FedEx Driver Accused of Murdering 7-Year-Old Was Delivering Her Barbie Dolls Before Abduction, Says Mom
9th December 2022

She called for "screening and hiring policies" to be put in place "so that monsters wearing delivery uniforms don't show up on our children's doorsteps."

Disturbing new details about the death of 7-year-old Athena Strand have been released, including what the FedEx driver accused of her murder was delivering to her home before allegedly abducting and killing her.

Athena’s mother Maitlyn Gandy gave a heartbreaking press conference on Thursday in Texas, in which she shared that 31-year-old Tanner Lynn Horner — the man charged with the child’s murder — “drove onto Athena’s father’s property to deliver a package of what was supposed to be a Christmas present for our daughter” the day she was abducted.

Standing beside her as she spoke was the box of “You Can Be Anything” Barbies he allegedly delivered, which Gandy said she was seeing for the first time.

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“Athena was robbed of the opportunity to be anything she wanted to be and this present, ordered out of innocence and love, is one she will never receive,” she said, getting emotional as she spoke throughout her speech. “Athena’s favorite holiday was Christmas … the joy Athena gave her family and the joy she felt on Christmas is something we will never feel with her again.”

“I will never see her bright blue eyes … I will never be able to hear her say, I love you mommy. I will never be able to do her hair again or hold her while she sleeps,” she continued. “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.”

Asking everyone watching to “hold your littles just a little tighter for me,” Gandy promised to spend her life “fighting for” her daughter. She also called for “screening and hiring policies” to be put in place “so that monsters wearing delivery uniforms don’t show up on our children’s doorsteps.”

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Athena was reported missing last Wednesday, November 30, and a massive search effort was launched to find her. Her body was recovered on Friday evening, though authorities believe she was killed within an hour of her abduction. Horner, 31, was arrested Friday as well and charged with capital murder and aggravated kidnapping.

On Thursday, new details about what allegedly led to the child’s murder came to light via an arrest affidavit obtained by Law&Crime.

Warning: The following details are disturbing.

The documents say authorities learned a FedEx delivery was made around the time Athena went missing. After tracking down the contractor FedEx used in the area, the FBI was able to view video from inside the van which made the delivery to Athena’s father’s home. The video allegedly included footage of a young girl inside the vehicle, speaking with the driver, who was later identified as Horner.

Horner allegedly confessed to taking Athena, telling investigators “when he was backing up in his FedEx truck he accidentally hit Athena with the truck, but she was not seriously injured.” He reportedly said he “panicked” and put her in the van, where he said she told him her name. Horner said he tried to break her neck, before strangling her with his bare hands in the van — because “she was going to tell her father about being hit by the FedEx truck” he was driving. He then is said to have directed authorities to the location of her body.

He’s currently being held on $1.5 million bond.

Per USA Today, the family is looking into “who might be held accountable for the decisions that led to the abduction and killing of Athena, including FedEx.” In a statement to CNN last week, FedEx said, “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.”

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