital evidence and by partnering with FedEx.

Officials said they are unaware if Horner has a prior criminal history. The investigation is ongoing.

“Words cannot describe our shock and sorrow at the reports surrounding this tragic event. First and foremost, our thoughts are with the family during this most difficult time, and we continue to cooperate fully with the investigating authorities. At this time, any further questions should be directed to law enforcement,” FedEx said in a statement to ABC News.

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