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The grieving community of Wise County has paid tribute to Athena Strand, the seven-year-old girl who was kidnapped and murdered last week.
Bikers dressed in bright shades of pink and blaring Frozen’s Let It Go rode their motorcycles for twenty minutes on Monday in honor of Athena.
Her classmates, too, dressed in pink, waved their little hands at the bikers, who raised nearly $9,000 for the grieving family.
The November 30 kidnapping and murder of 31-year-old FedEx driver Tanner Horner shook the local community, 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 from her Paradise home Friday after Horner led authorities to the location.
Police said Horner confessed to abducting the child before killing her within an hour of the abduction. He is accused of capital murder and hot kidnapping.
No motive has been given and Mr Horner is not believed to have had a relationship with the little girl.
Grandfather says he ‘forgave’ killer Missing 7-year-old Texas girl’s body found FedEx arrests truck driver Tanner Lynn Horner Mother says her ‘princess’ taken by ‘cruel monster’ Athena Strand missing Wednesday Show latest update 1670396400
Athena’s grandfather says he forgives Tanner Horner
In a gut-wrenching social media post, Mark Strand spoke of his turmoil as he said he wanted Mr Horner to “burn in hell for eternity” but his faith was pushing him to seek forgiveness.
“This flesh, this man that I am, is angry and I want 5 minutes alone in a room with the psycho who took our Athena away from us, but a small voice in the back of my head tells me I have to forgive him,” he wrote. .
“This fleshy man, wants that psycho to burn in hell for eternity, yet that gentle voice keeps telling me, I have to forgive him.”
“This fleshly man hopes that he will be blind and deaf to the message of salvation and will not step into the same heaven that I know my dear Athena dwells in my heart and still, that gentle voice remains. Why do you ask?”
The Independent has the story:
Andrea Blanco7 December 2022 07:00
A timeline of Athena’s abduction and murder
Athena disappeared without a trace from her home in Paradise on Wednesday (November 30).
The little girl was dropped from school around 4.30pm and was last seen alive at 5.40pm after an argument with her stepmother.
About an hour later, his stepmother went to look for the seven-year-old in his room for dinner but he was nowhere to be found.
Athena was reported missing and an Amber Alert was issued the next day.
Over the next two days, hundreds of law enforcement officers, family members and local volunteers combed the area in a desperate search for her as her family insisted she could not have left on her own.
Hopes of his safe return were dashed on Friday when police confirmed his body was found in a ditch about six miles from his home.
Police said Mr. Horner, a FedEx driver, aspiring musician and former Uber driver, confessed to abducting and killing the little girl and directed authorities to the location of her body.
Speaking at a news conference, Wise County Sheriff Len Akin said Mr. Horner was delivering a package in the area at the time of his abduction.
Based on the suspect’s confession, Athena was killed within an hour of the abduction.
(Mittelyn Presley Godney)
Andrea Blanco7 December 2022 05:30
The community wears pink in honor of Athena Strand
Students and staff across several Texas school districts wore pink in honor of the murder of seven-year-old Athena Strand.
Wise County Judge JD Clark said in a statement that pink was Athena’s favorite color.
“My heart is so heavy for Athena,” the judge said.
At least 20 school districts joined in the touching tributes Monday.
Athena’s mother took to social media to appeal to parents to dress their children in pink as a tribute to her little girl.
“I put my little girl in pink today for Athena. He said, “My favorite color is pink, we could be friends” I’m praying hard for you. And I’m so sorry,” one mother wrote on Facebook.
Athena who was taken from her father’s home and allegedly killed a FedEx driver last week while in police custody.
Athena Strand, 7, was abducted from her home in Paradise, Texas on November 30.
(Facebook / Metlin Gandy)
Andrea Blanco7 December 2022 04:00
FedEx made the statement after the driver was arrested in connection with Athena Strand’s murder
In a statement to Fox4, FedEx said: “Words cannot describe our shock and sadness at the reports surrounding this tragic event.
“First and foremost, our thoughts are with the family at 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.”
Authorities initially said Mr. Horner was from the Lake Worth area. Lake Worth City’s police chief said in a tweet that he lived near the lake.
A Facebook account that appeared to belong to the suspect suggested he was a father of one, married and a vocalist in a local band.
Andrea Blanco7 December 2022 02:30
Athena Strand’s mother says her ‘princess’ was taken by a ‘cruel monster’
In a Facebook post on Saturday, Athena’s mother, Metlyn Gandy, wrote that she was struggling to describe the “pain and absolute rage” she felt towards the alleged killer.
“My princess was taken from me by a sick, cruel monster for no reason,” he wrote alongside a home video taken of three-year-old Athena.
“Athena is innocent, beautiful, kind, intelligent, and the brightest, happiest soul you could ever meet. I don’t want her to be known as a girl who was murdered by a monster and dumped.
“I want everyone to know, every single person in this world, this is my baby and my baby was taken from me.”
Bevan Hurley of the Independent has the story:
Andrea Blanco7 December 2022 00:30
Who is Tanner Horner, the FedEx driver accused of killing Athena?
Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin told reporters that the driver, 31-year-old Tanner Lynn Horner, allegedly confessed to the kidnapping and murder.
Here’s what we know about the suspect and the case:
Andrea Blanco6 December 2022 23:00
Athena Strand’s Mother Hopes ‘All Cities Will Wake the Night for Athena’
Maitlin Presley Godney, who lives in Oklahoma, said she wishes she could attend all the vigils planned for her daughter in different states.
Athena was visiting her father in Texas when she was kidnapped by FedEx delivery driver Tanner Horner.
The seven-year-old girl was killed within an hour, the Wise County Sheriff’s Office said.
“I hope all the cities wake the night for Athena [on] Tuesday,” he wrote.
“I wish I could be all of them at once. His light is exceedingly bright, help me to let his light shine.”
Andrea Blanco6 December 2022 22:01
Athena Strand’s mother made a heartbreaking post
Athena’s mother, Matelyn Presley Gandy, posted the video on Facebook on Monday, three days after her child’s body was found in Paradise, Texas.
The little girl was reported missing on Wednesday (November 30) and suspect Tanner Lynn Horner has now been charged with her abduction and murder.
Ms Gandy explained that the video of her other daughter crying uncontrollably for “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 helpless girl that her sister would soon be back with them in Oklahoma.
Andrea Blanco of the Independent has the story:
Andrea Blanco6 December 2022 20:45
Tanner Horner’s neighbors react to his arrest
Speaking to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Mr. Horner’s neighbors said he lived with his grandmother and mother in a west Fort Worth neighborhood and would be gone for a few weeks before returning home.
“I was shocked that he was,” one woman, who asked not to be named, told the outlet.
Athena’s body was found about six miles from her home on Friday. Wise County authorities said Mr. Horner led them to the correct location.
The Independent has the story:
Andrea Blanco6 December 2022 20:15
The chilling Instagram post of the FedEx driver accused of murdering Athena Strand
Following the arrest of 31-year-old Tanner Horner, interest in the aspiring musician’s dark song lyrics and disturbing social media posts has surfaced.
In several social media posts seen by The Independent, the suspect repeatedly used a racial slur and in one he bragged about a dagger he said he had received as a gift.
The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has the story:
Andrea Blanco6 December 2022 19:42