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Missing 7-year-old girl found dead, FedEx driver confesses to taking her during package delivery

"It's one of the toughest investigations I’ve been involved in because it's a child, and anytime it involves a child who died, it shatters your heart."

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Joshua Young Youngsville North Carolina
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On Friday, Police in Wise County, Texas found the body of missing 7-year-old Athena Strand after a FedEx truck driver, Tanner Lynn Horner, confessed to snatching the child from her home on Wednesday while delivering a package and later murdering her.

According to local news, Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said, "It's one of the toughest investigations I've been involved in because it's a child, and anytime it involves a child who died, it shatters your heart."

On Twitter, Congressman Ronny Jackson wrote, "Heartbreaking to hear the news in Wise County about little Athena Strand. I'm shocked & gutted that this evil can occur in our community. Jane and I are praying for her family during this devastating time. May she Rest in Peace."

31-year-old Akin has been charged with capital murder and aggravated kidnapping charges with a $1.5 million bond.

Sheriff Akin held a news conference on Friday alongside local authorities and the child's biological mother, Maitlyn Gandy. 

Gandy lives in Oklahoma, and her daughter was taken while staying with her biological father and stepmother in Texas.

According to the Daily Mail, Gandy said, "I don't want her to be the girl known as the one murdered and discarded by a monster. I want everyone to know, every single person in this world, that this is my baby and my baby was taken from me."

Athena was first reported missing on Wednesday. According to Fox News, she had an argument with her stepmother and ran out of the home. The father was on a hunting trip and out of town at the time.

Police said that Athena was abducted by Horner, an aspiring musician, at the family's driveway gate, located 200 yard away from the home itself. The stepmother said she last saw the girl around 4:15 pm when she got off the bus from school. She realized she was missing at 5:15 pm.

Akin said the child was likely killed "within an hour or so" after the abduction.

Allie Beth Stuckey wrote, "Horrifying. May Athena Strand's murderer enjoy a speedy trial and a slow, painful death."

Digital evidence helped locate Horner according to Jim Dwyer, an FBI agent who assisted in the investigation.

A FedEx spokesperson told Fox, "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," the spokesperson added.

Authorities have not released any details of how she died.

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